Glory of Lord Kameshwara- V Nandikeshwara Kasika on Maheshvara Sutras
Glory of Lord Kameshwara- V: Nandikēśvara Kāsikā on Maheshvara Sutras

Nandikēśwara had written a wonderful commentary on the “Maheshwara Sutras” to explain the hidden secrets of creation of universe from those aphorisms. His commentary is known as ‘nandikēśvara kāsikā’, and the legendary sage Upamanyu wrote a magnificent commentary over the commentary (i.e., vārtika) of Nadikeshwara to elaborate what nandi had explained.

In order to understand Kameshwara Tatwam properly and appreciate it fully, it is mandatory to have the basic understanding of ‘akśaras’ (syllables) and also the knowledge of creation through ‘vāk’ first. For that reson, I had presented all the pre-requisite theories in previous sections itself. Now, since we are equipped with the necessary knowledge for proceeding with understanding the more complex subjects, let us now look at the fourteen Maheshvara Sutras and understand the secrets behind the creation of this universe using the explanation given in the commentaries done by Nandikēśwara and Upamanyu.

Nandikēśwara had written a wonderful commentary on the “Maheshwara Sutras” to explain the hidden secrets of creation of universe from those aphorisms. His commentary is known as ‘nandikēśvara kāsikā’, and the legendary sage Upamanyu wrote a magnificent commentary over the commentary (i.e., vārtika) of Nadikeshwara to elaborate what nandi had explained. Who other than the illustrious Upamanyu could grasp the finer secrets outlined by Nandikēśwara of the aphorisms of Śiva? Upamanyu’s commentary goes by the name of ‘tatwa vimarśinī’.

As per the ‘Nandikēśvara Kāsikā’ and its commentary ‘tatwa vimarśinī’, after the culmination of the dance, lord Natarāja, sounded his hand-drum (damaru) fourteen times in front of his great devotees who were all witnessing his dance with reverence. He sounded his drum to pass on esoteric sciences to the assembled sages in order to uplift them. Among them were Sanaka etc., four kumāras, Patanjalī, Vyāghrapāda, Pāṇinī, Nandikēśwara, and Vasiśtha.

Those aphorisms contained all the sciences and secrets within them. To some it revealed some science and to some other it revealed something else. While Pāṇinī understood the great rules of Sanskrit grammar, Patanjalī understood the same, and hence was later on he was able to write a commentary ‘mahābhāṣya’ on Pāṇinī’s ‘aṣtādhyāyī’ in order to simplify the complex subject to suit the common man’s understanding,. Similarly, Nandikēśwara grasped the great secrets of creation theory and great Advaitic secrets of Atman tatwam.

All the sages approached Nandikēśwara to understand the meanings of the fourteen aphorisms considering him as the most competent person to grasp the secrets revealed by Shiva. In response to the inquiry of those sages, Nandi wrote a commentary on the fourteen ‘Maheshwara Sutras’ titled, ‘nandikēśvara kāsikā’. The way Pāṇinī’s ashtadhyayi was too complex for the humans of kaliyuga to comprehend, hence Patanjalī had written a commentary ‘Mahābhāṣya’ to make them understandable to everyone; similarly, to elaborate the core concepts and explain them to everyone easily, Upamanyu had written a commentary over Nandikēśwara’s ‘Kāsikā’ which was named ‘tatwa vimarśinī’.

Nandikēśwara while explaining the sutras begins with setting the Introduction or the background in two verses and then starts explaining the fourteen maheshwara sutras. For the very first verse of the introductory passage written by Nandikēśwara the following ‘extracts’ are taken from the lengthy commentary of Upamanyu over the introductory verses of Kasika.

Note that Upamanyu has clearly called out in the introductory notes itself that the entire revelations are the secrets related to Shiva himself. This should clarify us that Shiva is the Supreme Being and not any Jiva (as maliciously explained by shiva-hating vaishnavas).

“sa svātmatattvaṁ vāgādyagōcharaṁ iti jnāpanāya ḍhakkāninādavyājēna sanakādīn uddhartukāmō’yaṁ navapanchavāraṁ chaturdaśavāraṁ svāntargataṁātmatatvaṁ prakatayituṁ tadvasānē ḍhakkāṁ nanāda |” (nandikēśwara kāśika Intro 01: tatvavimarśinī intro 01:e)
“Revealing the Supreme nature of the Atman that is himself, which is beyond the reach of speech etc., senses, with the desire to uplift Sanaka and others; by the means of sounding the hand-drum, he sounded it nine and five times i.e., fourteen times (at the end of his dance) to manifest the Supreme reality that is inherent in Him”.

“ahaṁ tadētat vitataninādōdbhūtavarṇātmakamādyamatirahasyaṁ śivasūtrajālaṁ śivasaṁbandhisūtrasamūhaṁ kalāṇarūpasūtrasamūhaṁ vā vimarśē vichārya sphuṭīkarōmītyarthaḥ | vimarśa iti chhāndasaṁ bōdhyaṁ |” (nandikēśwara kāśika intro 01:tatvavimarśinī intro 01:f-g)
“The first collection of Lord Shiva’s aphorisms, related to Shiva himself, which are deepest secrets which are auspicious, which are in the form of letters of the sound that emanated (form the hand-drum), I’ll explain clearly by pondering over them. The word ‘vimarsha’ has been used for the sake of metrical requirements”.

The Sutra-commentary by Nandikēśwara begins with verse no. 3 because the first two verses fall under the introductory notes.

 The Sutra-I: अ इ उ ण् (a i u ṇ) – nirguṇa Braḥman (a) uniting with his śakti (i) becomes the saguṇa Braḥman (u)

Nandikēśwara writes that ‘a-kāra’ denotes the Brahman (Śiva in his nirguṇa state). This akāra (a) is the prakāśa and the ikāra (i) denotes the vimarśa which is Śaktī. Thus, Śiva of the form of ‘a’ syllable unites with the ‘i’ syllable to generate the īśvara tatwa which is the ukāra (u).

“ākārō brahmarūpaḥ syānnirguṇassarvavastuṣu |
chitkalāṁ iṁ samāśritya jagadrūpa uṇ īśvaraḥ ||” (nandikēśvara kāśikā 03)

“The letter ‘a’ is the form of Brahman devoid of attributes dwelling in all objects, combined with the letter ‘i’ which is the consciousness, the letter ‘u’ is the ‘īśvara’ (lord) of the universe”.

Nandikēśwara further explains the significance of the syllable ‘a’.

“akāraḥ sarvavarṇāgryaḥ prakāśaḥ paramēśvaraḥ |
ādyamantyena saṁyōgāt ahamityēva jāyatē ||” (nandikēśvara kāśikā 04)

“The syllable ‘a’, the first among all alphabets, is the effulgent supreme lord. From the combination of the first and last letters the word ‘aham’ is born”.

While doing commentary on the above verse of kasika Upamanyu elaborates it as follows. Upamanyu explains that all the akśarā-s (letters) of varṇamālā have originated from Supreme Shiva and the union of ‘a-kāra’ with ‘ha-kāra’ gives birth to ‘ahaṁ sphurṇa’.

“ādirantyēna sahētētyādirakāraḥ antyō hakāraḥ |
akārādi hakārāntāssarvē varṇā tataḥ paramśivaḥ samabhavannityarthaḥ ||” (tatvavimarśinī 03)

“The first letter ‘a’ is united with the last letter ‘ha’. All the letters from ‘a’ to ‘ha’ are born from the Supreme Shiva”.

Here we should not have any doubt about how all the syllables emerged from Supreme Shiva because we have already discussed how all the syllables are contained in ‘akāra’ and how they emerge into consonants and vowels from the one letter (akāra). Let me cite the Aitareya Aranyaka verse here for quick recollection of the point. Since Nandikēśwara has already mentioned that the Supreme Lord Shiva was in the beginning in the form of syllable ‘a’, it should be clear that for that reason Shiva is the source of all the other letters.

“yō vai tāṁ vāchaṁ vēda yasyā ēṣa vikāraḥ sa saṁprativit |
akārō vai sarvā vāk saiṣā sparśōṣmbhirvyajyamānā bahvī nānārūpā bhavati ||” (Aitareya Aranyaka 2:3:6:14)
“He who knows this speech of which this (the mahaduktha) is a development, he is clever. ‘A (akāra)’ is the whole of speech, and manifested through different kinds of contact (consonants) and of wind (sibilants), it becomes manifold and different”.

Here in below verse Nandi is explaining how creation emerged from the vāk (which is identical with Shiva) which was present earlier as parā consciousness and then transformed into vaikharī and from that vaikharī which is the fourth ‘pāda’ of Puruṣa Shiva entire creation emerged. We have already seen the same phenomenon from Vedas in the beginning of this article.

“sarvaṁ parātmakaṁ pūrvaṁ jṇaptimātramidaṁ jagat |
jṇaptērbabhūva paśyantī madhyamā vāk tataḥ smr̥tā ||
vaktrē viśuddhachakrākhyē vaikharī sā matā tataḥ |
sr̥śtyāvirbhāvamātrātmā madhyamāvat samāyutaṁ ||” (nandikēśvara kāśikā 05-06)

“In the beginning the entire universe was only in the form of parā consciousness. From that parā was born paśyantī and the vāk which originated from that was known as madhyamā (5). This vāk is known as vaikharī when it emerges from the face through the viśuddhi-chakra. By its origin and manifestation it is similar to madhyamā (6)”.

To the above verse of Kasika, Upamanyu elaborates how the parā undergoes changes and becomes vaikharī. I am not quoting entire commentary here. Only a relevant and important extract is being cited.

“… paśchāt vaktrē vaikharyākhyamavāpya vēdādirūpō bhavatītyarthaḥ ||” (tatvavimarśinī 05-06:a)
“…and later (the vāk) as vaikharī in the mouth and thus assumes the form of the vēdās”.

From above commentary it is evident that the vāk of shiva gets transformed into vēdās. In other words, vēdās are produced from the breath of Shiva! These vēdās which are nothing but the vaikharī vāk (the manifest sound) contain the seeds of creation. This means, entire universe is created from the vēdās i.e., from vāk. This is why Upamanyu further attests this with śruti pramāṇa and states the following in continuation to his above commentary.

śrutirapi “vāgēva viśvā bhuvanāni jajnē” iti | sūkṣhmā vāgēva viśvākārēṇa pariṇamatē vivartatē vētyarthaḥ |” (tatvavimarśinī 05-06:b)
“Śruti (Vēdās) also says, “It is only the speech which created the worlds”. It means that it is only the subtle aspect of speech which transforms itself in the form of this world”.

The complete śruti vākya is this – “vāgeva viśvā bhuvanāni jajñe vāgevedaṃ bubhuje vāguvāca’ityādau vācaḥ sārvātmyaṃ śrūyate |”. Even Sri Mandana Mishra in his celebrated work titled ‘braḥmasiddhi’ refers to the above sruti mantra.

Further, the continuation of Upamanyu’s commentary on the same verse mentions the following where Upamanyu quotes another shruti reference and establishes the fact that the entire creation has emerged from Vāk alone.

“śrutyantaramapi “vācaiva viṣvaṁ bahurūpaṁ nibaddhaṁ tadētadēkaṁ pravibhajyōpabhunktē” iti |” (tatvavimarśinī 05-06:c)
”In another śruti passage it has been said: ‘The world with its multiple forms is composed of speech only, and having divided, one part of it is being experienced”.

This statement of Upamanyu is exactly same as what is “implied” in an indirect way in the below verse from Rig Veda. We have already discussed this in detail in the beginning of this article, however, for the quick recollection citing the ‘catvāri vāk’ verse here.

“catvāri vāk parimitā padāni tāni vidurbrāhmaṇā ye manīṣiṇaḥ |
ghuhā trīṇi nihitā neṅghayanti turīyaṃ vāco manuṣyā vadanti ||” (Rig Veda 1:164:45)
“Speech hath been measured out in four divisions; the Brahmans who have understanding know them. Three kept in close concealment cause no motion; of speech, men speak only the fourth division”.

Vedas are mantras i.e., śabda-braḥman, in other words, Vedas are nothing but vaikharī-vāk of lord Shiva. Therefore what Vedas contain is all vāk alone. Hence to say – creation proceeds from Vedas and creation proceeds from vāk – both these statements are one and the same in meaning.

For this reason Mokshadharmanusasana upa-parva from Santi-Parva of Mahabharata, has a discourse by Vyasa about the creation of Universe. He clearly states that entire universe including its mobile and immobile creation takes its form and shape from the blue prints which are hidden in Vedas. Even the great rishis and their names pre-exist in Vedas and later on when they take birth, their names are assigned as per the blue-print present in Vedas.

Mahabharata says that Ishvara (i.e, Shiva as we have already analyzed), created all the things from the words of Vedas. And we already know that Vedas are his words, i.e., his vāk!

“vēdaśabdēbhya ēvādau nirmimītē sa īśvaraḥ|
nāmadhēyāni carṣīṇā̃ yāśca vēdēṣu sṛṣṭayaḥ||” (MBH 12:232:26)
“Indeed, the Īśvara, in the beginning, created all things from the words of the Vedas. Truly, the names of the Rishis, and all else that has been created, occur in the Vedas”.

Below verse gives more clarity on the same subject and agrees with what we have analysed earlier.

“anādinidhanā vidyā vāgutsṛṣṭā svayambhuvā|
ādau vēdamayī divyā yataḥ sarvāḥ pravṛttayaḥ||” (MBH 12:232:24)
“At the outset the Self-born caused those excellent Vedic sounds, that are embodiments of knowledge and that have neither beginning nor end to (spring up and) flow on (from preceptor to disciple). From those sounds have sprung all kinds of actions”.

Every thing proceeds from Vedas even the names of all beings too, because ‘rūpa-prapancha’ as well as ‘nāma-prapancha’ both are Shiva’s forms alone as we have seen in earlier sections.

“ṛṣīṇā̃ nāmadhēyāni yāśca vēdēṣu sṛṣṭayaḥ|
nānārūpaṁ ca bhūtānā̃ karmaṇā̃ ca pravartanam||” (MBH 12:232:25)
“The names of the Rishis, all things that have been created, the varieties of form seen in existent things, and the course of actions, have their origin in the Vedas”.

What can we say more? The below verse sums up all the things that we can thing of – as emerging from the vāk of Shiva – which we call Vedas!

“śarvaryantē sujātānāmanyēbhyō vidadhātyajaḥ|
nāmabhēdatapaḥkarmayajñākhyā lōkasiddhayaḥ|
ātmasiddhistu vēdēṣu prōcyatē daśabhiḥ kramaiḥ||” (MBH 12:232:27)
“Upon the expiration of his night (i.e., at the dawn of his day), the uncreate Brahman creates, from prototypes that existed before, all things which are, of course, well-made by Him. In the Vedas hath been indicated the topic of the Soul’s Emancipation, along with the ten means constituted by study of the Vedas, adoption of the domestic mode of life, penances, observance of duties common to all the modes of life, sacrifices, performance of all such acts as lead to pure fame, meditation which is of three kinds, and that kind of emancipation which is called success (Siddhi) attainable in this life”.

Now, Nandikēśvara explains about the “seed (rētas)” of “desire (kāma)”.

“akāraṁ sannidhīkr̥tya jagatāṁ kāraṇatvataḥ |
ikārassarvavarṇānāṁ śaktitvāt kāraṇaṁ mataṁ ||7
jagatsraṣtumabhūdvānchchā yadā hyāsīttadābhavat |
kāmabījamiti prāhurmunayō vēdapāragaḥ ||” (nandikēśvara kāśikā 07-08)

“Due to the nearness of the syllable ‘i’ (ikāra) with that of the syllable ‘a’ (akāra), the syllable ‘i’ is the cause of the universe and due to its prospective nature, it is the cause of all the alphabets in the varṇamāla (7). When there arose desire to create the universe, then the world became (i.e., came into existence). The seers who were learned in Vedas called it ‘kāmabīja’ (the seed of desire) (8)”.

The above verses by Nandikēśvara clarifies the meaning of the below verses from Rig Veda. The ‘’kāmabīja’ which Soma (Shiva) lays in the womb (garbha) of Aditi is not any semen as outwardly it sounds like; but that seed is the seed letter ‘a’ which unites with Shakti’s seed letter ‘I’ and thus produces all other alphabets. From the various combinations of the alphabets in the ‘varṇamāla’ creation happens.

“arāvīdaṃśuḥ sacamāna ūrmiṇā devāvyaṃ manuṣe pinvatitvacam
dadhāti gharbhamaditerupastha ā yena tokaṃ ca tanayaṃ ca dhāmahe ” (Rig Veda 9:74:5)
“ The Soma-stalk hath roared, following with the wave: he swells with sap for man the skin which Gods enjoy. Upon the lap (womb) of Aditi he lays the germ, by means whereof we gain children and progeny”.

“kāmastadaghre samavartatādhi manaso retaḥ prathamaṃ yadāsīt |
sato bandhumasati niravindan hṛdi pratīṣyākavayo manīṣā ||” (Rig Veda 10:129:04)
“Thereafter rose Desire (kāma) in the beginning, Desire (kāma), the primal seed (retaḥ) and germ of Spirit. Sages who searched with their heart’s thought discovered the existent’s kinship in the non-existent”.

With this let’s now proceed with the next verse of Maheshvara Sutras.

The Sutra-II: ऋ ऌ क् (ṛ ḷ k) – Defect free Vedantic concept of creation by Śiva

Elaborating the esoteric meaning of the second sūtra Nandikēśvara says that the Lord is denoted by ‘r̥ l̥ k’ and resorting to his māyā he created the world. Here we need to note that the three syllables viz., ‘r̥ l̥ k’ are said to denote the lord alone, and as we would see in the commentary by Upamanyu they are separately described as denoting the lord, māyā and the world. There is no discrepancy here, because in reality as per Vedanta there is no creation. The creator (r̥), the created (k) and the medium of creation (l̥) – this triad is ultimately the Lord alone.

‘r̥l̥k’ sarvēśvarō māyāṁ manōvr̥ttimadarśayat |
tāmēva vyaktimāśritya jagadrūpamnajījanat ||” (nandikēśvara kāśikā 10)

“The lord denoted by ‘r̥l̥k’ displayed māyā in the form of his mental function and by resorting to her person; he gave birth to the form of the universe”.

Upamanyu in the very first statement (of his commentary on the above verse) itself, erases all the doubts regarding any questions related to defects in Advaita as stated below.

“nanu sarvavēdāntēśu paramēśvara eka iti niśchitatvāt māyāṁ īṁ chitkalāṁ samāśritya jagadrūpōbhūdityuktē advaitahāniḥ syādityāśankāyāmāha – r̥l̥giti ||” (tatvavimarśinī 10)
“If a doubt arises that there would be a defect in the concept of non-duality, when we accept that the Paramēśvara who is described as the only one in Vedanta appeared as one world by depending on the syllable ‘i’ (ikāra), which is the chitkala, it is answered ‘r̥l̥k’”.

He then elaborates which syllable denotes whom and gives a clear picture of the sutra.

“r̥ paramēśvaraḥ l̥ māyākhyāṁ manōvr̥ttiṁ k adarśayat | tāmēvāśritya svēchchayā jagajjanayāmāsētyarthaḥ ||” (tatvavimarśinī 10)
“The lord denoted by ‘r̥-kāra’, his mental tendency called māyā which is denoted by ‘l̥-kāra’, projected (the world) denoted by ‘k-kāra’. By resorting only to her (i.e., māyā) He produced this universe at his will”.

Upamanyu further cites passages from Vedas and mentions that the ‘r̥taṁ’ and ‘satyaṁ’ as stated in Taittiriya Aranyaka (10.23.1) (Mahanarayanopanishad section) denote the lord Shiva alone.

“r̥ paramēśvara ityatra ‘r̥taṁ satyaṁ paraṁ brahma puruṣaṁ kr̥ṣṇapiṇgalaṁ’ iti śrutiḥ pramāṇaṁ | r̥taṁ tatpadārthaṁ paraṁ brahma satyamityarthaḥ | śrutyanaramapi ‘sōkāmayat bahu syāṁ prajāyēya’ iti ||” (tatvavimarśinī 10)
“The Vedic verse (from Taittiriya Aranyaka 10.23.1 which is a part of mahanarayanopanishat), ‘The Supreme-Being is of Black and Red colour denoting r̥ta and satya’ is the evidence for the syllable ‘r̥’ symbolizing the lord. That is, the word r̥ta symbolizes that Supreme Brahman, which is real. Another Vedic verse (from Taittiriya Upa. 2:6:1) also mentions, ‘He desired, ‘Let me multiply into many beings””.

Therefore from this section we learn that there is no duality. Only the lord Shiva alone shines and his consort Maya is non-different from him, and even the entire creation is HE alone. This puts a full stop on all notions of existence of anything / anyone apart from Shiva.

The Sutra-III: ए ओ ङ् (e o ṅ) – Creator becomes the Created – Pravēśa Śruti explained – Advaita Firmly Established

Further to the previous section, here also the unity between Maya and Shiva is ascertained. Also, in a bit more detail Upamanyu establishes the clarity over the meanings of creator, created and the medium of creation. Clearly, on one hand it confirms Advaita Vedanta’s authority and on the other hand, it proves there is nothing except Shiva that exists.

“ēōṅ māyēśvarātmaikyavijnānaṁ sarvavastuṣu |
sākśhitvātsarvabhūtānāṁ sa ēka iti niśchitaṁ ||” (nandikēśvara kāśikā 13)

“The syllables ‘ē ōṅ’ denote the knowledge of the unity of the māyā and īśvara. Since He is the witness of all the beings, it is decided that he is One”.

“nanu janayāmāsētyuktē janyajanakabhāvē advaitahāniḥ syāt ityāśankāyāṁ “tat sr̥ṣṭvā | tadēvānuprāviśat | tadanupraviśya |” iti śrutimāśrityāh ‘ēōṅ’ māyēśvarātmaikyēti | janyajanakatvaṁ cha svasyaiva tattadrūpēṇa vivartanāditi nādvaitahāniḥ |” (tatvavimarśinī 13)
“If it is said that ‘He created’, then there would arise the aspects of creator and created; which would lead to defect in the concept of non-dualism. Then it is explained as ‘Having created that, he entered into that thing. Having entered it…” It is said, resorting to the Sruti passage (of taittiriiya upanisad 2:6:1) that ‘ē ōṅ’ symbolizes the union of māyā and īśvara. There is no conflict in the concept of Advaita here, since it is transformation of one’s own self – in the form of ‘created’ and the ‘creator’.”

The Sutra-IV: ऐ औ च् (ai au c) – Creation of Thirteen tatwas, fourteen worlds and fourteen chakras

The one non-dual Shiva who is the in-dweller of everything and who pervades and encompasses everything (īśāvāsyamidaṁ sarvaṁ as the īśopanśad states), created the fourteen worlds, fourteen chakras from himself. That is, he himself became all that. It also explains the tatwas (principles) ranging from Shiva to prakriti as being created through the thirteen vowels of the varṇamālā. This again means entire creation is composed of varṇamālā (alphabets).

Nandikesvara explains the aphorism as how the Brahman (shiva) expanded himself into the universe as follows.

“ai auc brahmasvarūpassan jagatsvāntargataṁ tataḥ |
icchayā vistāraṁ kartumāvirāsīt kr̥pānidhiḥ ||” (nandikēśvara kāśikā 14)

“‘ai auc’ being the Brahman encompassing the entire universe within himself, being kind wanted to expand the universe and manifested himself”.

Upamanyu elaborates the above explanation of Nandikesvara and explains how parameshvara became the cause of the universe

“svātmabhūtasya parameśvarasya jagatkāraṇatvaṁ kathāmityāśankāyāmāḥ – ai au jiti |” (tatvavimarśinī 14)
“In the case of doubt as to how can the in-dwelling Paramēśvara be the cause of the universe, it is said – “ai auc””.

He further explains how the thirteen tattwas from Siva to Prakriti are the manifestation of thirteen vowels of Sanskrit viz. – a, ā, i, ī, u, ū, ṛ, ṟ, ḷ, e, ai, o, au.

“…evaṁ tattvasamudāyānāṁ trayōdaśavarṇāt śivādiprakr̥tyantānāmudbhavaḥ | prakr̥tipuruśavivēkamuttaratra kathayiṣyati |” (tatvavimarśinī 14)
“…In this way the group of tattvā-s (principles) from Śiva upto Prakrti emerged from the thirteen syllables (thirteen vowels of saṁskr̥taṁ) “. The differentiating knowledge of prakriti and puruśa would be described later (in subsequent sūtra-s)”

Further he explains how the fourteen vowels (including aṁ, and aḥ in the list of short (hrasva) and long (dIrgha) vowels) which are – a, ā, i, ī, u, ū, r̥, l̥, ē, ai, ō, au, aṁ, aḥ; created the fourteen worlds in braḥmānḍa (universe) and fourteen chakras in pinḍānda (body).

“…atra hrasvadīrghaprabhēdāt chaturdaśasvarāṇāmēva saṁkīrtanaṁ chaturdaśabhuvanachaturdaśachakrachaturdaśaprākāraṇāmiti niṣkarṣaḥ |” (tatvavimarśinī 14)
“…Here through the distinction of short and long vowels only fourteen sūtras (aphorisms) are described; this firmly symbolizes fourteen worlds, fourteen chakras, and fourteen enclosures (of śrichakra).

This aphorism thus establishes the following two facts:

  1. From Shiva emerged the thirteen principles (tattwas) as the form of the thirteen vowels
  2. From Shiva appeared the fourteen worlds and fourteen chakras as the form of fourteen vowels (including aṁ, and aḥ)

The Sutra-V: ह य व र ट् (ha ya va ra ṭ) – Creation of the five gross elements (pancha bhuta)

Nandikēśwara states that the entire set of the five principal elements called as ‘pancha-bhutas’, were manifested from Maheshvara and emphasizes the point that Maheshwara indeed is in the form of all the five elements.

“bhūtapanchakamētasmāt hayavaraṇ mahēśvarāt |
vyōmavāyavyambuvahnyākhyahūtānyāsītsa ēva hi ||” (nandikēśvara kāśikā 15)

“From Mahēśvara through the syllables – ha, ya, va, ra, and ṭ, the pancha-bhutas (i.e., five elements) manifested which are vyoma (space), vayu (air), ambu (water), vahni (fire) etc. He (Mahēśvara) is verily these elements”.

In the below verse he elaborates how from which syllable which element (bhuta) manifested.

“hakārād vyōmasaṁjnasścha yakārād vāyuruchyatē |
rakārādvahni stōyaṁ tu vakārāditi śaivarāt ||” (nandikēśvara kāśikā 16)

“In terms of śaiva jargon, Ether is denoted by the syllable ‘ha’, Air through the syllable ‘ya’, Fire through ‘ra’, and Water through ‘va’”.

Here Upamanyu’s commentary mentions a good observation. He first creates a doubt in our minds by saying that in this aphorism five elements have been told to manifest from Shiva but only four have been mentioned. And immediately he removes our doubt by clarifying that the next aphorism discusses about the fifth bhuta (element) viz. Earth (bhumi) as follows.

“atrāsmin sūtrē bhūtapanchakamāsīdityuktaṁ | tatrākāśādi bhūtachatuṣtayamēvōktaṁ | na pr̥thvītyākānkśāyāṁ yadādhārasvarūpaṁ samastakāraṇamiti sūtrāntarēṇāvōchit – ādhārēti |” (tatvavimarśinī 17a)
“Here in this aphorism is stated, “the set of five principle elements were there”. However, there only four have been discussed, it had been explained through another (next) aphorism starting with the word ‘ādhāra’, that the Earth in the form of a foundation is the cause for everything”.

It is Bhagawan Rudra who exists in the form of all elements of nature and entire creation is also he himself. This is evident from the Sri Rudram verse cited below.

“yō rudrō agnau yō apsu ya ōṣadhiṣu |
yō rudrō viśva bhuvanāvivēśa tasmai rudrāya namō astu |” (Yajurveda 5:5:9:i)
“The Rudra in the fire, in the waters, in the plants, the Rudra that hath entered all beings, to that Rudra be homage”

This section of ‘kāsikā’ which talks about the creation of Pancha Bhutas by Shiva is also clearly described in Vedas. Satapatha Brahmana as well as Kaushitaki Brahmana give the details. Here I am quoting from Satapatha Brahmana.

It is Mahadeva who exists not only in the form of pancha bhutas alone, but additionally three more entities viz., – Indra, Moon and Sun representing – ego, mind and intellect! These are the eight forms of Shiva famed as “astamūrti”. Here we would see references for the four elements discussed in this section and the evidence for Earth we would discuss in next section where it makes more sense to cite.

Agni manifested from Lord Rudra:

“tamabravīdrudro ‘sīti | tadyadasya tannāmākarodagnistadrūpamabhavadagniva rudro
yadarodīttasmādrudraḥ so ‘bravījjyāyānvā ato ‘smi dhehyeva me nāmeti |” (Shatapatha Brahmana 6:1:3:10)
“He said to him, ‘Thou art Rudra.’ And because he gave him that name, Agni became suchlike (or, that form), for Rudra is Agni: because he cried (rud) therefore he is Rudra. He said, ‘Surely, I am mightier than that: give me yet a name!’”

Waters manifested from Lord Rudra:

“tamabravītsarvo ‘sīti | tadyadasya tannāmākarodāpastadrūpamabhavannāpo vai sarvo
‘dbhyo hīdaṃ sarvaṃ jāyate so ‘bravījjyāyānvā ato ‘smi dhehyeva me nāmeti |” (Shatapatha Brahmana 6:1:3:11)
“He said to him, ‘Thou art Sarva.’ And because he gave him that name, the waters became suchlike, for Sarva is the waters, inasmuch as from the water everything (sarva) here is produced. He said, ‘Surely, I am mightier than that: give me yet a name!’”

Vayu (Air) manifested from Lord Rudra:

“tamabravīdugro ‘sīti | tadyadasya tannāmākarodvāyustadrūpambhavadvāyurvā
ugrastasmādyadā balavadvāyugro vātotyāhuḥ so ‘bravījjyāyānvā ato ‘smi dhehyeva me
nāmeti |” (Shatapatha Brahmana 6:1:3:13)
“He said to him, ‘Thou art Ugra.’ And because he gave him that name, Vâyu (the wind) became suchlike, for Ugra is Vâyu: hence when it blows strongly, they say ‘Ugra is blowing.’ He said, ‘Surely, I am mightier than that: give me yet a name!’”

Parjanya (the cloud which represents Sky) manifested from Lord Rudra:

“tamabravīdbhavo ‘sīti | tadyadasya tannāmākarotparjanyastadrūpamabhavatparjanyo
vai bhavaḥ parjanyāddhīdaṃ sarvam bhavati so ‘bravījjyāyānvā ato ‘smi dhehyeva me
nāmeti |” (Shatapatha Brahmana 6:1:3:15)
“He said to him, ‘Thou art Bhava.’ And because he gave him that name, ‘Parganya’ became suchlike; for Bhava is Parganya, since everything here comes (bhavati) from the cloud (read ‘Sky’). He said, ‘Surely, I am mightier than that: give me yet a name!’”

After creating those forms Bhagawan Rudra entered into them one by one and then disappeared from his original form. All were seeing only these manifestations of the Supreme Being.

“’agniriti so ‘yaṃ kumāro rūpāṇyanuprāviśanna vā agniṃ kumāramiva paśyantyetānyevāsya rūpāṇi
paśyantyetāni hi rūpāṇyanuprāviśat |” (Shatapatha Brahmana 6:1:3:19)
“That boy entered into the forms one after another; for one never sees him as a mere boy (kumâra), but one sees those forms of his, for he assumed those forms one after another”.

The Sutra-VI: ल ण् (la ṇ) – Creation of the pancha bhuta continued

Nandikēśwara explaining the 6th Sutra states how Earth is the foundation of creation.

“ādhārabhūtaṁ bhūtānāmannādīnāṁ cha kāraṇaṁ |
annādrētastatō jīvaḥ kāraṇatvāt laṇ īritaṁ ||” (nandikēśvara kāśikā 17)
“Being the foundation of all elements, it is the cause of food; from food semen (gets created) and from that the individual self (jīvaḥ) (takes birth). Because of its nature of being the cause, it is said, ‘laṇ’”.

Upamanyu in his commentary elaborates and details how Earth is not only the basis for creation of creatures but also acts as the basis for sustenance.

“bhūtānāṁ prāṇijātānāṁ udbhijja-jarāyujāṇḍajādīnāṁ pradhānakāraṇatvāt ādhārabhūtaṁ pr̥thvī punaśchānnapānādīnāṁ kāraṇaṁ | ‘annadrēta’ iti nyāyāt ētēṣāṁ kāraṇatvāt pratyēkatvēna laṇityudīritamityarthaḥ |” (tatvavimarśinī 17b)
“The Earth is the foundation and primordial cause of all the creatures viz. plants (udbhijja i.e., earth born), insects (sweat born), womb born (jarāyujaṁ), and egg-born (anḍajaṁ) and is also the cause for food and water etc. As per the statement ‘the semen is from the food’ and also being the cause behind all these it is said ‘laṇ’ denotes (all creatures) individually”.

Satapatha Brahmana also states that Earth is a manifestation of Bhagawan Rudra alone.

Plants (represents Earth) manifested from Lord Rudra:

“tamabravītpaśupatirasīti | tadyadasya tannāmākarodoṣadhayastadrūpamabhavannoṣadhayo vai paśupatistasmādyadā paśava oṣadhīrlabhante ‘tha patīyanti so ‘bravījjyāyānvā ato ‘smi dhehyeva me nāmeti |” (Shatapatha Brahmana 6:1:3:12)
“He said to him, ‘Thou art Pasupati.’ And because he gave him that name, the plants became suchlike, for Pasupati is the plants: hence when cattle (pasu) get plants, then they play the master (patîy). He said, ‘Surely, I am mightier than that: give me yet a name!’”

The Sutra-VII: ञ म ङ ण न म् (ña ma ṅa ṇa na m) – Creation of tanmātrā-s

Nandikeśvara decodes the seventh Maheśvara Sūtra and explains the secrets of manifestation of tanmātra-s from the varṇamāla form of the Supreme Shiva.

“śabdasparśau rūparasagandhāścha ñamaṅaṇanaṁ |
vyōmādīnāṁ guṇā hyētē jānīyāt sarvavastuṣū ||” (nandikēśvara kāśikā 18)

“Sound, Touch, Form, taste, and smell are the ‘ña ma ṅa ṇa na m’; one should know these as the qualities of the elements Ether, etc., in all objects.


The Sutra-VIII, IX: झ भ ञ् (jha bha ñ) + घ ढ ध ष् (gha ḍha dha ṣ) – Creation of karmēndriyā-s (Motor organs)

Nandikeśvara explains the eighth and ninth aphorisms of Maheśvara and clarifies how the motor organs get manifested from the seed letters of varṇamālā.

“vākpāṇī cha jhabhaññāsīdvirādrūpaṁ chidātmanaḥ |
sarvajantuṣu vijnēyaṁ sthāvarādau na vidyatē || 19
vargāṇāṁ turyavarṇā yē karmēndriya gaṇā hi tē |
ghaḍhadhaṣ sarvabhūtānāṁ pādapāyū upasthakaḥ ||” (nandikēśvara kāśikā 19-20)

“‘jhabhajñ’ is the speech and hands of the virāt form (cosmic form), the self, of the nature of consciousness; it is to be known as existing in all beings except the immobile creation (since they come under the category of anātmā, at transactional or relative order of reality) (19). Those syllables which are the fourth letters in their respective collections (i.e, the letters gha, dha, ḍha, ṣha are the fourth letters of ka, ṭa, ta and sa groups of alphabets) manifest as the motor organs. gha-ḍha-dhaṣ are the feet, anus, and the reproductive organ of all creatures (20)”.

To those verses, Upamanyu’s commentary emphasizes that all these manifest from Śiva as follows.

“chidrūpasya śivasya prāṇijātasya cha jhakārabhakārau sthāvarādiṣu vinā virādrūpaṁ vijnēyamityarthaḥ | atha kramaprāptaṁ pādādikamāha – ghaḍhadhaśiti | paramārthataḥ paramaśivasakāśāt imē karmēndriyagaṇāḥ sarvajantūnāṁ pādapāyūpasthā ghaḍhadhavarṇāḥ jātā ityarthaḥ |” (tatvavimarśinī 19-20)
“The syllables ‘jha-kāra’ and ‘bha-kāra’ are to be known as the cosmic form (virādrūpa) of Śiva, the consciousness embodied manifest in all the beings except the immobile (anātmān type in relative sense). Then the author explains in sequence the foot etc. organs as ‘gha-ḍha-dha’. These motor organs viz. feet, anus, and the reproductory organ of all the beings represented by the syllables ‘gha-ḍha-dha’ are in fact born out of lord Śiva”.

The Sutra-X: ज ब ग ड द श् (ja ba ga ḍa da ś) – Creation of jnānēndriyā-s (Sense organs)

In the tenth aphorism Nandikeśvara explains how the sense organs get manifested from the seed letters of varṇamālā.

“śrōtratvaṅnayana ghrāṇajihvādīndriyapañchakaṁ |
sarvēṣāmapi jantūnāmīritaṁ jabagaḍadaś || (nandikēśvara kāśikā 21)
“The syllables ‘ja-ba-ga-ḍa-daś’ is said to be the five sense organs viz. Ears, Skin, Eyes, Nose, and Tongue- of all the beings”.

To that Upamanyiu explains that the sense organs are created from the middle letters of each of the groups of the vargā-s of varṇamālā (i.e., ja, bha, ga, ḍa, da are the middle letters of cha-group, pa-group, ka-group, ṭa-group, ta-group respectively).

“”varṇānāṁ madhyavarṇōtthōjnānēndriyagaṇaḥ smr̥taḥ |” iti vacanaśāsanāt jabagaḍavarṇasaṁbhavō jnānēndriyagaṇaḥ iti sarvatra sarvēṣāṁ prāṇijātānāmētē varṇāḥ jnānēndriyāṇāṁ janakā iti vā vijnēyamityarthaḥ |” (tatvavimarśinī 21)
“As it is instructed through the statement that “the group of sense organs is born of the middle syllables of the vargas, it is empirical that the group of sense organs is produced by the syllables “ja, bha, ga, ḍa, daś”; it is to be noted that these syllables are the originators of the sense organs of all”.

The Sutra-XI: ख फ छ ठ थ च ट त व् (kha pha cha ṭha tha ca ṭa ta v) – Creation of Mind, Intellect, Ego, and Vital-Airs

Here in the Eleventh aphorism, Nandikeśvara explains the emergence of five prāṇā-s, Mind (manas), Intellect (buddhi) and Ego (ahaṁkāra) as follows.

prāṇādi pañchakaṁ chaiva manōbuddhirahaṁkr̥tiḥ |
babhūva karaṇatvēna khaphachaṭhathacaṭatav ||” (nandikēśvara kāśikā 22)

“‘kha, pha, chha, ṭha, tha, ca, ṭa, tav’ became instrumental in the evolution of the set of five airs (prāṇā etc.) and mind, intellect and ego”.

“vargadvitīyavarṇōtthāḥ prāṇādyāḥ pañcha vāyavaḥ |
madhyavargatrayājjātā antaḥkaraṇavr̥ttayaḥ ||” (nandikēśvara kāśikā 23)
“The five airs beginning with prāṇā arise out of the second syllables in each group and the internal organs emerge from the first syllables of the three interim groups (such as ca, ṭa and ta)”.

Actually there is only one Prana which divides itself in multiple ways. And based on the classification, they are sometimes said to be five pranas, sometimes as seven pranas, sometimes nine, sometimes as ten, sometimes as eleven, twelve, and thirteen also. There are references in Upanishads for all these various counts. They are not contradictory rather; these differences in counts are due to differences in classification.

Pranas are the children of Atman. Pranas are called as Rudras in Brihadaranyaka Upanishad (III:9:04), and Rig Veda clarifies that rudras (also called as Maruts) are the children of Bhagawan Rudra (Shiva). This implies, Rudra is the Atman (Brahman) from whom Pranas emerge out.

“jyeṣṭhāso akaniṣṭhāsa ete sam bhrātaro vāvṛdhuḥ saubhaghāya |
yuvā pitā svapā rudra eṣāṃ sudughā pṛśniḥ sudinā marudbhyaḥ ||” (Rig Veda 5:60:5)
“As brothers, no one being the eldest or the youngest, they have grown up together to happiness. Young is their clever father Rudra, flowing with plenty milk is Prisni (their mother), always kind to the Maruts”.

[Note: – The immediate next verse of this hymn identifies Maruts with Rudras, so there should be no confusion with the identities between Maruts and Rudras]

Further Satapatha Brahmana details out that Indra (representing Ego), Moon (representing manas) and Sun (representing Intellect) are all the manifestations of Bhagawan Rudra alone as cited below.

Asani (Lightening which represents Indra who represents Ego) manifested from Lord Rudra:

“tamabravīdaśanirasīti | tadyadasya tannāmākarodvidyuttadrūpamabhavadvidyudvā
aśanistasmādyaṃ vidyuddhantyaśanirabadhīdityāhuḥ so ‘bravījjyāyānvā ato ‘smi
dhehyeva me nāmeti |” (Shatapatha Brahmana 6:1:3:14)
“He said to him, ‘Thou art Asani.’ And because he gave him that name, the lightning became suchlike, for Asani is the lightning: hence they say of him whom the lightning strikes, ‘Asani has smitten him.’ He said, ‘Surely, I am mightier than that: give me yet a name!’”

Note that here Asani means ‘lightening’ but it actually means Indra. Here in Shatapatha Brahmana it is not explicit but the inner meaning is the same. In Kaushitaki Brahmana (6:3:41) it is clearly mentioned that Asani is Indra. Vedas are not as literal as they sound sometimes, and hence we need to understand the implied meaning in such circumstances.

Moon (manas or Mind) manifested from Lord Rudra:

“tamabravīnmahāndevo ‘sīti | tadyadasya tannāmākaroccandramāstadrūpamabhavatprajāpatirvai candramāḥ prajāpatirvai mahāndevaḥ so ‘bravījjyāyānvā ato ‘smi dhehyeva me nāmeti |” (Shatapatha Brahmana 6:1:3:16)
“He said to him, ‘Thou art Mahân Devah (the Great God).’ And because he gave him that name, the moon became suchlike, for the moon is Pragâpati, and Pragâpati is the Great God. He said, ‘Surely, I am mightier than that: give me yet a name!’”

Sun (Intellect) manifested from Lord Rudra:

“tamabravīdīśāno ‘sīti | tadyadasya tannāmākarodādityastadrūpamabhavadādityo vā
īśāna ādityo hyasya sarvasyeṣṭe so ‘bravīdetāvānvā asmi mā metaḥ paro nāma dhā iti |” (Shatapatha Brahmana 6:1:3:17)
“He said to him, ‘Thou art Îsâna (the Ruler).’ And because he gave him that name, the Sun (Aditya) became suchlike, for Îsâna is the Sun, since the Sun rules over this All. He said, ‘So great indeed I am: give me no other name after that!’”

And then Rudra entered one after another these forms and remained in this forms.

“’agniriti so ‘yaṃ kumāro rūpāṇyanuprāviśanna vā agniṃ kumāramiva paśyantyetānyevāsya rūpāṇi
paśyantyetāni hi rūpāṇyanuprāviśat |” (Shatapatha Brahmana 6:1:3:19)
“That boy entered into the forms one after another; for one never sees him as a mere boy (kumâra), but one sees those forms of his, for he assumed those forms one after another”.

So, this section also concludes that the Pranas, Mind, Intellect, and Ego are all the manifestations of Bhagawan Shiva alone.

The Sutra-XII: क प य् (ka pa y) – Manifestation of Puruṣa (jīva) and Prakritī (matter)

Here in the Twelfth aphorism, Nandikeśvara explains the emergence of individual self (Puruṣa i.e., jīva) and the matter (Prakr̥ti) as follows.

“prakr̥tiṁ puruṣaṁ chaiva sarvēṣāmēva sammataṁ |
saṁbhūtamiti vijnēyaṁ kapābhyāmiti niśchitaṁ ||” (nandikēśvara kāśikā 24)

“It is to be learnt that the view asserting the Prakr̥ti and Puruṣa (individual self) as born of ‘ka’ and ‘pa’ is accepted by all”.

Individual self is verily Shiva alone acting under the blanket of ignorance and eating the fruits of karmas. There is however no difference between the individual self and Shiva. We have the following references to denote the identity of individual self with Shiva.

“dēhō dēvālayah prōktaḥ sa jīvaḥ kēvalaḥ śivaḥ |
tyajēdaj~nānanirmālyan sōhaṁbhāvēna pūjayēt |” (Maitreyi Upanishad II:1)
“The body is said to be the temple; the individual Self (Jiva) is Shiva alone. One should discard the faded flowers in the form of spiritual ignorance and worship God (with the conviction) ‘He and I are one’.

“namō ataryāya chaladyāya cha |”(Yajurveda IV:5:8:o)
“Salutations to Him (Rudra) who is born again and again in Samsara and who tastes the fruits of Karmas in the form of Jiva”.

“pashupatirahaṁkārāviṣṭaḥ saṁsārī jīvaḥ sa ēva pashuḥ |” (Jabali Upanishad 1.2)
“Jeeva (being) is nothing but Shiva (the Lord of all beings – Pasupathi) himself who is acting the role of egoism”.

Even Kaivalyopanishad tells us the same. After the three citadels of ignorance get destroyed by the knowledge (arrow of Shiva), Jiva realizes that he is Shiva and is unbound, limitless, and of sat-chit-ananda swarupa.

The Sutra-XIII: श ष स र् (śa ṣa sa r) – Emergence of qualities viz. sattva, rajas, tamō guṇā-s

The Thirteenth aphorism explains the creation of the three qualities viz. Sattva, Rajas and Tamas. They originate from the varṇamālā form of Lord Shiva and again that Mahādēva alone employs himself in his various tasks by wearing those qualities on himself. Entire dynamics of creation which are supported by these three gunas are the play of Mahādēva!

“sattvarajastama iti guṇānāṁ tritayaṁ purā |
samāśritya mahādēvaḥ śaṣasarkrīdati prabhuḥ ||” (nandikēśvara kāśikā 25)
“Having resorted long ago, to the three qualities viz. Sattva, Rajas and Tamas, which evolved from ‘śa, ṣa, and sar’, Lord Mahādēva plays”.

“śakārādrajasō bhūtiḥ ṣakārāttamasō bhavaḥ |
sakārātsattvasaṁbhūtiriti triguṇasaṁbhavaḥ ||” (nandikēśvara kāśikā 26)

“The evolution of the three qualities is thus – Rajas arises from ‘śa’; Tamas originates from ‘ṣa’; and Sattva is born of ‘sa’”.

The Sutra-XIV: ह ल् (ha l) – Represents the Supreme Soul i.e, Shiva

“tattvātītaḥ paraḥ sākśhī sarvānugrahavigrahaḥ |
ahamātmā parō hal syāditi śambhustirōdadhē ||” (nandikēśvara kāśikā 27)

“The Lord Śambhu disappeared stating, “Transcending the principles, I am the Supreme, I am the Witness, I am the Embodiment of Grace, and I am the Supreme Soul represented by the term ‘hal’”.

Upamanyu elaborates this verse as follows. He says that Shiva is beyond all these tatwas and is the Supreme Brahman. Despite being the originator of all the elements of the universe, he is untouched by them, he is above and beyond them.

“spaṣtaṁ | sarvatattvajanakaḥ svayaṁ tattvātīta iti jnāpanārthamētatsūtraṁ chakārētyāḥ tattvātīta iti |” (tatvavimarśinī 27a)
“It is clear! To emphasize the fact that despite being the originator of all the tattvas (principles), He (Shiva) is beyond them! He has composed this aphorism (which is explained) through tattvātīta, etc.”.

“sarvānugrahavigrahaḥ sākśī tattvātītaḥ hal syāt iti ḍhakkāninādavyājēna sarvēṣāṁ janānāṁ tattvamupadiśan tirōdadhē ityarthaḥ | hakāraḥ śivavarṇaḥ syāditi śaivāgamasmr̥tiḥ |” (tatvavimarśinī 27b)
“Imparting the Supreme knowledge to all that, He is the embodiment of abundant Grace, the Witness, the one who has transcended the principles and is ‘hal’ (the Supreme lord), under the pretext of the sound of the hand-drum, He disappeared! The texts on śaivāgama describe ‘ha’ as the syllable of ‘Śiva’”.

This final aphorism’s meaning should shut the mouths of all those anti-shiva schools of thought which maliciously (and purposely) call Shiva as a demi-god or a jiva!

A Jiva cannot create tattvas, a Jiva cannot create universe, a Jiva cannot manifest five elements, vital airs, and mind, intellect and ego, and a jiva cannot transcend all the tattvas and be called as the Supreme Being. But here the words of Shiva as decoded by Nandi and Upamanyu, unanimously state the supremacy of lord Shiva and say that he is the Brahman, the Atman, the originator of all tattvas but one who transcends all of them and is the Supreme Lord of all!

To be continued…

The article has been republished from author’s blog with permission.

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