--> Skip to main content

Thirty Six Tattvas – Levels Of Manifested Universe In Advaita Shaiva School Of Kashmir

Abhinavagupta has classified thirty-six tattvas or levels of manifested universe admitted in the Advaita Shaiva school of Kashmir under four andas: Sadashiva tattva; Ishvara tattva and the Shuddhavidya tattva constituting the Shaktyanda; mayashakti and five kanchukas namely, kala, vidya, raga, kala, and niyati, constituting mayanda; Purusha, Prakriti, buddhi, ahamkara, and manas, five powers of sense perception called jnanendriyas, five powers of action called karmendriyas, and five primary subtle elements called tanmatras constituting the prakrityanda; five gross material elements called mahabhutas that are the product of five tanmatras constituting prithvyanda.

The total number of tattvas constituting the manifest world is thirty-four. The remaining two tattvas out of a total number of thirty-six tattvas, Shiva-tattva and Shakti-tattva are held to be eternally existent as such, as these stay above the world creation.

Parama Shiva, the supreme Being exists on the top as the transcendent Reality and the Absolute. He is also immanent or creative at the same time. His creative nature is represented by Shiva-tattva, which symbolises the initial creative movement. The universe manifested by the supreme Being, Parama Shiva out of his free will, not only consists of thirty-six tattvas or levels of creation mentioned earlier, but also of infinite number of limited beings pramata, experiments, and their objects of prameya, experience, which exist on each of the levels of the manifested universe described above. Actually, it is the supreme Being, Parama Shiva, who manifests himself both as so many tattvas or levels of creation and also as an infinite number of experiments and their objects of experience by assuming self contraction out of his free will.

Source - article titled 'Light on Abhinavagupta’s Contribution to the Advaita Shaiva Spiritual Philosophy of Kashmir' by Dr Debabrata Sen Sharma published in Prabuddha Bharata Magazine January 2016 Issue.