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Akula Agama Tantra

Akula Agama Tantra is a term in Kaula philosophy of Kashmir Shaivism. Akula denotes brahmanda. Kula and akula are two distinct entities, the first called ‘pinda’ and the latter ‘brahmanda’. It also signifies Shiva and Shakti (kula), i.e. the whole cosmos.

Kashmir Shaivism has a specific way of defining terms. It is a monistic school founded by Vasugupta (850 CE). Based on the Agama, Spanda and Pratyabhija shastras, it establishes devotion to Parama Shiva and merging in him through intense practice of self realization. On a higher plane, it has recourse to Kundalini Yoga, in which energy from the muladhara reaches sahasra, where things are preternaturally illumined.

In Tantraloka, 29.4, the cosmic sharira envelopes the core substance with its evolution, creativity, semen, effulgence and all the related things. The cosmos is a manifestation of the Shiva Tattva, a conglomerate of the ‘aura’ of Parameshwara manifested in this creativity, all-knowingness, perfection, eternality and omnipresence, which sustain the akula belief and practice.

Akula is the ultimate reality. It motivates the material cause, and is conducive to the knowledge of Shiva Shakti (kaula jnana). When all doubts disappear, a kula yaj is performed to stop the worldly pressure. The yaj is observed at six levels – bahya, sakta, yamala, deha, prana and buddhi. The principal adorable deity of this yaj is Sri Paradevi. In it, tithi, nakshatra, and upvasa are insignificant. Likewise, the Siddhanta, Vaishnava, Vedanta and Smarta acharyas have no role, while the householders are permitted to observe their domestic duties.

The best way to realization is to take the muladhara as base for waking up the kundalini to reach the sahasrara. In the interim course, the sadhaka should have full awareness of his self. The proper place for such a practice is the cemetery, where the kaula can have the superconscious experience of his desire.

The Paniniya sutras refer to Shiva’s manifestation in the syllable akara, which is a variant term for akula and antara. According to another interpretation, Akula belongs to the family of Anuttara Shiva which includes the fifty matrikas. In Tantraloka, Acharya Abhinava describes his heart as of the genre of Abhinava-kula. A lexical synonym of this term is amrita in Sarada Tilaka (1100 CE) which describes evolution from nada (para), divided into three – bindu (apara), nada (para), bija shakti (or parashakti) which has shakti flashing in the adharacakra.

Kaulachara requires guidance of the guru in its practice as in the case of such methods as the five makaras prescribed in some of the texts, the acceptance of these modalities can cause incalculable harm to the non-adept.

Historians of Kashmir like Rajashekhara (900 CE) and Kalhana (1200 CE) have vehemently criticized kaulachara and the ways of the gurus whom they held responsible for profaning the doctrine. Aparaka was another severe critic of the Kaul system.