An in-depth reveal about three forces which propel the seeker to liberation
The following is a lucid translation of the Matanga Agama, Section 5, Reflections on the Nature of Shakti. We explore the ending, which speaks about three specific stages of the sadhaka’s evolution. These are three of the many shaktis that work with creation, souls and objects, that both conceal and reveal liberation through experience of the tattvas. We can conclude from the text that the shaktis Jvala, Hladini and Stambhini aid in a soul’s evolution by: 1) introducing pleasures, both ephemeral and spiritual; 2) giving guidance toward higher consciousness, and 3) bestowing a steadfast character, respectively. This Agama defines shakti as that which does not sustain any modification, even when it is involved in various activities, and which is firm in its own innate state.
The shakti that is of the nature of knowledge and action unfolds the consciousness of souls, kindling knowledge-fire in the hearts of beings that are desirous of ephemeral worldly pleasures. Instilling in their minds a sense of aversion towards such pleasures, and making them desirous of auspicious and eternal benefits, this shakti is known as Jvala.
Even when some souls with fully unfolded consciousness are experiencing auspicious enjoyments, Jvala-shakti brings those souls under its control and makes them abhor such bhogas. In due course of time, this shakti makes them give up enjoying even auspicious pleasures and directs them to focus their aim on the exalted state of liberation. The soul evolves into a supreme being when the seeds of desire for enjoyment remain fried and burnt by Jvala-shakti.
Ananteshvara—the leading and foremost soul, endowed with powerful shakti-rays that express themselves in various ways—casts his eyes on this supreme being and sets him on the fruitful path expounded in these Agamas. All parts of his body, being filled with bliss, are firmly established on that right path. At that time, he comes under the possession of the shakti known as Hladini, which directs him towards a competent guru.
This evolved soul becomes interested in doing service for the guru with diligence and care. He is in constant meditation on Siva; he is bereft of desire for worldly enjoyment; he becomes soft and kind and raises himself to the higher states and becomes incomparable. Living this way, he is ever in a blissful state. This supreme one then becomes known for his forbearance and steadfast mindset.
Even when troubled by hundreds of misdeeds and malevolent actions done by others, the exalted soul is capable of exhibiting his patience towards wrongdoers by accepting the troubles and enduring them. At other times, when he is pestered and misguided by others to deviate from the path he has chosen, he remains firm in his conviction without showing any sign of anger or aversion towards them. Such a perfect disciple becomes the repository of all good qualities and becomes blissful in the guidance of this Hladini-sakti, set forth by Anantesvara. This sakti-ray of Anantesvara is always increasing the delighted state of the sadhaka.
The third shakti, which renders the sadhaka steadfast in his path, fixed like a pillar, is known as Stambhini. Even when troubled by obstacles or afflicted by likes and dislikes, he remains unperturbed and capable of fulfilling all the austerities that are to be undertaken after diksha. If he is unable to perform his sadhanas due to unfavorable circumstances, and is thereby subjected to mental anguish, still he remains firmly motivated towards the attainment of sivatva and never falls from the initiated state. Such firmness is this Stambhini-sakti, comparable to a pillar.
Dr. S. P. Sabharathnam Sivacharyar, of the Adi Saiva priest lineage, is an expert in ancient Tamil and Sanskrit, specializing in the Vedas, Agamas and Shilpa Shastras. This excerpt is from his recent translation of the Matanga Agama.