These Shiva Sūtrās found in Kashmir have a unique place among ancient Hindu scriptures.

About 250 years ago, there lived a brahmin named Vasugupta in Kashmir, who was a devotee of Lord Shiva. One night lord Shiva Himself appeared in his dreams and instructed him that, 'In the Shankar mountain, there's a cave, inside which there's a large stone slab. On turning it over, you'll find spiritual knowledge given by me. Accept it, and also give it to society.' Next day Vasugupta took some people to that place and found the cave and the stone slab exactly as they were described. On that stone, he found 77 sūtrās (aphorisms) engraved. Those are the Shiva Sūtrās that we have received by the grace of that great devotee of Shiva, Vasugupta. The 77 sūtrās are divided in three parts: 1) śāmbhavopāya, 2) śāktopāya, and 3) ānavopāya.

For those genuine seekers, who have the highest aspiration to make a tremendous effort to achieve self realization, and to learn the secrets of this creation, the originator and first teacher of all knowledges and art forms, Lord Shiva Himself, gave hints in the form of these aphorisms out of compassion; for those, who can understand them, and can realize their truths in their own lives.


Shiva Himself creates the universe, sustains it, and eventually destroys it. He is the Mahakala - the Great Time, who manifests Himself as the essence, the life force of all beings. He is the source, the life of all lives in this creation. Those who finally know Him through the medium of death, their prāṇa - the life force - merges back into Him. One who exists but doesn’t appear so, that Lord Shiva, who we all experience as Time, is inherently connected with everything.

We experience Time all the time, yet It remains beyond all experiences. Only after complete awakening of the consciousness, one can understand Time, or Shiva, and becomes one with It.

Shiva Himself manifests Shakti in the form of conscious Emptiness, which bears this entire creation. Emptiness is pervaded by Time, Shiva. And the Mahakala Shiva, who is the lord of the universe, and who is, even though, the inherent consciousness of the conscious Emptiness, is pervaded by it.

Conscious Matter is the result of copulation of Shiva and Shakti, or in other words, Time and Emptiness. Conscious matter forms the body of this visible creation. Its creator is Emptiness, which though bears all movements of the matter, remains beyond and unaffected by it. The essence of matter and emptiness is the lord of the universe Mahakala Shiva , who pervades everything and yet remains beyond everything.

In these highly mysterious sūtras, the great men, who realized the essence of all, the lord of the universe Mahakala Shiva, have left hints about how they developed their own consciousness and after doing that how they realized the essence of all, for the benefit of all seekers of truth.

-- Shri Shailendra Sharma

Part I: śāmbhavopāya

1. चैतन्यमात्मा |
1. Caitanyamātmā.

Meaning Conscious is self.

Explanation The feeling of being originates from the consciousness of the great mind, which manifests itself through the medium of a physical body. The consciousness of the mind is the self.

2. ज्ञानं बन्धः |
2. Jñānaṁ bandhaḥ.

Meaning Knowledge is bondage.

Explanation The great mind, which manifests itself through the medium of a physical body, confines itself in the body to fully awaken its own consciousness, as well as to know its creator. In other words, for knowledge binds itself in the body.

3. योनिवर्गः कलाशरीरम् |
3. Yonivargaḥ kalāśarīram.

Meaning A small part of the power of the birth canal is the body.

Explanation The body is just a small part of the power of the creator of all.

4. ज्ञानाधिष्ठानं मातृका |
4. Jñānādhiṣṭhānaṁ mātṛkā

Meaning The basis of knowledge is the birth canal.

Explanation The basis of knowledge, body, is the mother which gives birth to consciousness in all its grandeur by fully awakening it.

5. उद्यमो भैरवः |
5. Udyamo bhairavaḥ.

Meaning Terrible truth, endeavor is.

Explanation The effort to truly awaken the dormant consciousness of the mind through the medium of the physical body is terrible! Or in other words, extremely difficult.

6. शक्तिचक्रसन्धाने विश्वसंहारः |
6. Śakticakrasandhāne viśvasaṁhāraḥ.

Meaning By targeting the wheel (chakra) of Shakti, the world is destroyed.

Explanation Just like the vast amount of pure energy contained in an atom manifests in its full grandeur when the atom is dissolved, similarly, when the consciousness of the great mind, which is capable of knowing everything, is focused with the body and dissolved with prāṇayāma, the consciousness is fully awakened and manifests itself in its full grandeur and glory.

Those who have successfully accomplished this are free to use the infinite power of their awakened mind to do anything. It is up to their discretion whether to create a new universe, or destroy the current one.

7. जाग्रत्स्वप्नसुषुप्तभेदे तुर्याभोगसम्भवः |
7. Jāgratsvapnasuṣuptabhede turyābhogasambhavaḥ.

Meaning After piercing the Waking, Dreaming, and Dormant states of the mind, the experience of the fourth state becomes possible.

Explanation The partially awakened consciousness that an average person ordinarily utilizes is called the conscious mind, or the Waking state of the mind. And the infinite consciousness of the mind with its unlimited possibilities, which exists in every living being but remains dormant, which is real but appears to be dreamlike, is called the unconscious mind, or its Dreaming state.

By utilizing the partially awakened consciousness to awaken the dormant infinite consciousness, the state beyond the three states (partially awakened consciousness, dormant infinite consciousness, and the firm resolve to awaken the dormant consciousness), the fully awakened infinite consciousness of the mind - the fourth state - is experienced.

8. ज्ञानं जाग्रत् |
8. Jñānaṁ jāgrat.

Meaning Awakened is knowledge.

Explanation The small part of the infinite dormant consciousness that is still active, which believes that the infinite dormant consciousness is imaginary, is the reason for the confinement of consciousness within the body.

9. स्वप्नो विकल्पाः |
9. Svapno vikalpāḥ.

Meaning The indecision about the dream is Vikalpa (option).

Explanation To believe that the infinite consciousness of the mind is imaginary, and to remain undecided about its existence is called Vikalpa.

10. अविवेको मायासौषुप्तम् |
10. aviveko māyāsauṣuptam.

Meaning To unwisely believe what exists as not, is Sushupti (dormant, stupor).

Explanation To believe that the infinite consciousness of the mind is imaginary, and to even deny its existence by the mind is injudiciousness.

11. त्रितयभोक्ता वीरेशः |
11. tritayabhoktā vīreśah.

Meaning One who enjoys the three is the hero of heroes.

Explanation The great person who, using his partially awakened consciousness, exerted tremendous effort with a firm determination to awaken his infinite consciousness, the existence of which is like a dream, or in other words to realize this dream, is a hero among heroes.

12. विस्मयो योगभूमिकाः |
12. vismayo yogabhūmikāh.

Meaning Astonishment is a preamble to yoga.

Explanation Even the slightest hint of the unlimited possibilities of the mind in, what appears to be, an ordinary personality brings astonishment, and also gives motivation to practice hard in yoga to realize that possibility.

13. इच्छाशक्तिरुमा कुमारी |
13. icchā śaktirumā kumārī.

Meaning Will power is the most beautiful damsel.

Explanation The strong will to awaken the dormant infinite consciousness of the mind is the beautiful maiden wedding whom one begets fully awakened consciousness as the son.

14. दृश्यं शरीरम् |
14. drśyam śarīram.

Meaning Visible is body.

Explanation The entire visible creation which we experience through our body is itself the body of the creator of all.

15. हृदये चित्तसङ्घट्टाद्दृश्यस्वापदर्शनम् |
15. hrdaye cittasamghattādrśyasvāpadarśanam.

Meaning By concentrating the mind inside comes the realization of our own invisible form, and establishment in the state beyond the visible.

Explanation The pure consciousness that is manifesting through this entire creation also manifests the mind. With a strong will and through the medium of the physical body, when the mind focuses its rising consciousness within itself, it realizes its invisible, unlimited existence beyond the confined of the physical body.

After that, the existence of the imperceptible conscious emptiness, which is beyond the visible world but which comes into experience through the visible world, is also realized.

16. शुद्धतत्त्वसन्धानाद्वापशुशक्तिः |
16. śuddhatattvasandhānātvāpaśuśaktiḥ.

Meaning With the analysis of the pure element comes the knowledge of one’s own abilities.

Explanation After realizing the existence of pure conscious emptiness beyond the physical creation, the domain of self greatly expands and comes the realization of our own infinite capabilities.

17. वितर्क आत्मज्ञानम् |
17. vitarka ātmajñānam.

Meaning Deliberation results in self-realization.

Explanation After experiencing the pure conscious emptiness beyond the confines of the body, the state of pure thought, which is beyond sight and sound, is attained, and then self-realization comes.

Pure thought is what links the conscious emptiness with matter, the body of the physical universe.

18. लोकानन्दः समाधिसुखम् |
18. lokānandah samādhisukham.

Meaning Worldly pleasure is the delight of samādhi.

Explanation With self realization, after reaching the state of pure thought, comes the realization of Conscious emptiness, which manifests and sustains the entire physical universe. With this realization, the so called difference in worldly pleasure and the pleasure of samādhi diminishes, since ultimately its the same consciousness which experiences both.

19. शक्तिसन्धाने शरीरोत्पत्तिः |
19. śaktisandhāne śarīrotpattiḥ.

Meaning By concentrating on the emptiness, origin of the body is understood.

Explanation The conscious emptiness, which bears the entire material universe, bears and rears the body of the physical universe, the matter. It is the basis of all movements. By concentrating on that conscious emptiness with a mind powered by yoga, comes the knowledge of the origin of matter - the body of the physical universe.

20. भूतसन्धान-भूतपृथक्त्व-विश्वसङ्घट्टाः|
20. bhūtasandhāna bhūtaprthaktva viśvasamghattāḥ.

Meaning By concentrating on which is born, its different parts and how they unite together are understood.

Explanation By concentrating on matter, which is the body of the physical universe, with a self-realized mind comes the knowledge of the five constituents of matter - Earth, Water, Fire, Air, and Space, as well as the knowledge of their manifestations in various proportions.

21. शुद्धविद्योदयाच्चक्रेशत्वसिद्धिः |
21. śuddhavidyodayāccakreśatvasiddhih.

Meaning With a clear understanding of the origin and the existence comes full control over this cycle.

Explanation By knowing the truth of the existence of the conscious matter, which comes forth from conscious emptiness through the means of pure thought, one develops a complete control over the cycle of its origin, existence, and dissolution in the conscious emptiness.

22. महाह्रदानुसन्धानान्मन्त्रवीर्यानुभवः|
22. mahāhradānusandhānānmantravīryānubhavah.

Meaning By analyzing the great sound, the might of One who emanates this mysterious sound is realized.

Explanation By analyzing the great sound pervading in the vast emptiness with a self-realized mind, the sound from the vibrations of which matter is formed, one realizes the great might of Time; Time, the ultimate cause, the essence of all, which creates, sustains, and destroys even the emptiness which is responsible for all movements of matter.

The entire creation comes from the womb of Time. Time Itself sustains it, and ultimately, when its time comes, destroys it. When the creation is destroyed, it merges back into Time to reemerge some other time.

Part II: śāktopāya

23. चित्तं मन्त्रः ।
23. chittam mantrah.

Meaning Mind (citta) is mantra.

Explanation Mind itself reveals the hidden secrets.

24. प्रयत्नः साधकः ।
24. prayatnaḥ sādhakah.

Meaning Effort is the seeker (sādhaka).

Explanation The effort of the mind to learn the hidden secrets is known as sādhaka, the seeker. Mind, which takes the body and impregnates it with the seed of infinite consciousness in order to give birth to it and know itself, is the seeker.

25. विद्याशरीरसत्ता मन्त्ररहस्यम् ।
25. vidyāśarīrasattā mantrarahasyam.

Meaning The existence of the present body is itself the hidden secret.

Explanation The reason for the existence of the body is the mind itself, which acquires the body in order to give birth to its own consciousness and yet remains hidden, and which has the capability to unveil the highest and most mysterious secrets through the means of the body.

26. गर्भेचित्तविकासोऽविशिष्टविद्यास्वप्नः ।
26. garbhecittavikāso'viśiṣtavidyāsvapnah.

Meaning With the extraordinary development of consciousness in the womb, the dream comes true.

Explanation After the mind impregnates the body with the seed of consciousness, the consciousness grows and attains its ultimate perfect state with infinite capabilities, which would seem like a dream in the beginning. In other words, the dream of the infinite powers of the consciousness comes true with the development of consciousness in the womb of the body.

27. विद्या समुत्थाने स्वाभाविके खेचरी शिवावस्था ।
27. vidyā samutthāne svābhāvike khecarī śivāvasthā.

Meaning When staying in the independent (nirālamba) state, beyond death, becomes natural, the state of Shiva is attained.

Explanation After the mind impregnates the body with the seed of consciousness, and when that consciousness grows and develops until it goes beyond the body, and after that when the consciousness takes birth in its full perfection with the death of the physical body, the consciousness of the mind no longer needs any mediums to take birth. It exists, independently, without any means or support, within itself, and becomes one with Time.

28. गुरुरुपायः।
28. gururupāyaḥ.

Meaning It’s a great strategy.

Explanation For the mind to acquire the body and impregnate it with the seed of consciousness, and that consciousness to grow in the womb of body and eventually take birth through the physical death of the body, and to attain the consciousness the state of independent existence and to merge it with Time, is a great strategy.

29. मातृकाचक्रसम्बोधः |
29. mātrkācakrasambodhaḥ.

Meaning The cycle of the birth canal is destroyed.

Explanation Since the mind impregnates the body to give birth to its infinite consciousness, the body is the birth canal of consciousness. It is also its mother since it gives birth to it after fully developing it in its womb. After the consciousness is born in its perfection and after it becomes one with Time, the mind no longer needs to acquire the body again. When this is no longer needed, the cycle of mind taking a body, the body becoming weak before giving birth to a fully developed consciousness because of which the mind leaving it, and the mind taking on a new body, is destroyed.

30. शरीरं हविः |
30. śarīram havih.

Meaning Body is the oblation.

Explanation In the yajña (sacrificial fire ritual) of mind acquiring the body and developing the consciousness in the womb of the body and then giving it birth through the medium of physical death, the body is the sacrificial offering.

31. ज्ञानम अन्नम् ।
31. jñānam annam.

Meaning Knowledge is food.

Explanation The knowledge that comes after the mind takes the body and develops the consciousness in the womb of the body and gives birth to it through the physical death, is the food of the mind.

32. विद्यासंहारे तदुत्थस्वप्नदर्शनम् ।
32. vidyāsamhāre tadutthasvapnadarśanam.

Meaning With the annihilation of the existing, that (consciousness) takes birth and realizes the dream.

Explanation After growing in the womb of the body, the daughter of mind, consciousness, takes birth through the means of physical death, and gains an independent existence and becomes one with Time. Becoming one with Time is like its existence is destroyed, and after that, the consciousness gains the knowledge of Time which was like a dream before it was born. Or we can say that the daughter of mind and body, Consciousness, marries Time. And after marriage, she lives in the heart of her beloved and becomes one with Him.

Part III: ānavopāya