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Shaiva Devotional Songs of Kashmir: A Translation and Study of Utpaladeva's Shivastotravali

Utpaladeva was renowned as a siddha, a "perfected being," or enlightened master of the Tantric tradition in Kashmir. The Shivastotravali reflects Utpaladeva's philosophy, known as Pratyabhijna -- the splendor of Self-recognition. The Shivastotravali is a collection of ecstatic devotional songs expressing the process of awakening to Shiva's supreme consciousness. This exquisite path does not require relinquishing one's home and heading for a mountain cave. Instead, it calls for changing one's view of the world and recognizing divine consciousness in oneself, in others, and in every aspect of life. This supreme state, says Utpaladeva, arises naturally through bhakti, or ardent devotion.

For over a thousand years the Shaiva community of Kashmir has used in its worship the devotional songs of Utpaladeva's Shivastotravali. Constantina Rhodes Bailly here presents these songs for the first time in elegant English translations. She also provides a thematic introduction to the text, Sanskrit transliterations, two appendices on special aspects of Kashmir Shaivism, and extensive bibliography.

Available in hardcover and paperback.


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Excerpts from Shaiva Devotional Songs of Kashmir

From the Introduction

The Shivastotravali has been called a sacred stream that flows between this world and the world of the gods, consecrating everything along its course. Madhuraja-yogin, a disciple of Abhinavagupta (and thereby a direct preceptorial descendent of Utpaladeva) so praises the Shivastotravali:

Though there are over thousands of
Streams of beautiful verses,
None at all compares to that
Celestial river, the Stotravali.
As soon as it passes through the tirtha [sacred ford] of the ear
It purifies the soul of man,
And flows on to the throat,
Where lies the city of Shrikantha [Shiva as the Blue-throated Lord].

From the Third Song: The Gift of Affection

O Lord of the Universe!
How lucky are your devotees,
Worthy of being adored by you.
For them, this turbulent ocean of the world
Is like a great pleasure-lake
For their amusement.


From the Fourth Song: Potent Nectar

He who utters the name of Shiva
Hundreds and hundreds of times
Grows great through the showering
Of the sweet, sublime nectar.
The marvelous power of this word
Enters even into the hearts of fools.

And that word, which flows like honey
From the nectar-crescent of the moon,
Causes the highest nectar to flow --
That is the sound of Shiva.
The blessed
Ever have this sound upon their lips.


From the Sixteenth Song: Breaking out of the Fetters

What indeed is there in the world
That does not conceal you?
Yet nothing exists that can conceal
You from the devotees.

Attained by so many disciples
And with so many attributes
You appear at all times to the devotees
In your true form, O Lord.

Triumphant, they laugh,
And vanquished, they laugh even more --
Leaving behind not only base powers,
But liberation itself.

In the same way that it arose in me,
Allow this love of devotion
Previously unknown to me
To grow greater still, O Lord.

Truly, I have no other entreaty but this:
Let me for all time, O Lord,
Be consumed with unending devotion.

Let me be enraged and yet
Compassionate toward the world.
And thus in the madness of devotion
May I laugh and weep and chant
Shiva, thunderously.

What is called liberation
Is simply the ripeness of devotion, O Lord.
Having taken the first steps toward that,
We are even now almost liberated.

Here in this world
Another world exists
That bears as fruit joyousness
For your devotees.

May there be devotion to you
As the Secret One, as the Transcendent One,
As Lord of the Universe,
As Shambhu, as Shiva,
As the Celestial One.
Ah, how indeed could I ever express it?

Devotion, devotion, devotion
To the Transcendent One.
Ardent devotion!
This is why I cry and clamor!
Let me have ardent devotion for you,
Only you.