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Meditations on Shiva: The Shivastotravali of Utpaladeva

Meditations on Shiva is a collection of the ecstatic poetry of Utpaladeva, renowned 10th-century enlightened master and founder of the Pratyabhijna school of Kashmir Shaivism. His poetry expresses the joys and the challenges of following the spiritual path, providing words to express the otherwise ineffable experiences of that lifelong journey.

For over a thousand years the Shaiva Tantra community of Kashmir has used in its worship the hymns of Utpaladeva's Shivastotravali. Constantina Rhodes Bailly translates these hymns into luminous English verse, conveying the intoxicating range of emotions expressed in the original Sanskrit. Those who journey on a spiritual path will want to keep this elegant pocket-sized book as a steadfast companion.

Available in paperback.

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Excerpts from Meditations on Shiva

From the Introduction

How often in a lifetime is one fortunate enough to encounter even a glimpse of a magnificent, radiant center within? -- whether discovered in a dream, a meditation, in the breath of the first balmy and fragrant evening of summer, or in an encounter where the line is finally crossed, where one's heart leaps up and realizes, this is what is right, this is what is true. . . and why have I never recognized this before?

In the first intoxicating flash of such recognition, one may feel like proclaiming ecstatically, as does Utpaladeva in this book, "I roar! Oh, and I dance! / My heart's desires are fulfilled. . ." (3.11). This is the exhilaration of having peeled away layer after layer of debilitating restrictions, and finally being able to experience one's ecstatic center, whose very nature is divine.

From Stotra One: The Pleasure of Devotion

We praise the one who is filled with devotion,
Who meditates not nor recites by the rule,
And yet without any effort at all
Attains the splendor of Shiva.

Even the path of worldly living
Becomes blissful for the devotees
Who have obtained your blessing, O Lord,
And who live inside your realm.

When everything in the world is in your form,
How could there be a place
Not suitable for devotees?
Where in the world does their mantra
Fail to bear fruit?

Triumphant are they, intoxicated
With the celestial drink of devotion.
They are beyond duality
Yet retain you as "the other."

Only those who are immersed
In the joy of fervent devotion
Know the essence, O Lord,
Of your boundless ocean of bliss.

Lord! When the objective world has dissolved
Through a state of deep meditation,
You stand alone --
And who does not see you then?

But even in the state of differentiation
Between the knower and the known,
You are easily seen by the devotees.

Just as Devi,
Your most beloved, endless pool of bliss,
Is inseparable from you,
So may your devotion alone
Be inseparable from me.

The path of the senses is threefold,
Marked by pleasure, pain, and delusion.
For the devotee this is the path
That leads to your attainment.

How wonderful it is that the mind, O Lord,
In essence the seed of all suffering,
When doused with the nectar of devotion,
Bears the magnificent fruit of beatitude.

From Stotra Twenty: The Meaning Savored

I bow to the Master, Lord of the Three Worlds,
White with ashes, three-eyed,
Bearing the serpent as sacred thread
And crescent moon as diadem.

Homage to the one wearing as raiment
His own lustrous halo of radiant beams,
Bedecked with a glittering garland of skulls
For the festival of dance at the end of the world.

I bow to the eternally sacred abodes,
Whose deity is Hara,
Whose activities are worthy of Hara,
And whose very breath of life is dedicated
Only to Hara.

When the whole universe
Honors just this much of your splendor --
The mere play in the world --
How infinite indeed
Must be your bliss!

I bow to those who,
Going nowhere and renouncing nothing,
Yet view all this as your glorious abode.

What else remains to be desired
By those rolling in the wealth of devotion?
For those deprived of it,
What else is worthy of desire?