Tripura Rahasya is an ancient text. It is quite extensive, so I have picked out the essential teachings on Self-
The text and commentaries:
“Investigation is the root-
Without investigating the teachings about supreme bliss, one will not take even the first step towards Self-
“Investigation is analysis conducted within oneself, discriminating the non-
“Investigation is the Sun for chasing away the dense darkness of indolence. It is generated by the worship of God with devotion. When the supreme Devi is well pleased with the worship of the Devotee, She turns into vichara [discrimination] in him and shines as the blazing Sun in the expanse of the Heart.” (II: 69-
Worship of God with devotion means not formal ritualistic worship, but inner surrender. Surrendering to Devi (Shakti, the Divine Mother) is part of the investigation. It is not enough to simply ponder the teachings mentally, one should also surrender to the essence of the teachings and experience them for one self. Upon merging with Devi, one’s understanding of the teachings change at once. This is what is meant with the phrase that “Devi is well pleased” and “She turns into vichara”. Vichara means discrimination, investigation, judgment. So proper understanding of the texts and teachings is only acquired by Mother’s grace. Investigation with devotional surrender is, however, the first step one should take on the path to Self-
“I shall now tell you the fundamental cause of salvation. Association with the wise is the root cause for obliterating all misery.” (III: 7)
Such will lead to “a stage of enlightenment, which is the fore-
One of the things that will grow with vichara, is dispassion and displeasure with worldly things. In other words, misery will reveal itself to the student. Vichara can go along these lines:
“That can not be happiness, my Lord, which is tinged with misery. Misery is of two kinds: external and internal. The former pertain to the body and is caused by the nerves, etc., the latter pertains to the mind and is caused by desire.” (IV: 19-
In other words, some types of misery are neurological, others are psychological. The psychological are worse than the neurological (with regard to getting Self-
After scrutinizing the misery of the ignorant state and surrendering to Mother’s grace, one may reach liberation:
“Then realizing the pure consciousness inhering in the Self to be that self-
Tripura is the Supreme Goddess, Devi, Shakti. She has many names, but is essentially Mother and grace. One has to realize one’s oneness with Mother. The text summarizes:
“That same consciousness is also the objects, that is the subject, and that is all – the mobile and the immobile; all else shines in its reflected light; it shines of itself. Therefore, O Man, throw off delusion! Think of that consciousness which is alone, illuminating all and pervading all.” (IV: 100-
“Association with the sages, O Rama, is thus the root cause of all that is auspicious and good.” (IV: 104)
In the highest state of enlightenment, unity consciousness, one will realize that Shakti is not only internal, but external also. Everything is One pure consciousness, illuminating all and pervading all. Again we are informed that association with the wise is the highest means to liberation.
On the path to enlightenment, dispassion will arise and one will find that objects and events, that used to please one, have become dull and meaningless.
This state of dispassion only arises in one with whose continued devotion Tripura inherent in the Heart as the Self, is well pleased.” (V: 28)
Mother resides in everybody’s heart as the Self. Only when Self-
“He who is bent on the highest good should never trust an incompetent person. Otherwise he comes to grief …” (VI: 34)
What makes a person competent, or qualified, to aid one in this difficult phase? Only one who is Self-
“Appropriate effort must follow right discussion.” (VII: 7)
Appropriate effort is of course to meditate with surrender to the Self. However, even the desire to possess an appropriate method is born of delusion (VII: 24). This complicates the matter. One should not be attached to the method, one uses, but be prepared to let it go at the appropriate moment, -
“Men can learn to overcome the universal Mâyâ if only the Lord is gracious to them, They can never escape from Mâyâ, without His grace.” (VII: 29)
Mâyâ is the great illusion keeping people in ignorance about the Self. Without grace it is impossible to reach the Self. Who is the Lord? It is ultimately the Self. The grace of the Self comes as Shakti. Shakti resides within you as kundalini. By the grace of Mother Shakti, kundalini awakens and you experience the bliss of the Self quickly. One should worship Mother by doing practices to awaken and arouse kundalini. They should be done with loving devotion to Mother and gratitude for Her grace.
“Other methods are also put forward as serving this supreme end, but they are bound to fail in their purpose if the Lords grace be not forthcoming. Therefore worship the Primal Cause of the universe as the starting point; be devoted to Him; He will soon enable you to succeed on your attempts to destroy the illusion.” (VII: 32-
Why is the Lord mentioned as masculine, when we speak of Mother’s grace? This is just the old patriarchal tradition. Tripura Rahasya states “You know the Mother only if you know the Self” (IX: 7) and the text simply refers to the Self as both He and She in an odd mixture. The Divine Mother and the Divine Father are One and are known as Shiva and Shakti. You can not invoke one without invoking the other. Mother’s grace gives oneness with Shiva and Shiva’s grace gives oneness with Shakti. Shiva’s grace resides within you as the ever present Self; Mothers grace resides within you as ever active kundalini. Ultimately kundalini is the Self and when it is awakened it will give Self-
“Surrender yourself directly and unhesitatingly to Him. He will ordain the best for you and you need not ask for it. Among the methods of approach to God, there are (1) worship to overcome troubles, (2) worship to gain wealth, etc., and (3) loving dedication of oneself. The last one is the best and the surest in its results.” (VII: 50-
Remarkable as it sounds, it is quite true that once your kundalini has been awakened by the grace of shaktipat, then ‘He’ (the Self, Shakti) “will ordain what is best for you and you need not ask for it”. Spontaneously you will know how to meditate and various kriyas (spontaneous activities) will take place either internally as visions, or externally as movements of the body. However, control of breath is recommended (VII: 63) as a means to overcome one’s karma.
Here is one simple method: On the in-
When begin to meet the Self, you will think of it as “my Self”, however, the Self is not yours, it is You. This ignorance has to be overcome. In meditation, analyze the things your think of as “mine” and discard those notions. Like “my bliss”, no it is not your bliss, the bliss is You. “My thoughts”, no the thoughts are not yours, they just happen to agitate your mind for a while. Likewise, you are not “your mind”. And so on. Also get rid of external attachments, like “my body”, “my spouse” etc.. Finally arrest the thoughts and a blank will supersede. Think of this blank as the Self. A brilliant inner light may fill the blankness. After this, bliss may fill you. Or bliss may come before the light. In either case surrender to the bliss. First it will be ecstatic, but if you remain calm, you will transcend the ecstasy and sink into oneness with the Self as bliss. This is nirvikalpa samâdhi. Remember:
“It [arresting thoughts and turning inwards] does not produce Self-
You just have to sink into the Self. Nothing has to be developed or evolved. Mind control is a good beginning, but surrender is the best, and mind control does not cause your Self-
“The knower does not require any tests for knowing his own existence. The knower therefore is the only reality behind knowledge and objects. That which is self-
The knower is the Self. The Self is always there, perfect, pure, behind objects of the mind and the minds knowledge. Once realized, it is understood that the Self is self-
“Realize with a still mind the state between sleep and wakefulness, the interval between the recognition of one object after another or the gap between two perceptions.” (IX: 94)
Let your mind relax and be outgoing as it will, then turn it inward, control it just a little and watch for the Self. Remember that “the investigator is himself the essence of being and the Self of Self.” (IX: 98). The thought “I see” will arise, but be free of that also.
The next problem is that you lose the state when you open the eyes. With a little experience of merging with the Self, you can begin to practice with open eyes and also during activity. Hold the bliss with open eyes; calmly look around and recognize that Mother’s grace is omnipresent.
“That which shines as “Is” is Her Majesty the Absolute Consciousness. Thus the universe is only the Self – the One and only.” (XI: 85)
By force of habit, the wakeful universe appears real. Imagine it as vacuous. Fill everything with void. Realize this void to be Shakti, the Divine Mother, the Self.
“Realize that the Self is the self-
This realization is the ultimate enlightenment of unity consciousness. But transcendental happiness can be gained simply within. It is not necessary to also have it without in the beginning. In bliss consciousness one has realized the Self to be Mother, Shakti, pure being. And this is bliss. It is not blissful, it is simply bliss. There is no experiencer, you simply are that bliss and that pure being which is Shakti. Why is the Absolute called by so many names and personified in so many ways? Out of love and because people are different.
“The whole universe is thus in the illumination which shines self-
“Therefore recognise the fact that the world is simply an image on the mirror of consciousness and cultivate the contemplation of ‘I am,’ abide as pure being and thus give up this delusion of the reality of the world.” (XIV: 92)
The important thing is ‘pure being’, not ‘I am’.
”True experience of the Self is the unawareness of even ’I am’” (XV: 26)
What does this statement mean? At first it means transcending the ‘I am’ state. Which is very true. But it also says “unawareness of even …” which means the experience of the Self is a state of unawareness of anything. “Unawareness” must be discussed, for otherwise it will be assumed the experience of the Self is a state of unconsciousness. The experience of the Self is concentrated awareness in its purity, it is not unconsciousness, for during the experience one is (generally) conscious of the surroundings, but internally one has merged into the innermost pure being, which is consciousness-
“This is due to the Grace of God which puts you in the right way of investigation. Who can attain anything worthy without divine Grace?” (XV: 22)
Mother’s grace… My sweet love…
“The beneficent work of the self-
This is important to understand. You can get a high or two during the course of your meditations, but they are not as such signs that Shakti has grabbed you. Only when bliss sucks you in more and more day by day, can you say Shakti has grabbed you. It will go up and down, of course, but by and large Mother’s Grace will more and more tingle blissfully in your entire body and pull your attention inwards into the Self.
Can one know the Self in the form of knowledge gained through repeated experience? One would think so, but it is not the case:
“It is also unknowable because there is no one to know it, besides itself.” (XV: 62)
No one, besides itself; this is important to understand. The Self knows itself; the mind knows the body’s and mind’s reactions to samâdhi and mistakes these for the Self. As one’s sadhana progresses and one gains more and more samâdhis, which means more and more knowledge of the Self, one should understand that a split will arise between the knowledge as an after-
“Therefore become dispassionate and inhere as the Self. Such inherence is spontaneous. It is realized after thoughts are eliminated and investigation ceases.” (XV: 85)
Actually, you do not need to eliminate thoughts, you just have to step out of the mind, meaning out of the thoughts, and into the Self. This, of course, means an elimination of the thoughts with respect to your Self-
“Recapitulate your state after you break off from it, and then [you] will know all and the significance of its being knowable and unknowable at the same time. Thus realizing the unknowable, one abides in immortality for ever and ever.” (XV: 85)
It is an important part of one’s sadhana to recapitulate one’s samâdhi states after meditation. One can simply recall the state and contemplate it for a while, or one can talk a little about it with a fellow sadhaka (spiritual seeker) one trusts and can rely on. This will help both, -
“This transcendental state is quite easy or may be well-
Now we are reminded that is depends on one’s state of mind whether it is easy or difficult to reach the transcendental state. If the mind is inward bent in peace, then it is quite easy. If the mind is out-
“Carefully watch absolute Intelligence after eliminating all else from it.” (XVI: 19)
Here “absolute Intelligence” is synonym with pure awareness of pure being. The word “watch” implies awareness watching, and what is should watch is itself as absolute Intelligence.
“Abstract Intelligence can thus be made manifest by eliminating from it all that can be known. It can not be known as such and such, for it is the supporter of one and all.” (XVI: 21)
By letting go of everything in one’s awareness, abstract intelligence can be known in and of itself. There is another valid way to the Self, though: We know from experience and from other places in the text that the Self can be experienced as sat-
This is easy to misunderstand. One should not fight one’s perceptions, but withdraw awareness from them. The senses will go on perceiving even while in samâdhi, but awareness should be so self-
“But since consciousness is the Self and not apart from the mind, concentration on it is not necessary for its realization. It is enough that other perceptions should be eliminated from the mind and then the Self will be realized.” (XVI: 38-
The point is that even though the mind can not cognize the Self, the mind is the Self. Similarly consciousness can not be conscious of what the Self is, but consciousness is the Self. This means that when consciousness is empty of content (perceptions), or when the mind is similarly empty, there is nothing left but the Self and in that state the Self can realize itself.
“Diversion of attention from other items is all that is necessary for Self-
It is a relief that concentration of mind is not necessary for Self-
“Only those transcend mâyâ with whose devotion the Goddess of the Self is pleased: such can discern well and happily. Being by the grace of God endowed with proper discernment and right-
So the necessary cocktail is devotion to the Self via Mother, Mother’s grace and a still mind by pulling attention out of thoughts and things.
“After experiencing the Inner Self, he will be able to identify the Self with the Supreme and thus destroy the root of ignorance. The inner Self is realized in advanced contemplation and that state is called nirvikalpa samâdhi. Memory of that realization enables one to identify the Inner Self with the Universal Self.” (XVII: 68-
Interestingly nirvikalpa samâdhi is not enough. It is the memory of nirvikalpa samâdhi that “enables one to identify the Inner Self with the Universal Self”. Unity consciousness is not solely a result of nirvikalpa samâdhi, but of the active part of recalling and holding the state during activity.
“Unless a man live the ordinary life and check every incident as the projection of the Self, not swerving from the self in any circumstances, he can not be said to be free from the handicap of ignorance.” (XVII: 109)
This state is “sahaja” samâdhi (natural samâdhi). It is then in one’s very nature to see the Self in everything; and one’s awareness never leaves the Self with which it is united. The fact that this state is possible and desirable and that it is characterized solely by oneness with the Self, has some interesting consequences. First of all it means the Self has always been there and is already perfect; second it means you are already the Self, you just choose to ignore it.
“Such pure mind entirely divested of all objective knowledge [or thoughts] is pure intelligence. Awareness is its nature. Therefore it is always realized, for no other knower beside itself can ever be admitted.” (XVIII: 5)
Now this has some further consequences regarding the question of moksha (freedom from ignorance, reincarnation and from karma).
“Moksha is not any thing to be got afresh for it is already there, only to be realized. Such realization arises with the elimination of ignorance. Absolutely nothing more is required to achieve the aim of life.” (XVIII: 19)
Freedom from ignorance and a life in bliss is considered the aim of life. To reach this state nothing more is required than to eliminate ignorance. This is because the Self is already perfect and blissful, it is just covered with a layer of ignorance, that has to be removed. Moksha and the Self are One; to gain one is to gain the other; “moksha” is just another word for the Self. You don’t have to change to gain the Self, you only have to stop being ignorant; ignorance is only a bad habit. The bad habit is to contract and become limited when stimuli arise in the mind; otherwise the Self is infinite and unbroken (XVIII: 29). One should change the bad habit of being ignorant, to the habit of preserving the unlimited, unmanifest, infinite space of the Self, even while dealing with the world.
“The greatest of all delusions is the conviction that knowledge is not a delusion.” (XVIII: 156)
Liberated people (jnanis) are not all alike. They are just as different as everybody else. Tripura Rahasya (XVIII: 162-
1) “Jnanis of the highest order are never detached from the enjoyment of their bliss even if confronted with a million times more bad karma [prarabda karma]; they are not surprised at the most unnatural and miraculous happenings; they are not elated by the greatest pleasures, nor depressed by the worst miseries. They are always peaceful and calm within, although they appear to act like common folk”
2) “Jnanis of the higher [middle] order even while reaping the fruits of their past karma are however firmer in their natural happiness like men inebriated with drink.”
3) [Jnanis of the lowest order] “ know the Self and yet are influenced by the pleasures and pains accruing to them according to their past karma [prarabda karma].”
“These differences are due to the differences in their intellects and to the degrees of development of jnana [wisdom, enlightenment]. Their activities depend on their predispositions as determined by their past karma. (XVIII: 165-
So some enlightened beings live a life within the pleasures and pains of karma; other enlightened beings also do so, but are in a state of permanent bliss; yet others are entirely free of karma and also live in bliss. It is unclear at this point what kind of samâdhi the lowest class of jnanis enjoy. Tripura Rahasya elaborates further:
“Now the lowest order of jnanis still undere the influence of their minds know that there is no truth in the objective universe. Their samâdhis are not different from the rest.” (XIX: 112)
“The jnanis of the lowest order behave like ignorant men in their care for their bodies. They have not attained sahaja samâdhi. They are in the state of perfection only when they are calm or composed. They have as much of the body sense and enjoy pleasure and pain with as much zest as any animal when they are not engaged in the investigation of the Self. […] All the same, they are emancipated because the animal-
To be liberated (having attained moksha) does not require one lives in sahaja samâdhi. The lowest class of jnanis are liberated simply by their ability to enter oneness with the Self at will. They are not consciously one with the Self during much of their activity, only when they are “calm and composed” and investigate into the Self.
“The middle class of jnanis are never deluded by their bodies. Delusion is the false identification of ‘I’ with the body. […] The middle class of jnanis are never attached to the body. Their minds are mostly dead because of their long practice and continued austerities. They are not engaged in work because they are entirely self-
Unlike the lowest class of jnanis, the middle class are constantly aware of the Self and are never caught up in karma. That “They are not engaged in work” does not mean they are lazy and don’t work, it means they are so self-
“Jnanis of the highest class do not identify the Self with the body but remain completely detached from their bodies. Their work is like that of a charioteer driving the chariot, who never identifies himself with the chariot. Similarly the jnani is not the body nor the actor; he is pure intelligence. Though entirely detached from action within, to the spectator he seems to be active. He performs his part like an actor in a drama; and plays with the world as a parent does with a child.” (XXI: 53-
The highest class of jnanis remains steadfast through the force of his discrimination and investigation. In contrast the middle class remained so due to sustained practice. The highest jnani is in sahaja samâdhi (constant natural samâdhi), whereas the middle class remains in samâdhi due to habit of practice and investigation.
The lower class of jnanis:
“Jnanis of the lowest order also enjoy pleasure and pain like the ignorant, but their remembrance of such experiences is frequently broken up by intervals of realization. Thus the worldly enjoyments do not leave an impression on their mind. (XXII: 37)
“As for the lowest order of jnanis, these realize the Self off and on, and spells of ignorance overtake them whenever overcome by their predispositions, they look upon the body as the Self and the world as real. They are often able to over-
The middle class of jnanis:
Jnanis of the middle class, accustomed to control their minds by long-
“Forgetfulness of the Self never overtakes a middle class jnani and wrong knowledge never possesses him. However he of his own accord brings out some predispositions from his own depths in order to maintain his body according to prarabda [past karma]. This is the conduct of an accomplished jnani. (XXII: 50-
“The middle order jnani is fond of samâdhi and voluntarily abides in it. There is accordingly a lapse, however slight, when he is engaged in worldly affairs, or even in the maintenance of his body.” (XXII: 54)
The highest class of jnanis:
"Jnanis of the highest order are left untouched for […] just as an actor is not really affected by the passions which he displays on the stage, so also this jnani, always aware of his perfection, is not affected by the seeming pleasures and pains which he regards as a mere illusion. (XXII: 39-
“The highest jnanis makes no difference between samâdhi and worldly transactions. He never finds any anything apart from the Self and so there is no lapse for him.
“[…] the jnani of the highest order involuntarily and naturally abides in samâdhi and any lapse is impossible for him under any circumstance.” (XXII: 55)
Liberation from karma:
“The jnani of the middle order or of the highest order has no tinge of karma left in him because he is in perfection and does not perceive anything apart from the Self. How can there be anything of karma left when the wild fire of jnana is raging, consuming all in its way?” (XXII 57)
So the lowest kind of jnanis still have to deal with karma. They are the ones that go in and out of samâdhi and in between are caught up in acting out karma. But out of sheer habit of entering samâdhi, they will be liberated at death, if not before.
To sum up the text:
One should seek the company of the enlightened ones and hang out with them. One should study the teachings about Self-