The Shiva Sutras are aphorisms which, as per the legend, were revealed by Lord Shiva to the sage Vasugupta in the eighth century AD. There are three versions of how this came about. The first version says that Lord Shiva appeared to Vasugupta in a dream and revealed the Shiva Sutras to him. Another version says that an enlightened person revealed the sutras to Vasugupta. The third and most popular version is that Lord Shiva appeared to Vasugupta in a dream and instructed him to go to a particular stone piece. He was told that there was an esoteric teaching under the stone, and he was to study it and reveal it to those who are fit for grace. Vasugupta did as he was told the next morning, and on touching the stone, the stone turned over, and on its face were inscribed the Shiva Sutras. After Vasugupta studied the sutras, the stone turned back over. The stone still exists. It is called Shankarpal, and it is located in a stream in Dachigam National Park, which is situated outside Srinagar. It is lying face down, so we do not know if anything is still written on it. Some scholars believe that the Shiva Sutras spread the philosophy of Kashmir Shaivism in the region of Kashmir in the eighth century AD. Kashmir Shaivism was originally known as the Trika System. It is a form of yoga and tantra that is non dualistic. Non-dualism teaches that there are not two, there is only One. If we are all one, then what we are seeing in this world is not real. We appear to be separate from other beings and from other objects. We also believe that we are separate from God. This is what most religions teach. Religions tend to be dualistic. They teach separation from one another and separation from God. At the end of our life we are judged by God, and we are sent to heaven and hell depending on how ‘good’or ‘bad’ we have been. In non-dualism, at the end of our life we all go back to God because there is nowhere else to go. There is only God or Shiva, and nothing else exists. There are some questions that now arise. If we are all One, then why do we appear separate? What is covering our real nature? How do we get to experience our true self? What causes us to continue in the path of worldly illusion, and how do we come out of it? These are some of the issues addressed by the Shiva Sutras.
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