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Original artwork is © Jan Bailey, 1996. Translations are © Mike Magee 1996.

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The 36 Tattvas

He who is deluded by your maya sees not while he sees, understands not while he hears, and knows not the truth while he reads - Kularnava Tantra

Because of the large number of possible blendings and re-blendings, the 36th tattva - Shiva Shakti - may seem to become identified, conditioned and confused.

the 35 tattvas

The five-foldness (prapancha) of the universe, according to this tantrik view, is shown in the table above. The three members of the tantrik "trinity", Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva-Rudra, represent the gunas, or qualities of rajas, sattva and tamas, which may be represented by the principles of active, reconciling and negative. From this triangle come all forms, including the five elements, through different blendings.

The individual (jiva) forgets her or his unlimited nature, which is actually one with Shiva-Shakti, considering herself or himself to be a limited individual (Purusha) with a certain nature (Prakriti).

This is a reflection or shadow of the 36th tattva with a mental apparatus which is itself also a reflection of Iccha, Jnana and Kriya Shaktis. For instance, the "I", the ahamkar, is the reflection of Iccha. This limited individual has powers of action and powers of knowledge and focuses on the tanmatras, or impression objects, considering herself or himself to be different from the five verities.

In this form, she or he plays in the world until realising the 36th tattva which is Shiva-Shakti itself, immanent in the universe and vibrating with the power of sound. From another point of view, the 36 consonants are Shiva and the 15 vowels are Shakti - the whole being the universe as sound. The five verities are also sometimes described as the five Shiva corpses.

Artwork is © Jan Bailey, 1995. Translations are © Mike Magee 1995. Questions or comments to [email protected]

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