Kaula - Applications of The Term

Applications of The Term

While the manifest reality is described as Kula (a variant form of the term Kaula), the unifying factor, the Deity, is termed Akula. "A" means "beyond", or "non", thus "Akula" is "beyond kula". As the substrate of all manifestation is Akula, such is also the basis of any Kula. So Kula families are united by a common substrate, the transcendent Akula.

In every one of its instances, on various levels of the universe, Kula is a contraction (saṃkoca) of totality, thus in each Kula there is a contracted form of the universe, a contracted form of Shiva (Akula) himself. Such an affirmation has been popularized under slogans like "Consciousness is Everything" in some recent Kashmir Shaivism related publications for the public.

Often at the highest level of reality Shiva and Shakti form the supreme couple, or the ultimate Kula (family). Shiva, under various names (anuttara - absolute, prakāśa - uncreated light, cit - supreme consciousness, Akula - beyond the groups of manifestation) and Shakti, under a similar plethora or names (Vimarsa - reflection in consciousness, Visarga - creative energy that emits the Universe, Kundalini - fundamental energy of the body, spanda - atemporal vibration, Kauliki - that which is "sprung" in Kula). The two are always in indissoluble union in a perfect state of bliss. Ultimately there is no difference between Shiva and Shakti, they are different aspects of the same reality. The supreme "family" by definition spans both manifestation and transcendence.

In Kashmir Shaivism, Supreme Consciousness (Cit, identical to Akula) is considered to be the substrate of manifestation. Consciousness is the ultimate principle, the monad of the universe, always present as substrate in every external object, be it gross (physical), subtle (mental) or subtlest (relating to the causal body or soul). Thus external world, body, mind and soul are considered kindred parts of the whole, concretisation of the supreme consciousness. From this perspective, Kula is the totality of manifestation, in gross, subtle and supreme form. Even if Cit is not directly involved in the process of manifestation (as it is said to be unmanifest), it is always present in every possible facet of manifestation. Thus, it is said to be the substantial cause of manifestation (manifestation is made of Cit, "like pots are made of clay") and also the efficient cause ("like the potter is the efficient cause in the activity of creating pots").

A closely related concept is Kaulika, the binding force of the Kula. The term literally means "sprung in Kula". Kaulika is another name for Shakti, the spiritual energy. Shakti, as described in Kashmir Shaivism, does a paradoxical thing - she creates the universe, with all its diversity and at the same time remains identical to Shiva, the absolute transcendent. Thus, Kaulika is an energy both of spirit and matter. Bridging the two, Kaulika creates the path of evolution for consciousness from ego to spirit.

The manifestation of Kaulika proceeds from the absolute (anuttara) in the process of cosmic creation (mahasristi). Thus Kaulika should not be seen as mere energy, or just the link between matter and spirit, but also identical to the absolute. Even if she is the dynamic aspect of the absolute, she does not rank lower than Shiva, her divine consort.

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