The Siva Sutra Rock Photographs

Siva Sutra Rock 

 This project is being 
as the 
to the three projects
which preceded it:

At the end of Swami Shantananda's book The Splendor of Recognition, in which he presents commentaries on the twenty sutras of the Kashmiri scriptural text known as the Pratyabhijna-hrdayam, he lovingly remembers his Guru, Swami Muktananda with an Epilogue in which he shares the following story.

In 1982, just a month before Baba [Muktananda] left his body, he took Gurumayi Chidvilasananda, Swami Shantananda, and a few others on a final pilgrimage to Kashmir, in northernmost India.  After Baba's death Gurumayi would become the living head of the Siddha Yoga Path, and Baba wanted to show her the birthplace of Kashmir Saivism, "the philosophy Baba so loved" before he passed on.

Swamiji goes on to explain how Baba led them to an extraordinarily large rock in the Mahadeva Mountains, where, in the ninth century--according to tradition among Kashmiri scholars--the sage Vasugutpta had been directed in a dream to go to the mountains and find this rock which is situated on the edge of a mountain stream.  It is said that as Vasugupta stood before the rock "it overturned, as if by divine will."  The overturned rock "revealed, inscribed on its underside, the seventy-seven aphorisms that comprise the seminal text of Kasmir Shivism, the Siva-sutra."

Swamiji writes: "At Baba's direction, we mounted this rock and, for the next several hours, we sat atop it in the brilliant morning sunlight, chanting various Saiva scriptures."  Swamiji added, "I have always thought it significant that Baba had us begin by singing the twenty sutras of the Pratyabhijna-hrdayam."

After leaving the rock, Swamiji and a few of the others on the pilgrimage were joking about lifting up the rock with a car jack.  Baba heard them, and at first laughed along with them; then he said quite seriously: "You cannot lift the Siva-sutra rock in that way.  Only Lord Siva is able to lift that rock."  After a short pause, Baba added: "The sutras are there."

Swamiji felt that Baba's words spoke to multiple levels of subtlety: "He was saying that the [seventy-seven] sutras are physically etched on the underside of the rock, and that they live as a beacon to guide us on our inner journey." ~ "To this day, I continue to be inspired by [Baba's] implicit faith in the veracity of the scriptures."


Swami Muktananda wrote (over a period of time) a series of commentaries on several of the seventy-seven Siva Sutras.  They were eventually collected and presented in a Siddha Yoga publication entitled Nothing Exists That Is Not Siva.  I will be presenting excerpts from some of Baba's commentaries with my photographs below.

The Rain of Grace
The twelve "straight" photographs presented here were made in the early morning hours of February 24, 2017, which was a most auspicious holiday in Siddha Yoga known as MahaShivaratri.  The word literally means the "Great Night of Lord Shiva," and the holiday takes place in the lunar month of Magha in the Indian Calendar when the crescent moon is at its finest--just before the phase of the new moon begins.  Siva, a name given to absolute Reality personified as a god, is often pictured in meditation wearing a crescent moon in his hair.  The crescent symbolizes Siva's mastery over time.

It was raining that morning, however I wanted to go out and try to make a photograph.  A few days earlier I had seen a rock wrapped inside of a piece of rubber roofing material in one of our back yard gardens.  I felt that the situation might make for a good photograph, but at that time the light was not right, and the tones of the rubber and the rock were lacking in visual richness.  I decided to return to the garden from time to time to see if some change in the situation would yield a more successful photograph.  Perhaps the quality of light would make the difference.  When I saw it was raining on the morning of Shivaratri I thought that perhaps the wetness of the rain would have enriched the tones of the rock and the rubber.

I had been using the rubber pieces in our raspberry garden to hold back the growth of weeds. However the strong winter winds--which constantly blow across the meadow behind our house--had been moving the rubber pieces around in the garden into odd but interesting sculpture-like configurations despite the rocks I had placed on them to keep them from blowing away.  I had photographed some of these changing "sculptures" earlier that winter when the presence of snow had added yet another dimension of interest to these strange objects.

Just as I was going out--in my raincoat, and with my camera in hand--Gloria reminded me that it was Shivaratri.  As I stood before the rock wrapped in the rubber sheeting (see the image above) I thought about it being Shivaratri and I remembered how Gurumayi so often talked about grace in relation to rain.  She used the phrase "the rain of grace" in many of her talks in which she spoke about the outpouring of grace which is constantly--in every moment--being bestowed upon each one of us (and the planet).  This living, divine energy is also known as Sakti, the creative and transformative power of the universe, the blessings of God, the true Guru, Siva, the Supreme Self.  Gurumayi also reminds us frequently that the yogic scriptures, such as the Siva sutras, are there for us, to help us understand how to become receptive to this ever-present divine gift.

It had been raining most of the night, but had come to a stop early in the morning. The night's rain had made the the earth and the grass very soggy and dark; on the other hand, the wetness also brought out all the subtle colors and a hidden luminosity within the rocks we had placed in our various garden beds.  Just as I was about to make the photograph (above) it began sprinkling again very gently.  I enjoyed watching and hearing the rain falling on the rubber material, leaving little dark traces of wetness on its gray surfaces.  The rubber had become like a "womb," and it seemed to be embracing or holding the rock close to itself.

After making the photograph, I started feeling a lot of energy moving though my body, and the desire to continue photographing grew very strong within me.  As I looked around for more things to photograph I noticed that some of the other rocks in our back yard gardens appeared to be lit up.  It seemed as if they were calling me over to take their photograph.  I continued photographing rocks in the rain for the next twenty minutes or so.  I photographed in the gardens around our house and in our front yard as well as those in our back yard.

I have photographed many many rocks over the years.  I love seeing them just laying silently on the surface of the earth, so still, and yet so full of presence.  Rocks seem pervaded by what in Siddha Yoga is called divine Consciousness, or Sakti.  I have always felt challenged by these "living" rocks--challenged to make a photographic image of them that had the same quality of radiance, the same presence that I had perceived within them.  Certainly, on this particular sacred day known as Mahashivaratri, I felt that challenge again and again as I photographed the the rocks in our many small gardens in the "rain of grace" which seemed to have made everything, even my own self, feel extraordinarily alive.

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1. Grace-Photograph-Symbol-Universe
The photographs in this project were made while I was in the middle of working on the third and last project in the triadic series dedicated to Swami Shantananda's commentaries on the Pratyabhijna-hrdayam.  I stored those Shivaratri rock photographs in a digital folder, placed them on hold, waiting for the right time, later, to edit and fine tune the images with Photoshop.  Perhaps I could use one or more of them in some future project.

However, after completing The Pulsating Uncreated Heart : Origin & Center of Creation, I spontaneously remembered the story that Swamiji tells in his Epilogue of the Shiva Sutra Rock.  After I re-read the Epilogue, I knew what I had to do, and I began working on the rock photographs which then became the project before you now.  As I have already indicated, I consider this project the Epilogue to the three projects listed above.

Nothing Exists That Is Not Siva 
As I was writing the above introductory text, the thought (or fantasy) occurred to me that each of the rocks I photographed on Mahashivaratri had, etched on its underside, one of the seventy-seven Siva sutras.  In keeping with this idea, I have decided to provide under each of the photographs in this project with the English translation of one of the Siva sutras and excerpts (in blue italics) from Baba Muktananda's commentaries of that particular sutra.  The translations and excerpted commentaries have been taken from the Siddha Yoga publication entitled Nothing Exists That Is Not Shiva.   

The yogic sages say that this entire universe is Shiva's Garden and that it was created by Siva for His delight, His "sport," to walk in, to play in, to fully enjoy and imbibe the magnificent beauty of His created world.  The Siva Sutras tell us that Shiva has taken the form of each and every thing in His Creation--including me and you; and that Shiva--the Great Lord, the True Guru, the Supreme Self--pervades and illuminates everything He created.  They also tell us that Shiva lives in the heart of every human being.

Baba Muktananda not only loved the philosophy of Kashmir Saivism; he was the living embodiment of that philosophy.  His spiritual autobiography The Play of Consciousness, and all of his teachings and other publications are a wonderful personal testament to this fact.  Baba actually experienced the world "through the eyes of  Shiva."  That is to say, he had been graced by his Guru, Bhagawan Nityananda, with Shiva drishti, the "vision of Shiva." (see my project The Blue Pearl)  Thus, Baba spoke and wrote about that which he knew from his own direct, personal experience.  Baba understood in the truest way possible that Nothing Exists That Is Not Siva.  ~  Welcome to the project: The Siva Sutra Rock Photographs.

Note: you can click on the images to enlarge them; this will
insure that you see the images in their highest degree
of sharpness, luminosity and tonal richness.


The Siva Sutra Rock Photographs, Image #1

Siva Sutra 1.1

Consciousness is the Self.

He who dwells in all places, things, and times as one with all . . . He who is the
Self of all and illuminates everything, He is called chaitanya, Consciousness.  
Though He is nothing, He becomes everything necessary at the proper   
time.  . . . Though the very essence of  formlessness, He lives on 
the far shore of formlessness.   Like sparks arising 
spontaneously from a blazing fire, infinite  
universes rise and set of their own 
accord out of Him, yet remains
one with Him. He alone is
caitanya atman, the 

The Siva Sutra Rock Photographs, Image #2

Siva Sutra 1.2

Knowledge is Bondage.

Amazing as it is, this aphorism is completely true.  Our inner states--
contraction or expansion, joy or sorrow, anxiety or ignorance--
are all reactions to outer stimuli.  Knowledge of the external 
world is the root of all sorrow when it seeps inside and  
we identify with it.  . . .  Outer knowledge causes 
bondage. When by the Guru's grace the inner 
Sakti is awakened,  knowledge of the
Self arises from within.
The Self stands 

The Siva Sutra Rock Photographs, Image #3

Siva Sutra 2.6

The Guru is the means.

For absorption in the supreme Self, the Guru is the most effective means.
Even Lord Siva agrees that a disciple's Self-unfolding takes place 
only by the grace of the Guru.  The Guru destroys the darkness 
in the hearts of his disciples and fills them with the light of 
knowledge.  . . The Guru should not be confused with
a particular form . . . The Guru is one in whom the
divine power of grace  has taken permanent
abode. . . . He alone is the supreme Guru
who enters his disciple as grace, 
blessing him with shaktipat
and transforming him   
into the Guru, like 

The Siva Sutra Rock Photographs, Image #4

Siva Sutra 1.5

Effort is itself Bhairava.

The only true effort is this: on attaining knowledge of the nature of the 
highest reality, one strives to remain constantly immersed in the 
awareness of the inner Self.  . . .  Limited knowledge relying
on words produces only dualities such as love and hate, 
joy or sorrow. But the undifferentiated awareness of 
one's true nature, which is the same as Bhairava, 
Siva, releases pure bliss.  To remain aware  
of the inner Self is right effort.  To 
understand that all thoughts are 
nothing but the pulsation of 
Parasakti anchors one 
firmly  in the  Self.   
Right  effort  is   
Bhairava, the   

The Siva Sutra Rock Photographs, Image #5

Siva Sutra 1.12

Yogic realizations are amazing.

The yogi is filled with amazement by the realizations he attains as the 
Guru's grace unfolds itself . . .  When his inner Sakti is awakened 
by the grace of the Guru, the yogi starts having marvelous  
inner experiences. . . . He enters the space of the heart, 
and there he sees the worlds of meditation . . .  By   
means of the Guru's grace, the yogi perceives
that the cosmos exists within himself . . .
and in time he becomes aware of his
unity with the entire universe.
Then, immersed in the 
awareness  of inner  
blue radiance, he 
unceasingly sees
himself in all, 
      and all in        

The Siva Sutra Rock Photographs, Image #6

Siva Sutra 2.1

The mind is mantra.

Virtually all religions . . .  practice their own forms of mantra repetition.  In this 
aphorism Parasiva gives us the secret of mantra: the mind of the aspirant
who practices mantra is itself the mantra.  By means of the mind we 
become aware of the supreme truth.  It is with this mind that we
repeat mantras, we contemplate their meaning, we come to  
know their essence and their goal . . .  we must consider 
mantra to be one with the supreme Self. Mantra is the  
undifferentiated, integral awareness of the nature 
of the Divine . . .  The whole cosmos throbs in
the mind, which is itself mantra.  The  
person who attains oneness with
mantra by remaining in unity-
consciousness annihilates
the world  of dualities. 
Mantra is the great  
Sakti who brings
the syllables to 
life; it is the 
of inner 

The Siva Sutra Rock Photographs, Image #7

Siva Sutra 1.11

The supreme Lord is the  
experiencer of the three states.

The Self, who is the witness of the waking, dream, and deep sleep states,
is indeed Siva, the supreme Lord.  As witness He enjoys these states
without undergoing any change.  . . .  Supreme Siva is the real
experiencer of all the states.  . . .  In their delusion, people
think, "I am the one experiencing. . .   I am the one who 
is doing. . . " This attitude is bondage.  Who but Siva 
can hear through the ears? Who but Siva can think
with the mind and speak with the tongue? Who
but Siva can perceive objects? The One who 
experiences the external waking world, 
the internal world of dreams, and 
the total oblivion of deep sleep 
is the supreme Lord.

Both the seer and 
the seen are the same 
Consciousness. . .   Siva   
is the experience  and Siva   
 is what is experienced.  One who    
plunges into the inner Self  with this    
knowledge and with a still mind becomes God.

The Siva Sutra Rock Photographs, Image #8

Siva Sutra 1.13

icchasaktir uma kumari
The power of will is the maiden Uma.

God . . . is the final goal of all philosophical systems.  In His being a vibration arises 
spontaneously.  This is His power of will, and it is in no way different from Him. 
In the word kumari, the syllable ku is maya, the power that gives rise to the 
awareness of differences; mari is that which destroys. Uma kumari is the 
maiden who dissolves the consciousness of differences.  . . .  This
power of will creates an  independent universe with Her own 
being. She creates this richly diverse universe of dualities
and contradictions: it is different from Her and yet 
not different.  Though She Herself becomes the 
universe, She remains exactly what She has 
always been: a maiden, ever youthful.

A Siddha is one who, merging
with the divine will, has become utterly
free and lives and moves everywhere without
the least hinderance.   For such a Master of yoga
--who sees nothing as different from himself, who is capable
of entering any realm with total ease and freedom--his will is the maiden Uma. 

The Siva Sutra Rock Photographs, Image #9

Siva Sutra 3.6

By the conquest of delusion
the supreme realization is attained. 

Maya deludes men; she is the great enchantress.  She lives with everyone,
merges with and manipulates everyone, and catches everyone in her
snares.  Her way of seeing is perverse--the real seems unreal, 
consciousness becomes matter.  She makes God man . . . 
the One many.  Maya gives rise to avarana, the veil. . . 
Only meditation can help realize the supreme
reality. . .  Meditation removes the veil
covering the light of the 
highest reality.

is without birth
and death, without 
beginning and end.  He is
devoid of thought, He is self-
evident and fills everything.  The 
transcendent being exists everywhere, 
but in our delusion, we do not understand this.

To know that Siva can be experienced--this is 
real dhyana (meditation).  "Supreme Siva is
within me always" --this awareness is 
dharana (concentration).  The Siva
principle equally pervades the 
entire universe, including 
both subject and 

"I am not apart from Siva."
To continually experience this is
samadhi, the merging in highest reality,

The Siva Sutra Rock Photographs, Image #10

Siva Sutra 2.9

Knowledge is food. 

The food that is nourishing to a yogi and brings him satisfaction and
bliss is the awareness of his own nature, contented rest in his own
atman.  In sutra 1.2 knowledge was said to be bondage.  That 
was outer knowledge, implying forgetfulness of one's nature
and the  presence of the  ego-sense  of  "I" and "mine."
Knowledge becomes food when it is the knowledge
of unity, arising by the grace of the Guru  . . . 
This knowledge takes one beyond the reach
of death,  time,  and limitation,  to the 
supreme Self and supreme

then, is food in
the sense that it gives 
perfect satisfaction and perfect 
rest. . .  By the inner understanding born
of Guru's grace, the yogi devours both the merely
conceptual knowledge that obstructs complete rest in the 
Self, and  the ignorance that hides  his own spirit from  him.   
~ ~ ~ ~  He is then immersed in perfect inner contentment.  ~ ~ ~ ~   

The Siva Sutra Rock Photographs, Image #11

Siva Sutra 3.10

The inner Self is the stage.

There is a great mystery in this sutra.  The atman manifests countless
dramas in His nonbeing.  He Himself becomes the stage, the actor,
and the costumes.  He enacts His dramas in Himself for His own
sake and for his own delight. . .   The inner Self is the place 
where he enacts the scenes  . . .   Assuming physical
bodies, He manifests His mundane sport through
the  sense organs  by means of  His  own 
dynamic Sakti.  Becoming the subtle
body, He transmigrates from one
life-form to another in 
various births.


Siva Sutra 3.11

The senses are the spectators.

The senses are the spectators who watch the Self stage the drama
 of the universe in the theater of one's own being. . .  The king
of yogis who has received the Guru's grace while 
watching the  drama of the  universe being 
rolled out attains Self-realization when
he turns inward. His inner experience
 teaches him that the whole world 
springs from  his own Self.
His sense of differences 
dissolved, he rises to 
the awareness 
"I am Siva."  

The Siva Sutra Rock Photographs, Image #12

Siva Sutra 3.14

As here, so elsewhere.

A Siddha, having attained supreme freedom, lives wholly in the Self. . . 
He holds the same light within and without, permeating his gross
 and subtle bodies: the light of his soul spreads through the
 whole universe.  He discovers that all countries, all
 external worlds, all realms, and in fact the entire
 cosmos  possess the same reality  that is
 within him.  Here is the body, the 
 senses and mind.  Elsewhere
is the outer universe. All
things and all beings
embody the same


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The Snow Covered Siva Sutra Rock Photograph,  Epilogue Image

This snow covered rock photograph was made early Tuesday Morning, March 14, 2017 in the first hours of what would become a major winter storm in which over 24 inches of snow would accumulate within 48 hours.  The rock hidden beneath the snow is the same rock I photographed in the first of the twelve images presented above.  Though the stone itself is not visible because of the veil of snow that covers it, nonetheless the Presence of Siva is there, for me, in the soft form that resembles the human heart.  

~  Nothing Exists That Is Not Siva  ~

If you cannot use your eyes to see
God's glory in this universe, if
you cannot use these eyes 
to  have the  darshan 
 [vision] of the Lord, 
then what is the
use of these

Gurumayi Chidvilasananda
The Yoga of Discipline

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This Project was announced on my
Welcome Page April 2, 2017


This project is the Epilogue to a triadic series of related projects which includes the following:

Welcome Page to my Departing Landscape website which includes the complete listing of my online hyperlinked photography projects, my resume, contact information, and more