The meaning of Pratyabhijna simply is self-recognition.

How can you recognise a person or place?

Only if you have been with him or that place before.

Have you been with Shiva before, of course, yes. In Malinivijyottara tantra Shiva explains to devi: Since we have been there before we can recognise it.

In fact, throughout the world, all enlightened or self-realised masters will say they have not gained anything special but realised that which they already are. It’s a feeling of coming back home after a long journey or waking up from a dream of the world. Nothing gained.

But you lose the unnecessary conditioning, the load you keep on carrying one life to another life. You break the bondage of Puryashtaka.

I am not going to write a scholarly essay on Pratyabhijanahrdayam, I am not a scholar. I will use this form as a vehicle to express the supreme reality as experienced by this form.

The purpose is not to impress you with etymology or grammar but to bring a shift in your understanding through this nectar of divine knowledge.

Truth is very simple and most of these lines are written from utter surrender to Chaitanya. The language is kept self-explanatory so that people with even basic English or Hindi can also understand.

My expectation from the reader is to carefully digest each sutra and concept one by one and not to just go through it in one sitting. I don’t want to increase the burden of knowledge which you have acquired throughout many lifetimes. Shiva says in Shiv Sutras: Jnanam Bandhah or knowledge is the bondage or ‘false’ knowledge is the bondage. That is why these original sutras have been kept in an unadulterated form without scholarly over explanations.

Throughout the sutras, in many places, I have added contemplations or meditations to allow it to be really practical. It would be great if you can just stop and use these contemplations as tools for your journey inward.

May these words emanating from para speech, sustained by pashyanti speech and expressed through madhyama in form of thoughts, gracefully elevate you to Shiva pramata.

Chaitanya Yogesh


The Secret Heart of Recognition


Om Chaitanyam Namah

When we pay reverence to Chaitanya we revere everything living and non-living, hence it is fully comprehensive devotion. I want to especially mention the great Indian sages, who through proper use of their sharp intellect, deep logic and profound thinking enlightened the most basic, yet the highest truth of existence, through the Pratyabhijna system.

The word prati is derived from pratipam which means, once known now appearing as if forgotten, abhi meaning immediate and jnana or gyan meaning knowledge. Pratyabhijnana is the knowledge of self-recognition or self-reflection which is available here and now.

Then why it is obscured? Why do I have to live like a Pashu or Sakala (bound soul)? Why I am surrounded by dukkha or psychosomatic pain in my life? And how can I recognize the truth of my existence?

May the divine nectar of Pratyabhijana answer all these questions and quench your thirst for self and universal knowledge.

Pratyabhijanahrdayam is the heart or summary of Pratyabhijana Shastra which comes from agamas and works of divine logic such as Shivadrishti. The knowledge of Pratyabhijana Shastras is condensed into twenty powerful sutras by Kshemaraja. All twenty sutras can be divided into three parts:

  • What is the reality?
  • How it veils itself?
  • How can it be recognised?


The Sanskrit word Chaitanya means Prakash-Vimarshamayi, existential reality. The aspect of Prakasha or Shiva represents the light of knowing, the light that makes knowing possible through the five senses and the mind. The aspect of Vimarsha or Shakti represents self-knowingness, the ability to know itself. These two cannot be separated hence we say that Shiva and Shakti are one.

Shiva has five key powers: Chit (awareness), Ananda (bliss), Iccha (free will), Jnana or Gyan (knowledge), and Kriya (action). The universe, as we see it, is just a manifestation of these powers.



Svatantrya means absolute freedom or free will or causelessness.

When you are reading these lines you have to depend on your eyes don’t you? What if the whole world was blind, would this book or these words exist, without the eyes?  So, the existence of the book depends on the eyes, but on whom do these eyes depend?

Let’s say, for the sake of logic, that eyes depend on the Sukshma Sharira or the subtle body. But here again, the subtle body must also depend on something. If we follow the Upanishads, all senses and the mind depend on prana and prana depends on ultimate spanda or vibration. What is the source of this vibration? Vibration must happen from and in something, what is that? 

We have to start with something which is the foundation and essence of all these senses and the universe as it is experienced. Yogis have experienced that the manifestation of thought happens this way.


The five acts of Shiva

The foundation of the siddhi of the universe lies in the five acts of Shiva which are: Srishti (emanation), Stithi (sustenance), Samhara (absorption), Tirodhan (concealment) and Anugrah (grace).

तन्त्रा विश्वसिद्धिहेतुः॥१॥
Citiḥ svatantrā viśvasiddhihetuḥ||1||

The independent (svatantrā) Śakti or Chaitanya (citiḥ) (is) the cause (hetuḥ) of manifestation, maintenance and dissolution (siddhi)1 of the universe (viśva)||1||

The universal consciousness is free for Siddhi of the universe or the absolute citi, of its own free will, is the cause of the Siddhi of the universe.

Siddhi means – Srishti (creation), Sthiti(sustenance) and Samhara(disruption or resting).

When I first read this sutra I went into a trance and felt like I had received answers to all my pending questions. It was like a nuclear explosion. Every doubt of the mind burnt to ashes.

“Chaitanya is absolutely free and independent”.

What is Chaitanya?

There is no English word for Chaitanya, but the closest words are awareness, knowingness or consciousness. Chaitanya has two aspects; Prakasha and Vimarsha.

Prakasha means light of knowing, the light which makes the possibility of knowing anything.
Vimarsha means self-awareness of this knowingness.

This knowingness not only makes us know everything we experience but also knows itself.

Just ask a question to yourself….
Am I aware?
Am I aware that I exist?
Even when all the senses and the mind are quiet, you still know that you exist – this is Vimarsha.
You exist independent of all experiences.
Do it practically, don’t bring your mind in between. It will not help you.

Now this Chaitanya “self aware awareness” is free.

Nothing in this universe, which you experience through the five senses and mind is free. Everything is dependent on the experiencer. According to quantum physics, there will be no action if there is no observer. E.g. If the whole world is blind, what is the meaning of colours and light.

Can you still make beautiful paintings, magnificent buildings and gardens of Eden?

All will be worthless without eyes.

The same is true for the other five senses.

The purpose of the five gross elements is to support the five senses.

Isn’t it?

We have discussed Chaitanya and it’s free will, now let’s discuss five acts of Siva.

Srishti, Stithi, Samhara, Tirodhan, and Anugraha.

Tirodhan means the concealment of its true nature.

Anugraha means grace through which it reveals its true nature.

So Shiva does these five kriyas or acts where he creates the universe, sustains it, destroys it, conceals it and reveals it.

E.g if you are reading this you first created the screen, sustained its existence and after reading it you put your attention somewhere else hence Samhara.

We keep on doing all these acts throughout the day, on a small scale.
For Srshti/manifestation it takes forms of Pramata(subject), Pramana(knowledge) and Prameya(object).
Shiva itself becomes all three.
If you see anything or experience anything there are three aspects to it: knower(subject), knowledge and object of knowledge.
The mind says these are three, but experience says these are one.
A true yogi is always aware that Pramana, Prameya and Pramata are one.
Contemplate over this, this is one of the ultimate Sadhanas.

Chaitanya is free to create, sustain and destroy the world because of its own free will.

Will is one of the three powers of Shiva namely-iccha(will), Gyan(knowledge) and kriya(action).

Any success in the world is achieved through the balance of these three powers.

स्वेच्छया स्वभित्तौ विश्वमुन्मीलयति॥२॥
Svecchayā svabhittau viśvamunmīlayati||2||

Because of its own (sva) Will (icchayā), “Citi”– unfolds (unmīlayati) the universe (viśvam) on its own (sva) wall or screen –bhitti– (bhittau)||2||

Chaitanya because of its own free will, unfolds the universe on itself.

As we discussed in the first sutra, because of the free will of Chaitanya or Paramshiva, it starts unfolding the universe. This is the result of the divine will of Chaitanya or Paramshiva who wants to experience itself. Here we should also understand that Vimarsha and Svatantrya, or free will, are the same concepts.

Now the key question is, where does this unfolding will happen?

The answer is simple – On Itself!!!

As nothing else exists apart from Chaitanya it unfolds the universe from itself, on itself. To understand this in a better way I would like to give you my favourite metaphor i.e. watching a movie, or nowadays in a 3D movie, in a cinema.

When you go to a cinema or movie theatre, before the movie begins what do you observe? – just the screen. Once the projector starts projecting specific lights you start watching mountains, rivers, characters in the movie and if you put on 3D glasses then everything comes out of the screen and becomes a virtual reality. This is what the great seers were saying thousands of years ago. The only difference between the cinema and the reality is that in Chaitanya the Shiva, or the light of knowing, is the projector. It projects the reality through five senses, intellect, ego and mind.

Just ask a question to yourself….
Just imagine what the world would be without these five senses of sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste…..
Can you experience the universe in the same way?
If you close your eyes the world disappears, just compare it with 3D glasses in the above metaphor. That means the reality appears in a particular way because of these senses.

Further, the intellect which dissects your thoughts, your ego which takes responsibility or doer-ship and your dicey mind just add more complexity to the reality.
Chaitanya is in fact the source of all these senses, intellect, ego and mind.

Now this Chaitanya “self aware awareness” is free.

Nothing in this universe, which you experience through the five senses and mind is free. Everything is dependent on the experiencer. According to quantum physics, there will be no action if there is no observer. E.g. If the whole world is blind, what is the meaning of colours and light.

Can you still make beautiful paintings, magnificent buildings and gardens of Eden?

All will be worthless without eyes.

The same is true for the other five senses.

The purpose of the five gross elements is to support the five senses.

Isn’t it?

Only Shiva himself can make such a declaration – That all existence is unfolding of, on and by Shiva.

So this sutra says the universe is just an unfolding of Shiva and this is all happening within Shiva. Essentially it means everything is Shiva and nothing can exist outside of Shiva. Every deva, Asura, Gandharva, human, blade of grass, the sky, earth, light, darkness, mountain, river, desert, good/bad, wise/fool everything and nothingness all is Shiva.

All is a grand play of Shiva, who plays it within himself.

One who knows this by experience is indeed free, not only free, he is with Shiva, not only with Shiva, he is Shiva.