is the original, primordial
subtle vibration that arises from
the dynamic interplay of the passive
and the creative polarizations of the
Absolute, and that by unfolding
itself into the energetic
process of differentiation
bringing forth the whole
of creation. …
word spanda, in Devanāgarī
Spanda is a Sanskrit term – derived from the root spadi:
“to move a little” (kimcit calana) – for the subtle creative
pulse of the universe as it manifests into the dynamism of living
form. The term is a key concept of the Kashmir Śaivism
monistic philosophy (ninth century) according to which the entire
universe is nothing but conscious energy, and that everything
in the universe is that consciousness expressed in different forms.
Spanda can be translated as throb or pulse or to mean
vibration, movement, or motion, referring to waves of activity
issuing forth from an unseen source of spontaneous expression,
emanating not only from the centre outward, but from everywhere
at once. It might be described as the essence of a wave in the
ocean of consciousness. An impulse or desire to create and enjoy,
likened to an eternal spring, joyfully overflowing its inner essence
into manifestation and inspiration, yet ever full, complete and
transcendental plane, spanda is the pulsating radiance
flashing forth of the Absolute consciousness who appears as the
universal source and essential form of the Absolute's own energetic
self-expression. On a more personal plane, spanda is
the primordial energy whose manifestation reveals itself in our
every experience, and it refers to consciousness as it orients
through thought and intention to organize into authentic action.
It is a continuous movement on an infinite spectrum of frequencies
flashing forth of consciousness. It is the first stage of consciousness
before it crystallizes into the reasoning process.
Thus, spanda is defined as the dynamics of consciousness,
being not a physical movement, not a psychological activity (like
pleasure) and not even a movement of energy (prāna),
such as hunger and thirst, but being the subtle vibration which
is the source and foundation of all these. "Spanda is
the pulsation of the ecstasy of the divine consciousness",
as Abinahavagupta (975-1025 c.e.) defines it. When we sense this
pulsation inside us, we are sensing our own personal spark of
that huge, primordial life force. It is the energy behind the
breath, the heartbeat, and the movement of our thoughts and feelings.
It is also the source of all our inner experiences. When we get
deep into ourselves, we realize that this throb, this subtle pulsation,
is actually ‘meditating’ us.
The Kashmir Śaiva
school holds that the ultimate Reality itself ‘quivers,’ that
is, is inherently creative. The unobjectified impulse of the Absolute
to manifest itself – born of its inherent nature as a deliberation
of its own volition – creates a stir, a throb (spanda)
which vibrates as the primordial sound (nāda). This ur-sound
concentrates itself into a point (bindu), a nucleus of
condensed energy, the seed of the ultimate sound, containing within
itself both the dynamic and static aspects, the two polarities
as one closely knit unit (bearing in mind that these two polarities
are merely a linguistic convention for the convenience of philosophical
thinking and as a way of clarifying the two aspects of the one
Absolute Reality: transcendental unity and universal diversity).
This point encloses in itself all the possibilities of becoming,
all that have to be created. Then, the point swells and, retaining
simultaneously the original latent and potent status embodying
the polarities, assumes a radius: the polarization takes place:
the dynamic and static energies interact and, from the ensuing
unfoldment, two more points emerge to form a triad of points:
the primary triangle, the beginning of creation. Moving as a resonance,
the pulsation of spanda exists continuously; and in all
the different states of consciousness there is spanda:
it is the residual, foundational substratum of the manifested
The Spanda organisation was founded in the
spirit of this meaning.
can learn more on our logo here.
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Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1986.
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