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Swami Lakshmanjoo Raina (9 May 1907 – 27 September 1991) was a mystic and scholar of Kashmir Shaivism or Trika. He was known as Lal Sahib (friend of God) by followers, who considered him a fully realized saint.
Swami Lakshmanjoo was born in Srinagar, Kashmir on May 9, 1907. He was the last and the greatest of the saints and masters of the tradition of Kashmir Shaivism. Having a deep understanding of the philosophy and practices of Kashmir Shaivism, he was like a splendid and rare jewel. Beginning from childhood he spent his whole life studying and practicing the teachings of this unique sacred tradition. Because of his intellectual power and strength of awareness, he realized both spiritually and intellectually the reality of its thought.
He was the fifth child in a household of four boys and five girls. His father Pt. Naraindas Raina (also known as Nav Narayan) was the first man to have introduced House Boats in Kashmir and his mother Smt. Arnyamali was a noble and god fearing lady. Swamiji’s birth came about through unusual circumstances. By the time Swamiji’s eldest brother, Maheshwar Nath Raina had reached the age of eighteen, his mother had given birth to three more daughters but no sons. His parents wanted to have another boy. They approached Swami Ram, their family guru and asked him to give them something special, something magical, so they could have another son. Wanting very much to help, Swami Ram blessed an almond and gave it to Swamiji’s mother to eat. As soon as the news of the birth of the new born was conveyed to Swami Ram, he literally danced in joy and exclaimed “I am Rama, let the child be called Lakshman.”
Lakshman started showing his leanings towards the higher life in early childhood. At the age of three, his play consisted of making Siva-lingams out of clay for worship. At five, he would sit down for meditation and in this condition, he would exhibit signs of abnormal behaviour, which worried his parents. They approached Swami Ram who said, “This boy was a great Yogi in his past life and his yoga would be consummated in this life”. Lakshmanjoo's childhood was spent under the spiritual care of Swami Ram who taught him the Japa of Gayatri Mantra and also Yogic discipline according to Kashmir Shaivism. Before Swami Ram took Mahsamadhi, he entrusted the seven-year-old Lakshman to the charge of his principle disciple, Swami Mehtab kak who later taught the oral tradition of Shaiva Shastras to Swamiji.
In school also, Swamiji used to go Samadhi now and then. One of his inquisitive teachers once asked him what he noticed in the state of absorption, to which he replied in Kashmiri that he experienced "Badi Bod" the highest, the Supreme. Yet another teacher asked him to do physical exercises. Instead, Lakshmana gathered a group of students and sang Bhajans. Enraged, the teacher inflicted 25 cane strokes on him for his defiance. Next day, it is said, the teacher fell ill and had fever exactly for twenty-five days.
At 13, his parents thought of arranging his matrimony (as was the custom days of marrying quite early). But Lakshmana's reply in the negative was firm and emphatic. When he was in pre-matric, his father fell ill and he along with his brothers was asked to look after the business. He had to give up his school. Now free from the routine work of the school, he devoted most of his time to the study of the Shaiva Shastras from Swami Mehtab Kak. He devoted even greater time to the practice of Yoga, for he did not want to confine himself only to the theoretical part of the Shaiva system. He used to practice meditation from two in the night till dawn.
It was at the age of 20, that he had the experience of Self-realization for the first time. It was 4am (Brahma Muhurta). After this, he would go into Samadhi even while he was in his workshop routine jobs. He now lost all interest in business, for which his father reprimanded him. Inner struggle ensued and finally the call of the spirit proved to be irresistible. He bowed to the inner Self, as it were, and left home. A search for him followed but without success. His brothers, however, found a piece of paper with the following note left behind by the boy Lakshmana, "My dear brothers, I am leaving in search of the Supreme, kindly take care of my parents".
The spiritual urge compelled the earnest aspirant to leave home for practising yoga at the famous ashram of Sadhamalyun (Sadhuganga) in Handawara, Kashmir. Eventually, his father succeeded in persuading him to come to the city and accept to live in a newly built house in their factory premises, as he had desired. Here the earnest scholar-saint devoted himself to the study of Kashmir Shaiva literature. Lakshmanjoo's father Pandit Narayan Das engaged the most knowledgeable Pandit Maheshwar Razdan to teach his son Shaiva Shastras at home. He also studied Sanskrit grammar and the allied schools of Indian philosophy in full depth.
During the year 1934-35, Brahmachari Lakshmanajoo chose a secluded place at the foothill above Ishber village in the vicinity of the famous Nishat garden. He loved the spot because his ideal teacher Abhinavagupta, one of the most prominent authors of Kashmir Shaivism, had lived somewhere around the place in vineyards about nine centuries ago. A bungalow was constructed by his parents at the selected site.
Suddenly the young saint (when he was about 30 years) made a silent trip to certain places of his own choice in India. He wanted to confer with saints of high order perhaps to ascertain his attainments. He spent some time on the Bombay beach to establish his power of spiritual perception. After spending a short time with Mahatma Gandhi at Sevagram he rushed to have a glimpse of Sri Aurobindo at Pondicherry where the Mother evinced interest in him. Therefrom he found his way to Tiruvanamalai to meet Ramana Maharshi at the Ramanashramam. Bhagavan Ramana looked at the young attractive saint graciously. Swami Lakshmanajoo spent some weeks in the presence of the Maharshi. He later expressed: “I felt those golden days were indeed divine”.
He attracted the attention of western writers such as Paul Reps, whose rendering of the Vigyan Bhairav Tantra, later used by Osho, brought Swami Lakshmanjoo and the meditation methods of his school to international prominence, and Miguel Serrano, the Chilean mystical writer. Throughout his life there were numerous scholars who paid respects to the Swami who graciously gave his teachings free of charge. Among the prominent were: Paul Reps, Lilian Silburn, Andre Padoux, Jaidev Singh, Rameshwa Jha, Jankinath (Kamal) Kaul, Professor Gherardu Gnoli, Professor Alexis Sanderson, Mark Dycskowski, John Hughes, and many others. Swami Lakshmanjoo was the founder of Srinagar based Ishwar Ashram Trust, which continues his teachings on Kashmir Shaivism & Trika philosophy.
Lakshmanjoo was involved in teaching Kashmiri Shaivite texts throughout his adult life. He translated the texts he considered the most important of his tradition into both Hindi and English;
- 1933 – Sanskrit Gitartha Samgraha (Abhinavgupta's commentary on the Bhagavad Gita)
- 1943 – Hindi translation of Sambpanchashika
- 1958 – Sri Kramanayadipika (Hindi) on the 12 Kali's
- 1964 – Hindi translation of Utpaladeva's Shivastotravali
- 1982 – Lectures on practice and discipline in Kashmir Shaivism
- 1985 – Kashmir Shaivism: The Secret Supreme, edited by John Hughes (the essence of the first fifteen chapters of Abhinavagupta's Tantraloka)
- 1986 – Hindi commentary by Swami Lakshmanjoo on Abhinavagupta's Bhagavad Gitartha Samgraha
- 1987 – Hindi translation of Panchastavi
- 1994 – Self Realization in Kashmir Shaivism, Oral Teachings of Swami Lakshmanjoo, edited by John Hughes
- 2002 – English translation of Shiva Sutras of Vasugupta edited by John Hughes
- 2002 – Shiva Sutras of Vasugupta, along with original audio recordings
- 2005 – Revelations on Grace and Spiritual Practice, original audio and DVD recordings
- 2006 – Trika Rahasya Prakriya, by Swami Lakshmanjoo (Sanskrit verses with Hindi commentary)
- 2007 – Vijnana Bhairava, original audio and transcript, introduction by John Hughes
- 2009 – Bhagavad Gitartha Samgraha of Abhinavagupta (Revisited), Chapters 1–6, translated by Swami Lakshmanjoo, DVD
- 2013 – Bhagavad Gītā, in the Light of Kashmir Shaivism, Chapters 1-18, translated by Swami Lakshmanjoo, DVD
Kashmir Shaivism – Library
Over a period of nineteen years John Hughes recorded Lakshmanjoo's translations of the following texts. Transcripts of these lectures are maintained in the Universal Shaiva Fellowship library.
- Bhagavad Gitartha Samgraha of Abhinavagupta, translation and commentary by Swami Lakshmanjoo, original audio recordings (Kashmir, 28 Nov. 1978 to 3 June 80).
- Bodhapancadashika of Abhinavagupta, translation and commentary by Swami Lakshmanjoo, original audio recordings (Kashmir, 18 to 22 Oct 1980).
- Dehastadevatacakra of Abhinavagupta, translation and commentary by Swami Lakshmanjoo, original audio recordings (Kashmir, 25 Oct to 12 Nov 1980).
- Interviews with Swami Lakshmanjoo: Questions by John Hughes, Alexis Sanderson, Alice Christenson, original audio recordings (July 1974).
- Janma Marana Vicara: translation and commentary by Swami Lakshmanjoo, original audio recordings (Kashmir, May 1975).
- Kashmir Shaivism, The Secret Supreme, (Special Lectures in English), Swami Lakshmanjoo, original audio recordings (Kashmir, 1972).
- Kashmiri Lectures on Practice and Discipline, Swami Lakshmanjoo, original audio recordings (Kashmir, 1980).
- Paramarthasara (Abhinavagupta’s commentary): Swami Lakshmanjoo’s comments on John Hughes’ reading, original audio recordings (Kashmir, 26 April to 6 Sept 1972).
- Parapraveshika of Kshemaraja: translation and commentary by Swami Lakshmanjoo, original audio recordings (Kashmir, 12 to 15 Nov 1980).
- Pratyabhijna Hridayam of Kshemaraja: Swami Lakshmanjoo’s answers John Hughes questions: original audio recordings (Kashmir, 26 April 1972).
- Paratrishika Laghuvritti of Abhinavagupta: translation and commentary by Swami Lakshmanjoo, original audio recordings (Kashmir, 25 May 1974 to 6 July 1974)
- Paratrishika Vivarana of Abhinavagupta, translation and commentary by Swami Lakshmanjoo, original audio recordings (Kashmir, 26 May1982 to 24 Aug 1985).
- Revelations on Grace and Practice: A collection of Swami Lakshmanjoo’s original audio recordings plus Transcript, ed. John Hughes (USA, May 9, 2005).
- Shivastotravali of Utpaladeva: translation by Swami Lakshmanjoo, original audio recordings (Kashmir, June 1976 to Sept 1978).
- Shiva Sutra Vimarshini of Vasugupta: translation and commentary by Swami Lakshmanjoo, original audio recordings (Kashmir, 7 June 1975).
- Spanda Karika of Vasugupta: translation and commentary by Swami Lakshmanjoo, original audio recordings (Kashmir, 5 Aug to 26 Aug 1981).
- Spanda Samdoha of Kshemaraja: translation and commentary by Swami Lakshmanjoo, original audio recordings (Kashmir, 29 Aug to 9 Oct 1981).
- Special Verses on Practice Swami Lakshmanjoo, original audio recordings (Nepal, 1988).
- Stavacintamani of Bhatta Narayana: translation and commentary by Swami Lakshmanjoo, original audio recordings (Kashmir, 26 Nov 1980 to 17 July 1981).
- Tantraloka of Abhinavagupta (Chapters 1–18): translation and commentary by Swami Lakshmanjoo, original audio recordings (Kashmir, 1976 to 1981).
- Vatulanath Sutras of Kshemaraja: Swami Lakshman joo, original audio recordings (Kashmir, 1975).
- Vijnana Bhairava: translation and commentary by Swami Lakshmanjoo, original audio recordings (Kashmir, 1975).
- Vijnana Bhairava Questions: Swami Lakshmanjoo, original audio recordings (Kashmir, July 1985).
Audio (Kashmiri language)
- Kalika Stotra of Shivanandanatha, Recitation by Swami Lakshmanjoo and devotees, (Kashmir, 1977).
- Maharthamanjari of Maheshvarananda, translated by Swami Lakshmanjoo, (Kashmir, 1977).
- Paratrishika Vivarana, translated by Swami Lakshmanjoo, (Kashmir, 1982–83).
- Shiva Sutras Vimarshini of Vasugupta, translated by Swami Lakshmanjoo, (Kashmir, 1978).
- Shiva Stotravali of Utpaladeva with Kshemaraja’s commentary, translated by Swami Lakshmanjoo, (Kashmir, 1975–85).
- Stuti Kushmanjail, translated by Swami Lakshmanjoo, (Kashmir, 1977).
- Tantraloka of Abhinavagupta, (Selected chapters) translated by Swami Lakshmanjoo (Kashmir, 1975–85).
DVD library (English)
- Bhagavadgitarthasamgraha of Abhinavagupta, translation and commentary by Swami Lakshmanjoo, original video recordings (Nepal, 1990)
- Paramarthasara of Abhinavagupta, translation and commentary by Swami Lakshmanjoo, original video recording (Nepal, 1990)
- Revelations on Grace and Spiritual Practice, Selections from translations and commentaries on Bhagavadgitarthasamgrah (video), Paramarthasara (video), and Tantraloka (audio). (Los Angeles, 2006)
- Special Verses on Practice Swami Lakshmanjoo, original video recordings (Nepal, 1988).
- "Swami Lakshmanjoo". Retrieved 2008-02-28.
- "Swamy Lakshmanjoo's Birth Centenary Celebrations". One India. Retrieved 5 Jun 2012.