Anavopaya or Kriyopaya


Anavopaya is known as the inferior means as it uses the mind, senses, and body for Self-revelation. This “individual path” is the spiritual approach in which there is always a subject-object duality and hence it is called bhedopaya. It is a path of “doing” and involves effort on the part of the aspirant. Its practices may include asanas, pranayama, rituals, recitation of mantras, concentration, etc.

Anvopaya is that expedient which is concerned with ‘anu’ a limited individual being, signifying his mental effort to get rid of the ignorance of his true nature. In this means all the faculties of understanding are to be concentrated upon particular objects other than the self, and the self is to be experienced with the help of those particular objective entities. 

It is that means which is entails by the process of concentrating on uccara (breathing), Karana (organs of sensation), Dhyana (contemplation), and sthana pralkalpana (concentrating on some particular place).

To understand this definition squarely we have got to explain it point wise. ‘Uchhaar’ connotes an awareness during inhalation or exhalation, when the consciousness of the realizer flows in between these two breaths in harmonious collusion. ‘Karan’ connotes that mental practice; which is developed through the grooming of organs of the senses and actions. It is conducted in the actual perception of one’s field of activities in daily life. ‘Dhyaan’ means the experience of one’s endless nominal and phenomenal nature through abstract meditation on one’s understanding. ‘Varna’ is the incessant practice based on Dhvani (sound) which comes to the aspirant within hearing at the time of meditation. When a seeker plants his consciousness on the heart, navel or the space between the two eye-brows, simultaneously reciting the mantra through mind only, is known as the practice of ‘sthaankalpanaa’. The lowest types of this form are the as the practice Lingam, the altar and the image etc.

This expedient is also known as Kriya Yoga or Kriyopaya, because concentration on object in this yoga involves sufficient mental effort. Thus action plays phenomenal part in reaching upto this mental stage.

Shaktopaya or Jnanopaya


Shaktopaya is the path to reveal Shiva consciousness through shakti (cosmic energy). It is a spiritual approach in which a thought naturally and constantly returns to itself, the source of the “I,” Shiva. Thus the duality of subject-object is perpetually dissolved.

Saktopaya is also called Gyanopaya, because the mental activities of meditation are the most important factors. It is functioned by the means of energies as it is the means which originates from Gyan Sakti (energy of knowledge). In this upaya, the yogi does not have to recite mantras or be aware using his breath or concentrate on any particular spot. He has only to see and concentrate on that supreme being that is found in between two actions without action. This is called centering.

In Saktopaya centering can be practiced between any and all actions and or thoughts/ emotions. In centering, the yogi must develop great velocity of awareness (firmness of awareness).

There must be continuity in the cycle of yogi’s awareness. The yogi can center between any two thoughts or any two movements, between one thought and another feeling or sensation, between waking and dreaming, between one step and the next step, between one breath and next breath. The saktopaya yogi must simply insert beakless awareness in the center of any two actions or thoughts. If this awareness is faulty and is not uninterupted, then he will be forced out of shaktopaya into the lower upaya, anavopaya.Here, the aspirant is more important than the Guru because he must make himself capable of receiving the Gurus grace. He must work to develop great velocity of awareness until he reaches the “feet of the Master.” By this It is not mean the Guru’s physical feet. “Being at the feet of the Master,” means reaching that state where the aspirant is capable of receiving the grace of the Guru.It is a yogic practice of thought only. In this the seeker has to develop concentration upon God-consciousness by means of initiating thought unfolded by the Guru.

“When the aspirant concentrates on the particular thought of God-consciousness without the support of Pranayama and chanting of mantras etc, and develops that consciousness uninterruptedly. That state is called Shaktopaya.”
Shri Malinivijaya Tantra

The particular line of thought given by the initiating Guru such as, ‘I Am’, ‘I am That’, ‘I am all consciousness’, or ‘I am Transcendental Bliss’, or questions like ‘who/ what am I’ must be firmly adjusted in mind with such an awareness that no other thought comes to displace it. The aspirant established in this state of awareness enters the state of Transcendental consciousness and passes from duality to unity.Shaktopaya does not involve any objective ‘Dhyana’ intellectual meditation, or anything of that sort. It is an expedient of very high order and is meant for those who possess unflinching devotion and sharp intellectual acumen. It is solely meant for those who are not capable of undergoing Nirvikalpa yoga of Shambavopaya, because of the deep-rooted mental impressions of the impure vikalpa (thought-aberrations). Thus it is still an indirect means to complete liberation.

Shambhavopaya or Icchopaya


Shambhavopaya is the path to reveal Shiva consciousness through Shiva (the Supreme Reality). It is a perpetual state of freedom from thoughts that allows the realization of the divinity. In this condition, there is no object or support on which the mind is to be steadied or fixed, and the mind ceases to play an active role. Because of this, it is also known as niralamba yoga (supportless yoga) or Nirvikalpayoga because no vikalpa i.e. a mental idea in name and form emerges in it.

“shambhavopaya Yogi – the one who preserves thoughtlessness.”
-Malini Vijaya Tantra

Shambhavopaya is called also called icchopaya because it originates from iccha shakti (the power of the pure, divine will). The aspirant reveals the ultimate simply through this willpower—which is actually not personal, but pure and divine.

“In shambhavopaya, there are no means to travel upon. It is the meant. There is nowhere to go. You must reside only in the meant.”
-Swami Lakshmanjoo

In this state, practitioners see only the play of Consciousness everywhere. Wherever they look, they see nothing separate from Shiva. They understand that all is Shiva, who has merely assumed different inner and outer forms.

“Wherever the mind is oriented, either outward or inward, right there, there is the state of Shiva. [Meditate on the idea:] ‘Since Shiva is omnipresent, where else could the mind go?’”
-Vijnana Bhairava Tantra

Shambhavopaya functions in Matrikachakra (the world of alphabets, words and sentences), Pratyahara (withdrawl of senses) and pratibimbavada (theory of reflection of shiva in 36 elements from shiva tattva to prithvi tatva, from gross to subtle).

By preserving thoughtlessness, that is, not having thoughts and maintaining the continuity of that thoughtlessness, and by deeksha from Guru, one enters into that transcendental consciousness where he finds that this whole universe has come out from sentences and sentences from words and words from letters and letters from that real “I” which is Parama Śiva. The yogi finds that this whole universe is reflected in his own consciousness and that it is reflected from within rather than from without.

“You can attain that state only by stealing it from all the senses.”
-Jnaneshwar Maharaj

The rest is automatic. Here, only the grace of your Guru is necessary. It must be realized, however, that you yourself must come to this point where you reside in the meant, and this you do by maintaining the continuity of thoughtlessness. Up to this point, therefore, there is still something to be done. When you reside only in the meant, it is then the grace of your Guru that carries you. You must reach that state where only Grace of the Guru shines. This means that you must merge in your Guru’s consciousness, you must fully absorb and consume that grace in full embodiment. In this state, you do not exist; only the Guru exists. The Guru selects disciples for this upaya who are highly developed in awareness. Until then, they will not be accepted by the Guru for this upaya. In this upaya, the grace of Guru functions more than does the disciple.

“A lightning bug shines only for himself, jewels shine not only for themselves but for a few others also, the stars shine for even more, the moon shines for still more, and the sun shines for the whole universe. In the same way, he who is established in the shambhavopaya state shines like the midday sun for the whole universe.”
-Swami Lakshmanjoo

It is a unique way of yoga by keeping one’s mind completely motionless and calm, yet awake.. All the mental activities cease to exist in it.

“Shambavopaya is a path, shown by the supreme master, in which the knowledge of the ultimate reality comes through the practice of emptying one’s mind completely of all thoughts.”
-Shri Purva-Shastra

In this way Shambavopaya is the direct means to absolute liberation. According to monistic theory of Kashmir Shaivism Shambavopaya is meant only for those great souls who have developed their awareness of Chit consciousness through the Anugraha of the master to get enthroned on this spiritual height, three ways have been advocated which are as under:1. Vishwa chit pratibimbatvam2. Paramarshodayakrama3. MantradhayabhinnatvamBy the first way a ‘sadhaka’ feels that the entire gamut of reciting an incantation, consists of six successive stages namely: varanadhva (syllabic) , Padaadhva (consisting of words) , Mantradhva ( incantative ), Kaladhva (Instantative), Tattvadha (contential), Bhavanadhva (peripheric) are reflected in the mirror of one’s own consciousness and by this awareness he enters the universal consciousness. After perceiving it, a seeker gets Shambava Samadhi (mental equipoise).

By the second way i.e. Paramarshodayakrama, a realizer understands that the entire field or sounds, words and sentences is nothing but the supreme self. By developing this attitude in his own mind, his innate faculties are focussed towards the Shambav Samadhi.

By the third way i.e. Mantradhabhinatvam an aspirant practises the state at the universal ‘I’-consciousness.* By the Continuous awareness of upper consciousness, individual’s “I” consciousness automatically vanishes and it is united with God-consciousnes- where ‘sadhaka’ is one with subjective energy of Lord Shiva.

Thus Shamabavopaya is that path where ‘sadhaka’ gets rid of the recitation of Mantras, of different types of ‘sadhana’ and concentration on particular deity.



The difference between anavopaya, shaktopaya, and shambhavopaya is that In anavopaya, the strength of your awareness is such that you have to take the support of everything as an aid to maintaining and strengthening your awareness. Though you concentrate on the center, you must take the support of two things for concentrating on that center.

In shaktopaya, your awareness is strengthened to the extent that only one point is needed as a support for your concentration and that point is the center. In shaktopaya, you begin with the center and then become established there.

In shambhavopaya, the strength of your awareness is such that no support is needed. You are already residing in the meant. There is nowhere to go, just reside at your own point. The rest is automatic.“It is important to realize that though there are different upayas, yet all lead you to the state of one transcendental consciousness. The difference in these upayas is that anavopaya will carry you in a long way, shaktopaya in a shorter way, and shambhavopaya in the shortest way. Although the ways are different, the point to be achieved is one.”

Anavopaya is the means found in the world of duality and is known as bhedopaya. The means that exists in the world of mono-duality, in the world where duality and nonduality exist together, is shaktopaya and this is called bhedabhedopaya. That means which exists in the world of pure monism (abheda) is shambhavopaya and is called abhedopaya. Shambhavopaya is also called icchopaya, as it is the means which exists in iccha shakti, power of will. The means which exists in jnana shakti is shaktopaya and is called jnanopaya, as it operates through jnana shakti, energy of knowledge. Anavopaya is called kriyopaya because it is the means which is found in kriya shakti, power of action .