The 9th International Conference Buddhism & Australia
Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia Illustrations
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Sahaja (Sanskrit; IAST: sahaja; Devanagari: सहज, meaning "spontaneous, natural, simple, or easy" is a term of some importance in Indian spirituality, particularly in circles influenced by the Tantric Movement. Ananda Coomaraswamy describes its significance as "the last achievement of all thought",
Sahaja (Sanskrit: सहज; Tibetan: lhan cig skyes pa), meaning "coemergent; spontaneously or naturally born together" is a term of some importance in Indian and Tibetan Buddhist spirituality, particularly in circles influenced by the tantra.
The origin of the word is Apabhraṃśa, where its first attested literary usage occurs in the 8th century CE. The word was used in a spiritual context by the Kamarupan siddha Saraha in the 8th century CE:
The Victorious Ones are filled with perfect [qualities],
Which all have the very same nature——spontaneous presence.
From [the natural display of the great sphere), living beings take birth and therein cease.
In relation to this, there is no thing and no nonthing.
The concept of a spontaneous spirituality entered Hinduism with Nath yogis such as Gorakshanath and was often alluded to indirectly and symbolically in the twilight language (sandhya bhasa) common to sahaja traditions as found in the Charyapada and works by Matsyendranath and Daripada.
Yoga in particular had a quickening influence on the various ]]Sahajiya\\ traditions. The culture of the body (]]kāya-sādhana\\) through processes of Haṭha-yoga was of paramount importance in the Nāth sect and found in all sahaja schools.
Whether conceived of as 'supreme bliss' (Mahā-sukha), as by the Buddhist Sahajiyās, or as 'supreme love' (as with the Vaiṣṇava Sahajiyās), strength of the body was deemed necessary to stand such a supreme realisation.
- Man is born with an instinct for naturalness. He has never forgotten the days of his primordial perfection, except insomuch as the memory became buried under the artificial superstructure of civilization and its artificial concepts. Sahaja means natural...
Jayadeva (circa 1200 CE) and Vidyapati (c 1352 - c 1448) whose works foreshadowed the rasas or "flavours" of love. The two aspects of absolute reality were explained as the eternal enjoyer and the enjoyed,
Kṛṣṇa and Rādhā conceived of as ontological principles of which all men and women are physical manifestations, as may be realised through a process of attribution (Aropa), in which the sexual intercourse of a human couple is transmuted into the divine love between Kṛṣṇa and Rādhā, leading to the highest spiritual realisation, the state of union or Yugala.
Vaisnava-Sahajiya is a synthesis and complex of traditions that, due to its sexual tantric practices, was perceived with disdain by other religious communities and much of the time was forced to operate in secrecy.
Its literature employed an encrypted and enigmatic style. Because of the necessity of privacy and secrecy, little is definitively known about their prevalence or practices.
The sahaja-siddhi or the siddhi or "natural accomplishment" or the "accomplishment of the unconditioned natural state" was also a textual work, the Sahaja-Siddhi revealed by Dombi Heruka (Skt. Ḍombi Heruka or Ḍombipa) one of the eighty-four Mahasiddhas.
Moreover, it must be remembered that though Sundararajan & Mukerji (2003: p. 502) use a masculine pronominal the term 'siddha' is not gender-specific and that there were females, many as senior sadhakas, amongst the siddha communities:
- The practitioner is now a siddha, a realized soul. He becomes invulnerable, beyond all dangers, when all forms melt away into the Formless, "when surati merges in nirati, japa is lost in ajapā" (Sākhī, "Parcā ko Aṅga," d.23).
- Sahaja samadhi; is a state in which a silent level within the subject is maintained along with (simultaneously with) the full use of the human faculties.