Utpaladeva was considered a siddha, a "perfected being," one of the masters of the tantric tradition in Kashmir, and he is best known for his philosophical treatises. The Shivastotravali reflects Utpaladeva's philosophy, known as the Pratyabhijna school. And yet it is unique among the author's works in its not being a straightforward philosophical treatise but instead, as Dr. Bailly points out in her introduction, more of a spiritual diary of one who is actually treading the path of Shiva. The path that Utpaladeva has chosen does not require leaving one's home and heading for a mountain cave; instead it calls for changing one's view of the world, for leading a life of divine recognition while carrying on with ordinary life.
In clearly written, lucid prose Dr. Bailly illuminates the many facets of Utpaladeva's quest. At the core of his spiritual journey is the enigmatic relationship between devotion and grace: how much does spiritual attainment depend upon the individual's efforts, and how much is a divine gift? And how are these to be realized while living in the midst of society, maintaining worldly obligations and lifestyle?
For over a thousand years the Shaiva community of Kashmir has used in its worship the hymns of Utpaladeva's Shivastotravali. Here for the first time these hymns are presented in translation as English verse along with the Sanskrit, a clear and lively introduction, two appendices on special aspects of Kashmir Shaivism, and additional notes.
Constantina Rhodes Bailly teaches in the Philosophy and Religion Department of Mercy College, New York.
"Bhakti is always treated as a different approach from the 'yogic' one. This author's approach of relating the path of bhakti to the upayas of the system is a very original angle which is absolutely accurate. It shows the soul of the practices, that is, the feeling and emotional intensity with which they are done. Here we have the rejoicing, the cajoling, the longing of a soul in love with God and in love with His creation. For the devotee, the created is a reflection of the Creator. This book is an authentic delight.
Together with the merits of the research that has gone into it, other interesting aspects are Appendix A, which gives a useful overview of the system, and the ample bibliography. " — Swami Gitananda, SYDA Foundation