Due to Covid-19 pandemic in India and Europe, no seminars and retreats have been possible since March 2020. We are still awaiting a return to normalcy and will make announcements subsequently. As a compensation we advise you to watch Bettina ji's teachings on her YouTube Channel.
Bettina Bäumer gives "Retreat Seminars" on various texts of the non-dualist Kashmir Shaiva tradition. She mainly teaches three basic Tantras of the Trika School: the Vijnana Bhairava Tantra, the Paratrisika (with Abhinavagupta's Vivarana commentary) and the Netra Tantra (with commentary by Ksemaraja), as well as texts like the Siva Sutra, the Spanda Karika, and the the Pratyabhijna Hridayam. Besides these, she also teaches mystical Bhakti hymns of Kashmir, such as the Sivastotravali by Utpaladeva, the Stavacintamani by Bhatta Narayana, the Sambapancasika and Stotras by Abhinavagupta.
She follows a certain style in conducting these retreats, basically consisting of two sessions of text study, morning and afternoon, about four hours of meditation, recitation of the hymns and slokas of the texts concerned, besides periods of silence and meditative walks in nature (wherever the surroundings permit).
These Retreat Seminars are given in various places around India and in Europe, notably near her home in Varanasi, in Himachal Pradesh, and in Rishikesh, as well as in Srinagar (Kashmir) itself. They typically will be five days long, though shorter or longer sessions are possible.
Venue: Ishvar Parvat, Phulchatti
We will use the nine days of Navarātra for the following retreat:
1. Performing the Parāpūjā of Trika (based on Tantrāloka) by Pandit Sameer Jotshi (in the traditional style of Kashmir)
2. Reflecting and meditating on the Devī through selected verses or short texts on Parā (mostly from Parātrīśikāa Vivarana) guided by Sharada Ma.
3. Personal vow of silence and/or fasting can be practiced individually, silence can be kept till lunch time to preserve the atmosphere of recollection.
The Parāpūjā Paddhati is culled from the Tantrāloka by the great Sri Abhinavagupta (chapter 26). It is a process (prakriyā) to worship the Parā Śakti or goddess Parā. The bījamantra of Parā Śakti is sauḥ, which is revealed in the Parātrīśikā Tantra, and the seat of this bījamantra is the heart. This bīja is called parā bīja or hṛdaya bīja, “the seed of the heart”, or triśūla bija. The Parā Pūjā is a worship of the three Śaktis of Trika: Parā, Parāparā and Aparā and also beyond Parātītā who is Kālasaṃkarṣinī Kālī. This is symbolized in the Triśūlābjamaṇḍalam, the mystic diagram of the trident with lotuses which is worshipped.
The Śāstras prescribe for any ritual worship three S: sthāna (place), samaya (time) and sāmagri (material ). We have all these requirements fulfilled: we have an ideal place at Ishvar Parvat, we cannot have a better time than Navarātrī, and material that will be used for worship. Performing and participating in this pūjā implies that every ritual act has a mystical meaning which has to be realized in meditation.
The following two ślokas from the Tantrāloka are to be meditated upon (26.64-65):
kṛtvādhāradharāṃ camatkṛti rasaprokṣākṣāṇakṣālitāṃ
āttair mānasataḥ svabhāvakusumaiḥ svāmodasandohibhiḥ
tvāṃ devyā saha dehadevasadane devārcaye ‘harniśam
Day and night, oh Lord, I shall purify the seat (of the mūlādhāra) with a shower of the wine of aesthetic rapture and then worship you and your Devī in the shrine that is my body with flowers rich with the perfect fragrance of the self, contemplating them as one with its reality as I take them from the priceless chalice of my heart that brims with liquid nectar of (your) bliss.
nānāsvādarasām imāṃ trijagatīṃ hṛccakrayantrārpitāṃ
ūrdhvādhyastaviveka gauravabharān niṣpīḍya niṣyanditaṃ
yat saṃvitparamāmṛtaṃ mṛtijarājanmāpahaṃ jṛmbhate
tena tvāṃ haviṣā parena parame santarpaye ‘harniśaṃ
I shall place this triple universe (of knower, knowledge and known) with the sap of its diverse experiences on the cakra of my heart and bear down upon it with the weight of insight. The awareness that will flow forth is the ultimate nectar that ends death, old age and rebirth forever. With this ultimate offering I shall worship you day and night, pouring it into the sacrificial fire of the deepest radiance.
NB: The space in Ishvar Parvat is limited but we will document the puja on video which can be uploaded on YouTube after editing.
Since we have been mostly under lockdown for the last one-and-a-half years it was not possible to have any retreat seminars. Therefore Bettina ji decided to give short teachings on YouTube in order to continue our spiritual sharing. The text chosen, Vatulanathasutra, is apt because of its brevity and depth. We will try to cover atleast 1 Sutra every week.
The full list of uploaded videos can be found here: https://bit.ly/3iq1pQr