CATEGORY #1: Manuscripts of the Kashmiri ‘Krama’ Lineage

The shakta (Goddess-worshipping) lineage known as the Krama (‘Sequence’) was the most radically non-dual lineage of Kashmiri Shaivism, and was the first in Indian history to have Women Gurus. The Krama became the central inspiration for the other non-dual schools of Kashmiri Shaivism. It rejected the approach of Classical Yoga through introducing the radical practice of venerating one’s own cyclical phases of thoughts and feelings (citta-vritti) as liberating Goddess powers who lead us to their source,  the formless Kālī, the Heart of Consciousness itself.

The legacy of the Krama lineage survives largely in the form of beautiful hymns (stotras) composed by multiple generations of its awakened masters which poetically capture the blissful, euphoric experience of how it feels to live in the liberated state (jīvanmukti). But most of the surviving Krama manuscripts have never even been seen by modern scholars, let alone published, and all but one remain un-translated. For more on the Krama lineage, including a broad sample of beautiful quotes from some of the titles below, click here. This is a sample of the considerable list of prized Krama manuscripts found in the ORL collection:

Kalika Stotra (“Hymn to the Divine Mother”) of Jnananetra.

Number of manuscripts in the ORL:  (3 or more) * approximate # of folios (336)

Svabodhodayamanjari (‘The Flowering Forth of One’s Own Awakening’) of Viranatha

Number of manuscripts in the ORL:  (3 or more) * approximate # of folios (15)

Cittasamtoshatrimshika (‘30 Verses on Delighting in Awareness) of Nāga

Number of manuscripts in the ORL:  (3 or more) * approximate # of folios (13)

Mahanayaprakasha (‘Light on the Great Path’) by Arnasimha

Number of manuscripts in the ORL:  (4 or more) * approximate # of folios (159)

Mahārthamanjari (‘The Blossoming Forth of the Great Teaching’) by Maheshwarananda

Number of manuscripts in the ORL:  (15 or more) * approximate # of folios (276)

Tantrarāja (‘King of Tantras’); divinely ‘revealed’

Number of manuscripts in the ORL:  (1) * approximate # of folios (228)

CATEGORY #2: Manuscripts of revered Tantric works which remain un-translated.

Here is a sample of titles in the ORL collection which belong to this category:

Ishvarapratyabhijna-Karika-Vimarshini (‘Stanzas on the Recognition of God’ by Utpaladeva, with commentary by Abhinavagupta)

Number of manuscripts in the ORL:  (13 or more) * approximate # of folios (2,234)

Tantraloka (‘Light on Tantra’) by Abhinavagupta

Number of manuscripts in the ORL:  (9 or more) * approximate # of folios (2,972)

Tantrasara (‘Essence of Tantra’) by Abhinavagupta

Number of manuscripts in the ORL:  (10 or more) * approximate # of folios (914)

Paramarthasara (‘Essence of the Supreme Goal’) by Abhinavagupta

Number of manuscripts in the ORL:  (22 or more) * approximate # of folios (1109)

Shivastotravali-Vivriti (Kshemaraja’s ‘Commentary on the Garland of Hymns to Shiva’ by Utpaladeva)

Number of manuscripts in the ORL:  (12 or more) * approximate # of folios (990)

CATEGORY #3: Older and superior manuscripts of Tantric texts already translated in order to produce more accurate and readable translations.

Here is a sample of titles in the ORL collection which belong to this category:

Vijnana Bhairava  (‘Awareness of Bhairava’); divinely ‘revealed’

Number of manuscripts present in the ORL:  (16 or more) * approximate # of folios (651)

Shivasutra-Vimarshini  (Vasugupta’s ‘Aphorisms of Shiva’ with Commentary by Kshemaraja)

Number of manuscripts in the ORL:  (19 or more) * approximate # of folios (565)

Spanda Karika Nirnaya (Kallata’s ‘Stanzas on Vibration with Commentary’ by Kshemaraja)

Number of manuscripts in the ORL:  (8 or more) * approximate # of folios (99)

Pratyabhijnahridaya (‘Heart of Recognition’) by Kshemaraja

Number of manuscripts in the ORL:  (9 or more) * approximate # of folios (322)

To raise at least $10,000 to fund the first phase of the project

As you can see at the top of the catalog page of the ORL, the cost to attain a scan of a single folio is 10 Rupees. This means that a donation of only $50 will pay for approximately 500 manuscript pages!

There are over 10,100 total folios contained in our sample lists of sought after texts given above. To attain scans of these alone would cost us approximately $2,000. Yet these collectively represent just a small percentage of the invaluable Tantric texts held by the ORL. In short, it appears to contain at least five times that amount in priceless Tantric manuscripts.

A minimal percentage of the fund will cover expected expenses, including travel, modest accommodations, a food stipend, while the majority of the fund will directly pay for manuscript scans in Shrinagar. In the interest of transparency, all expenses will be recorded in a public log so you can be guaranteed contributions will be used for their intended purpose.

Donate now:

Project Outcomes

  1. -After Christopher Tompkins returns from Srinagar in mid-May, an organized, and comprehensive list of manuscripts acquired from the ORL will be clearly detailed and made publicly available online.

  1. -Digital photographs of these manuscripts will be provided to Sanskrit scholars and non-scholars alike free of charge upon request.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: If these manuscripts have been sitting around for centuries, why hasn’t this been done yet?

A: Before they are cataloged, large manuscript collections are useless to scholars. Picture thousands of dusty bundles, unlabeled and crumbling, of widely varying quality and significance—it takes significant government funding and labor to sort through it all so that it can be used. The large collection in Kathmandu, Nepal, was the first to be organized in this way, triggering the first wave of advanced Tantric Studies, which has been ongoing in Europe since about 1985.  The huge collection of Sanskrit manuscripts—many of which are Tantric texts—belonging to the ORL library of Shrinagar has only recently been sufficiently organized, cataloged, and made available to the public. As noted above, the ORL recently announced that over 6,000 of its Sanskrit manuscripts have been digitally scanned and can be purchased by visitors in DVD format. This reduces the tremendous amount of labor required to painstakingly photograph one manuscript page at a time, although considerable time will be needed to peruse the scans in person.

Q: Why do we need more manuscripts of texts that are already available?

A: Most of the Tantric texts which comprise the tradition of non-dual Kashmiri Shaivism were composed between the 9th and 12th centuries A.D. But the vast majority of Tantric texts which survive today are many generations removed from the original and contain errors and deviations introduced though centuries of manual copying by scribes. These deviations include the purposeful omission of whole passages, the insertion of passages not original to the source text, the alteration or replacement of original words and phrases, the omission of a line of verse during the laborious task of copying a manuscript, and misspelling of words.

It is nearly impossible to identify scribal errors and deviations present in a single copy of a Sanskrit text without comparing it with others. As a result, translations drawn from a single source tend to be riddled with scribal errors and therefore render teachings out of context, making the translation confusing and difficult to read. Unfortunately, most Tantric texts currently known to us are in the form of a single surviving manuscript copy, or an edition formed from a small number of manuscripts which usually includes just one fully intact (undamaged) copy and only fragments of others.

Thus there is an vital need to attain as many surviving copies of a given text that can be found, so that scholars may compare and contrast them with each other—line for line, word for word—in order to get as close to the original as possible. This process is known as Textual Criticism. With a number of manuscripts representing a single text at his or her disposal, the textual critic is thus able to identify and remove obvious scribal errors and alterations present in the Sanskrit of the surviving versions. The end result is called a  ‘Critical Edition,’ a final version of the text edited from all surviving manuscripts which most accurately represents the Sanskrit of the original. A translation rendered from a Critical Edition brings the voice of the author to life far more accurately then one made from a single source that has not been properly edited.

Therefore by helping us to gather as many copies of these treasured works as possible, you are directly contributing to our goal: to provide translations of these spiritual classics that are clear, comprehensible, and immediately powerful in their impact.

Q: How many Tantric texts survive, and how many of these have been provided in translation?

A: For the tradition of Tantric Shaivism, the numbers break down something like this (all are approximate):

Number of original Tantric texts which survive in manuscript form: 500

Number of surviving manuscripts versions of these 500 texts: 20,000

Sanskrit editions of the 500 original Tantric texts published but plagued with errors: 
120 out of 500

Sanskrit editions of the 500 original Tantric texts published in reliable editions:  10 out of 500

Number of original Tantric texts published in English translations: 6 out of 500

Number of English translations that are both totally accurate and readable: Less than 6

Q. What is truly valuable about the Tantric Tradition?

Life-Affirming Approach. The non-dual Tantra of Kashmir was the first to present existence in the world as a wholly positive experience, for it viewed the physical universe as a vibrational expression (Shakti) of Divine Consciousness (Shiva).

The Body as a Divine Vessel. Tantra was thus the first to present the body as a sacred microcosm of the Divine, consisting of a detailed subtle body system of chakras and nadis.

The Revolutionary Innovation of Tantric Yoga. Tantra re-defined the classical ‘limbs’ of yoga and integrated these into a cohesive, powerful system of subtle body practices, presenting them in a precise, step-by-step sequence (vinyāsa), the regular performance of which was uniquely guaranteed to result in spiritual liberation within one’s current lifetime.

The Tantric Roots of Modern Yoga. Nearly all of the subtle body material and practices adopted from Sanskrit sources by modern schools of Yoga have been drawn from ‘Hatha Yoga’ manuals post-Tantric texts that categorically list Tantric Yoga practices, but omit the step-by-step sequences (krama-vinyāsa) presented for them in the original Tantric sources that are critical to the proper performance of this Yoga.

  1. Inclusion of Women, all classes of society. Tantra was the first tradition which initiated women and all social classes, and was the first to include women gurus.


Please direct any questions regarding the project to:

An unprecedented opportunity for those interested in original Tantra, Kashmiri Shaivism, Tantric Yoga, and ecstatic Tantric poetry

    $10,000 is needed to retrieve an invaluable collection of manuscripts belonging to the Tantric tradition of Kashmiri Shaivism, recently made accessible to the public in Kashmir, India.

Your contribution of any amount will assist the revival
of Tantra in the 21st century.

Support the project now:


The classical tradition of Tantra or Tantric Shaivism is one of inestimable beauty and importance. It revolutionized the ancient practice of Yoga into a powerfully transformative, body-affirming practice and introduced a radically inspiring, life-enhancing philosophy meant to directly trigger the experience of spiritual awakening in any moment. As you may know, the tradition survives in the form of thousands of ancient  manuscripts written in Sanskrit on birch bark, palm leaves and crumbling old paper. These manuscripts detail the non-dual teachings and practices that once flourished throughout South and Southeast Asia—yet only a fraction of these have been published in Sanskrit, let alone English translation.

Tantric Manuscript Collection of the ‘Oriental Research Library’

We are happy to report that after many years of work preserving, cataloging, and most recently digitalizing its massive collection (perhaps the largest in existence) of Sanskrit texts, the Oriental Research Library (ORL), in Shrinagar, Kashmir (Northwest India) finally released its updated catalog of over 6,000 digitally scanned Sanskrit manuscripts, many of which belong to the Tantric tradition, and in 2011 announced that these are now available to the visiting public.

This Spring, Sanskrit scholar Christopher Tompkins (UC Berkeley) will be traveling to the ORL, located in the “city of Shri” (Shrinagar) once the sacred heart of the Tantric world, to examine and obtain scans of hundreds of never before seen Sanskrit manuscripts representing the non-dual Tantric tradition of Kashmiri Shaivism. A second trip will be undertaken later in the year by Sanskrit scholar Christopher Wallis (UC Berkeley), the author of Tantra Illuminated, a highly reviewed introduction to the Tantric tradition just published in November.

What texts do we expect to find in Shrinagar?

Since much of the collection has now been labeled and the catalog is available, we know for certain that we will find some real treasures: both previously unknown Tantric texts, and superior manuscripts of known texts. We are especially excited to bring back manuscripts of scriptures from the Krama tradition, the most powerful and relevant Tantric lineage for the modern age, and yet the least documented.

Additionally, we know for a fact that many manuscript bundles contain “mystery texts,” because in many instances, the catalogers have labeled the entire bundle with the title of the text on top.

What else do such ‘bundles’ contain?

Will we find lost writings of the Women masters of the Krama lineage?

Will we uncover the long-lost ecstatic goddess hymns of Abhinavagupta?

Will we discover Kshemaraja’s missing commentary to the Vijnana-bhairava amongst the 16 or so manuscripts of this work held in the ORL library?

We need your help to make this happen...

The only way that the teachings of original Tantra will reach the public is through accurate and reliable translations of the original sources. In order to help initiate the second wave of advanced study and translation of Tantric texts—which may hold the key to the 21st century transformation of human consciousness—we need your support. By helping to fund this journey, you will directly contribute to the revival of original Tantra in this and subsequent generations.

We will commemorate your donation (of $50 or more) by sending you a beautiful print called ‘The Divine Communion of Shiva and Shakti,’ recently completed by master Tantric artist Ekabhumi Ellik (pictured below).

Support the Tantric Manuscript Acquisition Project now:

Our Goal: Three Categories of Sought After Tantric Texts

Our trips to the ORL in Shrinagar will provide scholars of Tantric Shaivism with a multitude of recently revealed Tantric manuscripts. We are consulting with the top Sanskrit scholars at Oxford and other Universities, who have strongly encouraged this project and have provided us with lists of texts to attain from the ORL. These texts are likely to be invaluable to their efforts to further our collective awareness of the Tantric tradition. Donations to the Tantric Manuscript Acquisition Project (TMAP) will directly pay for scans of Tantric texts that fall under three categories, presented below with sample titles held by the ORL. These are contained in the ‘Sanskrit Catalog,’ downloadable here. You will notice that the size of each manuscript is determined by its number of ‘folios.’ A folio is simply a scanned photograph of two facing manuscript pages, as pictured below.