THE MYSTERY BEYOND THE TRINITY
Narrated in non-linear fashion, Tripura Rahasya was considered by many as one of the greatest works that expounded advaita philosophy.
The work originally in Sanskrit is widely known in India and has been translated into a number of local languages, but I do not know of any previous translation in English. It is regarded as one of the chief text-books on Advaita, the reading of which alone is sufficient for Salvation.
The esteem in which the work is held for its sanctity may be gauged from an account of it given in the Preface to the Maahaatmya Khanda. Mahaadeeva originally taught the Highest Truth to Vishnu who in turn taught Brahma in the Celestial regions. Later Vishnu incarnated on Earth as Sri Dattaatreya, the Lord of the Avadhuutas (the naked sages), and taught it to Parasuraama with the added injunction that it should be communicated to Haritaayana who would later seek the Truth from him. Parasurama thus realised the Self by the guidance of Sri Datta and dwelt on the Malaya Hill in South India.
As for its philosophy, there is no real reason to distinguish it from Vedanta. Scholars however call this system the Taantri or the Saakta, and point out some apparent differences between this and Advaita Vedaanta. This system teaches that the Supreme Reality is no other than Abstract Intelligence. “Intelligence” signifies Self-luminosity and ‘Abstraction’ denotes its unlimited nature. No other agent can be admitted to exist apart from It in order to reveal It. The apparent variety is only due to Vimarsa, the gross aspect of Its absolute freedom known as Svatantra which at times unfolds the Pure Self as the Cosmos and at others withdraws Itself and remains unmanifest. Abstraction and manifestation are inherent in the Pure Self; these two aspects are given the names Siva and Sakti, respectively. There cannot be manifestation beyond the Supreme Intelligence; therefore Cosmos and the Self are only the same, but different modes of Reality. Realisation of the Truth is thus quite simple, requiring only constant remembrance on these lines (anusandhaanam) that Reality is not incompatible with the world and its phenomena, and that the apparent ignorance of his Truth is itself the outcome of Reality so that there is nothing but Reality.
Arguably the best book on ‘Advaita’ philosophy ever.