advaitam and Kashmir shaivam (Idealism and Realism)

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at BRAINCELLS.COM
Mon Aug 11 22:34:47 CDT 1997

On Tue, 29 Jul 1997, Anand Hudli wrote:

>   Instead of writing one long post on the aabhaasavaada of the trika,
>   I will write several short posts on the topic.
>   I will try to explain the position of Kashmir Shaivism with reference to
>   Idealism and Realism. Realism implies that objects in the world have some
>   objective reality, ie.  reality independent of the perceiver. Idealism
>   implies that objects in the world are just ideas, nothing else.
>   Subjective Idealism implies that the world and the objects in it are
>   just ideas created mentally by the perceiver.

The problem with Subjective Idealism is that if everyone is creating their
own realities how do you explain why everyones reality differs only in
trivial details.  For example why does the Sun rise for me at exactly the
same time as everyone else in my town?  This theory relies too much on an
improbable amount of coincidence.

>   Any system which accepts Unity as the ultimate reality
has to answer
>   the question: How do you explain the diversity of objects in the world?
>   The VishishhTa-advaita of Raamaanuja takes the path of Realism and says
>   that the world (and objects, souls, etc.) are all real, but they are all
>   parts of the One Brahman (naaraayaNa). This makes the school accept not
>   Unity really, but Unity-in-Difference.
>   Kashmir Shaivism, which preaches Absolute Unity, takes the path of Idealism
>   in answering the same question related to the ontological status of the world.
>   It agrees that the world is a mere mental creation or a collection of ideas.
>   This means that there is no independent reality of objects in the world;
>   the very existence of these objects depends on the knowledge of these objects.
>   abhinavagupta quotes the following in his magnum opus, the tantraaloka
>    jnaanaadR^ite naarthasattaa jnaanaruupaM tato jagat.h |
>    Without knowledge (of them) there is no existence of the objects.
>    Therefore, the world is of the nature of knowledge.
>    This kind of Idealism is also called sR^ishhTi-dR^ishhTi-vaada, which
>    is also one of the prevalent beliefs in advaita.
>    Now arises the question: Does Kashmir Shaivism accept Subjective Idealism?
>    The answer is: No!
>    As we have seen, Idealism implies that the objects in the world exist
>    because they are creations of the mind/Consciousness. Kashmir Shaivism
>    insists that these are _not_ creations of the individual self (or pashu)
>    but of the Cosmic Self, Shiva who is the Absolute Consciousness.
>    So the objects in the world have an _objective_reality_ because they are
>    not mental creations of yours or mine. They are independent of you and me.
>    But at the same time, the objects are not real because are not real in
>    themselves. Their existence depends on the Cosmic Consciousness that is
>    Shiva. To be precise, the world is a reflection in the Consciousness that
>    is Shiva. This analogy of a reflection in a mirror is brought out by
>    abhinavagupta in his tantraaloka where he says:
>     nirmale makure yadvad bhaanti bhuumijalaadayaH |
>     amishraaH tadvadekasmin.h chinnaathe vishvavR^ittayaH ||
>     Just as earth, water, etc. are reflected in a clean mirror,
>     without being mixed up (with each other), similarly the objects
>     of the world are (reflected in) the One Lord Consciousness.
>     This mirror analogy is also referred to in the dakshiNaamuurti hymn
>     of Shankara:
>      vishvaM darpaNadR^ishyamaananagariitulyaM nijaantargataM
>       pashyannaatmani maayayaa bahirivodbhuutaM yathaa nidrayaa |
>     The universe which is like a city seen in a mirror is seen by
>     the Lord (dakshhiNaamuurti) within Himself but projected as if
>     it were outside, caused by maayaa. (The universe is thus) like
>     a dream.
>     What Kashmir Shaivism agrees with is that the world is like
>     a dream, but it is a "dream" of Shiva. The world and the individual
>     souls (the pashu's) exist within the "dream" of Shiva. Realization or
>     pratyabhijna consists of realization by the individual soul (pashu)
>     that it is identical with Shiva, the "eternal dreamer."
>     Again, Shiva can "dream" eternally because He is endowed with
>     activity (Shakti, kriyaa, spanda) to do so.

I don't see this as being too incompatible with Advaita. We also recognize
that Ishvara or Saguna Brahman performs the creation, maintenance, and
dissolution of the worlds.

Jaldhar H. Vyas [jaldhar at]   And the men .-_|\ who hold
Consolidated Braincells Inc.                          /     \ -)~~~~~~~~  Perth->*.--._/  o-
"Witty quote" - Dead Guy   /\/\/\ _ _ ___ _  _ Amboy       v      McQ!

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