advaitam and Kashmir shaivam (Pratyabhijnaa)

Tue Aug 12 11:12:01 CDT 1997

   A brief note on Pratyabhijnaa, a central concept of Kashmir Shaivism.

   Pratyabhijnaa is translated by Mishra as "Self Recognition" or
   "Self-Realization."  Shiva Himself assumes the role of the individual soul,
   called pashu as Abhinavagupta says in his Paramaarthasaara:

     Shiva eva gR^ihiita-pashu-bhaavaH

   What is interesting is that the pratyabhijnaa followers assert
   that the individual soul (pashu) is not only substantially the same as Shiva,
   but also it (the pashu) performs the same activities, albeit on a smaller
   scale, as Shiva. Says Kshemaraaja in his Pratyabhijnaa-hR^idayaM

    tathaapi tadvat.h panchakR^ityaani karoti

   (The pashu) too performs the five activities like Shiva. These activities
    are said to be creation, preservation, destruction, self-concealment, and
    self-revelation or grace (anugraha).

    The pashu does not realize that it is Shiva, due to the veil or covering
    of maayaa. The pashu does not _recognize_ the Self (Consciousness) even
    when it sees It (dR^ishhTe api anupalakshhite).

     Pratyabhijnaa is _not_ becoming something that we were not before. It
     is the recognition of our identity as Shiva. Pratyabhijnaa is thus a
     process of "discovering" what we are, as Utpaladeva says in his
     Ishvara Pratyabhijnaa kaarikaa, "shaktyaavishhkaraNeneyaM
     pratyabhijnaa upadarshyate"

    When one realizes the Self through Pratyabhijnaa, one also realizes the
    world as an appearance (aabhaasa) or reflection (pratibimba) of oneself.
    This realization is best described by Abhinavagupta in his Paramaartha

    mayyeva bhaati vishvaM darpaNa iva nirmale ghaTaadiini |
    mattaH prasarati sarvaM svapnavichitratvamiva suptaat.h ||

    The universe appears in me only as a reflection, just as pots, etc.
    are reflected in a clean mirror. Everything is projected from me,
    just as the diversity of a dream is projected by (the mind of) a
    sleeping person. (Paramaartha-saara)

    One of the examples of Pratyabhijnaa given by Abhinavagupta is about a
    king who does not know a certain pundit. A pundit of the king's court brings
    the new pundit to the king, and introduces him and cites his qualifications.
    The king now knows the identity of the new pundit. This is pratyabhijnaa.
    Similarly, the individual soul does not recognize its true identity. It
    considers itself to be a limited individual just as the king considered the
    pundit to be an ordinary man before he was introduced. Another example is
    also cited by Abhinavagupta. A woman is betrothed to a certain man whom
    she has not yet seen (quite possible at least during Abhinavagupta's
    times!) The man who is to be her husband is brought before her. Before
    he is introduced, she views him as an ordinary man. But when he is
    introduced to her as her husband-to-be, her view changes completely and
    he becomes a source of joy for her. This recognition is Pratyabhijnaa.
    Compare these analogies with the analogy of the "dashamastvamasi",
    (You are the tenth) which is used frequently in advaita.


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