advaitam and Kashmir shaivam (Idealism and Realism)

Tue Jul 29 11:25:42 CDT 1997

  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.

  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.


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