advaitam and Kashmir shaivam (aavaraNa)

Wed Jul 30 11:31:43 CDT 1997

  We have seen how the world is accorded some kind of reality by Kashmir
  Shaivism. One criticism that could arise is this: since Shiva is claimed to
  be the only Ultimate Reality, admitting reality to the world will introduce
  duality, thereby resulting in a contradiction. But the Kashmir Shaiva will
  reply as follows. The objects in the world have objective reality, no doubt,
  but they are also "dream objects" in the "dream" of Shiva, the only Reality.
  Although, they seem to have a _material_ reality, in actuality, they are only
  dream objects. Another way of putting it is that the objects of the world
  are mere reflections in the mirror that is Shiva. Just as a reflection
  (pratibimba) has no material reality of its own, the objects are so too.

  So the _material_ reality of objects can be denied, without compromising
  the fact that Shiva is the only reality. What is not denied is the fact the
  objects have a reality as projections of the Absolute Consciousness that is
  Shiva, who can readily bring about such projections because of His spontaneous
  activity (kriyaa). This also means that Shiva is both the material and
  efficient cause of the world. All objects are made of Consciousness-stuff and
  they have arisen because of Shiva.

  The question may be asked: If all objects are Consciousness, then why do we
  see them as having material reality? In reply it may be stated that we see
  them as having material reality because of our ignorance. Once the ignorance
  is dispelled, we will see that we are identical with Shiva and that the world
  is a reflection in Shiva. This leads to a very important conclusion.
  Realization will not result in the disappearance or destruction of the world.
  Realization only changes our awareness of the world. The world will still
  continue to exist. What changes is our perception of it as having a material
  and independent reality.

  This last argument has supporters among advaitins too. One of the theories of
  maayaa in advaita has it that maayaa has two divisions or capacities --
  aavaraNa (the aspect of concealment), and vikshhepa  -- the aspect of
  projection. In any case of illusion, for example the snake-rope
  illusion, these two aspects of maayaa are at play. Maayaa first conceals
  the rope with its aavaraNa aspect, and then projects the rope as something
  else, a snake. One of the critics of this  theory of two-fold maayaa in
  recent times is Sachchidaanandendra Sarasvatii. He alleges that it was
  Padmapaada who introduced this two-fold theory that was not endorsed by
  Shankara. According to Sachchidaanandendra, Shankara never spoke of any
  divisions within maayaa. He only spoke of maayaa as introducing adhyaasa
  or superimposition on Brahman, which is closer in meaning to saying that
  maayaa conceals Brahman. So, jnaana according to Sachchidaanandendra, will
  not result in the disappearance or removal of objects in the world. It will
  only change our awareness of the objects which will continue to exist.
  If Sachchidaanandendra is right, Shankara's position, as far as the
  point about reflection in Brahman is concerned,  should be close to Kashmir
  Shaivism, especially in light of the statement from the dakshhiNaamuurti hymn
  (which is worth repeating!):

  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.

  VidyaaraNya too, in his Panchadashii, says that after Self-realization, the
  world does not disappear but it appears as a reflection of Brahman. He gives
  (as usual) an instructive analogy. Suppose you see a man standing before a
   mirror or some other reflecting surface, you see both the real man and
   his image. You are aware that the image is a reflection, and not the real
   man. Similarly, the jnaani is aware of both Brahman and the fact that the
  world is a reflection in Brahman at the same time. He never confuses the
   image with reality. But an ignorant person will not see Brahman and thinks
   erroneously that the world is real in itself.


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