advaitam and Kashmir shaivam (Pratyabhijnaa)
Anand_Hudli at BMC.BOEHRINGER-MANNHEIM.COM
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
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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