[Advaita-l] Pratyabhijna

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at braincells.com
Sun Nov 30 16:51:50 CST 2014

On Fri, 28 Nov 2014, KAMESWARARAO MULA via Advaita-l wrote:

> I head several times the word name of "Pratyabhijna" through many 
> people, but I dont't know what exactly it is. I request any learned 
> members to give the details of what is Pratyabhinja? How is it related 
> to Advaita Philosophy? I mean how it is different from Adi Shankara's 
> Works.

pratyabhiGYA darshana is the formal name of what is known as Kashmiri 
Shaivam.  mAdhavAcharya describes it concisely in the sarvadarshanasaMgraH.

It is not based on the Vedas (though it does not reject them) but 
primararily on the 28 shaiva Agamas and the 64 bhairava Agamas or tantras.

(Also There is another group of six Agamas in two groups of three, lower 
and higher.  The higher triad form the basis of an important form of 
Kashmiri Shaiva practice called trIka.  The three trika Agamas are 
siddhatantra, mAlinitantra and vAmakeshvaritantra.  The last of these is 
also the basis of shrIvidya which has spread throughout India particularly 
the South.)

The primary philosophical texts are: the shiva sUtras revealed to 
vasugupta and their vArttika by kshemendra, shivadR^iShTi by somAnanda, 
spandashAstra by bhaTTa kallaTa, ishvarapratyabhiGYa and vivR^iti by 
utpaladeva with vimarshini (laghu and br^ihata) by kshemendra. 
Abhinavagupta is the greatest philosopher of this darshana. His important 
works include tantrAloka tantrasAra, parAtrisikavivAraNa, viGYAnabhairava 

These authors lived circa 9-12th centuries.  Some of them know of Advaita 
Vedanta and criticize it.  In the Shankaradigvijaya, one abhinavagupta is 
mentioned as an enemy of ShankarAcharya and padmapAdAcharya but the 
context shows it is someone other than the KS philosopher.

According to SDS the first shivasUtra states:

katha~nchidAsAdya maheshvarasya dAsyaM janasyApyupakAramichchhan |
samastasampatsamavAptihetuM tatpratyabhiGYAmupapAdayAmi ||

"Having somehow become a dAsa of maheshvara and wishing for the welfare of 
all people, I shall expound that recognition which is the cause of 
supreme fulfilment of all blessings."

recognition (pratyabhiGYa) means the sadhaka has unshakable conviction 
that he is one with paramashiva.  Hence it is Advaitic.  However being 
based on tantras not upanishads it is not Vedantic.

The chief means of pratyabhiGYa in KS is GYAna but they also believe in 
some tantric ideas such as shaktipAt where a guru bestows it upon a 
sadhaka which is not possible as per AV.

Shiva is the supreme God in KS.  Advaita Vedanta treats all the Vedic 
deities as of equal rank.

According to KS Paramashiva is a real and active presence in the entire 
material universe.  According to AV the material universe is maya and not 
the real form of Brahman who is ever distinct from action.  (For this 
reason the Kashmiris often refer to AV as shAntabrahmavAda.)

No doubt because of the shrIvidya connection and due to its advaitic 
nature, some KS-influenced ideas have filtered into AV particularly in 
more recent times but for the most part only indirectly.  The Muslim 
invasion of Kashmir pretty much put an end to creative work in this 
darshan in its homeland and it never really spread anywhere else.

On Fri, 28 Nov 2014, kuntimaddi sadananda via Advaita-l wrote:

> Pratyabhijna means recognition of oneself. I am - + all activities that
> involve time, space and object wise limitations. I am- remains the same
> at least from birth to death while the BMI is changing. Pratyabhijna is
> recognition of myself as the very-existent conscious entity that does
> not undergo any change in spite of all changes in the BMI and the
> external world.

This would be one way to "vedantize" pratyabhiGYa but it is not very true 
to the original.  For Kashmiri Shaivas paramashiva is ever involved in 
change as depicted by His lAsya and tANDava dances.

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>

More information about the Advaita-l mailing list