An Introduction to Tantric Philosophy:
The Paramarthasara of Abhinavagupta and the Commentary by Yogaraja
translated by Lyne Bansat-Boudon and Kamalesha Tripathi,
Introduction, notes, cricitally revised Sanskrit text, appendix,
indices byLyne Bansat-Boudon (Routledge Studies
in Tantric Traditions: Routledge) The Paramarthasara,
or 'Essence of Ultimate Reality', is a work of the Kashmirian
polymath Abhinavagupta (tenth—eleventh centuries). It is a brief
treatise in which the author outlines the doctrine of which he is a
notable exponent, namely non-dualistic Saivism, which he designates
in his works as the Trika, or 'Triad' of three principles: Siva,
Sakti and the embodied soul (nara).
The main interest of the Paramarthasara is not only that it serves as an introduction to the established doctrine of a tradition, but also advances the notion of jivanmukti, 'liberation in this life', as its core theme. Further, it does not confine itself to an exposition of the doctrine as such but at times hints at a second sense lying beneath the evident sense, namely esoteric techniques and practices that are at the heart of the philosophical discourse. Its commentator, Yogaraja (eleventh century), excels in detecting and clarifying those various levels of meaning.
An Introduction to Tantric Philosophy presents, along with a critically revised Sanskrit text, the first annotated English translation of both Abhinavagupta's Paramarthasara and Yogaraja's commentary.
This book will be of interest to dologists, as well as to specialists and students of Religion, Tantric studies and Philosophy.
Lyne Bansat-Boudon is Professor in the Section des sciences religieuses at the École Pratique des Hautes Études (EPHE) in Paris, and an Honorary Senior Member of the Institut Universitaire de France (IUF). Her main fields of research are Sanskrit Literature and Poetics, Aesthetics and the Śaiva tradition. She published in 1992 Poétique du théâtre indien. Lectures du Nâtyaçâstra, and, in 2006, as the chief editor of the volume and a translator, Théâtre de l’Inde ancienne, Gallimard (Bibliothèque de la Pléiade).
Kamaleshadatta Tripathi is Emeritus Professor at the Benares Hindu University, India, where he was Dean of the Faculty of Sanskrit Learning and Theology and Head of the Department of Religious and Agamic Studies. For several years he also was the director of the Kâlidâsa Akademi in Ujjain. His research interests include Agamic Philosophy, Hindu Theology, Philosophy of Grammar, Sanskrit Literature, Poetics and Aesthetics. [He is a disciple of Ramesvara Jha, the author of the Putnatapratyabhijna, cited frequently in the notes, see especially n. 314.]
The Paramarthasara, or 'Essence of Ultimate Reality', is a work of the Kashmirian polymath Abhinavagupta (end of the tenth, beginning of the eleventh century). It is a brief treatise,1 a compendium 2 in which the author outlines the doctrine of which he is a notable exponent (indeed, the most fecund), namely nondualistic Saivism, which he designates in his works as the `Trika', or 'Triad' of three principles: Siva, Sakti and the embodied soul (nara).
According to Yogaraja (second half of the eleventh century), the author of its commentary, Vivrti, the Paramarthasara is of the nature of a prakarana,4 a 'manual' or 'précis' serving as introduction to the established doctrine of a tradition. s The work, appropriately, begins by featuring a mumuksu, one who 'aspires to liberation', a student desirous of learning from a master the means whereby he may put an end to his dolorous wanderings through the cycles of rebirth.
The Paramarthasara shares with the vast majority of Indian philosophical texts this propaedeutic purpose that is encoded as well in the title of the work, which may equally be understood as signifying 'The Core of the Teachings on Ultimate Reality', as Yogaraja explains in his gloss of the second and third verses.
What makes the Paramarthasara of Abhinavagupta unique is the nature of its exposition of the doctrine. It does not in all respects correspond to the ordinary model of a prakarana.
In its second and third verses, which recount its "myth of origin", this Paramdrthasara is presented as a saivite reworking of another Paramdrthasara, attributed to Adisesa, also called Adhara (sixth or seventh century- of which the commentator, Yogaraja, has retained only the Samkhya features. This is perhaps in function of that text's verse seven, in which the mumuksu, who now knows his catechism, presses the master to reveal the secrets implied in the distinction between purusa and prakrti and just why knowledge of that distinction is salvific. 12 To this extent, Yoga-raja only takes partial account of the doctrine of the older Paramarthasara, which conflates Samkhya dualism and the nondualism of the Vedanta —a kind of pre-Sankara Vedanta halfway between the dvaitadvaitavada of Bhartrprapanca and the advaitavada of Gaudapada, but one which, imprinted with devotion to Visnu, remains profoundly theist, in the manner of epic Samkhya.
The doctrine that emerges from the earlier Paramarthasara reflects at least a part of the conceptual apparatus of Samkhya evolutionism, placing it within the general framework of a vedantic metaphysics that posits from the start the unreality of the phenomenal world, itself the result of the all-powerful maya of Visnu — a deity who, however, seems little but the personification of a principle that the text terms equally brahman, atman, or paramatman. This doctrine, evidently eclectic, is none the less sufficiently coherent to be qualified as "synthetic". The text attempts, in effect, to integrate both the perspectives (darsana) of Samkhya and of Vedanta, rather than considering them as alternatives, unifying them within the rubric of a Vaisnavism whose "divinity", whatever his name, serves as unique principle — thus, in effect, privileging the nondual aspect of the doctrine and placing it squarely within the currents of early devotionalism.
A programmatic verse at the beginning of Adhara's response to the disciple sketches the basic outlines of such a doctrine: 'I shall propound this "Essence of Supreme Truth" (paramarthasara) after making obeisance to that Upendra [ = Visnu], by whom this unreal world was made from Primordial Matter as something seemingly real'.
Moreover, one has the feeling that the questions put by the disciple are principally framed in terms of Samkhya, whereas the responses of the teacher are usually couched in advaitic terms, even though the latter continues to utilize (in order to make himself better understood?) several Samkhya concepts — always careful, however, to establish equivalences, where possible, with key notions of the other system — for instance prakrti, persistently identified with the maya of Visnu. 21 As a matter of fact, the disciple poses two questions: how liberation is achieved (vv. 4 and 6), and how he is to grasp what is at issue in distinguishing purusa and prakrti (v. 7). It is the master who, in the course of his response, unifies the two requests by introducing a third term, brahman (or atman), an upanisadic notion, hence vedantic, qualified as advaita in verse 57.
Thus, doubtless, the liminary caution of the master, who warns the student that the response will be difficult, and who exhorts him to make the necessary effort to understand it: 'Although that which is to be said [about this] in the following is very hard to penetrate into even for those who have knowledge, do you hear it nevertheless!'
One may wonder whether Adisesa's preamble offers the occasion for apprehending the manner in which the transition between the two systems may have taken place. The transition is conceptual, if not chronological, which may have been the work of a thinker or group of thinkers — though we must not infer from this any anteriority of one system vis-a-vis the other, be it Samkhya dualism or the nondualism of the Vedanta. Thus the analogy of the chrysalis, which the student employs to illustrate the problematic of liberation from bondage, may also apply to the manner in which one doctrine emerges from the other — the same doctrine, to be sure, yet different, indeed perfected.
Nevertheless, as he arrives at the end of the exposition, the reader notices that the doctrine — despite its apparently composite character —takes great care to designate and to present itself as a sarvatmavada, a `doctrine of the Universal Self' or a 'doctrine holding that all is the Self — a term that proclaims the doctrine's coherence by allying it with a long-established tradition that sees the Ultimate as both immanent and transcendent, but which in effect amounts to asserting another type of nondualism. The sarvatmavada of Adisesa, in effect, finds its place within the lineages of Advaita and the traditions of Kashmir Saivism — monisms that proclaim, in consonance with many upanisads, that 'the Self is All': ' [There is] not a single doubt as to this, [viz., the fact that] this all is only the Self. Only when one realizes [this Self] as both having and not having parts, does one become free from the impenetrable darkness of Delusion, and become Supreme Lord at the same time'. Another aspect of the strategy of identification elaborated by the first Paramarthasara is its claim of doctrinal uniqueness, which takes the usual form of asserting its universality with respect to rival doctrines, but such that they find a place within it as subsidiary moments: 'We consent to whatever [others], who are blind with greed, proclaim in their Siddhantas, Agamas, and Tarkas, since all that [testifies to the orientation of] their thought toward [our] doctrine, according to which everything is the Self.
Moreover, it is evident that vedantic notions and the monistic argumentation that supports them take precedence over the exposé of Samkhya categories: the theory of the tattvas appears only occasionally, 31 and there remains of Samkhya ontology only the notion of the three 'qualities' (guna), and of Samkhya eschatology only the insistence on discriminating purusa from prakrti, 32 with a view thereby to gaining liberation — a teaching, for that matter, found already in the upanisads, as recognized already by Vacaspati in his Tattvakaumudi [TK] (citing specifically BAU II 4, 5 and Chandogyopanisad [ChU] VIII 15): 'Says the Sruti: "The Spirit should be known and discriminated from Primordial Matter"; (by so doing) "the agent does not return, he does not return (into this world)." '
In effect, more even than an exposition of doctrine — a doctrine moreover that did not give rise to a discrete tradition — the Paramarthasara of Adisesa presents itself as a treatise on liberation, to the extent that it constitutes the response of a master to his acolyte desirous of liberation.
Such is indeed the point of articulation between Samkhya-type and Advaita-type reasonings in the first Paramarthasara — the soteriological perspective. And this is also, without a doubt — I will return to this point below — one of the justifications that might have prompted the second Paramarthasara to undertake a rereading of the first.
However that may be, the claim made by the Saiva Paramarthasara to have rewritten the older Paramarthasara is quite unheard of in the history of Indian literature — where neither borrowing nor unattributed copying are much frowned upon 35 — for in this case it is not merely a matter of reproducing a text of well-known reputation, making here and there a few adjustments or innovations, but rather of appropriating, transforming, even investing another text, to make it better able to express an improved doctrine. This appropriation is justified on the assumption that the improved doctrine (in effect, Trika Saivism) is already present in seed form in the older doctrine (of Adisesa), and that it is nothing but the accomplishment of that older doctrine, from which it has erased all trace of dualism.
The second Paramarthasara is thus a work that sees itself as the quintessential distillation of another — though, to be fair, in formal terms, it is also an expansion, having added twenty or so verses — which process Yogaraja illustrates by the analogy of butter extracted from clotted milk, an analogy that cuts two ways. For, in effect, while the clotting of milk represents a transformation that is spontaneous, given the right circumstances, the production of butter requires will and effort. On the other hand, according to the Samkhya doctrine of causality, satkaryavada, the effect is pre-existent in the cause, and so may the Trika itself, which adopts the same satkaryavada, be understood by its advocates as already present in the 'clotted milk' of Adisesa's "Samkhya". What remains is that the transformation implies a supplementary effort, as well as a perfectioning — a threefold effort composed of reasoning (yukti), acquisition of experience (anubhava), and scriptural exegesis (agama), as Yogaraja is fond of repeating.
Thus the process of rewriting at work in the second Paramarthasara makes it appear that the debate with Samkhya has really never taken place, which justifies nondual Saivism of Kashmir in borrowing the theory of the tattvas, all the while adapting it to the needs of a monistic system. 39 Even though it is true that the doctrine set forth in the Saiva Paramarthasara is framed polemically, as the commentary frequently attempts to demonstrate, 40 it is essentially directed against the Buddhists, particularly Dharmakirti, and against Vedanta, referred to by Yogaraja as Brahmavada at large, or as Santabrahmavada. I will return to this point later.
In support of this interpretation of the exercise of rewriting — in addition to the clotted milk analogy — I might point to the passage of the commentary where the term guruh of the third verse is understood to refer both to Adhara and to Abhinavagupta. Yogaraja's exegesis is supported by several liminary considerations: — the attribution of the first Paramarthasara to an author designated not only as Sesa but as Patanjali; — the traditional identification of Patanjali (whether he be the author of the Mahabhasya, or of the Yogasutra [YS], or of both) with Sesa, in virtue of the epithetical designation bhujangavibhu, implying that Patanjali is a devotee of the Serpent, 42 and thus, in some degree, its incarnation; — the evidence of a south Indian tradition, which holds Abhinavagupta also to be an incarnation of Sesa, on the basis of a pun on his name when suffixed with the honorific -pada: abhinavaguptapada, 'he, utterly novel, whose feet are hidden'. Though the attribution may appear fanciful, this line of argument does suggest, if 'guru' is to be understood as referring to more than one teacher in this passage, that Abhinavagupta and Adhara were also sometimes understood as the same teacher. The passage in question might then be translated: 'The Teacher [Adhara] replied to him by [reciting] the Adharakarika of which [as] Abhinavagupta, [he now] expounds the essence from the point of view of the Saiva teachings'.
It should be noted also that verse 50 of Abhinavagupta's Paramarthasara: 'Though not an agent, it is I who compose the wonderfully varied Siddhantas, Agamas and Tarkas', besides echoing APS 65, amounts to an implicit proclamation of the superiority of the Trika doctrine. Thus is disclosed one of the main purposes served, from the Trika point of view, by rewriting the Adisesa's text: to put an end once and for all to the disputes of precedence among the schools, by affirming the uncontested supremacy of the Trika. At the same time, PS 50 provides another, as it were "metaphysical", clue as to that rewriting: the true author of the Paramarthasara, whether he be called Adisesa or Abhinavagupta, is none other than Siva himself, the sole Agent, who is one's own Self in the form of the absolute `I'. 'Thus, says Siva, in Yogaraja's commentary, though not myself their creator, it is I who cause the multitudinous wonders that are the Siddhantas, etc., [to come into being], having entered into the intentions of gods, sages and men, being [already] in essence their inner intuition (antahpratibha) and desirous of expounding [these doctrines] either in abridgement or in more elaborate form'.
In the same way most modern accounts take little note of the contribution of Saivism to the issue of liberation — liberation in this life or not — likewise later Indian tradition, notably inspired by Vedanta, is careful to avoid Saiva reasonings. Perhaps, for the orthodox, it is due to the reticence aroused by suspicion of tantric leanings.
When the Jivanmuktiviveka invokes, in the fourteenth century, the authority of the Paramarthasara, it is the first Paramarthasara that its author has in mind, though the Paramarthasara of Abhinavagupta contains the same verse, hardly modified: later tradition, it is true — Abhinavagupta included — accords to the first Paramarthasara the status of sruti.
I have found references to the Paramarthasara of Abhinavagupta only in works of saivite tendency: the TAV ad I 37, I 39-40, and IX 50, as well as the Parimala [PM] ad Maharthamanjari [MM] 25 (probably thirteenth century), 9° which cite, respectively, vv. 15-16a, vv. 16b-17, v. 14 and v. 26. Note as well that, when Abhinavagupta cites APS 81 in his TA XXVIII 312, and explains it in the following verses, it is as though he were using his treatment of Adisesa's work in order to comment, though allusively, on his own PS 83.
And so the destiny of Abhinavagupta's Paramarthasara has been limited to Saiva circles.
Yogaraja describes as a prakarana the text he is commenting on. Though the text of Abhinavagupta does conform to the strictures of the genre in that it is indeed an epitome, a concise treatment of doctrine (see vv. 104 and 105), it does nevertheless diverge from the type in two principal ways: one is inherent in the need to reconcile the imperative of doctrinal coherence with the project of rewriting an older text of somewhat different persuasion; the other is that the Paramarthasara of Abhinavagupta does not confine itself to an exposition of the doctrine as such but at times hints at a second sense lying beneath the evident sense, namely esoteric techniques and practices that are at the heart of the philosophical discourse, as strikingly exemplified by verses 41-46.
Moreover it can be said that the doctrine itself is esoteric by nature, which does not prevent it however from being formulated in precise philosophical terms. At least, it is how the system perceives itself: 'Thus, the supremely recondite core of the teaching (sastrasaram atigudham) has now been condensed in one hundred arya-verses by me, Abhinavagupta, illumined [viz., inspired] by remembrance of Siva's feet' (v. 105). Yogaraja never fails to expand upon that 'supremely recondite core of the teaching', the spiritual realization of nondualism — which is the ultimate truth of the system — and the means or ways to attain it. He refers frequently to the 'secret' (rahasya) that consists in the 'knowledge of one's own Self' (svatmajnanarahasya, vv. 87-88), in other words, in recognizing that one's own Self is not different from Mahesvara (v. 81).
Even though he has not the breadth of Abhinavagupta, who commented on many of the key texts of the tradition, or of Jayaratha, who felt able to confront the monumental Tantraloka, Yogaraja is nevertheless a profound exegete, sometimes even audacious — despite what Lilian Silburn says. 92 Not only is he sensitive to the subtle and ever reciprocal transitions in the text between the cosmic Self and the individual self, between Siva and the 'knower' (jnanin), both of which appear in our text under the guise of the pronoun 'I' that verses 47-50 are at pains to represent, but he shows himself capable of decoding the double entendres. Thus he deciphers references to the articulation of the mantra SAUH throughout verses 41-46, and to the symbolic signification of its elements. As well, in his commentary on verse 104: idam abhinavaguptoditasamksepam dhyayatalj param Brahma/ acirad eva sivatvam nijahrdayavdam abhyeti, 'To him who meditates on this transcendental brahman, as concisely expounded by Abhinavagupta, Sivahood comes without delay, once it has pervaded his own heart' — the apparently straightforward authorial signature is reinterpreted metonymically, 93 as a copulative compound (dvandva) of adjectives that qualify the term 'brahman': 'To him who meditates on this transcendental brahman in reference to which a concise summary has now been stated, [such that brahman is now understood as both] quite novel (abhinava), and [heretofore] hidden (gupta), Sivahood comes without delay [...]'. Moreover, Yogaraja proves himself very accurate when he finds in the discussion of liberation of verse 60 a reference to the Trika denunciation of the practice of yogic suicide (utkranti), which is also condemned at greater length in the Tantraloka — though with some misgivings, as the practice was taught in the Malinivijayottaratantra [MVT], the text that is otherwise considered authoritative in the Trika.
It is equally obvious that Yogaraja is familiar with the immense literature of nondualist Saiva tradition, which he cites abundantly, and without much regard to tendency — which in effect establishes his authority to comment on the Paramarthasara. Nevertheless, a predilection for a Krama-oriented exegesis is felt in his commentary, in the manner of his guru, Ksemaraja (1000-1050), who repeatedly concerns himself with the Krama doctrine, celebrated as the highest of all systems. 95 Yogaraja himself was probably initiated into Krama, as may be inferred from another text ascribed to him, the recently discovered Sivastaka. 96 This hymn to Caitanyasiva, as consciousness', is of Krama affiliation and justifies our recognizing, at various places in the Paramarthasara, Yogaraja's references as having a Krama coloration. For example, after referring to the Kalikakrama in his gloss on PS 41, Yogaraja, ad 42, quotes the text of Kallata that Ksemaraja himself quotes in his vrtti ad PH 18 — a verse that is instrumental in defining saktivikasa, the 'blossoming of energy', also called bhairavimudra, which, as the context shows, implies a reference to Krama practice. It is one example among many of Yogaraja's hinting at esoteric aspects of the doctrine (`esoteric' being understood in its narrow, technical sense), expanding on the diversity of yogic practices where the base text merely alludes to them.
Thus, within the apparent linearity of the Paramarthasara's philosophical discourse, Yogaraja finds many occasions to bring out more or less cryptic references to the notion of supreme Speech, to the doctrine of phonemic emanation and the role of the matrkas (vv. 10-11), to mudras (v. 42), to mantric practice (vv. 41-46), to the placing of the thirty-six tattvas on the body of the guru and of the initiand (v. 74), and to the kundalini, 98 understood notably in its association with the articulation of the mantra HAMSAH (v. 78).
However, the major contribution of Yogaraja to the understanding of the text is his emphasis, beginning with the commentary on verse 9, on what he considers its core issue, jivanmukti. He does adopt a style that is his own — conscious doubtless of the reticences and the disagreements surrounding the notion, he makes constant reference to the interior experience of the yogin, of the jivanmukta so incomprehensible to ordinary men. Of course, the framework is well known, both in the literature of Kashmir Saivism (and in the Paramarthasara itself; see v. 59), and in pan-Indian tradition, beginning with the upanisads — but Yogaraja gives its exposition a particular twist. For instance, he accents his account with a series of phrases in the first-person singular, presumably to be attributed to the yogin himself, wherein the yogin formulates the content of his "incommunicable" realization.
Such are the originality and the lucidity of this commentary that it truly merits its appellation as a vivrti, an 'elaborate explanation'.
It might be noted also that Yogaraja could have figured in roles other than that of Ksemaraja's disciple, exegete of the Paramarthasara, and author of the Sivastaka, if he is the Yogesvara or Yogesvaracarya that Vamadeva, the author of the Janmamaranavicara, salutes as his master —thus furthering a preceptorial lineage or parampara.
Thus read in the light of its commentary, the text of Abhinavagupta presents a remarkably exhaustive exposition of Trika doctrine, which Yogaraja attempts to position, as much within the vast saivite tradition as in the perspective of other Indian systems — sometimes in order to appropriate the others, as in the case of the Bhagavadgita and the Mahabharata, sometimes in order to achieve distance from them, as in the case of idealistic monisms of the Advaita or the Buddhist Vijnanavada sort, and sometimes to "complete" their argumentation, particularly in reference to the Ssaems khy polemical Note especially the way in which Abhinavagupta on verse, v. 27 — a verse that summarizes, sometimes idiosyncratically, several rival doctrines, and which is based, with significant alterations, on verse 27 of the first Paramarthasara. It becomes, in the second, a doxography in miniature.
Thus the Paramarthasara of Abhinavagupta achieves a double goal: it rewrites an older text without compromising its own point of view, and it makes of itself both a doctrinal synthesis and a defense of jivanmukti. And it does this within the confines of a tight argument, the articulations of which Yogaraja is at pains to emphasize, taking particular note of the various implicit objections to which such or such a verse may be said to be a response.
The structure of the text is governed by a dialectic between bondage and liberation — a dialectic that is articulated in terms of instruction as to the means of abolishing bondage.
V. 1: programmatic verse, in which Yogaraja, following a well-known procedure, alludes not only to the essential principles of the system, but also, if covertly, to what constitutes its major theme, and that of the Paramarthasara itself: the notion of jivanmukti.
Vv. 2-3: the myth of origin of the Paramarthasara of Abhinavagupta, structured in terms of the myth of origin of the Paramarthasara of Adisesa.
Vv. 4-13: condensed exposé of the system's nondualism: phenomenal diversity understood as the manifestation of the Lord's energies; successive and concentric manifestation of the four envelopes, or cosmic spheres (anda, v. 4), which comprehend the multiplicity of worlds and finite creatures; reaffirmation of nondualism: the pasu is none other than Siva incarnate, who assumes as actor the infinity of roles in terms of which the theater of the world is characterized (5); series of examples (6-9, 12-13); doctrine of 'reflection' (pratibimba; 12-13) and the related doctrine of 'difference-and-non-difference' (bhedabheda). Yogaraja introduces (ad 9) for the first time the figure of the jivanmukta, which he reads allusively in the notion of grace there set forth. Vv. 10-11, proposing to define the Self (or supreme principle), anticipate the later definitions of the jivanmukta.
Vv. 14-22: exposé of the thirty-six 'principles' (tattva), ontological categories or principles constitutive of the 'pure path' and the 'impure path', that are graduated manifestation of the Self, itself designated in what follows as brahman, or as 'supreme principle' (paratattva), or as 'Siva beyond [the principles]' (paramasiva — Siva seen as the thirty-seventh principle). These principles, arranged progressively, explain the genesis of finitude — as they do in the prototypical Samkhya, which serves as basis for this and other Indian theories of "objectivity". Allusions to the theme of error appear from v. 15 onward, where is introduced the notion of 'fallacious creative power' (mays vimohini).
Vv. 23-27: characterization of finitude as a 'sheath', 'constriction', or 'impurity' — all realizations of error, and consequences of maya; allusive reference to three of the four 'envelopes/spheres' (anda, 23), the three 'impurities' (mala, 24); the fundamental misapprehension of taking the Self for the non-Self, expression of `nescience' (avidya), termed as well `ignorance' (ajnana) — in other words, Self-forgetfulness and the advent of subject-object dualism in the form of `dualizing thought' (vikalpa, 25); nondualism reaffirmed (26); refutation of competing theories of the Self, all of which partake of error, though in different degrees (27, reprised in 32).
Vv. 28-32: introduction of the theme of 'all-powerful error', described as the obfuscation of the truth (`the darkness of error', 30), the constriction of the immemorial and eternal freedom of the Self (32); a theme that is omnipresent, inasmuch as on the dissolution of that error depends liberation in this life — the major issue here treated. Traika innovation: notion of the sequentiality of the two errors, that of taking the Self for the non-Self being prior to and more fundamental than that of taking the non-Self for the Self (31).1°4 The two errors constitute the mithyajnana of PS 53, 'false/apparent knowledge'. Similarly, `dualizing thought' (vikalpa), which includes all the false constructions of the relation of Self and non-Self espoused by rival systems, is condemned as 'false' (mithya, 32).
Vv. 33-38: reversibility of finitude and liberation, of which the freedom of the Lord is the explicative principle: Abhinavagupta's introduction of the theme of 'divine play' (krida), expression of the Lord's sovereign freedom; beginning of the treatment of liberation, which is obtained by reversing the process that is instrumental in generating bondage; liberation prescribed in v. 33: 'One should unveil his proper Self ...', to which one accedes, symmetrically, by unveiling, by purification, by reconquest or recognition of 'Self-knowledge' (svajnana); correspondence established between macrocosmic (creation, etc.) and microcosmic (the four states, waking, etc.) modes of the Self (34); justification of the apparent para dox of a Self (or a brahman) both one and many (35); refutation of the objection that the Self is polluted by its particular realizations (36) and that the Self is compromised by the variety of its states of consciousness; refutation of the objection that the Self is subject to affectations: the "psychologization" of the Self being a mere matter of metaphor (38). Verse 38, which describes the Self 'as it is in reality' (paramarthatah), anticipates the descriptions of jivanmukti that follow.
Vv. 39-40: eradication of the twofold error (bhrantidvaya, avat. ad 40) and the simultaneous advent of knowledge and liberation. The same freedom of the Supreme Lord — that is, one's own Self (svatmamaheivara) — which has the power to subjugate has also the power to liberate (ad 39). The liberation that was prescribed in v. 33 is acquired in v. 40, with the necessary implication that it is a liberation acquired in this life: 'In this way, when these twin delusions have been cut off, along with their roots, there is no penchant at all on the part of the supreme adept who has attained his goal to accomplish anything else'. Here we find, in Abhinavagupta's text, the first reference, even though veiled, to the jivanmukta, described as the 'supreme adept' (parayogin). Yogaraja interprets v. 40 as implying a denunciation of external rites, preparing thus the way for an esoteric account of mantric practice (vv. 41-46) exemplifying the `interiorized rite' (antaryaga).
Vv. 41-46: change of tone in the commentary that focuses on an esoteric and mystical interpretation of the philosophical concepts treated above (bhedabheda, etc.). 105 The stress is put upon the means of simultaneous access to both knowledge and liberation, by presenting, in terms that are ambiguous, a 'discipline' (yoga) based on scriptural sources (agama) that is proper to the 'way of energy' (saktopaya), this latter also called the `way of knowledge' (jnanopaya) — the way of interiorizing ritual that is characterized by 'meditative realization' (bhavana) and mantric practice, notably that based on the mantra SAUH; description of the jivanmukta as a yogin embarked on the way of energy. Vv. 41-46 constitute thus an esoteric parenthesis (or the beginning of such a parenthesis) in a discourse that is primarily philosophical — whose esoterism is recognized by its partial presentation and by the dissemination of occult teachings (YR ad 43, notably); symbolic correspondence between this section of the treatise —which describes the heart (hr Jaya), that is, 'energy', as well as the 'seed of the heart' (hrdayabija), that is, the mantra SAUH — and its place in the center of the treatise.
Vv. 47-50: self-proclamation of the 'I' as ultimate principle, on the model of the vedic 'self-praise' (atmastuti). The realization of the absolute 'I' (aham), equally that of the yogin and that of the Lord, is characteristic of the 'way of Sambhu' (sambhavopaya), defined, as well, as the `direct way' (saksadupaya). In consequence, the first-person pronoun expresses the 'undeniable' (anapahavaniya, YR ad 47, 50) faculty of experience (or consciousness) present in all beings. This 'I', the mode of affirmation of the 'Great Lord that is the Self of each person' (svatmamahesvara), reduces all the other modes of valid knowing (including revealed texts, Agamas), to a position of externality and relativity (YR ad 50).108 This self-praise of the `I' 'stamps the yogin in the way of Sambhu', as is said in Tantraloka. 109 On another level of interpretation, it is not the metaphysical principle of the 'I' that is solely at issue here, but the mantra AHAM as well, which represents that principle symbolically. Vv. 47-50 would in that case constitute a follow-up to the esoteric parenthesis of vv. 41-46, devoted to mantric practice and articulated in terms of the mantra SAUH. The mantra AHAM, defined elsewhere as the 'supreme great mantra' (paramahamantra), source of all the other mantras' efficiency (virya), is thus in effect the counterpart, in the way of Sambhu, of the mantra SAUH that pertains to the way of energy.
Vv. 51-59: the esoteric parenthesis is brief. From v. 51 onwards, we return to a properly philosophical account. At the very moment that knowledge is acquired (v. 51, 'after overcoming the bewildering maya ...'), the yogin is liberated. He is henceforth a 'knower' (jnanin, YR ad 51 [first occurrence]). After this sketch of the yogin in majesty as the 'master of the Wheel of energies' (v. 47), that is, of the yogin following the sambhavopaya, we return to the depiction of the yogin in majesty according to the saktopaya: the avataranika ad 51 places in the mouth of the yogin, at the moment of his awakening, the proclamation of IPK IV 12: 'This might is all mine'. The portrait of the jivanmukta presented in vv. 51-59 answers the implicit objection that the notion of 'liberation while living' is incompatible with the karmic destiny that must be attributed to the yo-gin in virtue of his incarnate state. The response is that subjection to the law of karman is the product of 'faulty knowledge'. In consequence, the advent of 'true knowledge' suffices to free one from that law (53), without it being necessary to distinguish between acts dating from before the awakening and those posterior to it: in both cases, it is a question of detaching the consequence from the act, seen not as a momentary event, but as the setting in motion of a long process eventuating in its proper fruit (in Mimamsaka terms, it is thus the apurva, generated by the act and linking it with its fruit, that "disappears"). For him who has been consecrated 'liberated while living' by his awakening, those fruits in process of maturation (prarabdhakarman) are consumed by the fire of awakening itself (v. 55), while those set in motion after the awakening eventuate in no consequence, inasmuch as 'awakening' signifies the abolition of the desire for fruition (v. 56). The jnanin frees himself thus from all the modes of karmic realization (v. 58), the principal indicator and effect of which is his emancipation from all sorrow.
V. 60: this initial portrait of the 'knower' culminates in the Traika definition of liberation as `the manifestation of one's own energies realized by cutting the knot of nescience', in other words, as liberation while living — against a backdrop of "dualistic" definitions of liberation, rejected because they account only for liberation at death.
Vv. 61-67: less allusive mention, in the karikas, of jivanmukti —albeit via a periphrasis: T..] he is liberated though still joined with his body' (v. 61); sketch, in the commentary to 61, of a distinction between liberation in this life, jivanmukti, and liberation at death, which later traditions, among them post-ankara Vedanta, will term videhamukti; reiteration of the principle underlying the notion of jivanmukti: it is access to knowledge, that is, the recognition of one's own self as the universal Self (or the Lord, or Pure Consciousness), that sets aside the negative effects of the law of karman, together with the fatality of transmigration (61-62). Vv. 63-66 respond to this apparent paradox by contesting the necessity of any convergence between a mechanistic application of the law of karman and the so-called fatality of reincarnation. Such "fatality" applies only to the embodied soul laboring under the control of nescience, which obliges him to act in view of a fruit or result. As soon as his nescience dissipates and his identity with the universal Self is recognized, the 'knower' — incarnate, as he is (at least in the eyes of others) — accedes to a state of `disincarnation' (asariratva), synonym of liberation 11° — responses that are hardly more than common places used by the commentator to further his demonstration. As proof that the benefit of an act may not pertain to the agent, v. 67, borrowing from ordinary experience, proposes the grammatical example of the verb yaj- 'to sacrifice', which, when inflected in the middle voice (yajate), implies that the yajamana, the patron of the sacrifice, is its beneficiary, but, when inflected in the active voice (yajati), implies that the yajaka, the officiating priest, acts without acquiring that particular benefit which belongs to his patron. The yajaka thus becomes a metaphor for the man 'liberated while living'.
Vv. 68-73: exonerated henceforth from the corruption of his acts, the jivanmukta can now be described in the light of the very acts that compose his daily life — indifferent to the injunctions and prohibitions that are the meat of the ordinary man, appearing to others not unlike a madman, wandering hither and yon, so deviant is he from the usual standard (71). His rituals of consecration are interior, metaphorical (68): the 'knower' makes oblation of his dualizing thoughts in the fire of his consciousness, fanned by the wind of meditative realization (bhavana) —the mention here of bhavana signals that the path taken by the 'knower', in this section of the Paramarthasara, is that of 'energy'. Regardless of the accidents that may affect his life and acts henceforth, the characteristic of the 'knower' is his purity (70), unalterable because innate.
Vv. 74-80: description of the mystic practice of the 'knower' devoted to the way of energy; metaphorical extensions of the inner-outer parallelism noted above: construction of the body as temple (devagrha, 74); one's own self as the divinity (devata, 75); thought as oblation (havana, 76); unshakable awareness of the Ultimate as his own meditation (dhyana, 77); contemplation of supreme ipseity as his silent (or whispered) recitation (japa, 78); surpassing of all duality as his vow (vrata, 79-80). The description of practice culminates with a characterization of the jivanmukta as a Kapalika (79-80) — although his vow, qualified as `otherworldly' (alaukika) by Yogaraja, goes well beyond that of the ordinary kapalika, whose practices are soiled by duality despite their terrifying rigor; pursuit of these images: the transmigratory world where abides the jivanmukta is quite as terrifying as the burning-ground of the kapalika; the symbolic khatvanga of the latter, a staff surmounted by a skull, becomes, literally, the body of the former; the kapalika's begging-bowl, in the form of a shard of skull, becomes the 'shred' of the knowable that sustains equally the jivanmukta; the kapalika's liquor is the other's 'essence of the universe'. In sum, the jivanmukta is 'liberated' because he is exempt from duality. Yogaraja concludes: 'Such is the vow of him who has cultivated the lotus feet of a true teacher. Beyond that is nothing but the desiccation of the body' — a comment that serves also to introduce a new motif (extensively developed in vv. 89-102), that death does not interrupt or modify the fact of liberation.
Vv. 81-88: new portrait of the jivanmukta, again in quasi-philosophical terms (81): the commentary borrowing from the Samkhyakarika the famous image of the potter's wheel (without however acknowledging the source [SK 67], which it cites almost verbatim), the living body of the 'knower' is said there, like the potter's wheel, to "spin" for some time after the last impulsion given to it by the potter. Here, the impulsion is the inertia provided by acts previously undertaken (prarabdhakarman), whose motion continues unrestrained: it explains why and how liberation occurs within this world; 111 introduction of two new elements defining jivanmukti (82): that the experience is blissful (that is, positively felicitous, not merely absent of sorrow), and that it is open to all, without ritual prerequisites — and therefore does not require the social `perfectioning' (samskara) implied in the caste system. In his commentary to v. 83, Yogaraja sketches the distinction between liberation in this life and liberation at death, 112 and alludes to a theme that will be later developed (vv. 90-95): the significance of the yogin's final moments for his already acquired liberation. The vanity of injunctions and prohibitions is again noted (83-84). A new objection is raised (avat. ad 85-86), which, while admitting the simultaneity of 'knowledge' and liberation, denies the possibility of continuing to 'live in a body', for this is necessarily polluting — liberation being possible, in other words, only at the moment of death. In response, it is pointed out (85-86) that 'enlightenment' implies the disappearance of the three impurities that are responsible for the soul's finitude and transmigration. The persistence of a body does not compromise in any way the liberated status of the jivanmukta — and his liberation is irreversible, established once and for all, according to the Saiva maxim: sakrd vibhato 'yam. A concession is made nevertheless to the adversary (YR ad 85-86): a gradation, or perhaps a sequencing, of two orders of liberation: liberation in this life, corresponding to the 'Fourth state' (turya), and liberation at death, corresponding to the 'state beyond the Fourth' (turyatita).
Vv. 89-95: theme of the irreversibility of liberation developed in detail. A paradoxical argument justifies this irreversibility by appealing to the law of karman — the same law that, for the ordinary man, condemns him to the fatality of transmigration. One becomes, in effect, that which one has always been — whether he be a bound soul (pail) or a 'knower' (jnanin). No intervening accident, no unexpected shock is sufficient to deflect one from the destiny he has sought. Such is the teaching of v. 89, which on its face seems to concern only the bound soul; it is the commentary that supplies the missing link with this saivite interpretation of the law of karman. In virtue of this principle, the final agony of the 'knower', whatever disorder of mind or body may accompany it, does not bring into question his status as 'liberated' (90-95). One reading of v. 91 suggests the possibility of comparing the opacity of the 'knower's' final moments to the condition of certain animals as they confront death (cf. the episode of gajendramoksa, for example, taken up by YR): the animal condition itself does not obstruct the state of liberation to which the animal may have been entitled.
Vv. 96-97: jivanmukti is now philosophically established. One question remains: why are some aspirants, though genuinely desirous of liberation, not accorded their release in this life? In other words, how does one account for "gradations" or "degrees" of liberation — and sometimes even failures? The response, even though it may appear not entirely satisfactory, makes appeal to 'divine grace' in the form of a 'descent of energy' (saktipata): it is that 'descent of energy' of the Supreme Lord, unconditioned, unrestricted, and yet varied, that liberates. This apparent gradation of "descents" is of course correlated with the abilities of the aspirant, which notion would be difficult to see as anything but a restating of the question, rather than an "answer". In fact, a shift in point of view is in course: at the end of the treatise, it is solely Siva's perspective that is at issue — paramarthatah — in terms of which the perspective provided by the law of karman is merely instrumental, and ultimately to be cast aside, as mere vyavanara, inasmuch as it is valid for the embodied agent, who acts only by proxy; the sole real agent is Siva. The 'descent of energy' thus amounts to the acquisition (or 'recognition') of a 'freedom' that is one's already — inasmuch as Siva is here conceived as 'freedom' itself. Given the degrees of grace, one cannot escape the idea that different degrees of effort are also called for — on the part of different aspirants — and so the text, in these final sections, shifts from an emphasis on the jnanin to one on the yogin, he who is engaged in a 'discipline' (yoga) leading to emancipation. If the echo of the Gita is clear, the term `yogin' implies as well a reference to the Saiva system of upayas. A reading of vv. 96-97 —without any reference to the commentary — finds there easily a description of jivanmukti and the three 'ways' capable of leading to it. In 96 is described an aspirant who, benefiting from a grace that is 'very intense' (atitivra), follows the 'way of Sambhu', the immediate or direct path to liberation, characterized through the analogy of copper changed alchemically into gold by contact with mercury; such an aspirant accedes to final enlightenment, as it were, 'effortlessly' and in this life — the only mediation required being that of the teacher. V. 97 envisages an aspirant who has devoted himself to the sequential practices of the 'way of energy' (saktopaya) — and probably, to the 'way of the finite soul' (anavopaya). The element that is common to vv. 96-97 is their reference to a yogin who has or will have succeeded in his quest, who has acquired liberation in this life or will in the next.
Vv. 98-102 are devoted to a lengthy exposition of the unsuccessful aspirant, the aspirant who has 'fallen from discipline' (yogabhrasta), typically, by an unexpected death that has interrupted his practice — and who thus sees his liberation deferred. Vv. 98-99 promise to such a one a residence in 'divine worlds' and a rebirth that is guaranteed to produce a salutary result. Not only is no effort wasted, but his practice is taken up at just the point it was interrupted. Vv. 100-102 describe an aspirant even more imperfect, whose practice has utterly failed, who has, for instance, failed to grasp what has been clearly explained to him. After a sojourn lasting even longer in the divine worlds, he too is promised an ultimate liberation, but only after a subsequent death. The source of the notion of the yogabhrasta is doubtless the Gita (VI 37-49), as Yogaraja notes ad 102. The notion, strangely enough, is largely absent in other texts of nondual Saivism of Kashmir — with the single exception of TA XXXVII 65 (which uses the synonym yogacyuta while referring to Krsha's teaching apropos the yogabhrasta) and Tantralokaviveka ad loc., where the term yogabhrasta figures in a citation of those very verses (viz., BhG VI 41b-43, in vol. VIII: 3713). Why this Paramarthasara's remarkable and quite detailed exception? In part, the answer must lie in the fact that Abhinavagupta's Paramarthasara is the rewriting of an extra-Saiva text, the Adisesa's Paramarthasara, of which the last verses (vv. 84-86) have been reproduced quasi verbatim in Abhinavagupta's verses 100-102 — preceding which, however, comes a preamble that refers, even though covertly, to the Traika notion of the three 'ways' (vv. 96-97) and supplies a philosophical foundation for the notion of the yogabhrasta (vv. 98-99). This brings into focus, perhaps, the strategy of rewriting at issue here, where sometimes fidelity and coherence must be reconciled somewhat loosely. This borrowing from the older text does serve Abhinavagupta, however, in facilitating his claim that liberation is universally accessible — witness the vibrant plea of Yogaraja in favor of the effort to obtain liberation (103).
V. 103: This verse contains the "moral" to be derived from vv. 96 –102, which is that of the entire treatise: every effort bears fruit, provided that it be sincere; liberation is certain, be it now or later. Neither must the aspirant fear presumption: not only is his effort promised success, but it is legitimate.
Vv. 104-105: As expected at the end of a treatise like the Paramarthasara, v. 104 returns to the text itself and its author, and finds an additional reason to believe in the inevitability of liberation: it is even more certain now that it has been explained in the best of all possible treatises, namely, the Paramarthasara of Abhinavagupta. V. 105 goes even further, celebrating the work for its concision, and the author for his authority, conferred by the unequalled splendor of his mystical realization, in which he is likened to none other than Mahesvara himself.
On the model of a doctrine that places in tandem servitude and emancipation, the text of the Paramarthasara is constructed dialectically: to verse 24, which describes the installation of impurities, corresponds verse 57, which contemplates their abolition; 116 to verses 4-5, which introduce the motif of the 'sheaths' or 'envelopes' (arida), whose unfurling causes finitude, correspond verses 41-46, which describe the manner in which mantric practice proceeds to their being stowed away; to verses 30-31, which set forth the notion of twofold error, correspond verses 39-40, which consecrate its eradication; verse 15, which defines maya, is reflected in verse 51, which makes maya's dissipation the precondition of liberation.
In effect, finitude and liberation are nothing but appearances, have no "reality" apart from worldly convention and linguistic usage. To the extent that Siva's game brings them into play, they assume alternating roles, endlessly, in a world that has no other destiny than transmigration, subject only to Siva's will: 'Thus does the Supreme Siva extend [within our sphere] his play [made] wonderful by [the alternation of] bondage and liberation'.
On the level of ultimate reality (paramarthatah), in contrast, there exist neither servitude nor emancipation — just sovereign freedom, which is manifest in the play of the god, who is pleased sometimes to conceal himself, sometimes to reveal himself, rhythmically, in accordance with his two 'energies' sakti), that of obscuration (tirodhanasakti) and that of his grace or favor (anugrahasakti).
Everything, in this system of thought, extending even to notions and entities of little value, is a product of an 'energy' of the god. The doctrine is well suited then to the needs of the mumuksu, the acolyte aspiring to emancipation, for it accords him assurance that he will reach his goal: even in the sphere of finite interests, there is nothing set in stone, nothing irremediable — even finitude itself is finite.
In this sense, emancipation is defined not so much as a motivated effort to undo bondage, as it is a positive recognition (pratyabhijna) that one is already free — if anything, the paradoxical acquisition of a freedom that one has never lost. Although this paradox is, in some way, common to most Indian radical monisms, this school affirms in particular that the recognition at issue takes the form of the 'full deployment of one's own energies' (svatmaiaktivikasvarata , YR ad v. 60). With the introduction of the notion of sakti, the Trika affirms both its doctrinal coherence (the other systems do not have recourse to such a notion in order to describe liberation) and its taste for paradox — a way to shore up a counterfactual view of the human condition. Liberation is freedom: in other words, there exists no liberation, but a freedom that plays at hiding itself.
At the heart of the doctrine, as we have seen, is the notion of jivanmukti, `liberation [from life] while one yet lives', the oxymoron par excellence —and scandalous as well for ordinary reasonable men, concerned, as all men should be, with executing their religious and ethical duties. The numerous objections to the notion point to that scandal, objections for the most part implicit in the texts themselves, but which the commentators delight in bringing out.
The challenge that jivanmukti represents as well for the Paramarthasara itself can be ascertained subliminally in the polysemy of the work's title, where paramartha signifies not only 'ultimate (parama) reality (or truth, artha)', but (as the commentary to v. 104 at the end of the treatise somewhat belatedly reveals) 'the highest (parama) of the four goals (artha, scil., purusartha) of human life', namely emancipation (moksa): 'Now the author [Abhinavagupta] proceeds to sum up the purpose of the text, saying that "it alone is the teaching that serves as a means for realizing the highest among the goals of human life."
Likewise, in his commentary on the first verse, Yogaraja appears to descry a reference, albeit concealed, to jivanmukti in the name `Sambhu', which he interprets etymologically as signifying 'whose nature is unsurpassed felicity; - a not uncommon ploy, witness the similar readings of the name `Sankara' (cf. SpP 1, quoted below). He continues: 'With this summary sentence, which teaches that the supreme state to be attained is absorption in [what is already] one's own essence, the teacher has stated in abbreviated form the purport of the text in its entirety'.
In this system, the only freedom to which one should aspire, is emancipation in this life 121 - a notion that appears to follow from nondualism itself, if one understands by 'emancipation' going beyond the contraries and reintegration within the One: there is no reason why a person, in this world, should not be as free as is Siva, for he is not-different from him, provided that he undertakes the real labor of recognizing that truth.122 The existential difficulty of becoming Siva may be read, in effect, between the lines of the doctrine of the four upayas — which doctrine includes, nevertheless, at least for a handful of individuals, either the possibility of the 'non-means' (anupaya), that is, the absence of all existential difficulty in realizing one's own identity with Siva; or that of the quasi-instantaneous `way of Sambhu'.
Indeed, one has the sense that Kashmir Saivism is one of the first systems to seek to justify doctrinally the notion of jivanmukti. As such, the treatment of the notion and its representation as a philosophical issue constitute in their own way major contributions to the development of Indian thought.
The theme of abandoning karmic life is nearly as old as Indian civilization itself, and has given rise to a debate that is a persistent leitmotif of Indian intellectual history. The asperity of that debate might be due as much to a lingering suspicion that Brahmanism had already surrendered too much to Buddhist influence, as to the newly popular devotionalism and its reinvigorated sense of ritual, menaced by any abandoning of worldly life.
The menace represented by the abandonment of karmic life had been first manifest in the late-vedic critique of the efficacity of the sacrifice itself (see, for instance, MuU I 2, 10-11). That critique was at least partially disarmed by the notion of the four stages of life (asramadharma), relegating samnyasa to the end of life, well after the householder had fulfilled his ritual destiny (including the procreation of sons). In the same way, the ideal of liberation (moksa) was superadded to the three "normal" goals of human life, corresponding to this new "extra-human" condition.
From a strictly philosophical point of view, the debates that are echoed in the Saiva texts on the degrees of liberation relate to a narrower issue, rather more technical in nature: can liberation — accepted by nearly everyone at the time — be reconciled with karmic life, or must one wait for the end of life in order to accede thereto? That is, is the notion of jivanmukti defensible?
Many scholars, Renou among them, have remarked on the Indian genius for synthesis, reconciliation — a spirit that refuses to regard any contradiction as final. In this sense, the tension between the life of the hermit and worldly life is not a recent phenomenon, nor a fatality — and the notion of jivanmukti offers once again the opportunity to palliate it. The dynamism of Indian intellectual history depends in large part on that dialectic, where compromises have been numerous (and not all congenial to Western fashions of thought), such as the interiorization of complex external rites, the Brahmanico-Buddhist amalgam, the notion of the 'guru', both "free" and socially engaged.
The quarrel reflected in these Saiva texts is thus far from original, but is nevertheless felt as irremediably crucial.
As far as the terms jivanmukti/°mukta are concerned, most modern interpreters consider them as relatively recent. To date, they have been noticed in several Advaita or Advaita-like texts of the epoch, such as the Yogavasistha (also it seems from Kashmir, and presenting several Saiva traits), that some (including Dasgupta 1975, vol. II: 231) would attribute to the ninth century; and the Atmabodha, traditionally assigned to Safikara himself — though erroneously, according to the same authorities.
The terms figure as well in Saiva texts of the same period, as I will attempt to show, but their more certain dating should not hide the fact that the idea of jivanmukti had long ago found its way into the conceptual apparatus of monists (of whatever stripe) — it is there in the Gita, 124 as well as in some older upanisads, 125 and recognized as such by Sankara.
Even its technical interpretation is there: are 'free while alive' those that "act" no more, but are obliged to live out their prarabdhakarman, because (as indicated by Sankara and others) a karman once set in motion is not easily annulled.
Yet, the contribution of the vast sivaite literature to the debate on jivanmukti cannot be ignored, as has been mainly the case, not only by modern scholarship (at least beyond the field of Saiva studies), but also by later Indian tradition. In effect, one can say without exaggeration that the Saiva authors give us one of the first more or less complete accounts of an idea that had taken root for some time in Indian absolutist thought — although they do not deviate from the commonly received opinion as concerns the general character and importance of liberation itself, as shown by their constant references to prior discussions of this issue, and most notably to the Gaa.
There is no doubt as to the soteriological orientation of the quasi-totality of developed Indian philosophical systems — be they monist or dualist, as the Samkhya — but the novelty of the Trika's approach lies in its viewing, indeed reevaluating, mukti in the light of its metaphysics, showing that, for instance, on the level of the absolute, there is no liberation, inasmuch as bondage exists only on the empirical level. A view with Madhyamika overtones, it is true, but freed from the eristic and negative character of the latter — bondage itself being resolved in the absolute freedom of the Self, a state of dynamic plenitude (among other names, Trika confers upon itself that of purnatavada) that suffices to define liberation as freedom itself. Thus, the Trika organizes under the heading of a 'doctrine of freedom' (svatantryavada) the elements of the immemorial dialog on the liberated man.
For its part, the Paramarthasara — at least as YR ad 85-86 reads it — introduces a correspondence unknown to the Tantraloka, which is established between the two kinds of liberation — seemingly "consecutive": that obtained while living and that secured at death — and the two final `states of consciousness' (avastha), the 'Fourth' (turya) and 'Trans-Fourth' (turyatite - the latter appearing as a Saiva innovation. 162 From the moment the 'state of liberation' (moksa) found a home in life existential (jivanmukti), the insertion of the latter in the pan-Indian schema of the four states, and its designation there as the 'fourth' obliged the promotion of the old 'fourth' — 'liberation' universally understood as 'liberation at death' — to a 'fifth', or rather to a 'Trans-Fourth', position in the hierarchy of states having no name of its own, yet retaining something of its previous status.
As mentioned above, the term itself (jivanmukti, or jivanmukta) makes some of its first appearances in tantric texts, whose aim was, among other things, to supersede the orthodox ritual system. As Sanderson (1995: 25ff. and 1988: 660ff.) shows, tantric doctrine and ritual attempted to demonstrate their superiority compared to orthopraxy in several ways, which included that tantrism presented itself as a more efficient means to the same end: on the whole, it proposed to liberate one through tantric initiation (even if liberation was not immediately fully effective). This meant that the average initiate could be considered liberated already in this life and did not need to make any particular effort for the attainment of moksa subsequently. Therefore it is not surprising that the term and the concept of jivanmukti were not unknown to the early tantric tradition.
However, when nondualist Kashmirian exegetes make use of this notion, they tend to do so from the Kaula point of view, which is antiritualist. Consequently, one is liberated in this world through internal realization, and ultimately through knowledge, rather than through ritual action. The jivanmukta is a jnanin. This kind of liberation in life was in turn seen by proponents of the orthodox brahmanical religion as a paradox, and it is on their behalf that avat. ad PS 85-86 asks the following question: 'How can one continue to act after enlightenment, without accumulating further consequences of those acts? In effect, liberation is possible only at the moment of death'.
The fact that tantrism proposed more efficient means of liberation did not imply that arguments of the brahmanical orthodoxy were refused by Kashmirian exegetes. The Trika, as set forth by the Paramarthasara and its commentary, employs a rather virtuoso strategy that uses the law of karman in order to subvert that same law. And so the last portion of our text, from v. 89 onwards, multiplies references to the properly Mimamsaka notion of apurva in arguments intended to establish not only the possibility of jivanmukti, but its very legitimacy.
In parallel, the Trika is not loath to invoke authorities (pramana) outside its own tradition, 166 though, to be fair, its readings are usually favorable to its own theses. In the first place, the Bhagavadgita, whose omnipresence in Yogaraja's commentary and in other texts of the system is perhaps intended chiefly to affirm how the this-worldly ascesis recommended by the Gaa is, in fact, this-worldly liberation.
Similarly, several indices furnished by the Paramarthasara and its commentary permit apprehension of the relation of inheritance that Trika sustains with Samkhya on the question of liberation: the commentary to PS 81 (which paraphrases without attribution SK 67) and 83, where we find mention of the potter's wheel; the reutilization of Samkhya notions of kaivalya (at v. 83, itself the reprise of APS 81) and of apavarga (YR ad 33); the important role assigned to the antahkarana in the process of liberation (YR ad 90-91, 92-93); the citation of SK 44 by YR ad 92-93.
It is true that Samkhya and Trika start from the same postulate: liberation is not accessible by ritual (SK 1), but rather by discriminating knowledge (vijnana, SK 2). There comes to the surface, in the usage that the Paramarthasara makes of these Samkhya notions, a Traika rereading of Samkhya doctrine according to which the notion of jivanmukti, or at least a type of this-worldly release that has not yet received that name, is already germinating in the Samkhyakarika, in re vv. 67-68.168 As such, the Trika proposes an interpretation of SK 67 that is not all that distant from that of Gaudapada. The Gaudapddiyabhasya [GBh] on the Samkhyakarika, in effect, brings out the dynamic organization of the ensemble constituted by vv. 67-68: contrasting the 'incarnate' state of v. 67 with the `disincamate' state of v. 68 (prapte sarirabhede) — life and death in effect. Moreover, the liberation that occurs 'when the body falls away' (GBh 67: sarirapate) is the liberation that v. 68 terms kaivalya, described as 'total' (aikantika), that is, according to the Gaudapadiyabhasya, 'necessary' (avasya), and 'definitive' (atyantika), or 'which encounters no obstacle' (anantarhita) — the principal obstacle being the body, which no longer, in any way shape or form, afflicts the spirit, now liberated, of the departed. In sum, v. 67 refers to jivanmukti, v. 68 to kaivalya, 'absolute' liberation, in the etymological sense of `ab-solvo', 'loosen from'.
The Trika pretends however to ignore the appropriation of this gradation by the Advaita inspired by Sankara. At the very most, one notices, especially in Yogaraja's commentary, the vedantic idea of asariratva, the `disincarnation' that characterizes the jivanmukta in that he ceases to confuse his body with the Self.
Another element of the definition of 'liberation' that Trika shares with Advaita, and which dissociates it from Samkhya, is the notion of 'felicity' (ananda) that accompanies the experience of liberation. That Samkhya has ignored this 'felicity' is a reproach made by Sankara ad BAU III 9, 28, 7: `Some, like the partisans of Samkhya or Vaisesika, opine that in liberation, one tastes no kind of joy'. The Trika does not confront Samkhya directly on this point, but never ceases to stress the aspect of 'felicity', associating with it an aspect of experience that is absent from advaitic arguments: the 'marvelous' (camatkara), a notion that Saiva metaphysics shares with Saiva aesthetics.
Whatever may be the case with these similarities and differences, the Trika develops an original doctrine regarding liberation, of which a singular trait is the postulate that liberation in this life is inconceivable in the absence of the Lord's grace, described here as a 'descent of energy' saktipata). It is this subordination of liberation to `grace' that, according to TA XIII 27613-279a, constitutes the superiority of the Saiva path in relation to other systems. As Andre Padoux observes, [... la grace] determine la voie parcourue, le maitre rencontré, l'initiation revue et jusqu'au système religieux auquel on accorde sa foi'.
From this point of view, Trika may be considered as a "mystique of grace". In this vein, the Paramarthasara proposes at the very beginning (v. 9) that the key to the system is Siva's grace sivasaktipata). Even if that mystique resonates perfectly with the emotional effusion proper to bhakti — an experience that is omnipresent in Trika literature — it is still subject to reasoning and to argumentation. We observe in effect an attempt to theorize that mystique of grace, which not only adduces a complex hierarchization of its "degrees", set forth in ch. XIII of Tantraloka, but also establishes correspondences with the doctrine of the 'means' or `ways' (upaya) of liberation. The progressive extenuation of grace is reflected, in effect, in the descending hierarchy of the 'means' — distinctions, of course, as we have seen, that apply only at the mundane level. As the first five chapters of the Tantraloka affirm, the 'ways' of liberation are themselves subordinated to the degree of grace accorded to the adept —in other words, to his relative capacity of receiving that grace.
Such a conception of grace implies for the Trika the abandonment of social and ritual requisites, measured in terms of the acquisition of merit and demerit. No particular 'qualification' (adhikara) is postulated: access to jivanmukti is thus open to everyone, if only he make a sustained effort in that direction.
It is thus clear that the Paramarthasara articulates the quasi-totality of the doctrine it seeks to abridge around its defense and characterization of liberation. But this project is not without its costs, as certain accents are displaced that are required in order to establish the coherence of the work. On the one hand, an emphasis is put on the notion of the andas (vv. 4-5, 23, 41, 46); on the other, reference to the theory of the 'word' remains mostly implicit (vv. 10-11),179 as is the treatment of the upayas — a notion that became so important in Abhinavagupta's syncretistic exegesis, 1813 that Ksemaraja divides the text of the Sivasara into three parts organized in terms of the three inferior upayas.
As I have attempted to show in examining the arrangement of the Paramarthasara text, these three 'ways' are there alluded to, though not explicitly designated, with the exception of the avat. ad 41-46, which mentions the 'way of Sambhu' (or the 'condition of Sambhu', sambhavapada) and that 'of energy' (saktabhumika). This confusion of boundaries between the 'ways' perhaps signifies by indirection their porosity — a porosity of practices proper to each of the ways, and especially, their porosity of essence. For, as the Tantraloka insists, in the last analysis, little matters the way; it is the end that counts 182 - namely, absorption in Siva (or in the Self), 183 that is, liberation itself. Indeed, it is to liberation in this life that lead the three inferior ways, for, in the `non-way' (anupaya), there is neither servitude nor liberation (TA III 273).
For this reason, all the ways have a degree of legitimacy. Whether one enters without delay into one of the two superior ways (anupaya, sambhavopaya), thanks to a spectacular 'descent' of grace that makes any further mediation unnecessary or useless, or whether one raises himself progressively from one way to the next (excluding, of course, the 'non-way'), each way is instrumental either as such or as transitional, in virtue of a functional hierarchy that is, however, not a hierarchy of value. In effect, even the lowest way, that of the finite soul (anavopaya) is not without value. Apart from the fact that Abhinavagupta says that he was himself initiated into that way by his master Sambhunatha, it emerges from the organization of the Tantraloka itself that the treatment of the anavopaya is not confined to the fifth chapter, but is prolonged well beyond that, even to the final chapter. 186 In the last analysis, the differentiation of the various ways is not very significant, in the sense that 'everything is iva'.187 That is why the motif of jivanmukti is associated with the three inferior ways in the chapters of the Tantraloka devoted to them, whereas it is absent from the chapter devoted to the anupaya.
Another indication of the porosity of the ways and their partial overlapping is the reciprocity of yogic and mystic practices. In effect, the same practices postulate different modes of realization according to the way in which they are put into effect. Thus are present in the three ways mantric practice, kundalini (also utilized considerably in the anavopaya), and meditation on the Wheel of energies, whereas mudras are shared by the saktopaya (TA IV 194-211) and the anavopaya (TA V 79-85). In this sense, the 'ways' are so many 'approaches' to or specific points of view on the same content of experience. Texts like the Vijnanabhairava [V1311] show how, within the confines of the same practice, the yogin raises himself from one means to another. So does the commentary on PS 41-46 (avat.). Still, though perhaps covertly, the Paramarthasara privileges, it would seem, the point of view of the saktopaya (or jnanopaya, 'way of knowledge'), which allows in principle a certain plurality of practice, though one practice suffices. This is one of the matters in which the saktopaya is distinguished from the anavopaya, in which a plurality of practices is of the essence, associated with an intense sensory activity. Among the indications corroborating that interpretation: the emphasis placed on `knowledge' (Plana) and on the 'knower' (jnanin), as well as the importance attributed to the notion of bhavana (not present in the two superior ways).
On the other hand, the mantric practice that Yogaraja discerns in vv. 41-46 is that prescribed by the saktopaya: 194 not only does he apprehend, in the adjectives santam and amrtam of v. 43, an occult reference to the mantra SAUH, which evokes Para, the divinity proper to the saktopaya, but he emphasizes the effectiveness (virya) of mantras in general (avat. ad 41) — one of the main themes of the saktopaya. An effectiveness that is not merely a function of correct enunciation, but presupposes the interiorization of a mystic realization. The yogin engaged on the 'way of energy' identifies, not with the divinity that the mantra expresses, as is the case with the Siddhanta, but with 'the universal sense of the mantra' (mantrarthasarvatmya, TA IV 258b-259a). In other words, for this yogin, the mantra is not a simple formula for ritual usage, but represents ultimate reality itself.
Mantric practice and bhavana have as their consequence conversion of a discursive mode of thought into an intuitive and non-discursive awareness focused (if that is the word) on ultimate reality, an awareness of `difference-and-non-difference' (bhedaheda). Mantric practice and bhavana concern the interiorized sacrifice (antaryaga), drawn from the Kaula tradition, which itself involves the promise of liberation in this life. This `interiorized sacrifice' — touted by the saktopaya - defies description and is never better portrayed than by analogy. Thus, as I have already shown, vv. 74-80 of the Paramarthasara transform the procedures of the "mundane" ritual metaphorically into their interiorized counterparts — in other words, transform practices proper to the anavopaya into those suitable to the saktopaya Vv. 79-80 are particularly exemplary of this, to the extent that Yogaraja evokes the figure of the Kapalika ascetic in order to oppose to him the figure of the jivanmukta Traika. This also shows how the Trika of the exegetes has been able to integrate, while domesticating and purifying, the older tradition of the Kapalikas, which reserved the most extreme practices to its virtuosi (vira). The gloss of Yogaraja illus trates this clearly: the ascetic who follows the Trika path is as worthy, or perhaps even more worthy, of the title of vira, for he observes an otherwordly vow, whereas the Kapalika's is merely mundane.
The privileged place accorded to the saktopaya in the Paramarthasara derives as well from the fact that it is presented there as 'easier'. Such is the teaching of TA IV 257b-258a: ' [The Siddhanta recommends], in order to identify [with Siva], giving oneself up to restrictive practices such as wearing the topknot. The Kula prescribes their abandonment, for it teaches an easy way', or of PS 76: Tor him who is engaged in offering into the blazing fire of consciousness all the great seeds of difference [that blossom forth] on the presupposition of inner versus outer, the oblation is made without effort'. Similarly, when PS 80 describes the vow of the yogin engaged on the 'way of energy' as 'both easy and very difficult', it signifies that the saktopaya is both easier and more difficult than the anavopaya: easier in that the practitioner need no longer concern himself with the panoply of rites prescribed in the anava nor acquire their requisite ingredients and votive objects; more difficult in that all rites must be interiorized successfully. The saktopaya is thus the way that occupies the middle ground between the sambhavopaya and the anavopaya, just as the bhedabheda, the experience to which it gives access, occupies the middle ground between the abheda of the sambhavopaya and the bheda of the anavopaya.
The two other ways are not for all that absent in the presentation of the Paramarthasara, and the exhortation in the commentary to verse 103 to 'use all means' in order to accede to the supreme human goal is perhaps to be understood in that sense.
As regards the integration of Samkhya into the Trika, certain displacements are in evidence: the maya of the Trika represents functionally the prakrti of Samkhya with the major difference that the former now embodies a goddess and is not an 'unconscious' principle; in contrast, the prakrti of the Trika is a devalued form of the Samkhya prakrti, reduced to its trigunatmaka function. Likewise, the purusa of the Samkhya becomes, in the Trika hierarchy, little more than the archetype of the finite, bound soul.
It is true that Indian soteriologies have as their principle the abrogation of a condition deemed unhappy, and one can argue that they are all organized around a dialectic of servitude and liberation. Still, the way proposed by Saivism is distinguished from other systems by the dynamism and discursivity of that dialectic. A quality that relates evidently to its notion of the Absolute (called Siva), which the throbbing essence of its energy predisposes to a series (limited in number) of manifestations. The geneses of finitude and of liberation operate, dynamically, by a progressive installation and disinstallation of the tattvas, by the emanation of diversity and its reabsorption. Thus does Saivism interpret both Samkhya and Advaita.
The thought-universe of the Trika is indeed that of an idealism based on the notion of universal consciousness, of which many variants exist, in the West as well. Still, the wide range and the complexity of the system make it unique, inasmuch as it develops, as a coherent tradition, over several centuries, and is graced by the works of some of the most acute thinkers of the Indian past.
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