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Scriptural Vs

Scriptural Vs

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Published by: Boris Bhāskara Marjanovic on Jun 23, 2012
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12/21/2012

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1
Scriptural vs. Spiritual Knowledge
By Boris Marjanovic Among those interested in studying the various religions of South Asia thatnominally come under the name of Hinduism one can clearly identify two groups. On
the one side, there is a „scholarly community‟ 
that generally favors intellectualknowledge over the knowledge generated through practice. On the other side are thosewho believe that only through the practice of meditation or some other type of yogic
practice, can the „true understanding‟ of reality or „
enlightenme
nt‟ 
be attained. On bothsides there are those who want to bridge this divide, attempting to bring these twotypes of knowledge closer by pointing at their mutual dependence. However, this groupis clearly in the minority and its voice remains unheard.The purpose of this paper is to investigate and understand how scholars/
yogins 
of the nondual Kashmir Shaiva School
1
, in particular Abhinavagupta, approached thisproblem. In this context, the intellectual knowledge stands for the knowledge gainedthrough the study of 
śāstras or āgamas 
, while spiritual knowledge stands for theknowledge gained through yogic practices, which in this system are closely associatedwith initiation (
dīkṣā 
).In order to accomplish this, we will first have to understand theparticularities of two closely related theories
– 
 
the Śaiva theories of knowledge and Self 
-recognition (
pratyabhijñ 
ā 
). In this process I will use a number of sources but will rely
primarily on Abhinavagupta‟s
Tantrāloka 
and
Tantrasāra 
.Let us begin by understanding the nature of recognition, as taught in the
Pratyabhijñ 
ā 
system. The creative process can be described as an externalization of consciousness which in its unfolding condenses and assumes ever grosser aspects of existence. Ther
efore, on account of the creative act, Śiva removes Himself further and
1
The expression nondual Kashmir Shaivism is used to
differentiate it from the dualist Śaiva Siddhānta.
 Therefore, in this paper, I will use the expression nondual Kashmir Shaivism
or simply Śa
ivism whenreferring to the non
dual schools. When referring to the dualist Śaiva schools the expression ŚaivaSiddhā
nta will be used.
 
2
further from the purity of His consciousness until He finally loses sight of His innermostglory and power. In this process, by assuming the forms of different subjects andobjects, He hides His real nature. This hiding of His own Self in the process of externalization is called obscuration (
tirobhāva 
).
Somānanda in his
Śivadr  ̥ṣṭ 
writes:
Let Śiva, who has taken the form of our individual Selves offer His obeisance toŚiva who through
His
śaktis 
extends in the form of the universe for the purpose
of removal of the obstacles which are also Śiva. He who is the consciousness
resting in itself abandoning in bliss, whose flow of will (
icchā 
) is unrestricted andwho possesses spontaneous flow of action and knowledge, shines forth in everyform of existence as the Self 
2
.
 As we can see from this verse
, Śiva is everything that there is, as He remains
present in all the subjects and objects in spite of losing, at the grosser levels, the purityof His consciousness, which is the result of His freedom. From this perspective, life in
general and spiritual practice in particular is nothing but the process of Śiva‟s
recognition (
pratyabhijñ 
ā 
) of His own nature.Therefore
, while for the Vedāntins the world is unreal, for the Śaivas it is realbecause it is the manifestation of Śiva. Furthermore, according to the Vedāntins, the
world ceases to exist at the time of realization of Brahman and according to the
Sāṁ
khya and Yoga systems,
prakr  ̥ti 
stops functioning in regard to
puru 
ṣ 
who hasattained
kaivalya 
. For the Śaivas
, on the other hand, the world remains even when theultimate is realized. However, the world is realized for what it truly is. It is the stage on
which Śiva performs His cosmic play (
līlā 
) by hiding and revealing His own nature. Inthe
Stavacintāmaṇ 
, Nārāyaṇ
a Bha
ṭṭ
a writes:
2
 
asmadrūpasamāviṣṭ 
ḥ 
 
svātmanātmanivāraṇ 
 
śivaḥ 
 
karotu nijayā namaḥ 
 
śaktyā tatātman
 
ātmaiva 
 
sarvabhāveṣu sphurannirvr  ̥tacidvibhuḥ 
 
aniruddhecchāprasaraḥ 
 
prasaraddr  ̥kkriyaḥ 
 
śivaḥ 
 
Ś. Dr 
. 1: 1-2.
 
3
Hey Hara, which poet but you is capable of withdrawing the drama of the three worlds that has been introduced and which possesses in its womb a multitude of shining seeds 
In the recognition of one‟s own Self, there is no negating the world or the stage
on which the play (
līlā 
) is performed. However, at the time of recognition, the worldgets new interpretation and this new interpretation is called recognition (
pratyabhijñ 
ā 
).The difference between recollection (
smr  ̥ti 
) and recognition is that, while recollectionrequires impressions of the past experience, recognition, in addition to the impressions,requires the presence of the object whose real nature will be recognized. As Abhinavagupta puts it:
Recognition consists in the unifications of what appeared once with what appearsnow, as in the judgment:
 „This is the same Caitra.‟ It is the cognition which
refers to an object which is directly present. It is reached through the unificationof the experiences
4
.
Let us first consider the case of an ordinary recognition. For example, a youngchild is for some reason taken away from her mother. Many years later, as a result of circumstances, they again meet but the mother does not realize that this new person intown is actually her daughter. Furthermore, the mother keeps on seeing that newperson everyday but still is unable to recognize her as her daughter. Now, as a result of continuous work in trying to locate her long lost daughter the mother finally finds outthat the new person in town whom she has been seeing for a long time on the street isactually her long-lost daughter. As can be seen from this example, recognition is a type of cognition in whichpast experience and present awareness merge together. The important thing is that the
3
 
visr  ̥ṣṭānekasadbījagarbhaṃ 
 
trailokyanāṭ 
akam 
 
prastāvya hara saṁ 
hartum tvatta 
ḥ 
 
ko‟nyaḥ 
kavi 
ḥ 
 
ṣ 
ama 
ḥ 
 
St. Cin 
. v. 59.
 
4
 
ĪPV 
comm. 1:1:1.

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