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Journal of the American Oriental Society 132.3 (2012)

Le Soi et l’Autre: Identité, différence et altérité dans la philosophie de la Pratyabhijñā. By Isabelle Ratié. Jerusalem Studies in Religion and Culture, vol. 13. Leiden: Brill, 2011. Pp. 785 + xxiii. $288. While the majority of the many new critical editions, studies, and translations published in the area of tantric studies over the last quarter-century have examined tantric scriptural works, scholars have also made significant new contributions to our understanding of the numerous exegetical, devotional, yogic, and philosophical works that expand upon, respond to, and in important ways depart from these scriptures. The texts of the Pratyabhijñā or “Recognition” School are no exception, as key works of all three of the trio of authors whose writings constitute the core of the canon of Pratyabhijñā philosophy have recently received major scholarly attention. First, the Śivadṛṣṭi, the initial articulation of Pratyabhijñā thought, written by one Somānanda (fl. c. 900–950), has recently been edited and translated in part, along with the corresponding sections of the commentary of Somānanda’s immediate disciple, Utpaladeva (fl. c. 925–975). The latter’s major philosophical writings, in turn, were edited and published by Raffaele Torella in 1994 in a landmark edition and translation of the entirety of Utpala’s Īśvarapratyabhijñākārikās (ĪPK), along with the entirety of the shorter of a pair of autocommentaries, the Īśvarapratyabhijñākārikāvṛtti (ĪPVṛ). Torella also published fragments of the longer of Utpaladeva’s two auto-commentaries, the Īśvarapratyabhijñāvivṛti , which sadly is no longer extant apart from these fragments. The volume here under review is a study of the philosophical writings of the third of the aforementioned trio of Pratyabhijñā authors, the great Kashmiri polymath Abhinavagupta (fl. c. 975–1025), who was the student of Utpaladeva’s immediate disciple, Lakṣmaṇagupta. Isabelle Ratié’s book constitutes a detailed reading of the Īśvarapratyabhijñāvimarśinī (ĪPV), Abhinava’s sub-commentary on Utpala’s ĪPVṛ. It also includes dozens of excerpts, often translated here for the first time, of the second of Abhinava’s pair of sub-commentaries, the Īśvarapratyabhijñāvivṛtivimarśinī (ĪPVV), which glosses Utpala’s Vivṛti. More specifically, this lightly revised version of the author’s Ph.D. dissertation focuses primarily on Abhinavagupta’s ĪPV commentary on the first adhikāra (of four) of the ĪPK and ĪPVṛ, the Jñānādhikāra, where in the course of developing his idealistic non-dualism Utpaladeva counters a number of objections as he imagines they would come, primarily, from the Buddhist Epistemologists. Ratié also examines the various strategies with which Utpaladeva counters, borrows from, and pits one against the other the differing views of a range of Buddhist and Brahminical philosophical schools, including most notably those of the Sautrāntikas, the Naiyāyikas and Vaiśeṣikas, and the Prābhākara and Bhāṭṭa Mīmāṃsakas. The book is comprised of eleven chapters, including the introduction and conclusion. The introduction usefully orients the reader to the philosophical questions at hand in easily comprehensible terms, assuming no prior knowledge of the Pratyabhijñā. In doing so, it helpfully queries the relationship between philosophy and theology in the Pratyabhijñā (pp. 4–14) and summarizes the philosophical questions addressed in the ĪPK and its various commentaries and sub-commentaries (pp. 14–31). Following the introduction, Ratié devotes six chapters (1–3 and 5–7) to a close reading of the ĪPV commentary on ĪPK (and ĪPVṛ ad) 1.1.1–1.5.17, one augmented by regular references to the ĪPVV and to other sections of the ĪPK and its commentaries and sub-commentaries. Only chapter four (pp. 253– 306), which compares the Pratyabhijñā view of the ātman with those of various other, Brahminical schools, interrupts the flow of this close reading. Chapter one follows the ĪPV commentary on the second āhnika of the ĪPK (the first, a prolegomenon, having been detailed in the introduction), as it presents the pūrvapakṣa of the Buddhist Epistemologists, the centerpiece of which is an argument that denies any role for a self or ātman in memory (smṛti) (see esp. pp. 62–75). Chapter two follows with the Pratyabhijñā’s reply to this view as it is detailed in ĪPK 1.3 and its commentaries and subcommentaries. Noteworthy here are the ways in which Utpaladeva and Abhinavagupta borrow from the Buddhist Epistemologists in the course of criticizing them. For example, Ratié here shows how they refute the Buddhist explanation of memory by arguing that it fails to take into account another Bud-

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dhist doctrine that maintains that all cognitions are by nature self-revealing (svasaṃvedana) (see esp. pp. 112–24 and 140–42). Another section of this chapter skillfully presents a Pratyabhijñā argument for the necessity of a cognitive synthesis (anusaṃdhāna) in explaining memory, a synthesis they argue is inexplicable in the absence of the existence of an indissoluble self (pp. 143–67). Chapter three follows the ĪPV commentary on ĪPK (and ĪPVṛ ad) 1.4, explaining in detail what Ratié labels the “coeur du traité” (p. 169), stated in the last verse of the preceding āhnika (i.e., in ĪPK 1.3.7), namely that all experience is predicated on the existence of a single agent, Maheśvara, who is identified with consciousness itself (see esp. pp. 169–74). This chapter explores the nature of the three powers of consciousness—the powers of knowledge (jñānaśakti), memory (smṛtiśakti), and exclusion (apohanaśakti)—as they are explained by Utpaladeva and Abhinavagupta. Next, chapter five offers a close reading of Abhinava’s ĪPV commentary on ĪPK 1.5.1–3, identifying the shared features of the idealisms of the Pratyabhijñā and the Vijñānavāda and emphasizing shared arguments against the possibility of any entity appearing outside of consciousness. Notably, it includes an important treatment of the nirākāratāvāda (pp. 341–45, 358–61), a realist doctrine that argues that consciousness, being separate from the object it perceives, must itself be essentially without form. Chapters six and seven complete the close reading of the ĪPV commentary on ĪPK (and ĪPVṛ ad) 1.5. The former chapter, addressing the text and commentaries of ĪPK 1.5.4–9, illustrates how Utpaladeva and Abhinavagupta pit the views of the Vijñānavādins against those of the Sautrāntikas, who argue that the existence of an object external to consciousness can be inferred (pp. 368–403). The latter chapter, in turn, examines the positive articulation of the Pratyabhijñā’s idealism, which interestingly argues for the impossibility of the very existence of any object external to consciousness by emphasizing a doctrine of the innate freedom (svātantrya) and willfullness (icchā) of consciousness (pp. 480–525). Hereafter, the book deviates from its close reading of the ĪPV in order to address more general questions associated with the idealistic non-dualism of Utpaladeva and Abhinavagupta. Chapter eight examines the nature of alterity according to the pair of authors, and Ratié again details the nature of Abhinava’s extensive interaction with the writings of Dharmakīrti in addressing the matter. Most notable here are the arguments developed regarding the very possibility of recognizing otherness, as these turn in part on an analysis of the various types of inference identified by Dharmakīrti (see esp. pp. 617–26). Finally, chapter nine, which is followed by a brief conclusion, queries the ontological nature of difference in the context of the philosophical non-dualism of the Pratyabhijñā, outlining Abhinavagupta’s treatment of the nature of bhrānti, virodha, bādha, incomplete cognitions (apūrṇakhyāti), and related concerns in doing so. This book is simply the most extensive—and authoritative—treatment to date of Pratyabhijñā philosophy. The hundreds of translations here offered of the ĪPV and ĪPVV are rigorous and accurate. The book also explains in erudite detail the many references in these texts to various Brahminical and Buddhist works and schools, furnishing the reader with hundreds of quotations of the relevant primary sources in doing so. (Particularly noteworthy is a section [pp. 668ff.] that details various Pratyabhijñā arguments against the Vedāntins, arguing that it is Maṇḍanamiśra’s and not Śaṅkara’s Vedānta that is regularly targeted by the Pratyabhijñā.) Ratié also regularly notes the variant readings of seven manuscripts of the ĪPV, adding a significant, philological dimension to this book. As thorough and careful as this study is, however, it is not entirely beyond criticism. First of all, it was somewhat surprising to discover that the book nowhere addresses the question of the nature of the perception of absence (abhāva). The problem is a major sub-topic in the ĪPK and ĪPVṛ—Utpala devotes half an āhnika (ĪPK 1.7–7-13) to the matter—and was of course also a major concern for Utpaladeva’s Buddhist interlocutors. While Ratié has addressed the matter in detail elsewhere, as she herself indicates herein (p. 152 n. 97), the reader would have profited from the integration of the author’s treatment of the question with the present study. Also absent from this study is any sustained examination of the similarities and differences among the writings of Somānanda (who figures only in a minor way in this study), Utpaladeva, and Abhinavagupta. This is to say that Ratié treats Pratyabhijñā thought synchronically rather than diachronically. Her approach of course has its advantages: it gives us the most deeply philosophical reading of


Journal of the American Oriental Society 132.3 (2012)

Abhinava’s philosophical writings to date. Yet, the reader is sometimes left wondering whether—and where, precisely—Abhinava offers any novel contributions to Pratyabhijñā thought, or, at the least, presents it in novel ways. Elsewhere, Ratié sometimes treats Abhinavagupta’s theological concerns philosophically. Indeed, while Ratié is no doubt right to emphasize the philosophical contributions of these philosophical works, Abhinava sometimes speaks in a theological register in the ĪPV and ĪPVV, even though Utpala essentially avoids doing so in his ĪPK and ĪPVṛ. Consequently, one feels that Ratié occasionally overreads the philosophical implications—in chapter six, at least—of one or another passage of the ĪPV. Nevertheless, it cannot be reiterated enough that this is a thorough, thoughtful, and deeply insightful treatment of Pratyabhijñā philosophy, and of Abhinava’s ĪPV on the Jñānādhikāra in particular. Those interested in Śaiva tantra, in Hindu-Buddhist debate, and in Indian philosophy more generally will undoubtably benefit greatly from Ratié’s outstanding contribution to these fields of learning. John Nemec University of Virginia