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J Indian Philos (2014) 42:115126

DOI 10.1007/s10781-013-9213-4

Utpaladevas Lost Vivti on the varapratyabhijkrik

Raffaele Torella

Published online: 5 December 2013

Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Abstract The recent discovery of a fragmentary manuscript of Utpaladevas long

commentary (Vivti or k) on his own varapratyabhij-krik (IPK) and Vtti
enables us to assess the role of this work as the real centre of gravity of the
Pratyabhijna philosophy as a whole, though the later Saiva tradition chose instead
Abhinavaguptas Vimarin as the standard text. This brilliant, and more compact
and accessible, text was copied and copied again during the centuries and became
popular in south India too, where a number of manuscripts in the principal southern
scripts are still available. The success of a particular commentary is very often the
indirect cause of the decline of the others, which are less and less read and, consequently, copied, until their complete or almost complete loss. Of the lengthy and
difficult Vivti by Utpaladevacorresponding to the extent of 8,000 lokas (hence
the traditional denomination of Aashasr)the fragmentary rad manuscript
that has come to light covers only the section IPK I.3.6 through I.5.3. Although the
portion of the recovered text is comparatively short (33 folios), it proves to be
particularly important in the economy of Pratyabhijna philosophy due to the crucial
points being dealt with there at great length, always in a hard-fought debate with the
logical-epistemological school of Buddhism.

In principle, I like the Felicitation Volumes, particularly for the personal involment they presuppose and
also for the connected gentle pushing they exercise on the lazy contributors (like me). However, a major
shortcoming is to be found in their irregular circulation, which makes the reach of the scholarly world
somewhat problematic. The aim of the present paper is to present to a wider audience a synopsis of the
main contents of the five articles that I have devoted to the edition and translation of the only extant
fragment of this important text, which have come out precisely in recent Felicitation Volumes.
R. Torella (&)
Istituto Italiano di Studi Orientali, Sapienza Universita` di Roma, via Principe Amedeo 182b,
00185 Rome, Italy



R. Torella

Keywords Pratyabhijna Utpaladeva Abhinavagupta Apoha

Anupalabdhi Svasavedana Dignaga Dharmakrti
Utpaladeva is said to have composed the varapratyabhij-krik (IPK) and the
concise Vtti at the same time,1 and later on to have devoted an analytic commentary to
the complex Krik-Vtti, called Vivti (or k), in which he discussed possible
alternative views and rejected them, also making occasionally quite long digressions on
particular subjects. As is well known, the Vivti was in turn commented on by
Abhinavagupta in one of his masterworks, the dense and demanding varapratyabhij-vivtivimarin (IPVV), covering more than 1,100 pages. The only
mention of an extant fragmentary manuscript of the Vivti occured in K.Ch. Pandeys
pioneering book on Abhinavagupta (Pandey 1963, pp. 6970). Though the original
manuscript was apparently lost, a transcript from it by Prof. Pandeys own hand was
found among the papers left by the learned scholar upon his demise and kept by his
widow on behalf of the Abhinavagupta Institute. During my visits to Lucknow, some
20 years ago, Mrs. Lila Pandey and the Trustees of the Institute were so kind as to show
me the notebook with the transcript, but did not allow me to copy or photograph it,
except for a small portion, which I edited and translated in Torella (1988). My efforts in
the later years to secure the entire transcript were totally unsuccessful. By now, that
transcript is to be considered definitively lost. The chance that sometimes helps scholars
in their research, counteracting the hindrances due to human unhelpfulness, drove me in
1998 to the Indian National Archives in Delhi in search of the manuscripts used by the
pandits of the Srinagar Research Department for the editions of the Kashmir Series. I
was interested in those manuscripts because of the important marginal notes that some
of them contained, where I assumed to find quotations from lost Kashmiri works. When
I met with a Sarada manuscript, entitled Pratyabhijvivti I began looking through it
with the same skepticism as I had looked in the past through manuscripts with the same
title all over India (in all cases, the title had simply been the outcome of a careless
cataloguing). The codex belonged to a small fund of manuscripts that the Maharaja of
Jammu and Kashmir, concerned about the current political situation, had transmitted to
the National Archives in 1948. Very soon, instead, I realized that what I had in front of
me was precisely the original of Pandeys transcript, as carefully described by him on
the very first page of his notebook. Once the transcript had been unretrievably lost, the
original had come to light again.
The thirty-three folios of the manuscript cover the full text of IPK I.3.6 through
I.5.3 along with Utpaladevas Vtti and Vivti, plus Abhinavaguptas Vimarin
(IPV). Although the portion of the recovered text is comparatively short,2 it proves
to be particularly important for the study of Pratyabhijna philosophy since some
very crucial points are dealt with there at great length. Among them, we find the
nature of cognition, its being self-aware, the impossibility for a cognition to become
the object of another cognition, the necessity that the various cognitions rest on a

IPVV I, p. 16.67 paramrthata aikyam anayor ekaklaktatvt.

The Vivti is sometimes mentioned as Aashasr, that is, corresponding to 8,000 lokas; according to
another tradition referred to in Pandey (1963, p. 163), the extent would be 6,000 lokas.


Utpaladevas Lost Vivti on the varapratyabhij-krik


single substratum for a connection between cognitions to be possible, the necessity

that cognition and its object share the same essential nature, that is, light; other
important topics are apoha, anupalabdhi, yogipratyaka. Starting from 2007, I
published five articles in which I presented the critical edition of the text along with
a profusely annotated English translation (Torella 2007a, b, c, d, 2012).3
Since the coming forth of these studies, the central role of Utpaladevas long
commentary on his own varapratyabhij-krik for the development of
Pratyabhijna philosophy has become clearer and clearer, though the later Saiva
philosophic tradition chose instead Abhinavaguptas varapratyabhij-vimarin
as the standard text. This brilliant, and more compact and accessible, text was
copied and copied again during the centuries and became popular in south India too,
where a number of manuscripts in the principal southern scripts are still available.
The fortune of a particular commentary is very often the indirect cause of the
decline of the others, which are less and less read and, consequently, copied, until
their complete or almost complete loss. One could mention, among others, the
particularly exemplar case of the Yuktidpik on the Skhyakrik.
The topics of Pratyabhijna philosophy that I will present here are seen through
the lenses of the Vivti. Utpaladeva, referring to an enigmatic statement in the
Bhagavadgt (XV.15b),4 had identified three powers (akti) in the Lord: Cognition,
Memory and Exclusion. The aim of his close inquiry into each of them is to show
that cognition, memory and exclusion, which constitute the very basis of the
knowledge process in human mind, are indirectly also a proof of the coinciding of
the individual subject with universal consciousness. None of these phenomena can
be really explained and their complex functioning accounted for satisfactorily in
merely mechanic terms, as first of all the Buddhists do. The individual subject can
cognize, remember and exclude only if it is conceived of as inscribed within an
eternal and, at the same time, dynamic universal I-ness, i.e. Siva.
Utpaladeva starts by making some preliminary remarks on the Buddhist
conception of non-perception (anupalabdhi), and, less extensively, of exclusion
(apoha) as the very core of conceptual thought. If one accepts the self-contained
nature of cognitions (as the Buddhist does), it hardly becomes possible to account
for neither of them. On seeing an empty surface we shall not be allowed to say that
there is no jar, since the cognition of a certain object will not be able to give rise, at
the same time, to alternative cognitions later to be excluded. Yet, the world of
human knowledge, language and practical activity has among its pillars precisely
the possibility of taking something for absent, or of building mental images
through the exclusion of what is other. Then, granted that the Buddhist description
of how the single cognition works in isolation is considered as basically correct,
what is needed is the capacity of the single cognitions to communicate with each
other, to enter into a net. Such a net cannot be provided but by the single and
unitary consciousness on which all of them are rooted. In a word: by the Siva nature
which permeates reality, constituting its ultimate ground.

These articles have started a hunt for more fragments from the Vivti, which has already produced
interesting results (see Kawajiri, forthcoming; Ratie, forthcoming).

matta smtir jnam apohana ca.



R. Torella

The Buddhists5 account for the establishment of the absence of a jar in a certain
place by saying that the cognition of the empty place, while being aware of itself as
opposed to the cognition of the place with a jar, is also aware of the place as devoid
of the jar. In fact, if a jar were on that place, then also the jar would be manifested
within the cognition of the place, since both the jar and the place share the same
capacity [of being perceived]. This can be maintained, they go on, because
particulars belonging to the same class (that is, visible particulars) are grasped by
one and the same cognition (here a visual cognition), and consequently the
cognition of the place should, in the case of a jar being there, have also contained
the manifestation of the jar; but in the case at issue it was not so.6 Utpaladeva points
out that here we are dealing with two distinct and separate cognitions, bound to
remain such7: by any means cannot one include or exclude the other, unless one
intends to explain the establishment of the absence in terms of inference,8 which is
not the case with Buddhists (see Torella 2002, p. 143, fn. 17). These and other
arguments are taken into account in the Vivti. In sum: Each cognition sheds light on
itself alone, or, in other words, each cognition has its own self-awareness, which can
by no means act as the common basis where two distinct cognitions may meet. No
single cognition, Utpaladeva concludes, not even the perceptual cognition, can
establish the absence of something by itself alone.9 The only way to fill the
gap between cognitions and, by doing so, to give a reasonable explanation of
the establishment of absences, which is so common in everyday life, is to accept
their resting on a single consciousness.10 Instead of a multiplicity of irrelate
svasavedanas each corresponding to a single cognition, Utpaladeva posits the one
supreme consciousness principle as the common svasavedana of all cognitions,
which in this way derive from it the capacity of entering into relation with each
The starting point for the discussion of the exclusion (apoha) issuethe third
of Sivas powersis clearly stated in Abhinavaguptas IPVV: why on the appearing

The Buddhist position Utpaladeva is referring to is clearly formulated in Dharmottaras Nyyabinduk

p. 101.1314
yadaikajnasasargivastvantaropalambha | ekendriyajnagrhya locandipraidhnbhimukha
vastudvayam anyonypekam ekajnasasargi kathyate.
Vivti kevalapradee hi ghao yadi syt, tat tatra pradeajne tulyayogyatrpatvt so pi praketa
tath ca saghaapradeajnam etat syt, na kevalapradeajnam; ata kevalapradeajna
svtmna saghaapradeajnaviparta savedayamna pradeam api ghaarahita savedayate
iti ghabhvasiddhi pradee syt (Torella 2007a, p. 478.69).
Vivti yvat kevalapradeajnena yadi nma svtm saghaapradeajnaviparta saviditas tato
dvityam arthntarabhta saghaapradeajna svaprakarpa nsti katha sidhyet (Torella
2007a, p. 478.1012).
Vivti tad evam iyannyynusarad numniky eva ghabhvasiddhi syt, na prtyak (Torella
2007a, p. 479.6).

Vivti jnnam aindriyaknm apy anyonya sahabhvapthagbhvaprako na syd ity arthnm

api sadasattniyamanicayo na syt (Torella 2007a, p. 480.35).

Vivti tad evam ekntarmukhasvasavedanarpacittattvtmatvirnti vin [] (Torella 2007a,
p. 480.5); tasmd em ekacittattvavirntirpam anusandhnam avaybhyupagantavyam (Torella
2007a, p. 480.6).


Utpaladevas Lost Vivti on the varapratyabhij-krik


of a certain particular object should one figure out something different destined later
to be excluded?11 Abhinavagupta is not satisfied with Dharmakrtis answer,
elaborated at length in the Svarthanumanapariccheda and svavtti: the correct
knowledge of the svalakaa is continually menaced by erroneous superimpositions
(samropa), caused e.g. by misleading similaritiessuch as the brightness equally
found in mother-of-pearl and in silverwhich makes the knower mistake the
former for the latter. The doubt, which projects alternative forms to be negated,
would arise precisely because the knower is aware that many superimpositions are
in principle possible; so a definite ascertainment becomes possible only after
hypothetical mistaken forms are preliminarily rejected. Then Abhinavagupta takes
into account the position of Sankaranandana (292.18ff), who in the Apohasiddhi
recognizes prasaga (anyathprasaga the mere possibility that a thing be
different from itself ?) as the cause of doubt. Both samropa and prasaga are for
Abhinavagupta equally untenable, since, whether they derive from a beginningless
nescience or other causes, they ultimately lead to a regressus ad innitum. In the
Vivti (Torella 2007a, p. 480.1121), Utpaladeva puts forward his own version of
how apoha works, taking for granted that apoha is indeed the pivot of all conceptual
thought. His view, evidently nourished with Buddhist ideas, is centred on the
plurality of causal efficiencies found in any object,12 which he substitutes for the
plurality of wrong assumptions (vikalpa, samropa), with respect to which
Abhinava will clearly explicitate the fault of anavasth, already implicit in
Utpalas argument. But, more importantly, the Vivti makes an additional remark.
On the maya plane, in which alone vikalpa is at work, the objects should be at their
highest level of differentiation: then, how can their cognition evoke other objects,
too?13 Utpaladevas answer is rooted in the Saiva theology. The vara-tattva level,
at which all the manifested world is still enclosed in the I (sarvam idam aham),
remains so to speak in the background even in the maya world, marked by a fullfledged differentiation. This is especially true for the cognition process, in which
even the fully differentiated object ends up flowing into consciousness and being
absorbed into it; moreover, as is often repeated, if the object were not essentially
light, it could not shine at all in knowledge. This latent basic undifferentiation of the
object (from other objects and from the self) is, according to Utpaladeva, what
finally renders the process of apoha possible, the potential openness of the object
(and the subject) being the very ground for the doubt about it.14 On this premise
alone, the Buddhist apoha is accepted by the Saivas, who take it as a particular akti
of the Lord, figuring side by side with jnaakti.
If Utpaladevas close investigation of the three powers starts with memory, by
infringing the above stated order, it is [b]ecause in a very clear manner memory can


IPVV I, p. 292.9 nanu svalakae vabhte kuto tadrpam akyate yad apohyate.

Vivti akyamnatattadarthakriykritattatpratipakanirkriy vin na tena vyavahartum ala

pratipattra iti (Torella 2007a, p. 480.1920).

Vivti padrthntarasamparkarahite py arthe pratiniyatapraktv avabhte vividhrthakriykriy
api (Torella 2007a, p. 480.1718).

Vivti vargabhta ivnyonytmatay (Torella 2007a, p. 480.1819).



R. Torella

serve as a logical reason for the establishment of the identity of the self with the Lord.15
The starting point of the examination of memory is the classical definition of memory
given in Yogastra I.11: Memory is the non-extinction of the object formerly perceived
(anubhtaviaysampramoa smti). The sustained analysis of Utpaladevas Vivti16
singles out a few crucial points contained in such an apparently simple process: How is it
possible to attribute temporal differentiation to a cognizer that is permanent in his
essential nature? What is the relationship between the cognitive act of the original
perception and the cognitive act of the subsequent memory? How can the latter bring the
former to light again without objectifying it? On this point, in fact, the Saiva and his
principal opponent, the Buddhist epistemologist, are in full agreement: a cognition is
self-luminous and cannot be the object of another cognition. The prima facie Buddhist
explanation which is the target of Utpaladevas criticism is far from being satisfactory:
saying that the perception produces a saskra, which in turn will produce the
phenomenon of memory, only accounts for the fact that the subsequent memory has a
certain objective content allegedly similar to that of the original perception, though
strictly speaking, since memory has no direct access to the former perception (cannot
know it), this very similarity cannot even be established.17 Furthermore, this view
leaves out the subjective component represented by the fact that the object has been
coloured by the previous perception, or, to be more precise, by its having been
already perceived in a certain past moment.18 Memory, in fact, is indeed the memory
of the past object, but also of the past perception of it. Instead, as Abhinavagupta says,
what the saskra is able to convey (or resurrect) is neither the original perception nor
the object insofar as it was cognized by such past perception.19 This presupposes a living
organism at work, a dynamic and unitary consciousness able to freely move between
different moments of time. It is the I that ensures the possibility of unifying the various
cognitions occurring at different times, thus resolving the apparent inconsistency

Vivti smter eva tvat suspaam vartmasiddhihetutay prathama sambhavam ha (Torella
2007b, p. 544.34).
Text in Torella (2007b, pp. 544549.2; 2007c, pp. 479482.4). The examination of memory runs from
IPK I.2.3 to III.4.8. On memory in the IPV, see Ratie (2006).
IPK I.3.2cd [] saskrajatve tu tattulyatva na tadgati (cf. Torella 2002, pp. 99100).
This position might be attributed to a nirkravdin, but for sure not to a skravdin, like Dignaga or
Dharmakrti. Dignaga uses the argument of memory, seen as necessarily including the awareness of the
temporal distance of the object previously perceived and the awareness of the previous perception of the
object, as a proof of the twofold nature of cognition and of its being self-aware (svavtti on
Pramasamuccaya I.11ab viayajnatajjnaviet tu dvirpat: p. 4.24 na cottarottari jnni
prvaviprakaviaybhsni syu, p. 5.23 yasmc cnubhavottarakla viaya iva jne pi smtir
utpadyate, tasmd asti dvirpat jnasya svasavedyat ca). For a thorough analysis of the crucial
passages on these topics in Pramasamuccaya I and svavtti, see recently Kellner (2011). Such
stratification of previous perceptions that is found in a memory act could not be satisfactorily explained
by those who, like the nirkravdins, deny cognition the characters of dvairpya and svasavedana; in
the same vein, Kumarila (lokavrttika, sunyavada 112cd114ab) does not conceive of an accumulation
of forms [in cognition], but only of a difference in objects (cf. Hattori 1968, p. 109).
IPV I p. 97.58 saskrt para saviyatmtra smter siddham, na tu anubhavaviayatvam, npi
asya viayasya prvnubhavaviayktatvam.


Utpaladevas Lost Vivti on the varapratyabhij-krik


between a (present) vimara and a (past) anubhava.20 The one and same svasavedana
of both cognitions creates that necessary bridge between them which the Buddhist
epistemologist fails to account for.21
Then Utpaladeva gives voice to a hypothetical opponent who finds the
explanation proposed by the Pratyabhijna too awkward and distant from common
sense: it would be much simpler to speak of a cognition (present memory) that
cognizes another cognition (the past perception). However, the Pratyabhijna
cannot accept such an interpretation, nor can the Buddhists, unless they question one
of the keystones of their respective philosophies: cognitions can never become the
object of other cognitions as they are only cognizable through introspective selfawareness (svasavedana).22 The opponent, not expressly named but certainly
representing the realistic brahmanical schools, replies that it is common knowledge
that at least one case of objectification of cognitions does exist, namely, the case of
the yogin who penetrates the thought of others, that is, the cognitive and emotional
content of their minds.23 In order to find an answer to this objection, Utpaladeva
feels as a primary task to define as accurately as possible the expression svasavit
self-awareness (on the part of all cognitions) through singling out three levels of
meaning (Abhinavagupta even adds a fourth one of his own). In the main, he is in
full agreement with Dharmakrti, who had taken svasavedana (or tmasavedana)
as one of the four varieties of perception.24 Any cognition, says Utpaladeva, has as
its essential nature self-awareness (svavit), which can be taken in three different,
Vivti smtikriypy asyaivaiaivntasthitnubhtaprvrthavimarecchopakram bahi sa iti
tatprvakloparaktnubhtabhvvamaranvasn (Torella 2007b, p. 545.911). Cf. Torella (2002,
pp. 106107, fn. 12).
IPVV II, p. 17.2223 anubhavasmtyor eka svasavedanarpam ekaviayatopalambht. What
Utpaladeva and Abhinavagupta implicitly say is that not even the Buddhist skravdins view of
cognition as twofold and self-aware, however acceptable in itself, is able to satisfactorily account for the
phenomenon of memory, since it is not well supported by the whole of the Buddhist philosophical
framework. If we cling to this, saying that the former anubhava shines in the present memory only
amounts to saying that the self-contained memory cognition knows the self-contained anubhava
cognition, which goes against the basic principle of svasavedyat of all cognitions. Even admitting that
a purely intellectual cognition (citta) may be the object of another (or anothers) cognition, the emotional
resonances of such cognition (caitta) are bound to remain strictly confined in the subjective sphere (cf.
Moriyama 2010, p. 271), hence the need for establishing the svasavedyat principle for all cognitions
(in fact, also the various feelings and emotions are viewed as cognitions: Pramavrttika III.448cd
sukhadukhbhildibhed buddhaya eva t).
IPVV II, p. 43.1213 saugatn tvat svasavedanam eva jnasya vapu, tad eva katha vedyat.
Though basically agreeing with Kellners objection to translating svasavedana by introspection
(Kellner 2011, p. 215), I think that it would not be out of place to underline the special kind of cognition
that after all svasavedana isit is vivid as only pratyaka can be, but it does not depend on sensory
faculties; it cognizes something without making it into an object; the phrases svasavedanasiddha,
svasavedya, etc. often convey the meaning of something whose presence and certainty are inwardly
felt and are not in need to be proved by pramas.


Vivti yogin parapramtbodha paratvenaivedantay prakate (Torella 2007c, p. 482.12).

Nyyabindu I.7 tat [pratyaka] caturvidham; I.10 sarvacittacaittnm tmasavedanam the selfawareness of the mind and the mental events in their entirety; cf. also Pramavinicaya I, p. 20.9. Also
Dignaga had apparently listed svasavitti as a variety of pratyaka in Pramasamuccaya I.6c mnasa
crthargdisvasavittir akalpik, a definition however not exempt from problematic aspects (cf. Hattori
1968, pp. 27, 9294; Franco 1993; Yao 2004). To the concept(s) of svasavedana a special issue of the
Journal of Indian Philosophy has recently been devoted, with several important contributions.



R. Torella

and complementary, senses: svasyaiva savit, svaiva savit, svasya savit eva ca
(Abhinavagupta adds: sv savit eva).25 None of them would stand, if the
objectifiability of cognition were accepted. Once we have ascertained that this is
indeed the distinctive mark of any cognition, it remains to be seen whether this may
be a feature of yogic perception, too. Even if we were hypothetically willing to
admitsays Utpaladeva with his usual tersenessthat a cognition might become
the object of another cognition, things would hardly change. In fact, the relationship
of the subject and object of cognition (viaya-viayin), which would thus obtain,
should, in the case at issue, necessarily pass through the achievement of
identification between the two cognitions and their respective subjects, since all
cognitions and subjects share the same essential nature. However, if a valid
cognitive process is based on the attainment of conformity (srpya) between the
apprehended object (grhya) part and the apprehending subject (or cognition)
(grhaka) part, such a conformity is incompatible with the essentially unity of the
two cognitions.26 Utpaladevas discourse is based on the full acceptation of the
epistemological scheme provided by Dignaga: the twofold aspect of cognition (see
above). The apprehending cognition part assumes the form of the apprehended
object part; the cognitive process consists precisely in the conformity or likeness
(srpya) between the two (svasavedana being a property of both of them). It is an
undeniable fact, concludes Utpaladeva, that the yogin can have access to other
minds, but this takes place insofar as he has attained identification with the supreme
self, and, consequently, has overcome the distinction among the various limited
subjects. On this plane, the cognitions of the others end up being ones own
cognitions, and, as such, are known through self-awareness.27
At the end of this argument, tmavda is finally established, but to Utpaladeva
this is not sufficient. It is true that in this manner cognitions are endowed with a
permanent self acting as their ultimate substratum, but the idle selfe.g. of Nyaya
and Vaisesikawould prove incapable of moving freely through cognitions, now

by uniting them, now by separating them, or, as in the case at issue (the
phenomenon of memory), by retrieving an object and its perception from the past
and making them shine again in the present without cancelling their original nature,
but also without reproducing them mechanically.28 The object recovered by
memory is not the same object as in the original perception, but an object coloured
by it. For that to take place, the dynamism, the sovereignty (aivarya) of the I of the
Saivas is needed.
One of the central points dealt with at length in the Vivti fragment is the inquiry
into the relationship between the perceiving subject (grhaka) and the perceived
object (grhya), on the one hand, and between the perceiving subjectthat is, the

Text in Torella (2007c, p. 482.2324).

Vivti jnayos tu dvayor viayaviayior ekabodhamtralakaatvd abheda eveti na srpyam

lambanrtho nayor, api tv aikyam eva (Torella 2007c, p. 483.910).

Vivti vstavena tu bodhaiktman pramtr pramtrantaraikypattir eva param[read: par]
tmavedakatva sarvajasya (Torella 2007c, p. 483.2122).
Vivti tmana ca aikyamtrepy audsnyn ananubhavasmaradiaktimattvd aivarya na
syd, etac cokta vakyate ca (Torella 2007c, p. 484.2325).


Utpaladevas Lost Vivti on the varapratyabhij-krik


empirical subject acting in the maya worldand the subject in the absolute sense,
the Knower (paramrthapramt) identified with Siva or supreme Consciousness,
on the other. The very fact that the Sanskrit language presents the perceiving subject
and the perceived object as a dvandva compound (see the concluding krik of the
fourth hnika, where memory is examined29) points to their mutual dependence,
anyonypek in Utpaladevas words.30 This means, in Abhinavaguptas further
remarks (IPVV II, p. 58.1112), that they are assumed to be linked by a reciprocal
union, a two-directional one (itaretarayoga), and consequently the grammatical
principle of sahavivak intention to express simultaneously applies to them: the
perceiving subject at the same time points at, or expresses, the perceived object, and
vice versa, the ultimate reason for this being the fact that each of them is at the same
time itself and the other (cf. Torella 1987, pp. 155157). According to the Vivti, this
must be understood also in a subtler way: the subject-ness of the mayic individual is
mixed with a more or less conspicuous dose of object-ness, and the object-ness of
the body is mixed with a certain dose of subject-ness. The status of cognizable
object (vedyat) pertaining to the body is not the same as the jars, where the
vedyat is full-fledged and the extreme level of insentience has been reached.
However, the vedyat of the body or the vital breath cannot be compared with the
vedyat of the universe with respect to the level of subjectivity called vara, since
to the latter things appear as non-separate from one another and each thing appears
as made of everything.31 Nor can the level of subjectivity of the empirical perceiver
be comparable with that of vara where the whole mass of cognizable objects is so
to speak covered (sacchdita) by the I.32 By highlighting such a multiplicity of
levels both in subjectivity and objectivity, Utpaladeva aims at undermining the
belief that they may have an intrinsically definite nature. Instead, they are more like
two communicating vessels. In order to explicitate what krik I.4.8cd states (The
two elements divided into perceiving subject and perceived object are manifested
within the [highest] cognizer), the Vivti says: They are woven into any cognizer
who performs the act of reflective awareness.33 So, will they be comparable to two
gems woven into a thread, says Abhinavagupta giving voice to a hypothetical
opponent (IPVV II, p. 58.20)? No; in fact, the Vivti adds immediately after the
above statement: They are indeed made of the cognizer (tanmayv eva).
The critical point for the object is when the knower cognizes it, i.e. makes it
shine, manifests it (prakayati). Kar. I.5.2cd (The light is not differentiated
[from the object]: being light constitutes the very essence of the object) is to be
understood as an allusion to the Bhatta Mmamsaka thesis, which is diametrically

opposed to Utpaladevas position and indirectly helps him formulate his own in a

I.4.8c grhyagrhakat; Vtti thereon, anubhvynubhvakau.


Vivti grhako grhya ca anyonypekv avabhta (Torella 2007d, p. 932.4).


Vivti grhyasvabhvam api ca tad dehdi na tadn ghadivedanvasara iva prodbhtavedyabhvam avabhsate ham iti prathand varasya iva vastujtam | kevalam varasya tad
anyonypthagbhtam evaikaika vivtmarpam avabhsate | atra tu prdi sarvato bhinnam eva
na tu vivarpatm rayat [] (Torella 2007d, p. 932.1215).

Vivti vedakatpi cevaravedakaty sacchditeavedyarer anyaiva (Torella 2007d, p. 933.4


Vivti sarvatra parmati pramtari protau (Torella 2007d, p. 932.23).



R. Torella

straightforward way. According to Kumarila, when an object is cognized, what in

fact happens is that an additional quality being manifest occurs in it, from whose
presence a previous cognitive act is inferred. On the contrary, according to
Utpaladeva, the object cannot receive such light from outside: only what is
essentially light can shine, light must already be the very self (tman) of the
object,34 its own form (Vtti: svarpabhta). The very being of the object,
the Vivti goes on, consists in its becoming manifest.35 Light, in its essence, is the
knower itself: it is the contact with the knowers light that, so to speak, kindles the
latent, inner luminous nature of the object. Thus, if it is true that both subject and
object are essentially light, we are not allowed to say that the light-knower is the
light-object, but only the other way round. To explicitate this concept, Utpaladeva
makes a rare exception to his usual dislike for quotations: for the second time, in the
Vivti he cites a passage from the Bhagavadgt (now, VII.12d [b]ut I am not in
them, [whereas] they are in Me).36 When in the mayic world the object shines as
differentiated, this holds only with regard to the empirical subject and never from
the light taken in the absolute sense, since in this case the object could not shine at
all.37 Likewise, the subject, regardless of the level of subjectivity he may be
identified with, never loses his contact with absolute light/consciousnesss[t]hat
immaculate consciousness which, though different from the presumptive identification with the thickest veil represented by the body, is however intimately present
in all levels of subjectivity (body, puryaaka, etc.), just like the autumnal sun is
[only provisionally] obscured by clouds (IPVV II, p. 24.1315).
To sum up: Utpaladevas final aim is to establish a single cosmic consciousness,
i.e. Siva, as the common background of all reality and, particularly, of all human
experiences. He pursues this intention not by apodictically stating the Saiva truth
for example, by resorting to the authority of revealed textsbut by critically
examining diametrically opposed doctrines, i.e. those of the Buddhist prama
philosophers. In doing so, he recognizes the leading position of the Buddhist
philosophy in the Kashmir of his day and at the same time shows that he is not
afraid of challenging the great cultural prestige of the Buddhist doctrines. Moreover,
in many cases he makes use, as far as possible, of their arguments to preliminarily
build up and then refine his own positions. This way of carrying out the duel with
the prama philosophers reminds one of the attitude often found in oriental martial
arts. Instead of directly attacking his adversary, Utpaladeva seeks to exploit the
adversarys intellectual ability to finally turn it back upon him. The main technique
on which Utpaladevas argumentation is based is the one well known in sastric
debate as prasagaviparyaya (see Iwata 1993). The Buddhist ideas are not rejected
at the outset, but are rather apparently accepted and then pushed to their extreme
consequences. As a result, the Buddhist opponent is finally confronted with two

IPK I.5.2cd na ca prako bhinna syd tmrthasya prakat.


Vivti prakamnattmik satt (Torella 2007d, p. 934.10).

Vivti ata eva prakasya vedytmatnupapatter na tv aha tev iti gtsktam (Torella 2007d,
p. 936.89).

Vivti na tv anavacchinnt paramrthaprakd aprakanaprasagt (Torella 2007d, p. 936.18


Utpaladevas Lost Vivti on the varapratyabhij-krik


alternatives: either to abandon his own specific theses or, if he is still convinced of
them (and, interestingly, this is the case not only for the Buddhist, but for the Saiva
philosopher himself), to change the perspective from which they are to be viewed.
In other words, he should accept the overall theoretical Saiva framework precisely
to safeguard his own Buddhist ideas.
The philosophy of Pratyabhijna is built upon two main cornerstones, both of
them due to Utpaladeva: the above mentioned attitude to the Buddhist prama
philosophers, made of a subtle interplay of attraction and rejection, and the
acceptance of the legacy of Bhartrhari, which had been so openly despised by

Utpaladevas guru Somananda (Torella 2009; Nemec 2011, pp. 5967). Now that it
is possible to look, however partially, into the Vivti, where these two aspects stand
up and are dealt with in a greatly elaborate way, we are no longer allowed to
consider Utpaladeva a mere predecessor of Abhinavagupta and that the latter is the
great master of the Pratyabhijna, but we must rather take Utpaladeva, particularly
with his varapratyabhij-Vivti, as the real centre of gravity of the system, and
Abhinavagupta mainly as his brilliant commentator.


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