Kashmir Saivism sustains a probing dialogue of the Saiva integralist
with Vedantic illusionism and Buddhist nihilism. This system has stood
the test of time and is attracting attention after a lapse of many centuries.
By pronouncing a vigorious affirmation, it shows the fetility of the
charge that the Indian Mind is world-negating. It provides an ultimate
remedy for what Jung calls 'the general neurosis of our times'. The new
generation of today would find that the mystical Siva consciousness
attained through this path is free form the evils of drug-induced
The present study is the first attempt to provide a critical account of
absoluti-stic Saivism. While expounding the Saiva approach in relation
to Vedanta advaitism, it takes up with commendable lucidity and
thoroughness a detailed discussion of some important problems of
philosophy and religion. Rather than approaching the subject
historically, the author treats the subject conceptually. Though both
approaches, in the author's judgement, are fully consistent and justified
from their own points of view, Kashmir Saivism, however represents a
novel world-affirming attitude which rejects all dualities, bipolarities
and conflicts, and harmonises them in the supreme vision of Siva.
The work is divided into four parts. In the first part the author
analysis 'the two approaches' of Saiva and Vedanta absolutisms.
Theories of recognition' and knowledge have been discussed in the
second part. The third part contains a detailed critical exposition.
Of the nature of reality. The conceptions of self, bondage and freedom
have been analysed in the last part. Besides analysing critically the Saiva
approach to important metaphy-sical and religious issues, throughout the
book fruitful comparisons have been drawn between the key concepts of
the two absolutistic traditions.
This book, the fruit of serious and sustained research is a highly
distinctive contribution to the subject. The author brings out fully the
historical and contemporary significance of Kashmir Saivism. The reader
will find her, lucid introduction to the system. This critical work is a study
of a highly esoteric system, will undoubtedly prove valuable to the
students of both philosophy and religion.
Kashmir Saivism, which represents the absolutistic
development of Saiva tradition, may be described as theistic
absolutism, lsvardvayavada. It includes schools such as Krama,
Kaula, Pratyabhijna etc., and provides us an integral vision of
reality which is more consistent than many modem forms of
integralism and dynamism. It puts forth a wholly dynamic view
of life according to which nothing is static or abiding. This
system rejects all dualities, bipolarities and conflicts and
pronounces a vigorous affirmation. It thus shows the futility of
the oft-repeated charge that the Indian Mind is world-negating.
For the whole vast soul of India, as Romain Rolland puts it,
proclaims the domination of a sovereign synthesis. There is no
negation. All the forces of life are grouped like a forest,
whose thousand waving arms are led by Nataraja, the master
of dance. The ideal of life is harmonious play of all faculties.
The work is divided into four parts. Approaches of Saiva
and Vedanta absolutism have been analysed in the first part.
Theories of recognition and error are discussed in the second
part. The third part contains a detailed critical exposition of
the nature of absolute reality. Conceptions of self, bondage
and liberation have been analysed in the fourth part.
The value of the present study is not in the direction of
originality, but in the achievement of greater clarity. Its main
purpose is to draw the attention of the scholars and to
stimulate them for further study. Keeping this aim in view,
problems have been presented in simpler form and English
equivalents of Samskrta terms have frequently been used. It is
also the reason why I have often quoted Sri Aurobindo who
is the best modern representative of integralism.
Being an interpretation, such a study may appear to be
misleading. However, the risk is worth-while insofar as it may
promote genuine understanding and tolerance of different
outlooks. The treatment of the problems is neither historical,
nor textual. For I do not have the inclination or the
equipment to approach the subject either historically or
psychologically. Chronological factors, however, should not
count much in a metaphysical discussion.
It is my great privilege to record my gratitude to the
various writers, both ancient and modern, from whose writings I
have benefited. I am specially indebted to Sri J.C. Chatterjee,
Dr. K.C. Pandey, Mm. Pdt. Gopinath Kaviraj and Acharya
Ramesvara Shastri for their enlightening exposition of the
My deepest and most sustained obligations are due to my
revered teachers Dr. T.R.V. Murti and Mm. Pdt. Gopinath
Kaviraj. Dr. T. R. V. Murti, former Head of the Department
of Philosophy, Banaras Hindu University, kindly suggested the
present subject for research and also agreed to guide me. But
for his valuable guidance and kind encouragement this work
could not have been complete. I am also deeply indebted to
Mm. Pdt. Gopinath Kaviraj at whose feet I learned the secrets
of Pratyabhijna. The present work is dedicated to both these
teachers as an humble token of my gratitude. I am further
obliged to Prof. Murti who has kindly agreed to write the
foreword of the book.
I am also obliged to Pdt. Mahadeva Shastri
(Mahesvarananda), former Principal, College of Oriental Learning, and Acharya Ramesvara Shastri who kindly explained to
me many difficult texts. I must also express my gratitude to Dr.
R. K. Tripathi, Dr. K. Sivaraman, Prof. I.A. Alston, Prof.
Arbinda Basu, Dr. Karan Singh, for the help they have! given
to me. I am also thankful to my friend Dr. H. Lenaerts who
prepared the cover of the book.
The present work is a revised version of the Ph. D.
thesis approved by the Banaras Hindu University. I am obiged
to the University for awarding me the Sayaji Rao Gaekwad
Fellowship during my research period. Lastly, I am thankful
to Mis Bhartiya Vidya Prakashan for taking interest in the
publication of the work.
Little work has been done on Kashmir Saivism, and our
knowledge of the system has remained scanty and based on
secondary sources. This is all the more surprising since the
much-advertised philosophy of Sri Aurobindo is largely derived
from this and could be described as a reformulation of the
Tantra system in modern idiom. This system is also known as
Trika, Tantra and the Pratyabhijna school of philosophy. It
could be characterised as an Absolutistic Theism based on the
religious life and views depicted in the Saiva Agamas.
One should be grateful to Dr. L.N. Sharma for
expounding this interesting system of Philosophy and Religion
in such an authentic and brilliant manner. He has relied
throughout on the original works of the thinkers of this school,
namely Somananda, Utpalacharya, Abhnavagupta, Ramakantha,
Bhaskara and others. His insight into the tenets of the system
and power of philosophical analysis combined with a flair for
precise and lucid expression have enabled Dr. Sharma to bring
out in' fullness and clarity the basic conceptions of this
philosophy and their implications.
The most valuable feature of this book is its comparative
and critical study of Kashmir Saivism with the Advaita
Vedanta. Thr distinctive standpoints of these two great systems
of thought with regard to the Absolute (Brahman and Siva),
Maya and Sakti, the status of the Individual Self and the
world process and the problems of Bondage, Evil, Spiritual
Discipline and Release are drawn with admirable acumen and
understanding. All the other differences stem from the basic
conception of Brahman and Siva. While the Advaita Vedanta
understands Brahman to be Pure Being or Consciousness,
Self-luminous ,(svayamprakasa), it does not invest it with
Self-consciousness of the form: 'I know that I am Brahman.'
Self-conscious awareness of oneself, as implying an other
against which the self-assertion is made, thus belongs to the
stage of lsvara or Saguna Brahman as associated with Maya.
In the Pratyabhijna school, however, the Absolute Siva is not
only Consciousness (prakasa or bodha) but is at once
Self-consciousness (Vimarsa, Svatantra). It is Siva and Sakti
rolled into one, in a state of equipoise (samarasya, see pp.
257). The absolute Siva integrally contains within himself
Creativity, Negation and Immanent Manifestation; Siva is not
only Being but also Agent (karta) actively and freely unfolding
himself and yet is transcendent (visvamayam visvotirnam ca
tattvam). The Vedantist is more interested in maintaining the
purity and transcendence of Brahman than in accounting for
creation. Brahman is 'free form', a Free Being, whereas Siva
is 'free to do'. Freedom (svatantrya) means that "consciousness
identifies itself with others and negates itself, merges both into
one state (as in Sadasiva) and denies both, which have been
merged into one." (p.179 vimarsohi sarvshah, param api
atmikaroti, atmanam ca parikaroti, ubhayam ekikaroti,
ekikrtam dvayam api nyagbhavyati ityevamasvabhavah). The
Vedantist believes that Free Being is the pre-supposition of the
Freedom to act, Brahman freely phenomenalises himself as Isvara
(Saguna-brahman) to create the world.
The Saiva absolutist thinks that he has successfully
resolved the problem of the world-process without having
resourse to the illusion theory by lodging the principle of
differentiation within Siva. It should be interesting to know the
answer of the Saivite on the question of why and how the
Lord himself becomes the creature (patireva grhita
pasubhavah). "As Siva, he is perfectly free from all impurities.
But when he is associated with Maya and is, therefore,
manifested as limited, he is called pusu, the bound. There is
no essential difference between the absolute and the in-
dividual." (p. 238). How can Siva consciously forget himself,
consciously lose his lordly status and become bound, that is to
be unfree freely, a contradiction in terms? Freedom from
bondage comes through the that I am the Lord. Does not
this cancel or destroy without residue creaturely consciousness
and finitude? If it does, the Saivce has to accept a case of
absolute negation, the Vedantist's avidya or maya which he
professes to have discarded. If it does not cancel even partially
the finitude, there is no freedom (moksa), at least not from
the recognition. If the Saivite accepts negation, his position
would be reduced to that of Vedanta. The Maya of Vedanta
correctly interpreted, means the Transcendent Freedom of
Brahman to appear or not to appear or appear in other forms.
This and most other philosophical issues are discussed in
this admirable book of Dr. Sharma with a wealth of detail and
acute analytical skill. He does not take sides, but brings out
the distinctions most clearly. All philosophical dispute and
discussion results in making the standpoints of the disputants
clear and distinct. As Dr. Sharma states: "In the preceding
pages, attempt has been made to discuss some of the important
points concerning the problem of the absolute and its manifestations. The central problem which persists throughout this discussion
is whether the manifestation of the finite process from the infinite
is logically possible. And if the process is logically possible, then
how and why does it take place ? Finally, how far is it proper to
uphold the reality of the process and still maintain the perfection
of self-identity of the Absolute? At present, it is not our purpose
to determine the validity or invalidity of a particular stand-point,
nor would it be proper to do so. At the most, we may compare
and contrast the two standpoints and thereby try to find out the
consistency or inconsistency in them (pp. 236-37). This attitude is
commendable and proper.
Dr. Sharma's work is an excellent and sustained piece of
philosophical investigation. I consider it a significant contribution to our understanding of the relative positions of the two
great systems of Indian thought- Saiva Absolutism and
Advaita Vedanta. This book will remain, I hope, the standard
work on Kashmir Saivism for quite a while.
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