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 Abhinavagupta's Paramārthasāra (Paramarthasara): Stanzas 1 to 3 - pure - Non-dual Shaivism of Kashmir

Pure translation


Paramārthasāra begins. At first, Yogarāja displays two introductory stanzas. After that, he starts commenting on the stanzas themselves.

This is the first set of 3 stanzas out of 105 stanzas constituting the entire work.

Of course, I will also insert the original stanzas on which Yogarāja is commenting. I will write a lot of notes to make this book so understandable to the average reader as possible.

Read Paramārthasāra and experience Supreme Ānanda or Divine Bliss, dear Śiva.

This is a "pure translation" document, that is, there will be no original Sanskrit, but sometimes there will be a minimal quantity of transliterated Sanskrit in the translation itself. Of course, there will not be any word for word translation. Anyway, there will be transliterated Sanskrit in the explanatory notes. If you are a blind person using a screen reader and do not want to read the notes, or simply if you are not blind but want to skip the notes, click on the respective "Skip the notes" to keep reading the text.

Important: All that is in brackets and italicized within the translation has been added by me in order to complete the meaning of a particular phrase or sentence. In turn, all that is between double hyphen (--...--) constitutes clarifying information also added by me.


 Two introductory stanzas by Yogarāja -the commentator-

Glory to the Supreme Lord —the Unborn One who is skillful and clever in the art of playing to conceal His own Self—, who, though being a compact mass of Consciousness, is coagulated in the form of the world!1 ||1||

(Paramārthasāra is) this (scripture) which (constitutes) a compendium (dealing with) the essence of the Highest Reality2  (and which) was created3 by the Guru --Abhinavagupta-- through a logical line of argument. (I,) Yogarāja, by request of wise people, compose --lit. do, carry out-- (now) a short exposition on it --on Paramārthasāra--||2||

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1  The Supreme Lord is the reader himself/herself here and now. He is not someone living far away, in a distant frontier, or residing in a different world or time, and so on and on. The reader's world or universe is nothing but a coagulation of the essential nature of the reader (the Supreme Lord or Self). All the objects around him are the forms emanated from himself, though the reader is a compact mass of Consciousness. It is crucial to understand this truth in the way I stated it, or the reader will never understand what this scripture deals with. It deals with the Supreme Lord or Self, i.e. with You, reader. If the reader thinks that it is dealing with "someone else", he will interpret the teachings to be given by the two sages (Abhinavagupta and Yogarāja) inadequately. I am making this point very clear from the start, because the Supreme Lord (the reader) is skillful and clever in the art of playing to conceal His own Self, viz. His true identity.Return

2  Paramārtha means "Highest Reality", but it can also be translated as: Highest Truth or Supreme Goal. The term Paramārtha is "again" a way to designate the reader's Self. This scripture written by the Greatest Trika's Guru, Abhinavagupta, is then a compendium on the essential nature of the reader.Return

3  The term "vyadhāyi" might be mistaken for Aorist passive (3rd person, singular) of the verb "vidhī" (to be uncertain, hesitate), or else as Aorist passive of the root "dhe" (to suck, drink) plus the addition of the prefix "vi". All that is not true, because the specimen is certainly "Aorist passive" but it is not related to "vidhī" (a verb that does exist) or "vidhe" (a verb that does not exist). The confusion about an hypothetical verb "vidhe" comes from the root "dhe" forming its Aorist passive as "adhāyi", which could induce a translator to consider the possible existence of a verb in the form of "vidhe", by adding "vi" to the root "dhe". I could never find that verb anyway. The real thing is that "vyadhāyi" is Aorist passive (3rd person, singular) belonging to the verb "vidhā" (to create... plus a pile of additional meanings, as it is usual in Sanskrit), hence I translated "vyadhāyi" as "(and which) was created". Broadly speaking, Aorist Tense is generally used to designate "indefinite Past Tense". However, it can also be used to indicate "recent Past Tense". If the latter is the case in this context, when Yogarāja wrote his commentary on Abhinavagupta's Paramārthasāra, the scripture being commented on might have just been composed by the Great Guru.Return


 Stanza 1

Here, in the book (teaching) the unity with Śiva --the Supreme Self-- --i.e. in Paramārthasāra--, (Abhinavagupta), by considering the effect of the scriptures to be the utter annihilation of the spreading of the multitude of obstacles in the form of doubt, sloth, mental affliction, uncertainty, etc. that arise from the notion or idea about the Self --oneself-- as being predominantly the state of experient of body, etc. --in other words, "I am the body, etc."--, (and) crushing with his foot, (symbolically speaking, his) state of limited experient, expresses firstly now (his) inclination or devotion to the Supreme Lord. (This inclination or devotion) contains a summary of the meaning of all scriptures (and) is full of an absorption in the deity (called) "one's own Self", who is a compact mass of Consciousness (and) Bliss1:

I take refuge in Śambhu, in You alone who are Supreme, who reside beyond the impenetrable darkness (known as Māyā)2, who are One with no beginning, who stay in the hearts in many ways, who are the Abode of all (and) who exist in the whole aggregate of created things whether animate or inanimate!||1||

In order to enter into an absorption in You, I turn to You alone, Śambhu, who are the Protector (or) Refuge, who are Existence (and) the essential nature of Anuttaraśreyaḥ --Paramaśiva--3, whose form is the deity (known as) one's own Self, the essence which shines forth as all the Experients4. (By) the word "eva" (in the stanza Abhinavagupta meant to say) "I take refuge in Śambhu alone, whose form is the deity (called) one's own Self, and not in some separate god dwelling inside (the sphere of) Māyā5" — Thus, (Abhinavagupta) cuts off (any) other (type of) connection (some readers could infer from his first stanza) --i.e. the sage makes clear that he is addressing the Highest Lord "only" and not a minor deity--. Moreover, what (is He like)? (Abhinavagupta replies by saying that he takes refuge in Him who is) Para or Supreme, viz. (He is) Full, of the nature of Anuttara --Paramaśiva--, (and) replete with the Powers of Consciousness, Bliss, Will, Knowledge (and) Action. Likewise, (he takes refuge in Him who is) "Parasthaṁ gahanāt", i.e. in the One who resides in (His) perfect essential nature alone, (consisting of) the pure course that starts in Śiva-tattva and ends in Sadvidyā-tattva, which is beyond the tattva or category known as Māyā, the impenetrable darkness6. However, there is not His moving away from (His own) perfect essential nature that is beyond that which shines forth even as the diversity of various states7. That was (also) said in Spandakārikā-s:

"Even in the variety (of states, such as) wakefulness, etc., which --i.e. "the variety of states"-- is not separate from that (Spanda, the principle of Spanda) continues to flow. (Spanda) does not (ever) depart from Its own essential nature as the Perceiver or Experient --upalabdhṛ--."

Spandakārikā-s I.3

(He takes refuge in Him who is) Anādi --with no beginning-- (or) Ancient, because (He is) the Ādisiddha --lit. proved in the first place-- (endowed) with the state of being the Experient, i.e. the One who experiences all the pratīti-s or perceptions8. (Abhinavagupta takes refuge in Him who is) "Eka" (or) Solitary because, (in His case), there is no way to prove (existence) of duality as He flashes in unity with Consciousness9 . So, (he takes refuge in Him who) stays, etc. --and now the commentator will continue speaking about where He stays--.

Thus, (he takes refuge in Him who), though He is like that --though He has the aforesaid nature--, by means of His own Absolute Freedom, He has entered into the guhā-s (or) caves of the hearts whose forms are Rudra-s --liberated beings-- (and) kṣetrajña-s --limited beings--10. (How?): bahudhā (or) in various ways. (In short,) although He is Consciousness which is omniscient and omnipotent, He Himself, after appearing as all that is animate and inanimate, remains, like an actor, in the form of the multiple experients — This is the meaning. For this reason, (Abhinavagupta takes refuge in Him who) is "sarvālaya", (namely, in Him who is) the ālaya (or) the resting place of sarva --of all--, of the world which is made up of knowables --objects-- (and) knowers --experients-- (such as) Rudra-s --liberated beings--, kṣetrajña-s --limited beings--, etc. All this that exists --Sat-- remains indeed in the Perfect or Full Experient11. (However, all this that exists) --the universe or world--, by appearing as if emerged due to duality with regard to the pairs of subjects (and) objects, is represented as consisting of multiple forms. Otherwise, existence itself of something different from His Light would not exist12. What (is) this universe like? — (To find the response, there must be) recognition or awareness of the pronoun --of the pronoun "idam" (this) indicating the universe as different from "aham" (I)--13. (In case that the following objection was raised:) "The transcendent nature of the Fortunate One --the Supreme Lord-- is not of such class", (Abhinavagupta) said "(I take refuge in Him who) exists in the whole aggregate of created things whether animate or inanimate". (He takes refuge in Him who) remains with the form of that, i.e. (of) all this universe whose nature is inanimate and animate things. According to the rule:

"As You Yourself are certainly the Doer of all, oh All-pervading One!, therefore, all this (is) You alone."

Since there is not enough proof for the existence of an effect --something being manifested-- in the case of something else which is separate (from the Supreme Lord and) which does not become visible due to (His) Light --in short, it cannot at all be proved that there is something else which is separate from Him and does not appear because of His Light--14:

"The experient himself, always (and) everywhere, remains in the form of the experienced."

Spandakārikā-s II.4

The Fortunate One --the Supreme Lord-- Himself shines like this (and) like that! Prapadye (or) "I resort" to You who are so, to Anuttara --lit. higher which there is nothing, "the Absolute"--, whose nature is the deity (called) one's own Self of all (and) who assume multiplicity although You are the Essence of the Delight of the highest I-consciousness. Moreover, (I resort to) the Fortunate Śambhu, whose essential nature is the Light of supreme non-dualism (and) the perpetually undivided Freedom of the Self. (In other words,) I absorb myself into You alone, my own Self, who are like that, who are the Delight of the highest I-consciousness. (I do so) by endowing (my) artificial ego (arisen from the identification with) the body, etc. with good qualities. This is the purport15. Through this statement (spoken) by the one who took hold of (the Supreme Lord), by (Abhinavagupta) —the Gurú who teaches the State that is to be chosen above all (and) that is full of an absorption into one's own essential nature—, an allusion to the meaning of the whole book was made. (The means) to be selected or discarded will be mentioned subsequently16 ||1||

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1  Now, clarifying that complex introduction by Yogarāja:

He is referring to the first stanza written by Abhinavagupta in his Paramārthasāra, obviously. He says that Abhinavagupta expresses his inclination or devotion to the Supreme Lord at the beginning itself of the scripture, i.e. in the first stanza. This devotion expressed or referred to by Abhinavagupta through the first stanza constitutes a compendium or summary of the meanings to be found in all the scriptures. Why? Because Abhinavagupta takes refuge in the Supreme Lord. To take refuge in the Supreme Lord is the quintessence of all scriptures. This act is also full of absorption into one's own Self who is a compact mass of Consciousness and Bliss. Why? Because Abhinavagupta is attaining spiritual enlightenment "at will" through absorption into his own Self. Abhinavagupta does not write his Paramārthasāra in an ordinary state of consciousness, but in a state of full enlightenment achieved by his merely wishing it while he expresses his devotion to the Great Lord. This is proved by the phrase: "crushing with his foot, (symbolically speaking, his) state of limited experient". The great sage does not want to remain "descended" to a lower state of consciousness, but on the contrary, he wants to rise to the Highest State, i.e. the State of the Supreme Self, and write the scripture from this Level.

The sage starts to write while he ponders over the effect of the scriptures as utter destruction of the spreading of multiple obstacles. These obstacles are doubt, idleness, mental restlessness, uncertainty, etc. All this is bondage based on the notion or idea that one is body, mind, ego, etc. When one reads scriptures, the effect is that all that bondage is removed completely, which leads to final Liberation (also known as spiritual enlightenment). Liberation from what? From bondage, i.e. doubts, sloth, constant mental affliction, uncertainty and a long et cetera. Abhinavagupta knows this truth and therefore he is starting his "scripture" for it to be an effective means for the utter annihilation of that myriad of obstacles getting in one's way. Oh well, I suppose that the hidden purport in this introduction to the first stanza is clear now. Yes, now the reader has to read the stanza itself to finally understand my explanation too, hehe.Return

2  The term "Śambhu" is an epithet of "Śiva" (the Supreme Self, the reader's Self). There seem to be a contradiction here because Abhinavagupta is calling Māyā "impenetrable darkness". Māyā in Trika is not at all like that of Advaitavedānta philosophy. In Trika, Māyā is not "indescribable" (neither real nor unreal) but a "real" manifestation of the Absolute Freedom (Svātantrya) of the Supreme Lord. I explain all this extensively in my post about "Confusion between Vedānta and Trika" on the Blog. Therefore, Māyā acts merely like a veil that the Supreme Lord imposes on Himself (there is nobody imposing something on the Supreme Lord) in order to generate duality (differences). The Trika system explains the processes of universal manifestation and final liberation through 36 tattva-s (categories) (for information in detail about tattva-s, the reader should consult Trika 1, Trika 2, Trika 3, Trika 4, Trika 5 and Trika 6... I will not be repeating this "in that detailed way" any more for the obvious reason of not being too redundant). Māyā is then the sixth tattva or category which produces duality (differences). When the person is in bondage (i.e. not spiritually liberated or enlightened), Māyā will look to him as gahana or an impenetrable darkness, as a veil covering his essential nature that is Pure Light and Bliss. The soul of this limited person who is still in bondage is designated by the names "puruṣa" (limited individual) or "aṇu" (atom), which constitutes the tattva or category 12 in the said scheme of 36 tattva-s. This twelfth tattva is the same Supreme Lord (Śiva, the reader's Self) but after having been "processed" by Māyā and her progeny of five Kañcuka-s or Sheaths (tattva-s 7 to 11). However, when the same person is fully liberated or enlightened, Māyā will appear before him as the Absolute Freedom of his own Self, which is full of divine Glory, and not like gahana or an impenetrable darkness. In fact, all the tattva-s (even those that are inferior, viz. 6 to 36) will look like a divine display of the divine Glory and not like obstructions or inferior categories. It is crucial to understand this difference about the way a limited person and a liberated person perceive the same series of 36 tattva-s or categories. The former sees Māyā (sixth tattva or category) and all that emanates from her (tattva-s 7 to 36) as a source of limitation, while the latter sees all that as the divine Glory of his own Self (i.e. he sees all those tattva-s as a display of his own divine Glory).

The apparent contradiction here is: How could Abhinavagupta be seeing Māyā as a limited individual in bondage when he is the greatest Trika Master of all time? In other words, if he said that Māyā is an impenetrable darkness, he was in the state of limited individual then, because this is the way a limited individual considers Māyā. Can you understand me? Besides, Yogarāja established before, in his introduction to this first stanza, that Abhinavagupta had crushed with his foot (symbolically speaking) the state of being a limited experient or individual, right? So, why is he retaining it yet? The answer is: "Because of his desire of showing his inclination or devotion to the Supreme Lord". Devotion to the Lord only exists in the presence of duality between devotee and Lord. It does not exist in the Core of Truth, when one realizes his full unity with the Lord. Therefore, though Abhinavagupta does not want to remain descended in lower states while he composes his Paramārthasāra, he retains a "slight" duality with the Supreme Lord for a very short time, while he writes the very first stanza, because one canNOT take refuge in the Supreme Lord if one is the Lord Himself. Now the apparent contradiction is gone from the reader's mind.Return

3  The word "Anuttaraśreyaḥ" means "the most excellent Anuttara". The term Anuttara, if "literally" translated would mean "An-uttara", i.e. "not higher, not superior", which is close to meaningless. Therefore, the right way to translate it is this way: "higher than which there is nothing", in short, "there is nothing higher than That". Now, it became meaningful. Also, the term Anuttara is a way of designating the "a" vowel in Trika, because this vowel embodies the Highest Reality. Oh well, the subject-matter about Sanskrit letters designating different categories and levels was already outlined in Tattva-s & Sanskrit; and it was investigated in detail in First Steps (4), First Steps (5) and First Steps - 1, if you want to go deep at that (after reading all those four documents, you will not able to say that I never tried to explain the relationships between Sanskrit letters and tattva-s to you, hehe). Therefore, Anuttaraśreyaḥ means "This Most Excellent One Who Is Above All" (there is nothing higher than Him). This is obviously "Paramaśiva".

Most people say, "Oh yes, Paramaśiva", but they cannot understand the difference between "Paramaśiva", "Śiva" and "Śakti". There are surely people doing a "mystery" of these three aspects of Reality that are "free like the fresh air", and charging for their "revelation"... and there will be surely people paying for that! Strange Play this! Here I go: If you take the Tattvic Chart describing the entire process of universal manifestation, you will immediately realize that Paramaśiva is not there as "a tattva" but as "the Supreme Śiva or Source of all". Technically speaking, Paramaśiva is the sum of Śiva and Śakti, but there is much to it. Listen up: The universe starts to appear in tattva 3 (not in tattva-s 1 and 2). As a result, the states of Śiva and Śakti are "completely devoid of the tattva-s 3 to 36, i.e. of the universe". What is the universe then? It is an expansion of Śakti known as the "śakticakra" (group of powers). The universe is not "exactly" Śakti (i.e. I-consciousness), because Śakti does not even move a millimeter away from Her Lord Śiva (pure I-ness). Śiva and Śakti constitute then "I Am" (I + I-consciousness). In "I Am" there is no universe. Technically speaking again, the universe (from tattva 3 to tattva 36) is the manifestation of the śakticakra and not of Śakti directly, because She is immutable and beyond the universe just as Śiva Himself is. The subject-matter known as "śakticakra" is extensively explained by the sage Kṣemarāja in his Spandanirṇaya I.1. However, Paramaśiva is not ONLY in tattva-s 1 and 2 as Śiva and Śakti are, but He is in all the tattva-s (from 1 to 36) as well as beyond all of them, and why not "somewhere else too". Paramaśiva is both immanent and transcendent, and something else too. It is impossible describe Him by words.

Now, how is this put into a practical example understandable to someone who practices meditation every day by following the sacred tradition of Trika? See it in action: Paramaśiva is called by Abhinavagupta himself in his works as "Hṛdaya" (Heart). Why? Because He beats constantly like a Heart. Now Śakti displays the śakticakra or group of powers, which manifests the universe (tattva-s 3 to 36), now Śakti withdraws that śakticakra, and all the tattva-s, from the 3rd tattva down to the 36th one, are withdrawn too. When the śakticakra comes back to its origin, i.e. to Śakti, both Śiva and Śakti remain alone in the form of "I Am". Hence They (Śiva and Śakti) are indicated as dwelling in the tattva-s 1 and 2, and not in the rest of tattva-s. And when the śakticakra is displayed by Śakti, those powers rush to carry out this monumental work called "the universe". An example of these powers are the well-known Karaṇeśvarī-s or goddesses of the senses mentioned in Spandanirṇaya I.6-7. The inert sense organs (e.g. the eyes) are made living and conscious due to the operation of the divine Karaṇeśvarī-s. It is obvious the moment when the universe is displayed by the śakticakra, that is, it is the entire universe you can see, hear, think, etc. "right now". But it is not so obvious the moment when the śakticakra is withdrawn, the universe disappears as a result, and Śiva/Śakti remain alone as "I Am", right? That contraction of the divine Heart (Hṛdaya) can be perceived in the "gaps" between two states, two movements, two thoughts, etc. "In the gaps", this is the key to full realization of "I Am" also known as Śiva/Śakti (tattva-s 1 and 2).

For example, coming back to the Karaṇeśvarī-s or goddesses of the senses, when you are seeing "this" object with attention, the universe (viz. the object itself along with senses, mind, limitations, etc. etc, that is, all the tattva-s from the number 3 to the number 36) is displayed there. Next you decide to stare at "another" object, and there is a "gap" as you move your attention from the first object to the second one. If you concentrate on that gap, you are meditating on "I Am", on Śiva/Śakti (tattva-s 1 and 2), where the Karaṇeśvarī-s are not operating. In fact, the entire group of powers (śakticakra) is not operating in those gaps when your attention goes from one object to another object. As this is happening constantly while your senses are operating, the Supreme Lord (Paramaśiva) is constantly beating, throbbing like universe (all the tattva-s, from 3 to 36, from the experient of tattva 3 down to the object itself you are seeing, which predominantly rests on the last five tattva-s, 32-36) now, and like pure "I Am" next. The difference between ordinary people and yogī-s (spiritual aspirants) is that the former do not pay attention to the gaps but to the "objects themselves" while the latter pay attention to the "gaps" and not to the objects themselves. This is the difference. What I mentioned regarding external objects to be seen by the eyes, can be beheld in the case of sounds being heard outside, etc. (i.e. tastes, smells and touches), or else thoughts beheld internally, or even states of consciousness such as wakefulness, dreaming and deep sleep. Every time there is a "gap" between two movements, at that time the entire śakticakra is withdrawn by Śakti and "I Am" remains alone in all Its Purity.

The problems you have do not exist in the gaps, because there is no universe at that time. They exist only when the universe is displayed by the group of powers (śakticakra). In this way, concentration on the gaps is the "way out of all the problems at once". Sense pleasures, in this stage, must not be excessively encouraged... not because they are "totally" bad, but because they are relatively bad "in the case of someone trying to concentrate on the gaps". Sense pleasures have to do with the objects themselves, whether they are thoughts, movements, external objects and so on, but the aspirant wants to concentrate his attention on the gaps at this point. Once the aspirant has mastered concentration on the gaps, Bliss (the nature of Śakti) will emerge on its own, spontaneously. At this time, the eyes of the aspirant will be shut forcibly and he will be absorbed by Śiva's prakarṣa, by Śiva's intensity. This is trance with closed eyes (Nimīlanasamādhi), this is the State of Śiva, also known as Turya (the Fourth State) because it runs through the other three states (waking, dreaming and deep sleep) like a thread running through beads in a rosary. Aspirants who have reached this stage have experienced Ātmavyāpti (a penetration into his inner Self, i.e. Śiva). But as Śiva lives ONLY in tattva 1 along with Śakti dwelling in tattva 2, the experience of Bliss ONLY emerges when the universe is NOT displayed. This is why he had to close his eyes forcibly during the trance, because Śiva/Śakti live beyond the universe.

Now there is a stop here, because Ātmavyāpti could look like the Highest State a person can attain, but this is NOT true. Why? Because in order to experience his inner Self, he has to shut the door, symbolically speaking, and leave the universe behind. For the time he can manage to do so, he is Blissful, i.e. he enjoys the Bliss of Turya (Bliss of the Śiva's state). Anyway, when his eyes (not only the eyes, obviously, but the entire set of senses) are open, he cannot regain his former Bliss because of the presence of the śakticakra or group of powers and their creation: the universe. "How to keep my Bliss even with the universe ON?", the aspirant will wonder. Here is where the Paramaśiva question starts to be important. The first attitude toward the universe could be advaitavedantic (pertaining to the abovementioned Advaitavedānta philosophy), in the form of "this universe is unreal!" Denial of the universe secures sudden Bliss as eyes are closed again, but this is also "again" falling short, since the aspirant will be forced to come out of that state as the senses are awakened by the śakticakra appearing as the goddesses of the senses. Of course, Trika system (the philosophy I am teaching) does not approve the denial of the universe as: "It is unreal" or, simplifying the things for you, "It is a stone in my shoes. I was experiencing such a massive Bliss and now this universe is disturbing my trance again!". This is the limitation with the State of Śiva (formally speaking), it is only operative when the universe (tattva-s 3 to 36) is NOT operative. That is why, as I explained before, Śiva is posited as residing in tattva 1 and NOT in tattva-s 3 to 36.

In order to "dodge" the universe-related problem in the form of a cessation of his Bliss, the aspirant has to enter the State of Paramaśiva. In order to do that, he has to consider the universe (the beads in the aforesaid rosary) as divine, as Paramaśiva Himself and not as an obstacle. This is the acquisition of Paramaśivadṛṣṭi or the Paramaśiva's viewpoint. Paramaśiva (the Supreme Śiva) is not like Śiva (tattva 1), technically speaking, because He dwells in all the tattva-s, from the first one down to the last one, and He is beyond all tattva-s as well. The universe is never an obstruction getting in His way then. When the aspirant has this viewpoint, his eyes will begin to be closed and opened naturally (no effort on his part). This is Kramamudrā or the Seal related to succession or sequence, because his eyes will be opened and closed alternatively. When the eyes are open, he will see the objects full of His Bhāsa or Effulgence (this is trance with open eyes or Unmīlanasamādhi), and when the eyes are closed, he will experience his own Self (this is trance with closed eyes or Nimīlanasamādhi). The sum of Unmīlanasamādhi and Nimīlanasamādhi is called Pratimīlanasamādhi (trance with open/closed eyes), which is mentioned in the last aphorism of Śivasūtra-s as being the Supreme Goal. Yes, Pratimīlanasamādhi is the State of Paramaśiva, where the yogī experiences massive Bliss with universe on and off, viz. "always". This is final liberation or spiritual enlightened according to Trika. And this final liberation is known as Śivavyāpti (a penetration into Śivá, or rather, into Paramaśiva, strictly speaking). Sense pleasures are not even "relatively bad" at this point any more to the ex-aspirant, because all of them are considered by that enlightened person as flashes of his own divine Self (Paramaśiva). Sense pleasures were "relatively bad", in the sense of their being obstacles, only in the case of an aspirant wanting to concentrate on the gaps, as I explained before... at least in the initial stage of such a concentration. However, the liberated person can experience sense pleasures without ever losing his State of Paramaśiva, because he realized his oneness with everything and everybody. Someone who has attained this Supreme State is, technically speaking, a jīvanmukta or liberated while living.

Yes, Paramaśiva is Śiva, and Śiva is one with His Śakti, do not panic, please!... but there is that subtle difference between them. If someone does what I have taught, he or she will soon become liberated from bondage. Bondage is at first only in the universe, not in the gaps, but finally, as the entire universe is seen as it really is, as Paramaśiva, bondage is no more bondage but a Source of Bliss. This is the right way to do the things. Though there are other methods too, approaching to the Paramaśiva's State from other angles, the one I have just showed to you is completely reliable if followed to the letter. As you can see, first there was a tree (the term Anuttaraśreyaḥ designating Paramaśiva in the Yogarāja's commentary), but now you have a whole forest full of teachings showing you the way out of your self-imposed bondage. In this way, you have been given the full knowledge to do it, but you must do it, OK? Nobody can do it in your place. Paramaśiva has exhibited His Compassion then.Return

4  There are seven experients, or rather seven stages for one Experient:

(1) Śiva (his scope is the Śiva and Śakti tattva-s, the first two categories) - He is the Supreme Experient and one's own essential nature. No universe is present here.
(2) Mantramaheśvara (his scope is the Sadāśiva-tattva, the third category) - Though the universe has come into being, it is still an indistinct experience. So, this experient is yet fully absorbed in his own Self or Aham ("I").
(3) Mantreśvara (his scope is the Īśvara-tattva, the fourth category) - The universe appears as a distinct reality, and as a result this experient gets thoroughly absorbed in that marvel, but he still retains his Self-consciousness intact.
(4) Mantra (his scope is the Sadvidyā or Śuddhavidyā tattva, the fifth category) - There is a balance between Aham ("I") and Idam ("This", i.e. the universe). This experient is equally aware of both aspects at the same time.

The previous four experients are divine or superior. They are completely devoid of mala or impurity. In fact, the first experient is not even a type of experient really but the Lord Himself! He has no universe to experience because He remains wholly established in Himself as Aham or "I", viz. He has no "Idam" ("This") or universe as His field of experience.

Now, the remaining experients are sunk in misery, i.e. in 'bheda' or duality:

(5) Vijñānākala (his scope lies between the Sadvidyā and Māyā tattva-s, i.e. between the fifth and sixth categories). He realizes that Śiva is his real "I", but lacks power (hence, he is "akala") because of Āṇavamala;
(6) Pralayākala (his scope is Māyā and her five Kañcuka-s, from the sixth through eleventh categories). This experient is also devoid of power (akala) and fully identified with the vital energy. Consequently, the universe appears in a dissolved manner to him. In other words, he experiences it as a void. He retains the three impurities, viz. Āṇavamala, Māyīyamala and Kārmamala, but the last two are not operative because the universe underwent a "pralaya" or "dissolution". Others say that he only retains Āṇavamala and Kārmamala, but the question is irrelevant anyway, because both Māyīyamala and Kārmamala cannot be operative here due to the absence of internal or external objects (thoughts, external things, etc.).
(7) Sakala (his scope comprehends from Puruṣa --the twelfth category-- down to the last one). On one hand, this experient is not devoid of power (hence, he is "sakala" or "with power"), but it is limited in all respects, specially with reference to his conception of "I". He is convinced that the physical body (composed of the five gross elements) and the subtle body (composed of intellect, ego, mind and subtle elements) are his real "I". This erroneous notion forces him to use his already limited powers of will, knowledge and action in many useless ways. Instead of using them to attain Self-realization, he runs like a madman after pleasures and runs away at all costs from pain, the whole time in search of the Supreme Joy but ignoring both his state as a seeker of the Supreme Joy and the real place where such a Joy resides (i.e. in one's real Self).

And YES, there would be an eighth Experient (pramātā) called Paramaśiva, who is all the aforesaid experients and at the same time is beyond all of them, i.e. the scope of this Experient is not even confined to tattva-s 1 and 2 as in the case of the Śiva experient (Śivapramātā) but rather it comprehends "All". Therefore, Paramaśiva is the Highest Experient always. He is so High that He is not included in the usual list of seven experients.

Each of the experients has a 'prameya' or field of experience suitable or adequate for his own nature. For example, a Sakala has a universe formed from different realities, from the very god Brahmā down to the last worm, while a Pralayākala has mere void for his field of experience or prameya. Very good, if you want to know more about these topics: Read all the pages, from Trika 1 through Trika 6. Additionally, you can also read Ṣaṭtriṁśattattvasandoha.Return

5  In the sphere of Māyā (i.e. of the Māyātattva or category 6), there are two kind of experients: Pralayākala and Sakala. As it is obvious, while Yogarāja comments that, he is not referring to Pralayākala-s because all of them are akala-s or "powerless". He is referring to Sakala-s then. There is the common misconception that the Sakala-s are "only" human beings, but that is not exactly so. There are Sakala-s who are much more powerful than human beings, like god Indra, but they are still under the sway of the three impurities or mala-s. So, Yogarāja is making explicit that Abhinavagupta is not taking refuge in any of those "separate" gods who dwell in the sphere of Māyātattva, but he is taking refuge in Śambhu alone, that is not a "separate" god like, for example, Indra, but "his own Self". Abhinavagupta is taking refuge in his own Self then. Now the meaning it is clear.Return

6  The Supreme Lord (called Śambhu --lit. the One who grants happiness-- by Abhinavagupta in the stanza) has His perfect essential nature stationed in the pure course (śuddhādhvā), viz. the tattva-s or categories 1 to 5 (Śiva, Śakti, Sadāśiva, Īśvara and Sadvidyā) that are beyond the impenetrable darkness known as Māyā (tattva 6). All the tattva-s or categories from 6 to 36 form the impure course (aśuddhādhvā). The pure course is divine (it is not material) while the impure course is not divine (it is material). As the Supreme Lord is fully divine, He cannot be found by material means at all. This is 101 in spirituality, that is, elementary. Anyway, He is so Inconceivable that He can be found, "by using the right means", even in the last tattva (the 36th), as I explained in a previous note. This is Śambhu, the Supreme Lord.Return

7  Though Paramaśiva is stationed in the first five tattva-s, as it was pointed out previously, He continues being the Same One. He undergoes the diversity of four states: I AM (Śivatattva and Śaktitattva), I AM THIS --I am the universe-- (Sadāśivatattva), THIS IS ME (Īśvaratattva) and I AM I AND THIS IS THIS (Sadvidyā), but none of those states alters His perfect essential nature as He is I and THIS... and He is beyond all that too. In short, Abhinavagupta is addressing Paramaśiva directly. The sage is not addressing even His divine aspect as "I AM" (Śivatattva and Śaktitattva), because those two only live in tattva-s 1 and 2, technically speaking. He is addressing Paramaśiva Himself, the Highest Lord such as He is essentially, namely, as dwelling in each of the 36 tattva-s and transcending them all too. For more information, read, as always, the Tattvic Chart.Return

8  The Supreme Lord (Paramaśiva) is beginningless, ancient... and I would add "ever new" at the same time. When He is realized, one notices that He never changed at all. Nothing has happened to Him though the universe roared for endless eons. This wonderful realization comes to only one lucky person among millions of people. Why? Because He is like that. One day He feels like giving final liberation to someone and that fortunate person is immediately liberated from all the fetters at once. It seems that "many things" are happening to oneself, right? Every day, one experiences this or that, all the time. It seems as if life was passing by loaded with innumerable experiences you have at every moment. Well, that is an illusion. Yes, it is real, it exists, but nothing is touching your "I". In short, you are not changing at all although so many things seem to happen to you. As a matter of fact, those things are happening to your bodies (physical, subtle and causal) and NOT to "You", reader. When Self-realization is achieved, you finally notice that nothing has happened to You ever. This is the highest achievement. This realization sets you free from bondage (e.g. I am thin, I am a man like this, I am tired, I need that, I have this, I depend on that, etc.) right away.

He is called Ādisiddha by Yogarāja because He is proved in the first place "always" before any denial attempts to disprove Him. In this sense, Paramaśiva is an eternally established Reality. Atheists, however smart they can be, can never disprove the existence of the Supreme Lord. Why? Listen up: One does not need to show atheists the miracles of mother nature, the miracle of the sun shining upon us all, the miracle of life, etc. NO. To refute all their arguments, one just has to ask them: "How do you exist after all? Where is your existence coming from?". The atheists have only two options (if you try to add a third option, it will boil down to these two options always... and of course, if someone says that the third option is "I do not exist", the obvious answer will be "there is no denial of God's existence then due to the absence of someone denying it"... which is absolutely silly):

(1) I exist by myself.
(2) I exist because something or someone is giving me existence.

If they choose the first answer, tell them: "So you are God, the Self-existent", and that is it, absolute non-dualism. And if they choose the second answer, tell them: "So you are deriving your existence from God", and that is it, absolute dualism. Even in the presence of non-dualism or dualism, the existence of God cannot be denied, except out of sheer stubbornness devoid of solid arguments. Whether they say that their existence comes from themselves or something/someone else, that is God always. By "God" I do not mean the "religious" human-like God with a long beard and who is angry now and glad afterwards, etc. NO. I am speaking about the Core of All, the Source of Existence. There is no way to deny one's own existence then, and whether one chooses oneself or something/someone else as the source of such an existence, that is always the Supreme Lord. This is so because He is Ādisiddha or fully proved from the start. As He designed this divine Play and remains in it as its Core, none of His creations (e.g. atheists) can deny His constant presence. Yes, people can say "anything", but a different thing is "to prove that by a solid line of argument". There is no way to push the Supreme Lord aside by "any" line of argument, because He is Ādisiddha. Try it if you are not yet convinced.

Existence of the one denying His existence is a solid proof of His own Existence always. In order to prove His non-existence, the ones denying His existence should be non-existent then, which would annul their denial immediately, because they would not exist at all in the first place. As a result, the whole process of denying the Supreme Lord is silly, and atheism is only "existing" on this planet because people around atheists do not know how to reason adequately and present arguments. This is ignorance about the scriptures, one of the aspects of the primordial ignorance (Āṇavamala). The other aspect is lack of a direct experience of the Supreme Lord. Obviously, nobody can have a direct experience of the Supreme Lord if he firstly denies His "obvious" Existence like a fool. All in all, atheism, in the sense of "a denial of the existence of the Highest Reality" is just foolishness only believed by childish people. Now you know a little more than before. And yes, even the childish atheists are another Play of the Supreme Lord. He is so inconceivable that He plays to deny Himself (I am not joking at all). In the end, this Supreme Lord is also the reader's Self because He experiences all that the reader is perceiving.Return

9  Duality or difference (bheda) cannot be applied to the Supreme Lord because He is in full oneness with Consciousness. This apparently difficult-to-understand statement is very simple in the end. Consciousness is the state in which a conscious self lives, i.e. the reader (I am not speaking of anyone else ever). Consciousness is always "one Reality" and cannot be delimited by anything at all, because It is beyond space and time. For example, if the reader says: "I am different from that person who is over there"; that is false. Why? Because his statement is based on forms (physical bodies), location in space, age of the forms, ideas, etc. So, the reader would be saying that another person is different from him because his body is not like the reader's body, or because the mind of the other person is not like the mind of the reader, etc. etc. But the reader would be forgetting something that is vital: "If he perceived all those differences between him and the other person, therefore all that being perceived (i.e. existing) is one with Consciousness". Whose Consciousness is it? It belongs to the one who is conscious, of course: the reader (again!).

All in all, he is conscious of all those differences, and therefore they are one with Consciousness (the state where the reader lives the whole day and night). And if the reader says that all those differences are "different" from Consciousness, so how did he manage to be conscious of them? Why? Because those differences could not have been perceived by him at all in their being non-existent, i.e. he would not have been conscious of them all. In short, there is always "one" Consciousness perceiving all the differences. In spite of duality existing for all that is in the sphere of space and time (objects, bodies, minds, etc.), as Consciousness is beyond space and time, duality cannot affect Consciousness ever. Duality or difference can never be proved in the case of Consciousness because there is insufficiency of means (anupapatti). In other words, the Supreme Lord (YOU, reader), in His being one with Consciousness is always Eka or One (Solitary), and never two or more.

Another simple example: Look at the objects around you right now. All of them look different from each other, don't they? All those differences appear in space and time but not in Consciousness. Consciousness is the state of a conscious being, i.e. You. Despite your seeing different objects in space/time and duality is prevailing on that level, Consciousness is always the same, viz. It is not experiencing duality. There is not one Consciousness for this object and another Consciousness for another object, and so on. NO. It is only "one" for all of them. If the objection about one Consciousness per person is raised, the answer is: "There is only one Consciousness". Whose is it? Yours! Consciousness of others, if outlined in thought, is always existing in your own Consciousness. You live in your own Consciousness and there is no other way to live for You. Try to live in another Consciousness and you will see that that is impossible. If you understand this teaching completely, you achieve final liberation in a trice. Final liberation does NOT have to do with chanting mantra-s all the time, worshiping the deity day and night, crying for God, etc. NO, it has to do with receiving Grace of the Supreme Lord and being very intelligent, i.e. to have an intellect that is good at reasoning adequately from a spiritual viewpoint. Grace of the Supreme Lord is raining over you by my notes of explanation, be sure. The remaining factor is development of your own intelligence. If you can manage to develop it or if you already have it, final liberation is around the corner for you because "it is pretty obvious that You are the Supreme Lord". Chanting mantra-s, worshiping the deity and similar practices are only to kill the time according to my own experience. Why? Because Consciousness is Self-existent. One does not have to practice anything to realize It really. It is only his own foolishness which leads a person to think that Consciousness can be achieved by practice. Consciousness cannot be practiced, reader, because It is your essential nature. One does not need to practice to be what one is already. It is foolish to do so, from all the viewpoints. Imagine you saying all the time: "I am I, I am I, I am I". Absolutely foolish, right? People practicing for gaining Self-realization look the same in my eyes: "I am Consciousness, I am Consciousness, I am Consciousness"... yes, I already knew it... stop your inner parrot, please... thanks!

This apparently complex subject-matter, which is very simple if one reasons adequately, is dealt with extensively by the sage Kṣemarāja in his Śivasūtravimarśinī I.1.Return

10  Although the Supreme Lord is One, He has entered the caves of the hearts whose forms are Rudra-s and kṣetrajña-s. In other words, He has become both liberated beings and limited beings at the same time. The Rudra-s are the enlightened beings. They are really free from all limitations as well as their traces. There is a particular term: "Pañcakṛtya" or the five (pañca) acts (kṛtya) of the Lord. They are as follows: Sṛṣṭi (manifestation), Sthiti (maintenance), Saṁhāra (withdrawal or dissolution), Vilaya or Pidhāna (veiling of the essential nature) and Anugraha (bestowal of Divine Grace revealing that very essential nature). Rudra-s are said to be in charge of the first three acts, that is, manifestation, maintenance and withdrawal of the entire universe; while the remaining two are performed by Śiva Himself. Granted, the Rudra-s are also Śiva, but I am now speaking in a dual way in order to show you the differences between all these terms. And the kṣetrajña-s (lit. knowers of the field) are the rest of conditioned beings whose primordial limitation has not thoroughly vanished. Primordial limitation or impurity is Āṇavamala. When someone falls prey to Āṇavamala, he experiences that he is not perfect as Śiva is. He does not consider himself as Śiva. He is convinced that he is a limited individual. This is the starting point for an entire set of additional limitations to fall on that wretched being. This is the effect of duality between oneself and the Supreme Lord. In Mālinīvijayatantra, the most venerable Tantra to Trika, the names of 50 Rudra-s are enumerated:

Amṛta, Amṛtapūrṇa, Amṛtābha, Amṛtadrava, Amṛtaugha, Amṛtormi, Amṛtasyandana, Amṛtāṅga, Amṛtavapu, Amṛtodgāra, Amṛtāsya, Amṛtatanu, Amṛtasecana, Amṛtamūrti, Amṛteśa, Sarvāmṛtadhara, Jaya, Vijaya, Jayanta, Aparājita, Sujaya, Jayarudra, Jayakīrti, Jayāvaha, Jayamūrti, Jayotsāha, Jayada, Jayavardhana, Bala, Atibala, Balabhadra, Balaprada, Balāvaha, Balavān, Baladātā, Baleśvara, Nandana, Sarvatobhadra, Bhadramūrti, Śivaprada, Sumanāḥ, Spṛhaṇa, Durga, Bhadrakāla, Manonuga, Kauśika, Kāla, Viśveśa, Suśiva and Kopa.Return

11  "All this that exists" (Sat) refers specifically to the Sat aspect of Creation, i.e. all the tattva-s from 6 to 36 (aśuddhādhvā or the impure course). This subject-matter dealing with Sat is investigated by the sage Kṣemarāja "almost at the end" of his Parāprāveśikā, and by myself through the notes of explanation 46 and 47 in that very scripture.Return

12  Trika teachers have to explain the manifestation of the universe something emerging from the Supreme Lord, which hints at duality. Anyway, the real truth is that nothing ever emerges but rather everything is always the Body of the Supreme Lord. As this last concept is very difficult to understand, the analogy with an "emergence" is proposed. Nonetheless, in order to remove all possibility of duality, it is always made clear that that which emerges (the universe) is not different from its Source, like a wave rising in the ocean. The universe consisting of the apparent duality of the pairs of subjects and respective objects is represented as consisting in multiple forms or the existence itself of something different from the Light of the Supreme Lord would not exist. In other words, it is only a dual way to show the manifestation and subsequent maintenance of the universe. It is dual because it is held that there is the "false appearance" that something different from Him (from His Light) is really existing in the form of pairs of subjects and objects, when the real truth is that all those things are constantly in unity with the Supreme Lord Himself, that is, there is only a pair of Subject and Object in the form of Śiva and the universe (the product of the śakticakra or group of powers emanated from Śakti). It is only for the sake of the divine Play that all of them are considered as emerging that way, and also it is for the sake of explaining this topic to students that the whole thing about manifestation of the universe is approached as if it were an "emergence" from the Highest Reality. As a matter of fact, none of those things is happening that way, because all you can perceive as "universe" is Your Body. This is the real way to approach the said subject-matter, but only a few advanced disciples will fully understand it.Return

13  When the question "What is this (idam) universe like?" is asked, the answer is: There must be awareness or recognition (pratyavamarśa) of that very pronoun "Idam" (This). The universe is an object, it is "This" and not the Subject who is "Aham" or "I". Then, "What is this universe like?"... it is all that can be called "This", e.g. body, mind, ego, external objects, etc. The One who cannot be called "This" as something being known or perceived is the Perceiver Himself, the Immortal Self, viz. Aham or I (the reader's Self). The compound "sarva-nāma" comes from "sarvanāman" whose meaning is "pronoun". This is its meaning in this context, and not "all (sarva) the names (nāma)" as an careless Sanskrit translator might interpret.Return

14  This has been extensively explained by the sage Kṣemarāja in his commentary on the first aphorism of Śivasūtra-s. I explained this to you as well by the above note 9. Therefore, it cannot ever be proved that there is something else which is separate from the Supreme Lord and does not become manifest due to His Light.Return

15  The sage Abhinavagupta absorbs himself into his own Self by endowing his artificial ego arisen from the identification with the body, etc. with good qualities. The Self is "I Am", while ego is the invention of His power appearing as: "I am John", "I am Jane", etc. Ego or Ahaṅkāra (tattva or category 15) is necessary for both the manifestation of the external world composed of Tanmātra-s and Mahābhūta-s (subtle and gross elements comprising the tattva-s 27 to 36, see the Tattvic Chart) and the generation of Powers of action (Karmendriya-s, which comprise the tattva-s 22 to 26). Forget about the usual definition of "ego" as "arrogance" and similar things. In this context, ego is a tattva or category in the universal manifestation. Ego is obviously the Self Himself, but in bondage (due to the three impurities --mala-s--, Māyā and her five Kañcuka-s or Sheaths), and with His interest turned to the objective world. However, this ego is artificial (kṛtrima) or invented and NOT the natural (akṛtrima) I-consciousness (ahantā) or "I Am" that runs unobstructed through all the states and their intervals as explained in the previous note 3 in detail. Ego exists only during the states but NOT in the intervals where "I Am" (Śiva-Śakti, tattva-s 1 and 2) shines alone. In this way, ego is a mere manifestation of the Supreme Lord (You!) born from the identification of the Self (I Am) with the physical body (śarīra), etc. (ādi). How is this Self identified with the physical body and the rest of associated things such as mind, senses, external objects, etc.? For example: "I live here... and not there". That means: "my physical body lives here... and not there". The erroneous belief that the omnipresent Self lives only in one place and not everywhere is ego. Now you can clearly see how the things work in practice. Or "I will have to travel to Europe", when the Self never travels because He is immutable and occupies all places. Another example of ego is: "I am 48 years old", i.e. "my physical body is 48 years old" because the Self is with no beginning, as pointed out by Abhinavagupta himself in the stanza.

This invention, this artificial "I" called ego is necessary for the process of universal manifestation to proceed rightly from tattva-s 15 to 36. Without any ego there would not be any world. But this ego must have guṇa-s or good qualities. Be warned that the commentator is not using the term "guṇa" in the usual sense of "quality of Prakṛti (tattva 13)", but in a literal one as "good quality", "virtue" or "merit". Though the concept of "merit" does not exist in Trika literally, because the Self never departs from His own nature as the Perceiver whose core is the Light of supreme non-dualism and the perpetually undivided Freedom, in the dualistic stage where ego is stationed it can be used in order to explain to disciples why one person can realize the Self while another person cannot. The real explanation would be: "because in one person the Self wants to be realized while in another person the Self does not want to be realized". Anyway, this last explanation will make novices and even middle aspirants very confused because they live almost constantly identified with their physical bodies, minds, family, etc. From a practical viewpoint, good qualities are also necessary or the aspirant will not qualify as a disciple. If he does not qualify as a disciple, he will not be able to have a Guru, because even if he has one, he will not be able to make the most of his Guru. Certainly that if the Self decides so, even the worst of the aspirants can be transformed into the best of the disciples instantly, but more often than not, the case is that the aspirants will have to acquire good qualities to qualify as disciples.

What are those good qualities? First of all: The disciple must be convinced that his Guru is the Supreme Lord appearing as a person endowed with a physical body, etc. If he regards his Guru as someone lower than the Supreme Lord Himself, he will not attain final liberation. This is difficult to understand, but I am speaking the truth. Disciples believing that their Guru is not an embodiment of the Supreme Lord are not really disciples but mere people around the physical body of that Guru. They are there like animals around a human being. Imagine pets around me while I write all these spiritual teachings in my computer and that is a good depiction of what those people look like around their Guru. They have no idea about what their Guru is, and no idea about what their Guru is doing. They must endow their egos (their invented individualities in the form of "I am John", "I am Jane", etc.) with good qualities then. The main good quality is firm conviction that the Guru is the Supreme Lord Himself appearing in that human form. Of course, I am speaking about genuine Guru-s and not mere clowns using the appellative "Guru". Therefore, it is obvious that there must be a certain degree of understanding in the aspirant from the very start, or he will not qualify as a disciple. To be a disciple, first of all, he must be convinced that his Guru is the Supreme Lord teaching him. For instance, if he received a Mantra from that Guru, he is convinced that he received the Mantra from the Supreme Lord Himself. If the aspirant does not have that attitude, he is not a disciple, and as a result the Mantra will not bear fruits for him at all. Not only the Mantra, but all of his practices will not bear any fruit if he lacks that conviction in the divinity of his Guru. He will remain with such a Guru like a pet with its master, or even worse because at least a pet generally obeys his master.

From the first good quality called "conviction that one's own Guru is the Supreme Lord in person", the second one is derived: obedience. No obedience is possible if the aspirant thinks that his Guru is an ordinary person or even if he thinks that his Guru is a mere mortal like him but with more spiritual knowledge, and things like that. An aspirant is transformed into a real disciple when he has the aforesaid conviction then, which will generate almost automatically "obedience". Ego, specially in the West, is always very used to get his own way because one apparently knows "what is more convenient or better". A real disciple realized, from a practical viewpoint, that he has no idea what is more convenient or better in his case since he knows nothing about his own future in this heartbreaking world. He realizes that he lives at the mercy of all around him (other people, external things moving, etc.) and inside him (thoughts, anger, frustration, etc.). He has no idea what is better for him then. This realization will generate obedience at once. Disobedient disciples are never real disciples, and of course, they are not had in high esteem by any genuine Guru. They just pester their Guru like mosquitoes pester a person living in a jungle. They always have a better opinion, a better idea than their own Guru, and consequently they always miss the target, and no spiritual enlightenment happens to them because the Deity called "their own Self" is simply "not pleased" with them.

From those two good qualities I mentioned, other good qualities will be developed as well. All these good qualities make an aspirant qualify as a disciple. If he is not a real disciple, he will not be able to receive the instruction of his Guru properly, and no final liberation will occur. There is no way to cheat in this context, that is, either one is a real disciple or one is not. If one is not a real disciple, the process of final liberation will not proceed rightly and one will remain in bondage. In this case, what is the point of having a Guru then? One will get his own way all the time like the rest of ordinary people on this planet, but he will never be Free in the truest sense of word. Absolutely silly!Return

16  When Abhinavagupta states that he is taking refuge in Śambhu, the Supreme Lord who lives in him as his own Self, and describes His qualities in the process, an allusion to the meaning of the entire book is made. In other words, the final goal in writing and reading this book called Paramārthasāra is final liberation also known as spiritual enlightenment, which is characterized by a full absorption into Śiva, one's own Self. There is no other reason for the sage to compose this book or for the reader to read his work in the form of 105 stanzas. The respective means to be selected or discarded in order for attaining that Goal will be indicated later on as the teachings are unfolded by the great Master. This is the meaning.Return


 Stanzas 2-3

Thus, after having established, by means of an (introductory) praise, that the purpose of the treatise is non-dualistic in nature, now the author of the book --Abhinavagupta--, while telling (the story about) the unexpected appearance of the scripture --Paramārthasāra--, said, through two (stanzas written) in Āryā meter1, the sambandha --relation between the title of the scripture and the subject-matter dealt with in it--, the abhidheya --the subject-matter of the scripture--, etc.2:

Bewildered by the wheel of pain beginning with his dwelling in the womb (and) ending in death (of the physical body), a disciple asked illustrious Ādhāra --also known as Ādiśeṣa--3 about the Highest Reality --or Supreme Goal--||2||

The Guru --Ādhāra-- spoke to him --to that disciple-- about the essence of that (Highest Reality) --or "of that teaching dealing with the Highest Reality"-- by means of Ādhārakārikā-s --The aphorisms of Ādhāra, which were finally known as Paramārthasāra, Essence of the Highest Reality--. Abhinavagupta speaks (the same aphorisms but duly reformed) according to the viewpoint of Śiva's doctrine||3||

Having thought so: "I am to receive instructions from a Guru", someone --a disciple-- (who,) by the Favor of the Fortunate One --the Lord--, had developed vairāgya or renunciation (and) had desisted from Transmigration --moving from one thought to another though, from one body to another body, i.e. "misery"--, after fully offering his worship to the illustrious Sadguru --true Guru or Master-- Ādhāra, (also known as) the sage whose name is Śeṣa, asked (him) about the essence of the teaching related to the Highest Reality4 .

Then, by gradually coming into contact with his own Self or essential nature (in order to measure) the maturity of his fitness --the disciple's fitness--, (Ādhāra) considered that disciple as endowed with a dissolved --i.e. clean-- inner psychic organ --intellect, ego and mind--. That very Anantanātha --i.e. Ādhāra or Śeṣa--, who knew the teachings of all the scriptures, spoke to this disciple about the achievement of the Supreme Brahma or Absolute in this way, viz. through the knowledge about discrimination between Puruṣa (and) Prakṛti according to the instructions stated by the Sāṅkhya system, (all of which) took the form of a book which was subsequently called "Ādhārakārikā-s" --The aphorisms of Ādhāra-- (or simply) designated as Paramārthasāra --Essence of the Highest Reality--5 

Having thought so in order to give Grace to all people by means of the śaiva --pertaining to Śiva-- system dealing with supreme non-dualism: "(If) that very teaching about Brahma is explained from the viewpoint of the Absolute Freedom of the Self whose nature is supreme non-dualism, it becomes suitable", (Abhinavagupta adapted the scripture accordingly). The Guru --Abhinavagupta-- (is One who) is gupta (or) hidden (and) secretive as --in the form of-- abhinava (or) an unusual throb (related to) the Delight of Consciousness6.

He himself --Abhinavagupta--, i.e. the one whose name is formed by an auspicious series of syllables (and) who is engaged in (conferring) the Highest Grace, explains tatsāra or the essence --sāra-- of that --tat-- teaching dealing with the Highest Reality, which is to be received as if it were butter derived from curd7 .

In this way, sambandha --relation between the title and the scripture itself--, abhidheya --subject-matter--, abhidhāna --title-, prayojana --purpose of the scripture--, etc. have been (indirectly) presented (without their being explicitly declared by the author of the book). However, those things are not explained extensively here --in the commentary-- out of fear of making the scripture any heavier in argumentation8.

Of what kind (is) the disciple? (Abhinavagupta) said: "(there is) his dwelling in the womb".

(The disciple is) bewildered (and) moving to and fro with regard to that wheel (mentioned in the stanza), since due to (constant) manifestation and disappearance it becomes endowed with a transmigratory nature (and) it looks like a (real) wheel. (Such a wheel,) whose essence is pain ending in death (of the physical body, is) this one that is accompanied by a felly or rim in the form of the six changes applicable to a positive entity --someone who exists, in this case, the disciple himself-- which appear as the variety of manifold states, beginning with his --of the positive entity-- dwelling in the womb, (and followed by) "(1) he is born, (2) he exists, (3) he grows, (4) he develops or matures, (5) he declines (and) (6) he perishes"9.

According to this (reasoning), the presence of knowledge related to a recollection of a previous birth in his case --in the case of the disciple-- (had to have) become manifest, otherwise how could there be (in him this) keen interest, (expressed) as questions concerning the attainment of the Highest Goal?10 

Thus, (the disciple) who had developed vairāgya or renunciation, whose heart had been penetrated by the Grace(-bestowing) Power of the Supreme Lord, in whom full knowledge had arisen, became a receptacle for the teaching or instruction. (After that,) having approached the appropriate Guru, who is a form assumed by the Supreme Lord, he wishes for knowledge about Supreme Non-dualism. He alone is the receptacle or vessel for Guru's teachings11.

This very (truth) was declared elsewhere (too):

"Oh goddess, by force of the descent of Power, (a person) is led to a genuine Guru."

And also:

"(When) the Supreme Knowledge is given, (then) the residual impression of (one's own) actions is destroyed."

Here (in the book) , (this topic) will be spoken about further on||3||

Skip the notes

1  The sage Abhinavagupta uses in these two stanzas the meter known as Āryā (lit. respectable, noble, etc.), a meter regulated by the number of syllabic instants, in which "the standard structure" (because there are nine kinds of Āryā meter, no jokes) has the first and third quarters with 12 mātrā-s each, the second with 18 mātrā-s and the fourth tith 15 mātrā-s. Yes, you are about to go the crazy way with Abhinavagupta and his nice meter here, hehe. I am going now to investigate which variety the sage used. Hopefully he used the standard one, fingers crossed, or I will have to test the other varieties, which will be quite a headache, obviously.

According to Sanskrit prosody, a stanza or padya consists of four pāda-s --also known as "pada-s"-- or quarters. Such a stanza may be either vṛtta (with meter regulated by the number and position of syllables --akṣara-- in each pāda or quarter) or jāti (with meter regulated by the number of syllabic instants --mātrā-- in each pāda or quarter).

1) The vṛtta class contains three subclasses: (1) samavṛtta (the four quarters of a stanza are similar), (2) ardhasamavṛtta (the alternate quarters are similar) and (3) viṣama (the four quarters are dissimilar).

The subclass samavṛtta (all the quarters are similar) is by far the most used one. It is composed of 26 varieties, from 1 syllable per quarter through 26 syllables per quarter. In turn, each variety is divided into subvarieties according to the position of short (lit. light) and long (lit. heavy) syllables, etc. Good!

Syllables are short or long because they contain short or long vowels. Short vowels are: a, i, u, ṛ, ḷ. Long vowels are long for two reasons: (1) They are naturally long (ā, ī, ū, ṝ, e, ai, o, au), (2) they are prosodically long because of their being followed by Anusvāra or Visarga, or by two or more consonants (e.g. aṁ, aḥ, antr). The last syllable of a quarter is "always" short or long according to the meter requirements, despite its being short or naturally/prosodically long, i.e. the authors are free to use any syllable (short or long) for the last one in a quarter and this will "always" meet the meter requirements. Remember this!

In turn, in order to make things more simple (no jokes), Sanskrit prosody takes each particular series of three syllables in a quarter and gives it a certain name. These groups of three syllables are known as "gaṇa-s" (do not mistake these for the well-known gaṇa-s or houses used for classifying verbs) and only exist in this manner in stanzas that are vṛtta (with meter regulated by the number and position of syllables --akṣara-- in each pāda or quarter). Each gaṇa is formed from three syllables, but in this particular way:

Either the three syllables are long or the three syllables are short or a mixture (several combinations of short and long syllables). Look:

  1. ma: long-long-long
  2. na: short-short-short
  3. bha: long-short-short
  4. ya: short-long-long
  5. ja: short-long-short
  6. ra: long-short-long
  7. sa: short-short-long
  8. ta: long-long-short

The name "la" is used for designating a short syllable, and the name "ga" indicates a long syllable at the end of a quarter. OK, my God, yes, it was hard, but if I had not explained that to you, you would not understand what I am about to say afterward. If you want a good example of meter regulated by number and position of syllables, check the last note of explanation in my translation of Śivasūtravimarśinī.

2) Anyway, in spite of all the information I displayed above as an introduction, forget about the "vṛtta" class here because the meter of the present stanza is of the "jāti" class, or regulated by syllabic instants (mātrā-s)... oh yes, you will love this!

The stanzas 2 and 3 look like this:

Ādhāraṁ bhagavantaṁ śiṣyaḥ papraccha paramārtham||2||

Ādhārakārikābhistaṁ gururabhibhāṣate sma tatsāram|
Kathayatyabhinavaguptaḥ śivaśāsanadṛṣṭiyogena||3||

The quarters 1 and 2 as well as 3 and 4 have been joined together into only two lines of text per stanza in order to save space and make the whole thing more compact. I will find out exactly how to trace the four quarters through a little knowledge about the procedure related to meters regulated by syllabic instants (mātrā-s):

This knowledge says that the Āryā meter, in its standard mode, consists of quarters 1 and 3 containing 12 mātrā-s, the second 18 mātrā-s and the fourth 15 mātrā-s. One mātrā is the length of a "short" vowel, and two mātrā-s is the length of a "long" vowel [naturally long, e.g. "ā", or prosodically long, i.e. when it is either followed by two or more consonants, or when it is followed by Anusvāra (ṁ) or Visarga (ḥ), e.g. int, iṁ, iḥ... all this was already explained before].

Yes, it is complex, but let us see it in action by dividing the stanzas into their syllables, which contain the short and long vowels to be traced in order to know the quantity of mātrā-s or syllabic instants. Additionally, I will mark the length of the syllables according to their containing either a short vowel or a long one. Remember that this meter is regulated by syllabic instants (mātrā-s) and NOT by number and position of syllables. Hence the quantity and position of the syllables will frequently vary across the quarters. For now, I am trying to determine which type of Āryā meter this one is by tracing the exact location of the quarters from two long lines of text into which each of the stanzas was grouped for the sake of saving space and making the stanzas more compact:

Stanza 2
Ga rbhā dhi sa rva ka ma ra ṇā nta ka duḥ kha ca kra vi bhrā ntaḥ
long long short long short long short short short short long short short long short long short long long long
Ā dhā raṁ bha ga va ntaṁ śi ṣyaḥ pa pra ccha pa ra rtham        
long long long short short long long long long long long short short short long short        
Stanza 3
Ā dhā ra ri bhi staṁ gu ru ra bhi bhā ṣa te sma ta tsā ram
long long short long short long long long short short short short long short long short long long short
Ka tha ya tya bhi na va gu ptaḥ śi va śā sa na dṛ ṣṭi yo ge na
short short long short short short short long long short short long short short long short long long short

As I told you before, it does not matter if the number and position of syllables do not coincide, because this is about syllabic instants (mātrā-s). As a short vowel amounts to 1 mātrā and a long vowel amounts to 2 mātrā-s, I just proceed now to replace "short" and "long" in the above table with "1" and "2", respectively. Besides, the last syllable of a quarter is always short or long according to the meter requirements, despite its being short or naturally/prosodically long, i.e. the authors are free to use any syllable (short or long) for the last one in a quarter and this will "always" meet the meter requirements. Take this always into account or you will be made confused easily!:

Stanza 2
Ga rbhā dhi sa rva ka ma ra ṇā nta ka duḥ kha ca kra vi bhrā ntaḥ  
2 2 1 2 1 2 1 1 1 1 2 1 1 2 1 2 1 2 2 2 = 30 mātrā-s
Ā dhā raṁ bha ga va ntaṁ śi ṣyaḥ pa pra ccha pa ra rtham  
2 2 2 1 1 2 2 2 2 2 2 1 1 1 2 1 = 26 mātrā-s
Stanza 3
Ā dhā ra ri bhi staṁ gu ru ra bhi bhā ṣa te sma ta tsā ram  
2 2 1 2 1 2 2 2 1 1 1 1 2 1 2 1 2 2 1 = 29 mātrā-s
Ka tha ya tya bhi na va gu ptaḥ śi va śā sa na dṛ ṣṭi yo ge na  
1 1 2 1 1 1 1 2 2 1 1 2 1 1 2 1 2 2 1 = 26 mātrā-s

Now, according to the standard structure of the Āryā, the first and third quarters are 12 mātrā-s long each, while the second is 18 mātrā-s long and the fourth measures 15 mātrā-s. I will delimit the quarters with the help of some color and bold letters:

Stanza 2
Ga rbhā dhi sa rva ka ma ra ṇā nta ka duḥ kha ca kra vi bhrā ntaḥ  
2 2 1 2 1 2 1 1 1 1 2 1 1 2 1 2 1 2 2 2 = 30 mātrā-s
1st quarter = 12 mātrā-s 2nd quarter = 18 mātrā-s
Ā dhā raṁ bha ga va ntaṁ śi ṣyaḥ pa pra ccha pa ra rtham  
2 2 2 1 1 2 2 2 2 2 2 1 1 1 2 1
(taken as 2 in order to meet the meter requirements)
= 27 mātrā-s
3rd quarter = 12 mātrā-s 4th quarter = 14 mātrā-s (taken as 15)
Stanza 3
Ā dhā ra ri bhi staṁ gu ru ra bhi bhā ṣa te sma ta tsā ram  
2 2 1 2 1 2 2 2 1 1 1 1 2 1 2 1 2 2 1
(taken as 2 in order to meet the meter requirements)
= 30 mātrā-s
1st quarter = 12 mātrā-s 2nd quarter = 17 mātrā-s (taken as 18)
Ka tha ya tya bhi na va gu ptaḥ śi va śā sa na dṛ ṣṭi yo ge na  
1 1 2 1 1 1 1 2 2 1 1 2 1 1 2 1 2 2 1
(taken as 2 in order to meet the meter requirements)
= 27 mātrā-s
3rd quarter = 12 mātrā-s 4th quarter = 14 mātrā-s (taken as 15)

The last syllable of a quarter can be taken as short or long in order to meet the meter requirements as I pointed out previously. In this case, the last syllable of the 4th quarter (in both stanzas) is taken as lasting 2 mātrā-s, though it really lasts 1 mātrā, so the final number of syllabic instants is equal to 15 as required by the meter. The same thing is true regarding the last syllable of the 2nd quarter of stanza 3, so the final number of syllabic instants will be equal to 18. Now that you have easily traced (joking, of course) the 4 quarters of each of these two stanzas, you can write each of them in four lines instead of two ones. Look:

Ādhāraṁ bhagavantaṁ
śiṣyaḥ papraccha paramārtham||2||

staṁ gururabhibhāṣate sma tatsāram|

Oh, very well! And now the four quarters are clearly visible, right? But why the heck would you want to go through all that hellish process of counting mātrā-s in order to have each stanza written that way, in four lines? On top of that, now the stanzas are less compact and accordingly they occupy more space!... So good! Answer: e.g. For a proper recitation. "Ah, OK! Now I understand!".

The rest of the scripture is written in Āryā meter and, according to my present knowledge, also contains variations of this meter called: Gīti (first and third quarters last 12 mātrā-s, while second and fourth quarters last 18 mātrā-s) and Upagīti (first and third quarters last 12 mātrā-s, while second and fourth quarters last 15 mātrā-s). Oh yes, a new nightmare if I continue to explain this to you, hehe.Return

2  There is something called "Anubandhacatuṣṭaya" or "A group of four Anubandha-s or Prerequisites". When an author begins to compose a scripture, he should "generally" indicate four things at first: (1) Viṣaya (also called Abhidheya) or the subject-matter, (2) Sambandha or the relation between the title of the scripture and the subject-matter dealt with in it, (3) Adhikārin or the type of reader for whom the scripture is meant, and (4) Prayojana or the purpose of the scripture. The sage Yogarāja subsequently will add the abhidhāna or title of the scripture, etc.

All those things an author should usually explain at the very beginning of his work, but Abhinavagupta did not explain any of those things "explicitly". Anyway, all that is "implicitly" expressed by the stanzas 2 and 3, according to Yogarāja. The viṣaya or subject-matter is, of course, the Highest Reality and Its realization. The sambandha or relation between the title of the scripture and its subject-matter lies in the fact that this treatise effectively deals with the essence of the Highest Reality. The adhikārin or person who is qualified to read the scripture is a disciple who is bewildered by the wheel of pain beginning with his dwelling in the womb and ending in death of the physical body. This is not a novel to entertain someone, or a text book for people desirous to know how to build a rocket, and so on. NO. It is a means leading to final liberation from the never-ending affliction called Saṁsāra (Transmigration) or moving from one body to another body, from one thought to another thought, from one thing to another thing, etc., as if one was within a wheel. And finally, the prayojana or purpose of the scripture itself is to give the reader what he is looking for, viz. spiritual enlightenment with the corresponding cessation of bondage. Now everything is clear.Return

3  Ādhāra, Ādiśeṣa, Śeṣa, Anantanātha... all of those four names refer to the same person: a well-known vaiṣṇava (following Viṣṇu) teacher who lived around 3th or 4th century AD.Return

4  A real disciple is one who has cultivated renunciation. What is this? According to sage Patañjali: "Vairāgya or Renunciation is known as the act of subjugating the desire for objects seen or repeatedly heard from the scriptures." (Pātañjalayogasūtra-s I.15). In other words, a real disciple is someone who has abandoned all the desires for objects seen or repeatedly heard from the scriptures. He did so through the Grace of the Supreme Lord alone and not due to his personal efforts. He is not at all interested any longer in objects, whether they are worldly or supernatural. He is only interested in getting rid of Saṁsāra (Transmigration) or this wheel of pain in which all the beings are suffering from cycles of births along with the consequences of such cycles in the form of constant affliction. In Kulārṇavatantra (a famous Tantra), the qualities of a real disciple are specified. Believe me, if those requirements would have to be met today, 99.9999999% of the current disciples would have to be kicked out of all the spiritual communities around the world. Many of them have no conviction, as I explained in a previous note, in the Guru as being the personification of the Supreme Lord. They treat Guru as if he were a spiritually advanced person or as someone who knows a lot about scriptures, etc. They do not have the right attitude towards the Guru and in this way they cannot get final liberation ever in spite of all their efforts.

From lack of conviction in the Guru as being the Supreme Lord, disobedience is the natural result. If the Guru says: "To the right", the disciple will go "to the left", and if the Guru says "to the left", the disciple will go "to the right". This is pretty usual and leads nowhere. Why is a disciple doing those stupid things? Because his thoughts are based on the erroneous notion: "I know what is better for me". This disease is extremely common in this world, specially in the West where individuality is strengthened constantly. One of the qualities of the disciple, as specified in Kulārṇavatantra is that he will understand what is said by his Guru right away. Disciples having to be said over and over again the same things are of low quality then. Another quality of the disciple is tenacity. Kulārṇavatantra says that a disciple is able to achieve the impossible. Why? Because he is tenacious. On the contrary, most of the current disciples are just stubborn like hell, all the time knowing better than their Guru what is to be done at the next moment. For example: If their Guru says to them: "Move in this direction now!", they will generally say: "Oh yes, but not now. First I will do this, and after having done that, I will move in the direction you pointed me out". This kind of reasoning is pretty common among disciples. It is based on ignorance, obviously, viz. it is based on the belief that they know "for sure" what is about to happen to them. Of course, they will not admit that they act based on their knowing the future or on what is better for them according to their limited viewpoints, but they act like if they were omniscient beings anyway. This arrogance is rooted at their minds, as an strong impression.

All that foolishness will lead nowhere, because the Guru said: "Move in this direction now!" and not "Move in this direction after you finish doing all that". There is no democracy in the Guru/disciple relationship, but the latter does not know it for the most part, and the former will just fed up with his low quality disciple in the end and he will end up being discarded. No use in repeating the same commands time and time again, because this is a waste of time and effort. Also, sometimes the Guru will test his disciple in multiple ways in order to check his qualities. This is done for the sake of not wasting time and effort in useless disciples. Not all the aspirants are fully qualified to become real disciples of a genuine Guru. They generally need more spiritual maturity (paripāka).

The main goal in life is not businesses, having a family, achieving fame, prestige, etc. Not at all. The entire universe was created by the Supreme Lord only for recognizing Himself through it. A disciple must grasp this point if he wants to attain final liberation. I am not saying that one has to abandon his job, family, etc. NO. But in order of importance, final liberation also known as Self-realization or recognition of one's own true nature MUST come first at all times. The Guru and his teachings will not be added to the ordinary life of the disciple, as a secondary aspect, but on the contrary, the ordinary life of the disciple will be added to the Guru and his teachings. That which is superior must always come in the first place or no final liberation will happen to the disciple. The real disciple understood all that, of course, and he is ready for receiving the instruction from the Guru about the Highest Reality. Nobody else but a person like him is ready for being taught by a genuine Guru then. In the ordinary life, a limited being lives in the conviction that he is his body and mind. Final liberation means getting freed from all that false identification with body and mind, which allows one to enjoy his essential nature, which is divine and mainly consists of Bliss and Freedom. What most people call freedom is not real Freedom. As they are mostly identified with their physical bodies, they think that bodies moving freely is synonymous with real Freedom. And as they are also identified with their minds, they think that freedom to think this and not that, and express it "freely" with no censure, is real Freedom. But they are in bondage anyway, because they are constantly dependent on body and mind, and on all that happens to those two.

For example: If a mother have just lost his son in a multitude, she cannot be immensely Blissful while she looks for him. NO, she will be generally desperate, full of anguish and fear, and so forth. This is an example of bondage. As bondage is usual, the vast majority of people think about it as "real life", but it is just garbage in the truest sense of word. A liberated person can be Blissful even in the middle of horrible events. He is not dependent on body, mind and external things related to those two for his happiness. Another example is the usual "this problem is followed by that problem" question. Most people are convinced that if they solve this problem they will finally be happy, but soon they notice that a new problem comes up. This is also like a wheel of pain, one problem following another problem, and one having to solve them all in order to be happy. This will never lead to real Happiness because it is a trap that the śakticakra (group of powers) laid for the limited individual (Śiva appearing as puruṣa or aṇu). A real disciple wants a definitive solution to all the problems and not merely continuing to solve problem after problem as the ordinary people do. This definitive solution amounts to final liberation or a recognition of one's own true essential nature. This is the Supreme Goal (parama-artha) in life. The rest of goals are not supreme but merely worldly and consequently temporary and secondary.

This is what the disciple asked Ādhāra about, viz. Paramārtha, the Highest Reality or Supreme Goal (both translations are possible here). He did not ask the Guru about how to be successful in businesses, or how to have a prosperous family, and things like that. NO. He asked him about the Solution to all the problems. This attitude in him shows that he is a genuine disciple worthy of being instructed. The instruction will appear in the form of the rest of this scripture called Paramārthasāra (Essence of the Highest Reality or Supreme Goal).Return

5  Guru Ādhāra got in touch with his own Self and this act revealed to him the state of spiritual maturity and fitness of the disciple asking about the Highest Reality. He could verify that his intellect, ego and mind were dissolved, i.e. clean and ready to contain the Highest Truth. Ādhāra is believed to have flourished in the 3th or 4th century AD, hence the original version of Paramārthasāra, also known as Ādhārakārikā-s, dates from that time too. The date was traced through a commentary by Rāghavānanda on the original scripture. As this commentary dates from the 4th century, Ādhārakārikā-s should have been written around the 3th or 4th century then. The original work consists of 85 stanzas and deals with instructions based on Sāṅkhya system, i.e. liberation is achieved through the discrimination between Puruṣa and Prakṛti. The stanzas are composed, as I told you before, in standard Āryā meter as well as in its variations called Gīti and Upagīti. Over the centuries this scripture became very important in the region of Kashmir. It was so important that Abhinavagupta himself in the 11th century made the decision of adapting it to the Trika's viewpoint.Return

6  As I outlined at the end of the previous note of explanation, Abhinavagupta took the original work by Ādhāra (also known as Ādiśeṣa, Ṣeṣa and Anantanātha) and though he left some stanzas intact, he reformed others to adapt the teachings and added twenty more stanzas. The final work is called: Abhinavagupta's Paramārthasāra, and is available along with the original Ādhāra's Paramārthasāra. The Great Trika Master realized that that very well-known scripture could be easily adapted to the viewpoint of Trika (the one which is based on Svātantrya or Absolute Freedom of the Self) and serve the purpose of becoming quite a handbook for people to learn Non-dual Shaivism of Kashmir. Svātantrya or Absolute Freedom is another name for Śakti (the Power of the Self). Why is She called like that? Mainly because Śakti is able to transform the Supreme Lord into a limited individual; and at the same time, Śakti is able to transform a limited individual into the Supreme Lord again. As these two tasks are impossible to be performed by any other power apart from Herself, She is known as Svātantrya or Svātantryaśakti.

The name Abhinavagupta literally means "always new (abhinava) and hidden (gupta)". Several authors have given their own poetical interpretation about the respective syllables forming the name of the Great Trika Guru. Yogarāja is now giving his own interpretation: "The Guru --Abhinavagupta-- (is One who) is gupta (or) hidden (and) secretive as --in the form of-- abhinava (or) an unusual throb (related to) the Delight of Consciousness". The word "unusual" (lit. alaukika) implies that this throb is not related to this world or loka. It is divine in nature and it remains hidden like that, in the form of the mysterious Delight of Consciousness experienced by the great adepts in Trika. This is the meaning.Return

7  Just as Ādhāra did several centuries before, Abhinavagupta now, in the 11th century, explains tatsāra or the essence of That (the Highest Reality) by explaining the essence of that teaching dealing with the Highest Reality. This teaching is as if it were butter extracted from curd, symbolically speaking, and it is to received as such. In other words, the Great Guru processed the original Ādhāra's instruction that taught Sāṅkhya system and transformed it into an instruction that follows the viewpoint of Śiva.Return

8  Yogarāja expands the statement about Anubandhacatuṣṭaya or the four prerequisites (read note 2 above) who wrote in his introduction to these two stanzas. He is also stating that Abhinavagupta did not make Anubandhacatuṣṭaya "formally" clear at the beginning of the scripture but he expressed it "indirectly" through these two stanzas. Read note 2 to get additional information about this topic. Yogarāja, anyway, is not willing to explain all that extensively (as I myself did) in order for his commentary not to be too heavy in argumentation.Return

9  The wheel of pain (Saṁsāra) constantly rotates through manifestation and disappearance. You can see this for yourself. What was very important yesterday, today is almost of no importance. For example, a lot of people do not even remember the date of beginning and end of WWII in spite of the fact that the millions of people around the world were occupied for six years in killing each other and experiencing/producing untold suffering. This is a clear example of the wheel of pain: Today something is very important, but tomorrow almost nobody cares and it is just a historical fact. If this is true in regard to a world conflict, what could one say about a family conflict? Just dust in the wind that nobody will care in the end. Saṁsāra is like that, ephemeral and constantly changing. Fed up with that wheel of pain, a real disciple is one who has awakened to the truth that "there is nothing really valuable in Saṁsāra", because it is both a Play from the divine Self's viewpoint and a tragedy from the viewpoint of the limited individual. He wants to be free from that wheel then. This is the difference between a genuine disciple and the rest of ordinary people.

This wheel of pain that catches all the limited individuals has six changes for its felly or rim, poetically speaking. This is known as Ṣaḍbhāvavikāra or the six changes through which all the positive entities (the living beings) will go during their lives. The initial state is that called "dwelling in the womb", of course. From that six stages follow: (1) Jāti or janma (birth), (2) sattā (existence), (3) vṛddhi (growth), (4) vipariṇāma (maturity or development), (5) apakṣaya (decline or decay) and (6) vināśa (death or destruction). All the limited individuals (the ones who are identified with physical body and mind) will undergo all those six changes invariably since they have not realized their own divine Self, who is immutable. This divine Self is never born or dies. He Exists eternally and not only during the span between birth and death. He never grows or develops. And there is no decay to Him either. A Self-realized person is one who stays in his divine Self and therefore he is not subject to that wretched Ṣaḍbhāvavikāra. The disciple in the story of this scripture wants to be a Self-realized person then in order to escape all this self-invented bondage that devours the beings by its immense jaws.Return

10  A real disciple must somehow remember a previous birth in order to develop a keen interest concerning the achievement of the Highest Goal. Is this science fiction? NO. For example: I remember mine. When one dies one's own body is seen as entirely black. After leaving my previous body, I saw it to be completely black... I cannot explain this in a better way. After that I flew over a blue world... I remember the fresh air in my face while I flew over that divine world. Finally, I landed on this current body. That world is Siddhaloka (the world of the perfected beings -enlightened people-). I did not realize the meaning of all that vision in meditation till I could understand it through my studies of the scriptures. I was not allowed to land on that blue world because it was not my time to do so, as I needed one more birth in order to attain Self-realization. Nobody who is not a Self-realized person or at least someone who is about to achieve the Highest Goal, is permitted to enter Siddhaloka. Every disciple will have to remember a previous birth, sooner or later, which will reveal to him the reason for his immense interest in Self-realization. Therefore, from my own experience, the ones who postulate that there is just "one" life are completely wrong from start to finish. This can be proved by arguments too, through the presence of extreme fear of death in a human being, which denotes that that person already died in a previous life... but this is a long story I will not tell you now.Return

11  Only a genuine disciple can receive the instructions of Guru. The spiritual aspirants will have to qualify as true disciples if they want to advance to final liberation. This is not my invention but an institution established by the Supreme Lord Himself. When a disciple pleases his Guru, he is pleasing the Supreme Lord really. Everything in spirituality is about pleasing the Supreme Lord for Him to grant His favor. Things apparently have to do with pleasing a human being called "Guru", but this false conception is only cherished by people who base their vision of reality on what their senses are showing them. The institution Guru/disciple was established by the Highest Self in order for the process of spiritual enlightenment to proceed as it should. Not only in Trika, but in practically all the traditions in India, worship of Guru is primordial in one's own spiritual path. Guru, though endowed with a human body, is the embodiment of the Supreme Lord at all times. Aspirants that do not have that conviction in the divinity of their Guru cannot attain Self-realization. It is that simple! Even if the Guru wants to confer them final liberation at once, that will not happen to them because those aspirants did not qualify as genuine disciples in the first place.

The entire question between Guru and disciple is then not related to pleasing another human being, but to pleasing the Supreme Lord. Any serious lack of respect on the part of the disciple to the institution Guru/disciple founded by the Lord Himself puts an end to the Guru/disciple relationship, and as a result no final liberation will happen. Yes, the disciple can go to another Guru, but if he repeats his bad behavior, there will be no final liberation for him again. It is very simple! A lot of aspirants hate all this, because they are the proud bearers of a strong feeling of individuality. Anyway, if they are not getting final liberation from this constant bondage, what is the point of being a proud bearer of a strong feeling of individuality? All that will go down the drain in the long run. No final liberation is possible without sacrifice. The most painful sacrifice is always "to sacrifice the notion that one knows better what is more convenient to oneself". On this false idea most people build their lives... and it is not surprising at all that they go nowhere. Death finishes off all their pride and nobody cares about it in the end. So, what was the use of all that "proud" fuss? A genuine disciple is not like that, but he is "really intelligent".

Just as an aspirant must have special qualities to qualify as a true disciple, so a Guru must have appropriate qualities too. Once again, if the requirements specified in Kulārṇavatantra are to be met, 99.9999999% of the guru-s teaching in this world would not qualify as real Guru-s capable to confer final liberation, and all of them would have to be kicked out of their communities, be sure. For example: a real Guru must know all the revealed scriptures, he must be able to dissipate delusion and doubt. Also, a genuine Guru must be stainless and endowed with the powers of Mantra. He must be merciful and unattached to women, wealth, bad company, etc. And he does not sell Mantra, Yantra and Tantra for the sake of money or learning... oh well, with this last requirement, at least 90% of the current guru-s are off from the start. The list of requirements goes on and on, of course. After that, Kulārṇavatantra firmly states that worship of a Guru like that one is worship of Śiva Himself. The Supreme Lord who is formless and all-pervading, takes the form of Guru for disciples to attain final liberation, because it is very difficult to worship the "formless Lord" indeed. Anyway, a handful of spiritual aspirants can achieve spiritual enlightenment without any human Guru, but directly through the Grace of Śiva. But as this type of people are very rare in this world, the rule is that practically the vast majority of aspirants will have to qualify as disciples of a genuine human Guru, sooner or later.

People thinking that worship of a genuine Guru is mere personality cult cannot become real disciples till they develop the right attitude. Bad karma-s or impressions accumulated in their minds prevent them from seeing the Divine appearing in the form of a Guru endowed with a human body. They are like blind men who do not see the very sun in front of them. Yes, there is an endless quantity of false Guru-s around, but their presence indicates that there are true Guru-s as well, because nobody would counterfeit money if there was no real money available too. Final liberation is not cheap ever, but there are many challenges; the challenge called "false Guru" is only one of them. In any case, final liberation is always the disciple's problem and NOT the Guru's. If someone wants to escape from this wheel of pain called Saṁsāra, he will have to make the respective efforts, one of which is to find a real Guru. Certainly there are a few people that can achieve final liberation without having any human Guru helping them, but this kind of saints are rarely seen because of the extreme difficulties a person has to go through in order to get in touch with the Lord Himself directly. The Lord speaks in ways a mere mortal cannot understand without proper guidance, for the most part. If someone can directly understand what the Lord is saying, he could bypass the human Guru, but this is extremely unusual. Most of the time, a limited individual will not be able to understand the instructions given by the Supreme Lord without the help of a Guru.Return


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Gabriel Pradīpaka

This document was conceived by Gabriel Pradīpaka, one of the two founders of this site, and spiritual guru conversant with Sanskrit language and Trika philosophy.

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