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Abhinavagupta's Paramārthasāra (Paramarthasara): Stanzas 4 to 7 - pure - Non-dual Shaivism of Kashmir
Paramārthasāra continues with four more stanzas. This is the second set of stanzas, which is composed of 4 out of the 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 the text. 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 sense of a particular phrase or sentence. In turn, all that is between double hyphen (--...--) constitutes clarifying further information also added by me.
Now, after building a pedestal (by a description of) the successive stages of the creation (of this scripture, Abhinavagupta) makes the book descend --makes it land on that pedestal-- by announcing, by means of a group of four eggs, that the universe (is) only the expansion of that Power, viz. the unsurpassed Absolute Freedom —which is only one— of the Supreme Lord, that is the Cause or Agent of Doership with reference to unions (and) separations in this world variegated with all the varieties1 :
Because of the abundance of Glory and Magnificence (present) in His own Power, this group of four eggs (is) separately manifested by the Lord: "Śakti, Māyā, Prakṛti and Pṛthvī"||4||
This group of four eggs, which is a roundish mass of substance forming a sheath (and) concealing the universe, (is manifested) by Prabhu, the Free Fortunate One, the Great Lord who is a compact mass of Consciousness (and) Bliss. That (truth) (was also) expressed (here):
"... An egg is said to be a roundish mass of substance."2
(The term) "prabhāvita" (in the stanza) is used (in the sense of) "prakāśita" --manifested, displayed-- or as agency of the act of becoming3 . Where from? (Abhinavagupta) said so: "Because of the abundance of Glory and Magnificence (present) in His own Power". (The reply is then:) "From that", viz. (from) "bhara" which (is) abundance of that "vaibhava" --Glory and Magnificence-- that (is) a multicolored --manifold-- Expansion of that multitude of powers which is special (and) begins with (the Power of) Will. (Such a multitude of powers is) "nija" (or) of His own. The development (or) expansion of His Power —(of the Power) of the Fortunate One— (is) indeed the creation of the world4 . That (very teaching) has been declared in venerable scripture Sarvamaṅgalātantra:
"There is said to be only two categories, viz. Śakti --Power-- and the Possessor of Śakti. The Possessor of Śakti (is) the Great Lord certainly --i.e. Śiva--, (and) His śakti-s or powers --the multiple aspects assumed by Śakti-- (are) the entire world."
What (is) the form (of this which is) called "the group of four eggs?". (Abhinavagupta) said so: "Śakti, Māyā, Prakṛti and Pṛthvī". "Śakti egg" is said to be Śakti, who (is) the Mistress of the Supreme Lord whose function is the denial of the universe formed by knowers (and) knowables --objects-- even though it --the universe-- is the essence of the Delight of the Highest I-consciousness. (In this way,) She Herself, being akhyāti or ignorance that veils the essential nature of the Self --the Supreme Lord--, (gets endowed) with a condition that produces concealment (and) bondage. The fragment or portion bounded by the tattva-s or categories Sadāśiva, Īśvara (and) Śuddhavidyā, (i.e. the Śakti egg), forms an embryo with Sat (or the remaining) three eggs —which will be spoken about later— completely inside (it). Thus, since She has the form of a sheath, this Śakti is named by this, (viz. Śakti egg). In this egg, Sadāśiva and Īśvara (are) the regents5 .
And the other "egg called Māyā" is said to be a fragment (beginning with Māyātattva and) ending in Puruṣatattva, whose nature is the three mala-s or impurities, consisting in delusion, characterized by proneness to duality alone, (and) whose form is bondage of all the experients or knowers. That (Māyā egg) appropriates --makes its own-- the (remaining) two eggs —that will be talked about later—, (which remain) completely within (it). And the regent of the egg here (is) the Rudra whose name (is) Gahana6 .
Likewise, Prakṛti, composed of Sattva, Rajas (and) Tamas, is transformed into effects/products and senses. The "egg called Prakṛti" is said to be that which constitutes (all the) objects of enjoyment of the experients (known as) paśu-s or animals --limited individuals--; (and as this egg is endowed) with a nature (consisting of) pleasure, pain (and) delusion, it binds or ties up. There --in the Prakṛti egg--, venerable Lord Viṣṇu, who possesses great might (and) in whom dualism prevails, (is) the regent of the egg7 .
And in this way, similarly, Pṛthvī, which consists in (different) species of experients that end in vegetables (and) humans, being a gross shell, binds or ties up. Having so considered, (this one is then) said to be "the Pṛthvī egg". There --in the Pṛthvī egg--, "Lord Brahmā", being preeminent in the fourteenfold creation of beings --i.e. in the fourteen material worlds--, (is) the regent of the egg. In such a manner, this group of four eggs developed by the Supreme Lord suddenly shines forth (totally) displayed and manifested in this way by the Fortunate One --the very Supreme Lord--8 ||4||
1 Yogarāja is describing poetically the arrival of the 4th stanza. He said that Abhinavagupta firstly built a pedestal in the form of the stanzas 2 and 3, which contain the successive stages of the creation of this scripture. After having done that, Abhinavagupta makes the book descend, makes the book land on that pedestal, i.e. he starts to teach Trika philosophy in depth. The match has begun and the ball is rolling on the pitch! The sage begins his exposition of Trika by announcing, by a group of four eggs, that the universe is only the expansion of the Supreme Lord's Svātantrya (His Absolute Freedom). Svātantrya is another name for Śakti (the Power of the Self), which is the Cause or Agent of Kartṛtva (Doership) because Śakti is the real Doer always. None of these limited individuals around here and there is doing anything at all, but rather all that is being done is carried out by Śakti. And this Power of the Self, this Power of the Supreme Lord, is fond of producing unions and separations in this world variegated with all the varieties. Meanings of various epithets for Śakti can be found in the note 10 of Parāprāveśikā.
All in all, Śakti is prone to the acts of uniting and separating while at the same time She brings about an entire manifestation full of multi-colored varieties. Do you not believe me? Look around. If the reader thinks that Śakti is not "his own Power", the reader is having the wrong attitude while reading this scripture. All that is written in Paramārthasāra has to do with You, reader, and the Plays of Your own Power. Reading the scripture without an attitude of unity with the Supreme Lord will not bear any fruit because the same all-pervading wretched duality will be present once again. Duality goes nowhere all the time because the Supreme Truth is the Light of Supreme Non-dualism. You are the Lord reading about His own essential nature and the Plays of His own Śakti and not otherwise. If the reader constantly brings duality between him and the Supreme Lord to his reading, he will not understand Paramārthasāra at all. The same statement is valid with reference to the study of any other Trika scripture, of course. Final Liberation cannot be attained if one does not identify with the Supreme Lord.
2 Prabhu means "Lord". In this context, this term is used to designate the Highest Lord, obviously, who is a compact mass of Consciousness (Śiva) and Bliss (Śakti). He is also called the Fortunate One because of His being full of all that is really Auspicious. These four eggs are roundish masses of substance. According to my current knowledge about Trika, the teaching about the four eggs has not been given by Abhinavagupta in any other scripture apart from this one. As I will explain to you subsequently, the scopes of these eggs coincide with those of the last four Kalā-s or Primeval Powers. These Primeval Powers are like "Containers" in which the entire universal manifestation is stored in portions. Eggs have been indicated as "roundish masses of substance" and therefore they cannot be identified with the last four Kalā-s directly since Powers are not "substance". Abhinavagupta will not at all talk here about the Kalā-s, but the connection seems too obvious. The last four Kalā-s act like Containers for whole sets of tattva-s, exactly like the eggs do, but the latter seem to be products of such Kalā-s though Abhinavagupta has not mentioned this explicitly.
3 The term prabhāvita generally means prakāśita or manifested, displayed. But here Yogarāja gives an additional meaning: "bhavanakartṛtayā" (lit. "as bhavanakartṛtā"). What is this bhavanakartṛtā? I translated it as: "agency (kartṛtā) of the act of becoming (bhavana)". Agency or kartṛtā means "the state of being the agent or doer of an action". All this terminology comes from the sage Utpaladeva who wrote "सत्ता भवत्ता भवनकर्तृता - Sattā bhavattā bhavanakartṛtā - Existence (sattā) is the state of One who becomes (bhavattā), i.e. agency of the act of becoming (bhavanakartṛtā). Sattā is an epithet of Śakti (the possessor of kartṛtā or kartṛtva --both words are synonymous--, such as I pointed out in the first above note). She is the real Doer of the universe, or more technically speaking, She is the origin of the śakticakra (group of powers), which carries out the process of manifestation as indicated in the third note under the stanza 1. Abhinavagupta, in his first commentary on Utpaladeva's Īśvarapratyabhijñā, which is known as Īśvarapratyabhijñāvimarśinī, stated in 1.5.14 of that scripture: "सत्ता च भवनकर्तृता सर्वक्रियासु स्वातन्त्र्यम्। - Sattā ca bhavanakartṛtā sarvakriyāsu svātantryam| - And (ca) Existence (sattā) (is) agency (kartṛtā) of the act of becoming (bhavana), viz. Absolute Freedom (svātantryam) in regard to all activities (sarva-kriyāsu)". In other words, the term bhavanakartṛtā (agency of the act of becoming) is nothing but Absolute Freedom (Svātantrya), that is, Śakti.
The meaning of prabhāvita is then, according to Yogarāja, not only "manifested" (the group of four eggs which "has become", which "has been displayed") but also the agent of such a manifestation, i.e. Śakti (the Power of the Lord). This is so because in Trika, that which has been manifested is not different from the One who has manifested it. The four eggs must not be seen as "creations" of a Power only but rather as the forms this Power assumes. In the case of a potter making a pot, the potter and the pot remain separate, but this is not true in the case of Śakti and the four eggs. NO. She is both the agent or doer/maker of those four eggs and the four eggs themselves. In reality, technically speaking, it is not She Herself but Her emanations appearing as the celebrated śakticakra. Why? Because Śakti is immutable as Śiva Himself, and consequently She never moves even a millimeter away from Her Possessor. Therefore, neither of the Two assumed different forms, but rather it is the group of powers emanated from Śakti Herself that assumes all the forms of the universe. In this way, both Śiva and Śakti never "become" anything since They are the immutable "I AM".
4 Where is the group of four eggs displayed or manifested from? After quoting what Abhinavagupta expressed in the stanza itself, Yogarāja said: "From that", all in all, from the śakticakra or group of powers emanated from Śakti. These powers are always referred to as "Glorious" (read the commentary on the first aphorism in Spandanirṇaya). This is what was meant by Abhinavagupta by "the abundance of Glory and Magnificence present in His own Power". The term "vaibhava" (Glory and Magnificence) is shown as being a multicolored Expansion of that multitude of powers, which is special and begins with the Power of Will. The śakticakra is verily a multicolored or multiple Expansion or Emanation from Śakti Herself such as I have already explained to you. The Power of Will is the first power of the śakticakra and appears along with the tattva 3 (Sadāśiva). As Śakti is of His, of the Fortunate One, of the Supreme Lord, the entire śakticakra is accordingly of His own too. This śakticakra or Expansion/Development of Śakti constitutes the universe, which is mentioned by Yogarāja as "the creation of the world". Śakti is not directly the universe but rather She is the universe through Her own powers. Śakti (I-consciousness) never abandons Her Lord Śivá, not even for the shortest instant.
5 The four eggs are called Śakti, Māyā, Prakṛti and Pṛthvī. The first egg is the Śakti egg, whose scope is the tattva-s or categories 3 to 5 (Sadāśiva, Īśvara and Śuddhavidyā --also known as Sadvidyā--). This scope coincides with that of the Kalā called Śānti or Śāntā. The function of Śakti is in this context the denial or "isolation" of the universe, formed by knowers and objects, from the Supreme Lord Śiva. As this universe is "extracted" and "isolated" from Śiva by Śakti, She "denies" the divine nature of the universe, and this one becomes "another thing" apart from Śiva. It is in this sense that She is akhyāti or ignorance veiling the essential nature of the Supreme Lord, because She shows a universe different from its own Lord! This is mere appearance, obviously, because the universe is constantly the essence of the Delight of the Highest I-consciousness, but the Lord starts to believe, due to Her influence, that the universe is different from Him. This is the Worst Self-Fraud ever!... and here you have it, in front of your very eyes. Look at the objects and people around. All of them seem to be "different" from You! This emergence of duality and the apparent "downfall" of the Lord from His Highest State down to this one of a limited individual was firstly started by Śakti when She extracted the universe from You and denied that the universe is You Yourself appearing in that form. That is the Self-Fraud! Now the limited individual (Śiva after having fallen victim to Her Fraud) is immersed in misery. And if he is a spiritual aspirant, his only way out of this misery is a recognition of his own essential nature, which is divine and one with the Highest Lord. This will lastly lead to a recognition of the universe itself as being indeed an expansion of one's own powers and not as something existing apart from Oneself (the Supreme Lord), such as the fraudulent Śakti insists on showing it.
This is not a mere Fraud but a Self-Fraud, because Śakti is never different and separate from Śiva. She is not an external agent deluding Śiva, but rather She is His own Power convincing Him, the Immutable Self, that He has undergone mutation and experienced a downfall from His ever-present divine essential nature. What you call "the world" is not really the world, but Your own Self-Fraud! Who are these parents when the Supreme Lord is Aja or Unborn? Who are these people around when the Supreme Lord is Eka or One, i.e. Solitary? What are these three states of consciousness designated as wakefulness, dreaming and deep sleep if the Supreme Lord is never tired and consequently He never needs to take a rest? Who are these ones coming to celebrate the birthday of Nityātmā, the Eternal Self? Who is this one traveling from one place to another place when the Supreme Lord is Acala or completely immovable because He pervades all? You have no parents, no country, no states but Your own Supreme State, no birthday, no movement and so on and on. All those things You seem to have are the fraudulent inventions of Your own Power through Her śakticakra or group of powers. The Self-Fraud starts with this first egg (Śakti egg), where You feel that the universe is different from You. You retain unity with it anyway, because it is the first phase of the Self-Fraud. This first phase is still "divine" because the universe is perceived as different from Yourself but not as separate from Yourself, i.e. there is duality and unity at the same time. It is bhedābheda or unity (abheda) in the diversity (bheda), viz. a mixture of non-dualism and dualism. In Śiva-Śakti (tattva-s 1 and 2) there is abheda or unity alone, and in the tattva-s 6 to 36 there is bheda or duality alone.
With the arrival of the remaining three fraudulent eggs (Māyā, Prakṛti and Pṛthvī eggs), called Sat (Being, i.e. "all this that exists") by Yogarāja because their scope is the tattva-s 6 to 36 (read notes 47 and 48 and the respective text related to them in Parāprāveśikā), the Fraud will be complete and You will lose even that experience of unity you had in Śakti egg. After having been so deluded by Your own Powers, your Goal now is to regain your lost essential divine nature, which was paradoxically never lost. Everything was just a Self-Fraud!
The regents or presiding deities of this first egg that starts the process of bondage are Sadāśiva and Īśvara, generally known as Sadāśivabhaṭṭāraka and Īśvarabhaṭṭāraka, the term bhaṭṭāraka being added to the names to show great respect and veneration. These two regents reside in the tattva-s Sadāśiva and Īśvara, respectively.
6 The Māyā egg is a fragment or a piece of the universal manifestation whose scope is the tattva-s 6 to 12 (from Māyā-tattva down to Puruṣa-tattva; read Trika 4 and Trika 5 for more information). The scope of this egg coincides with that of the Kalā called Vidyā. This egg draws a veil on one's essential nature and exhibits duality instead. It has exclusively arisen for the spreading of duality in the form of multiple knowers and knowables (subjects and objects) when in reality there is only one Self constantly staying in His divine "I Am" State. The present egg is the field of delusion appearing as the three mala-s or impurities known as Āṇavamala, Māyīyamala and Kārmamala. The first impurity makes You, the Fullest One, not completely full and perfect; the second impurity spreads difference or duality between You and the multitude of subjects and objects forming the universe; finally the last impurity is nothing but the vāsanā-s or tendencies (acting like vessels) which will grow into full-fledged saṁskāra-s or latencies (impressions derived from actions, which are accumulated in this egg) when karmāśaya or karmic content (through good and bad actions) is poured into them (I explain this strange topic in FAQ 1-Meditation, when I describe the causal body). Nevertheless, the last two mala-s or impurities will hit You totally when the remaining two eggs, contained in Māyā egg, come into existence. This will mark highest point of Your apparent dwelling in the field of limitation.
Puruṣa (tattva 12), generally designated as "individual soul", is Śiva Himself (You!) but processed by the Māyā egg, which is really unfortunate. In this way, what most people consider "great", it is terrible for someone wanting to attain final liberation from all this misery. The process of final liberation or spiritual enlightenment will culminate in the recognition that all this is the essence of the Supreme Delight, but in the meantime, all these last three eggs are hellish to someone who still remains in bondage. This is completely true, but if the reader does not believe me and is not brave enough as to ponder over what his life has been and is (no jokes), he can turn on his TV and watch others' unhappiness and foolishness. As I know these eggs fully, even if the reader lives on the other corner of the galaxy, I perfectly know that he will be suffering even in the middle of pleasures. No limited individual can enjoy Real Happiness if he still continues under the sway of all these eggs, specially the last three ones. This insanity known as "bondage" is manufactured by these three last wretched eggs beginning with that of Māyā.
The regent of this egg is Gahana (the impenetrable one), who, according to my explorations into my own Self, is Durga (the Rudra mentioned by Mālinīvijayatantra on the list of 50 Rudra-s I gave in the note 10 of the first stanza). The consort of this Rudra or liberated being who presides the current egg is the Rudrāṇī called Durgā (the well-known goddess). What I am saying about Gahana being Durga has not been written anywhere else so far. It is just a knowledge emerging from my own spiritual experience.
7 The Prakṛti egg is a fragment or a piece of the universal manifestation whose scope is the tattva-s 13 to 35 (from Prakṛti-tattva down to Āpas-tattva; read Trika 5 and Trika 6 for more information). The scope of this egg coincides with that of the Kalā called Pratiṣṭhā. Prakṛti, as the tattva 13, is composed of three qualities (guṇa-s): Sattva, Rajas and Tamas, called by Yogarāja, pleasure, pain and delusion, respectively. The delusion lies in a person believing that by pleasure he will get rid of pain. As a matter of fact, pleasure will lead to pain almost immediately very often. Such is the delusion carried out by this egg. Besides, Prakṛti generates effects or products together with the senses to enjoy such products. For example: Objects of enjoyment along with the respective organs of the senses in order for them to perceive and enjoy such products. All this process of pleasure, pain and delusion leads nowhere, as one easily can deduce. No doubt that this egg is a source of constant pain directly or indirectly (disguised as pleasure). The ones who fall prey to this egg are known as paśu-s or animals. The sage is not referring to "real animals" but to "apparent" human beings behaving like animals. People in bondage, caught by all these limitations, are generally called paśu-s for many reasons, but the three main ones are:
1) Their happiness is at the mercy of all that is within (thoughts, emotions, etc.) and without (external objects, other people, etc.). They do not have autonomous Happiness but their joy is always depending on all those things; 2) They bite their saviors. Just as a wild animal will very often attack the one trying to save it, these animals bearing the label "human beings" usually attempt to destroy their liberators. They do not want final liberation from bondage but rather continue to enjoy all these objects of enjoyment exhibited by this wretched Prakṛti egg. Genuine Guru-s will not try to save them then, at least not directly, lest they be bitten in the process by those animals. Such animals must firstly become spiritual aspirants (a special kind of animals) and afterwards qualify as disciples (almost human beings) for the true Guru-s to save them finally; 3) As a consequence of the previous two characteristics, these paśu-s or animals go nowhere, because to go "somewhere" means to go toward final liberation and not to more and more bondage.
Human beings (the real ones) are not like those paśu-s evidently. Real human beings are called saints, liberated ones and the like. The rest of people are not real human beings but animals ignorantly claiming to be what they are not. This is very difficult to swallow for most people, but the facts speak by themselves. Take a book dealing with human history and you will see my point. In fact, this is not my point, because the term paśu (animal, beast) designating almost the entire humankind is not my own invention. It is very often used to describe all those people endowed with the three main characteristics I explained to you before.
The regent or presiding deity of this egg is Lord Viṣṇu, the one who possesses great might (mahā-vibhūti). The word "vibhūti" means "might" but specially that of supernatural nature. In other words: Supernatural powers. All these powers are an obstruction in one's path to final liberation and must be abandoned and never touched even with a long pole. Yogarāja specifies that in Viṣṇu dualism prevails. Therefore Lord Viṣṇu is not bestower of final liberation. I do not need to read this to know that truth anyway, because I had a direct experience with Lord Viṣṇu. He lives in a world where joy is absolutely colossal, surrounded by women chanting with such a devotion that your heart is torn apart by the sound. I remember their open mouths on the bridges, chanting the names of Viṣṇu. The very figure of Lord Viṣṇu is totally impressive, dressed up in majestic garments. Nonetheless, he never gave me any final liberation. Devotion, going to higher worlds, being in the presence of Viṣṇu, all those things will not give spiritual enlightenment ever. I am completely sure about this because I was there in person. I am not promoting sectarianism in the form of Viṣṇu vs. Śiva, but I have direct experience of both realities. The One bestowing final liberation is Śiva and not Viṣṇu. I am not speaking about the Vedic Śiva (or strictly speaking, the puranic Śiva), the one who is an ascetic living in a cave and sitting on a tiger skin, etc. NO. I am speaking about Tantric Śiva who is the Light of the Supreme Non-dualism, the Lord of lords, who is beyond space/time and cannot even outlined in thought. This One is the real Bestower of final liberation, and not Viṣṇu or any other deity that only acts as a regent. I am speaking the truth. People can continue to worship any deity, even the most little one if they wish so, but that does not mean they will become fully liberated from bondage. Besides, Viṣṇu is immersed in dualism, and no final liberation will be real final liberation if dualism goes on and on, because dualism is always related to bondage one way or the other. Even in the tattva-s 3 to 5 (the Śakti egg), there is a very subtle dualism as Śakti extracted the universe from Śiva although there is also a underlying unity.
The process of final liberation must proceed rightly through the knowledge indicated in the Trika philosophy. In the culminating point of this process, all duality is to be gone, even that residing in the Śakti egg, because "if you see another you will be afraid", i.e. in the realm of duality you will always be in bondage however slight this bondage could be. One has to recognize that "oneself" is the Light of Supreme Non-dualism replete with Absolute Freedom. This achievement of His Absolute Freedom marks the end of bondage once and for all. As it is obvious, all these processes cannot happen in duality, i.e. feeling that oneself and the Lord are not one and the same thing. Therefore, according to the knowledge exhibited in this scripture along with my direct experience about these subject-matters, I can affirm that Śiva alone grants final liberation and not Viṣṇu. I repeat: This is no sectarianism but the fruit of a real experience of liberation backed up by the teachings of this scripture.
8 As it is obvious, both terms, Pṛthvī and Pṛthivī, are synonymous and their meaning is "earth". In this case, the earth element or tattva 36. I generally use Pṛthivī in my writings, but here Abhinavagupta used the variant Pṛthvī (read Trika 6 for more information). The scope of this egg coincides with that of the Kalā called Nivṛtti. Later on it will be taught that in each of the tattva-s, all the tattva-s exist, and this is specially true with reference to the last tattva called Pṛthvī. In the Pṛthvī egg reside the fourteen material words presided by Lord Brahmā. Hence this egg is full of different species of experients that end in vegetables and humans. It is a gross shell, a gross egg that, of course, binds or ties up. There are superhuman beings dwelling in this egg, but none of them is fully liberated because they are all still in bondage, the very regent Brahmā included.
Now, a list of the fourteen material worlds, from the highest world down to the lowest one. My description is mainly based on the narration of the sage Vyāsa while he comments on Pātañjalayogasūtra-s III.26 in his Sāṅkhyapravacanasūtra:
- Brahmaloka or Satyaloka — The world where Brahmā, the regent of Pṛthvī egg composed of the fourteen materials worlds, dwells. There are four kinds of gods here: Acyuta-s, Śuddhanivāsa-s, Satyābha-s and Sañjñāsañjñī-s. These gods live in layers, one over the other, not in residences. Each of them enjoys different types of joy.
- Tapoloka or Taparloka — Here there are three kinds of gods: Ābhāsvara-s, Mahābhāsvara-s and Satyamahābhāsvara-s. They live on meditation and know all that is occurring in regions below and above theirs.
- Janaloka — There are four types of gods here: Brahmapurohita-s, Brahmakāyika-s, Brahmamahākāyika-s and Amara-s. They have complete mastery over elements and organs. In general, all these three higher worlds belonging to the sphere of Brahmā contain gods with such powers.
- Maharloka — This is the Prājapatya region (the region of the Prajāpati-s, the lords of the living beings). There are five groups de deities here: Kumuda-s, Ṛbhu-s, Pratardana-s, Añjanābha-s and Pracitābha-s. As always, they need no food except meditation. They also have mastery over the gross elements (earth, water, fire, air and ether).
- Svarloka — The heaven. As this world has five planes, Mahendraloka (the world of the great Indra, the regent of Svarloka) being the main one among them, Svarloka is sometimes called Mahendraloka, plainly. By the way, in Mahendraloka within Svarloka, there are six types of deities: Tridaśa-s, Agniṣvātta-s, Yāmya-s, Tuṣita-s, Aparinirmitavaśavartī-s and Parinirmitavaśavartī-s. They have their desires fulfilled instantly and have several supernatural powers.
- Bhuvarloka — Also known as Antarīkṣa (the atmosphere) where an immense quantity of deities live. All of them are a little above the human beings. They are not very interesting but most aspirants are in awe when some of them appear in their meditations.
- Bhūrloka — The term literally means the "earthly or terrestrial world" but it actually is a large ethereal region attached to this earth, from Sumeru hill where certain deities dwell down to the earth itself called Vasumatī. Oh yes, this is complex, because to fully explain it to you I would have to include the entire Vyāsa's description here, which not only includes hills but also islands, mounts, gardens, etc. Take it easy then!
- The seven nether worlds — These are not the six hells (naraka-s) but the seven nether worlds (known generally as pātāla-s)... another long story I will tell you some day. These nether worlds are located in the lower portion of Bhūrloka, hence sometimes only 7 worlds are spoken about and not 14. The names of the nether worlds are: Mahātala, Rasātala, Atala, Sutala, Vitala, Talātala and Pātāla. Beings dwelling in these wretched worlds suffer, specially because they have organs of perception, but being their powers extremely restrained, they cannot ever have their desires fulfilled. In this sense, the earth could be considered as a quasi-hell for some people experiencing a horrible karma, you know.
OK, it is enough. All those 14 worlds, from my viewpoint, are worth 1 cent and a half. No serious spiritual aspirant after final liberation should be interested in them. No matter how impressive even Brahmaloka may seem to be, it is still a material world suffering from destruction sooner or later, i.e. these 14 worlds are not everlasting like the Supreme Self. Final liberation has to do with realization of the eternal Supreme Lord and not with all these foolish worlds residing in a foolish egg called Pṛthvī, I am completely sure about that. Though one will have to travel to some or all the 14 worlds during his spiritual path, invitation from celestial beings that dwell in those worlds should not be accepted ever. This is not my invention but an instruction that was established by Patañjali himself in his Yogasūtra-s III.51. The undesirable results have to do with forgetting that final liberation is not to go to any world, or even to enjoy celestial things or supernatural powers, but rather to attain His Absolute Freedom. When one attains That, one does not travel to anywhere, one does not want to see anything and so on. One just enjoy Supreme Peace and Bliss that are beyond human understanding. The real disciple wants This and not to go to those 14 wretched worlds that are still under the sway of mother death.
If that is my opinion on those 14 material worlds as a whole, you already know my opinion on this little world called earth, which is so low in the scale of creation. Yes, everything in this universal manifestation is the Self in the end, even the filthiest worm crawling somewhere, but there is a hierarchy too. None of the things and none of the beings contained in these four eggs will give you final liberation. He is Bestower of final liberation who is not bound by any of these four eggs. His name is: Paramaśiva, the Supreme Śiva. The whole lot of deities, gods, regents, etc. is an emanation of His Light and Absolute Freedom, there is no doubt about it!
In this way, after expounding on this group of four eggs, (Abhinavagupta) here --in the fifth stanza--, being intent on explaining the state of enjoyer and object of enjoyment, expressed an aphorism --lit. a concise statement in verse-- for defining the nature of the universe:
In there --in the group of four eggs--, this universe, which is a manifold continuous flow of worlds, sense organs (and) bodies, (exists). And in that --in the universe--, Śiva alone, having assumed the state of a limited individual --lit. animal, beast-- (in the form of) an embodied being, (is) the Enjoyer||5||
"Tatrāntar" --in there-- , i.e. within those four eggs that are well-known from the Āgama-s or Revealed Scriptures, this universe exists1 . Of what kind (is it)? --viz. what is this universe like?-- — (Abhinavagupta) said so (in the stanza): "Manifold". The different varieties of Rudra --liberated beings-- (and) limited beings have tanu-s --lit. bodies-- arranged with multiple mouths, hands, feet, etc., i.e. they have forms that are extraordinary due to (their) particular appearance. Likewise, because of the differences from one another, they --liberated and limited beings-- have superior sense organs such as eyes, etc.. For example: The unsurpassed (sense organs) of the Rudra experients possess a number of good attributes (such as) omniscience, etc.. By those (sense organs) indeed all this --anything-- is known in one instant simultaneously, and accomplished or carried out (too in one instant simultaneously)2 . However, these sense organs of the limited beings, being restrained by the niyatiśakti of the Supreme Lord, are only capable of producing knowledge about mere things (such as) a pot, etc.3 . (In short,) all --i.e. anything-- is neither known nor accomplished by those (sense organs). Even in that case, (there is) the preeminence or superiority of the sense organs of the Yogī-s, that is to say, by passing beyond niyatiśakti, even something or someone situated in a remote place (or) lying concealed at a great distance is defined accurately by their sense organs, and also pleasure, pain, etc. present in other experients is known (by them --by such sense organs--)4 .
Similarly, even in the case of the animals, though they are contracted or limited by niyatiśakti, there is superiority of (their) sense organs even with reference to those of the human beings. For instance: "Cows see their own house --the stable-- even though it is concealed from view; horses see the road even by night; vultures see the prey though it is located at one hundred yojana-s --1440 km (if one yojana is equal to 14.4 km), or else, being more conservative, 400 km (if one yojana is equal to 4 km)--; birds, flies, (and even) extending as far as (the very) mosquitoes, (all of them) are seen roaming through the sky; snakes go (their) way on (their own) chest(s), and they hear sounds by (their) sight; (and) camels draw a serpent out of (its) cave, even from afar, by means of (their) breathing alone". In this way, it is to be noted and inferred the manifoldness with reference to the sense organs everywhere. Likewise, "the bhuvana-s or worlds (where all those beings live), which are well-known from the revealed scriptures, by assuming circular, triangular (and) quadrangular aspects (as well as) those of a half-moon (and) an (open) umbrella, (do) have superior shapes (too)".
Thus, (the expression vicitratanukaraṇabhuvanasantānam in the stanza means) the continuity of uninterrupted ligatures in whatever cosmos, i.e. the continuous flow of these worlds, sense organs and bodies, which is vicitra --lit. manifold-- (or) extraordinary and with different (degrees of) superiority. That which is of that kind (is called) "the universe". And with regard to that universe which is of that kind (and) whose nature is being bhogya or "to be enjoyed", (the obvious question arising is that) it --the universe-- is to be (enjoyed) by an "enjoyer" (or the whole thing would be senseless) — (Abhinavagupta) said so (in the stanza): "And in that --in the universe--, (Śiva alone, in the form of) an embodied being, (is) the Enjoyer". (If) in the case of an atomic self --a limited being-- there is a deha or body (which), being scented by the three impurities, (is) the resting place of enjoyment, (then) he (is) a "dehī" (or) someone possessed of a physical body whose nature (is related to) pleasure, pain, etc.5 . It is said that the bhoktā or enjoyer, i.e. the one experiencing pleasure, pain, etc. in this (physical body) replete with pleasure, pain, etc., (is to be known as) paśupramātā or an experient who is an animal or beast6 .
An objection!: (If) even in the case of a mere atomic self --a limited individual--, there is no difference with respect to the Highest Experient --there is no difference between such a limited individual and the Supreme Self--, why is (he) called a miserable embodied being who is different from Him? (The answer to that question) has been (already) expressed (this way):
"Even a (small) region of Brahma has all the forms --i.e. it is omnipresent--, cannot be surpassed and is beyond thought."
And according to the axiom:
"Even in each of the tattva-s or categories there is the form of the thirty-six tattva-s."
only one Experient, viz. the Supreme Lord who is united with His own Power (and) whose essence is the Great Effulgence or Light, shines as not different from all --in unity with all--7 . (Therefore,) even if there was admission of the existence of an embodied being who, in being different from Him, is not revealed by His Light, since there is insufficiency of means for the manifestation, existence cannot be ascertained. (However,) if he is revealed by His Light, in that case: "one Experient (alone), who is not different from (His) Light indeed, (remains) in That whose nature is the Highest Brahma". On the other hand, this duality characterized by enjoyer (and) enjoyed --by subject and object-- exists only to that point or extent --it is only valid from that viewpoint--8 .
Thus, the one who thinks of everything --i.e. Abhinavagupta-- said (in the present stanza): "Śiva alone, having assumed the state of a limited individual --lit. animal, beast--". He Himself who (is) the Fortunate One, i.e. Śiva, whose essence is Absolute Freedom (and) who is a compact mass of Consciousness (and) Bliss, as will be explained immediately after, conceals His essential nature of His own Will, (and,) like an actor, He plays the role of an experient endowed with a physical body. And since the state of being a paśu or animal --a limited individual-- is protected and nourished (by Him), He is characterized by the existence of paśu-s. (As a result,) He is said (to become) an embodied being who is an enjoyer with regard to this bhogya --the one to be enjoyed, viz. the universe-- which is full of pleasure, pain, etc. (and) has been created by Himself.
Nonetheless, there is nothing that, having arisen or emerged from a padārtha --two possible translations here: either lit. "from the meaning of a word" or "from a tattva or category of the universal manifestation"--, is different from Śiva. And this very Fortunate Śiva, through (His) Absolute Freedom, sets up --causes to arise-- the pair of experient --knower-- (and) experienced --knowable-- appearing as enjoyer (and) enjoyed, as if it were a plaything or toy. (Just) with reference to that (is all) this question about what is chiefly dual --duality between experient and experienced, enjoyer and enjoyed--. Therefore, this Absolute Freedom of the Supreme Lord (is) unsurpassed, inasmuch as only Śiva flashes in one's own Self as a compact mass of Consciousness (and) Bliss endowed with the State of Experient of all the experients even after His assuming the condition of paśu or animal --the limited individual-- —which essentially consists of enjoyer (and) enjoyed— by abandoning the State of (His) Perfect and Full Essential Nature||5||
1 In Trika, 92 Āgama-s or Revealed Scriptures are indicated: 64 are Bhairavāgama-s (completely non-dualistic); 18 are Rudrāgama-s (a mixture of both non-dualism and dualism); and finally 10 are Śivāgama-s (completely dualistic). Dualism is when you consider the Supreme Lord as different from you. Non-dualism is when you consider that there is no difference between you and the Supreme Lord, i.e. you are the Supreme Lord and the Supreme Lord is you. Mixture of non-dualism and dualism is when you consider that you are in unity with the Supreme Lord but at the same time you are not exactly like Him, viz. you are different from Him despite your being in unity with Him, in the same way heat coming from a flame is part of such a flame and in unity with it, but is different from the flame itself. Just a mere example for you to understand me. Triká (non-dualistic northern India's Shaivism) is mainly interested in the 64 Bhairavāgama-s and not in the other two sets of Revealed Scriptures, which are mostly worshiped by another form of Shaivism called Śaivasiddhānta (southern India's Shaivism that is characterized by the presence of dualism and non-dualism). Well, another long story as it is always the case in this huge universe known as Shaivism.
2 Rudra-s or liberated beings are 50 as I explained before (in the note 10 of the first stanza). They are in charge of the manifestation, maintenance and withdrawal of the universe. They are not able to veil one's own essential nature or reveal it. These acts are in charge of Śiva Himself, the Supreme Lord. He alone is able to veil His own Self and reveal Him to someone at will. No one else can do that because only Śiva is endowed with Absolute Freedom (Svātantrya). For this reason, a great Yogī that is fully enlightened is never impressed by Rudra-s (however powerful they may be), let alone by other human beings, but only by Śiva. Because Śiva alone is Bestower of final liberation. People being impressed by other people, the universe, gods or even Rudra-s are not still fully awakened to their own Self (Śiva).
3 The niyatiśakti of the Supreme Lord is the power (śakti) that generates restriction (niyati) in the sense organs of the limited beings. The word niyati (restriction) in this context has nothing to do with the Niyatitattva (category 11 of the universal manifestation - See Tattvic Chart for more information). The term śakti means "power" and not "energy" as it is sometimes translated. What is the difference? Because an energy is inert (jaḍa) while a power is conscious or living (caitanya). By "inert" I did not mean "static". For example, electricity is a dynamic energy but it is inert. Why? Because it is not conscious or living. What is this?? For example: The outlet on my wall here delivers 220 V. If I happen to put my fingers into it, I will receive 220 V and not only the quantity of voltage that is required for my body not to die in the process. Electricity is not that intelligent! By certain devices electricity is made intelligent, apparently, but it essentially remains inert or unintelligent always because it lacks consciousness. A power is not like that, i.e. inert. Remember that inert and conscious/living are not at all synonymous with "static" and "dynamic", respectively, but rather with "devoid of consciousness" and "endowed with consciousness".
A power can be relatively static then and still it is a power and not an energy. And an energy can be moving everywhere, but it is still inert because of its not having consciousness by itself. For example: The celebrated Kuṇḍalinīśakti is Śakti Herself (the Power of the Self, the Power of Śiva) but stationed in the body, as it were. She is conscious/living/intelligent. If not so, i.e. a power, for instance, the bodies of the ones meditating on Śiva in themselves would evaporate during the process. Why? Because when one meditates on his own Self that way, one gets in touch with Kuṇḍalinīśakti sooner or later. If She was not intelligent enough, one would receive a shock of infinite magnitude and the whole body would evaporate instantly. But that is not happening, isn't it? Why? Because She is conscious (caitanya) and adequately/compassionately regulates the "voltage" for one's body not to die during the meditation.
4 The great Yogī-s can do that easily because space and time has no relevance in their case. How is this possible? Time exists only when one "has something to do" and not before or after that. If you have nothing to do, there is no time for you. The problem is that in "bondage", one has always something to do. In this way, the notion of time continues to exist. I am not saying that time is an illusion or nonexistent in an absolute way. NO. It is just relative to the level of consciousness of the one perceiving. If time was an absolute reality, it would not change across the species. For instance: the day of Brahmā (the regent of the highest material world called Brahmaloka - Read the last note of the previous stanza) lasts 8,640,000,000 human years (if my memory serves me well) while the day of a human being just lasts 24 hours. Those differences across the species show that time is not a "solid" reality as most people use to think of. In the case of great Yogī-s who have attained Self-realization, time is so relevant like mere chaff driven off by the wind. People in bondage, obviously, are always so afraid of time.
And space is not important in the case of the great Yogī-s because it can be easily bent by the trances. Modern science specifies that an object with a great mass can significantly bend the space around it, e.g. the sun. In the same way, a great Yogī, whose "spiritual" mass is extreme, can easily bend the space around him. Space can be compared to a square fabric that is suspended in the air. When the fabric is unfolded that way, the four corners look separate from each other. Anyway, if you drop a heavy ball in the middle of that fabric, it will curve accordingly and the corners will come closer to one another. If the ball is very very heavy, the four corners will be brought together in the end. Likewise, when a great Yogī enters into trance, his spiritual mass becomes infinite like that of the Self. This is because he and the Self are one and the same Reality. He is Śiva and Śiva is him, there is no difference here. As a result, all the objects that seemed to be far away from each other when one dwells in the ordinary state of consciousness, appear now simultaneously in "one place". This is very easy to understand, right?
5 By "atomic self", Yogarāja refers to puruṣa (tattva or category 12 in the universal manifestation). At that level, Śiva has assumed contraction or limitation but He has not entered into any subtle body yet... let alone a physical one. With the arrival of tattva-s 14 (intellect), 15 (ego) and 16 (mind), along with the Tanmātra-s [subtle elements (tattva-s 27 to 31)], this atomic self who is purely "subjective" is transformed into "ego" that is turned to "objectivity", i.e. that is interested in objects. This interest in objects will bring about the manifestation of the physical body or sthūladeha in order to enjoy them. When this gross body (scented by the three impurities known as Āṇavamala, Māyīyamala and Kārmamala - Read Triká 4) is finished, the atomic self is then turned into a dehī or embodied being. This completes the process of bondage. In other words, with the arrival of the embodied being, Śiva makes sure that He will suffer like an animal for years to come. From the Śiva's viewpoint, all this is a divine Play, but from the embodied being's viewpoint all this is a great tragedy.
6 This embodied being is a paśu (lit. animal, beast) or paśupramātā (lit. an experient that is an animal or beast) because his happiness is always at the mercy of external or internal factors (weather, money, thoughts, emotions, etc.), because he uses to bite his liberator (e.g. disciples attacking his spiritual Guru-s directly or indirectly) and because he goes nowhere in the end (i.e. he does not attain final liberation from bondage). I made this point clear in the 7th note of the previous stanza.
7 The Highest Reality is always "non-dual". Therefore, even after assuming the form of all these miserable embodied beings, Śiva shines always in unity with all of them, as the Supreme Self. Dualism is always related to ignorance. When most people are confronted with the question that "they are God Himself" (absolute non-dualism), they usually say: "How could we be God when we are so imperfect, so limited?". In this way of reasoning, they show their ignorance. They are identified with their physical and subtle bodies consisting of gross elements, mind, ego, intellect, etc. They are not conscious of their divine Self who is Śiva. Even people that are apparently religious have the same ignorant way of reasoning about their identity. Next, they say that God is All-mighty... but if this is true, He can be all of those people too, at 100% in each of them. If those apparently religious people reply that God cannot be all of them, at 100% in each of them, then their God is Almost-All-Mighty. As there are always this kind of incoherence in dualism (bheda), dualism must be strongly rejected by wise people that are in search of final liberation. Even the mixture of dualism and non-dualism called bhedābheda appearing as "I am one with God but at the same time I am different from Him" must also be rejected as an useless thing, because it is still tinged with dualism. The Truth is always non-dual (abheda) in the form of "I am God, I am Śiva" or better "God is me, Śiva is me". This is the only way out of bondage.
8 This statement could look like "science fiction" or "supernatural" but it is very easy to understand if one reasons adequately. His Light or Effulgence (Prakāśa) is not mere inert light, i.e. a light that is devoid of intelligence or consciousness. For example, all the light emanating from this lamp placed in front of me now is inert. However, the Light of my real Self (Śiva) is conscious and intelligent. Due to this Light I can see the inert light of this lamp right here and right now. And if I close my eyes, I can see darkness due to this Light too. And in my dreams, I can watch all that is happening in my mind by the Light of my real Self again. And even in the void of deep sleep, I can see all that by this Light. And this Light is not only mere Prakāśa but It is conscious or intelligent as it is endowed with Vimarśa or Śakti. It is Light knowing that It is Light that illuminates all. If somebody happens to ask: "But how do you know that His Light is there?". Because if His Light was not there I would have never become aware of all those things. For instance, how did I come to know about the void present in deep sleep? Because I perceived it somehow. How? By His Light. Simple to understand, right?
"Even if there was admission of the existence of an embodied being who, in being different from Him, is not revealed by His Light, since there is insufficiency of means for the manifestation, existence cannot be ascertained": Dualism suggests that there is an embodied being who can exist being different from Him. But there is insufficiency of means for his manifestation. Why? Because one cannot go any other place where His Light is not present there. Do you not believe me? Try to go some place where His Light is absent. You cannot do that, because His Light goes with you as Yourself, as your real Self (Śiva). As this is so, there is always insufficiency of means for proving that an embodied being can be manifested by "another thing" but His Light. As a result, one cannot ascertain or establish the existence of such an embodied being ever! Do you know some person endowed with a body who has not been revealed by His Light that is in unity with yourself? No, because even if you merely think of someone like that, that thought is also illuminated or revealed by His Light.
And all that is not being revealed by His Light, which is truly Your Light, simply does not exist at all. And even this nonexistence is also illuminated by Your Light because you are right now thinking about it. How long will it take for you to realize that you are Śiva then? Self-realization, i.e. Śiva-realization, is not something you will attain practicing meditation for years, or undertaking long pilgrimages, etc. NO! All that is for your mind. Self-realization has only to do with His Grace and your right way of reasoning about your real Self. If you do not know how to reason, you are easily defeated by your own powers. Look around! All that you can perceive is the work of your own powers. You are the One who watches all this work, illuminating it by Your Light. All this around is being revealed by Your Light, which is not mere inert light but conscious Light. Accordingly, Your Light is to be known as the Light of all lights, because It is always illuminating even the total absence the light. How long will it take for you to realize this?
What I have just taught you is confirmed by Yogarāja:
"(However,) if he is revealed by His Light, in that case: 'one Experient (alone), who is not different from (His) Light indeed, (remains) in That whose nature is the Highest Brahma'".
All in all, since this embodied being is always revealed by the Light of your own real Self, he is always in unity with this Light, i.e. you are always in unity with Your own Light, with the Light of your real Self (Śiva) despite your wandering in bondage as a limited experient full of imperfections, who is an enjoyer of all these miserable objects of enjoyment such as thoughts, emotions, dreams, colors, other people, meals, money, etc. A little portion of Brahma (the Absolute) is so great as Brahma Himself. Dualism is always delusive and ignorant, while non-dualism is the Truth. For that reason, bondage has to do with dualism while final liberation, also known as Self-realization, has to do with non-dualism. Consequently, someone who seeks complete liberation from bondage, by avoiding inferior dualistic viewpoints, should take refuge in the Light of Supreme Non-dualism always!
The final two paragraphs written by Yogarāja in his present commentary only express what I have explained here in detail. No need for me to additionally comment on those two paragraphs then. You are Śiva, the Highest Experient whose essential nature is a compact mass of Consciousness and Bliss. Remember this Truth constantly and recover the Absolute Freedom you never lost!
Notwithstanding, (in His being) "one" Experient whose nature is Consciousness, if He (becomes) "many" because of multiplicity (appearing) as the diversity of knowers --experients-- (and) knowables --objects-- (generated) by Māyā, etc., how is He designated as "one", which is the opposite (to "many")? (Besides,) if (He is) "one", why (is He) multiform? Thus, due to the contradiction —like sunshine contained in a shadow—, a superimposition or false attribution of essential qualities that are opposite (to each other) would appear suddenly. Moreover, "one" thing is not "multiform".
That (same truth) has been expressed (in this way):
"This difference among the objects is caused by the difference (itself in them) or else (it is the result of a) superimposition —produced by a variety of causes— of essential qualities that are opposite (to one another)."
Due to the presence of someone who uses an example or simile as a proof, (Abhinavagupta) resolves --finishes off-- the difficult question raised to invite for controversy by showing here --in the sixth stanza-- an example related to ordinary life1 :
Just as a pure crystal assumes a form or aspect containing various colors, even so the Lord also (assumes) the form or aspect of gods, human beings, animals (and) trees||6||
Just as a crystal, though one, takes upon itself all that manifoldness appearing as a thousand varieties of various qualifying attributes such as red dye, blue, etc., even so (the Lord) becomes variegated. Besides, meanwhile --while the crystal takes upon itself all that manifoldness of colors, etc.-- no decrease or diminution in its condition as a crystal takes place2 .
This very (condition) (is also) the condition as a maṇi --lit. gem-- in the case of the crystal --lit. crystal-gem--, which (makes that), even when it --the crystal-- is covered with various different characteristics --e.g. red dye, blue, etc.--, (there is) always in everybody the unimpeded perception (that) "this (is) a crystal"3 .
"Only those (qualifying attributes such as) red dye, etc., shine forth here"... this is what is said. However, the qualifying attribute (such as) red dye, etc. does not make it --the crystal-- different as (it does) in the case of a piece of cloth, (and) on which account there is no annihilation of its --of the crystal-- essential nature4 .
Therefore, this (is) indeed the total purity of the gem --the crystal--, which (allows the crystal) to bear forms appearing as the qualifying attribute and (simultaneously) manifest itself with its own essential nature.
Likewise, this Free Lord, who is a compact mass of Consciousness, though solitary, on the extremely clear mirror of His own Self, holds —in unity with His own Self—, as if He were a Crystal, the diversity of colors, i.e. the Form of the different characteristics that appear as the categories beginning with Rudra-s --liberated beings in charge of manifestation, maintenance and withdrawal of the universe-- (and) limited individuals --lit. knowers of the field-- (and) ending in gods, human beings, animals, birds (and) vegetables, as well as (the remaining) things which have been created by Himself5 . (Also,) since (this Free Lord) dwells beyond even that --all the things having been enumerated-- (as) "I", thus, He is conscious of --lit. touches-- His own Self, which is closely clung to the undivided Delight (and) is "one" even though appearing as multiform --replete with various forms--6 .
In this way, there is no space or time, whose nature(s) have to do with difference or duality, breaking His unity. (So,) with regard to that (subject-matter), a refutation of the superimposition or false attribution of essential qualities which are opposite (to each other), etc. in the case of this Great Lord, who is one's own Self, has been (tacitly) expressed (by Abhinavagupta in the stanza) certainly. (And) the cognition of a painting, which --the cognition-- has to do with clear or direct perception, though it is completely divided in multiple parts or portions --subcognitions--, it is admitted as being only one by others --by the Buddhists--.
As (has been established) in Pramāṇavārttika:
"In the cognition of a painting, the qualifying attribute of (this) knowledge such as blue, etc., is only one --viz. it is not different from the cognition of the painting itself-- (or) its perception --the perception of the qualifying attribute-- would be impossible. (In fact, even) the one distinguishing or differentiating that --the qualifying attribute of this knowledge-- is indeed included in (this) matter (called "cognition of a painting")7 ."
(Then,) in the case of the Free Knower who is thoroughly Full (and) whose only essence is Consciousness, how much more or less (can) these (two), space and time, which are considered as makers of differences or duality, remain as the ones making Him appear as the diversities or varieties of form (and) action? (And) how could (those two) be delimitors of that Fortunate One --the Lord--?
If ever, at some time or other, there would be existence of space and time as different from Consciousness, then the superimposition of essential qualities that are opposite (to one another) "might arise" as a result or consequence of that (duality), i.e. there might be an assumption or supposition regarding that8 .
(Still,) inasmuch as in the case of both --of space and time--, the establishment of their own existence (occurs) through the Light of Consciousness alone, (then) it has thus been proved (that) the Great Lord whose form is Consciousness (is) only "one" even though (He seems to be) of the nature of many. Nonetheless, in the case that the essential qualities producing differences (were considered as independent from the Great Lord, then) the (theory about a) superimposition of essential qualities that are opposite (to each other) (would be) "difficult to remove indeed9 "||6||
1 Now, a dārṣṭāntika (one who uses a dṛṣṭānta -an example or simile- as a proof) raises the following doubt: "If the Great Lord is 'one', why is He said to become 'many'? And why is He multiform then? This would imply that an 'adhyāsa' (superimposition) must be summoned in order to explain the multiplicity in the Great Lord as in the case of Advaitavedānta (one of the three types of Vedānta), where Brahma, the Absolute that is devoid of any activity, is postulated as having the superimposition of Māyā (the illusory power of ignorance). As a result of that superimposition, the upādhi -substitute- called Īśvara (also known as Saguṇabrahma or Brahma with attributes) arises in the form of the "Lord of the universe" (for more information about these Advaitavedānta's statements read "Confusion between Vedānta and Trika" as well as "Learning to reason adequately"). Yogarāja, the commentator, is not specifying the philosophy this dārṣṭāntika follows, but according to his way of reasoning, I presume he is very probably a follower of Advaitavedānta. This kind of followers is prone to explain the processes by superimpositions (adhyāsa-s). As they cannot think of the Highest Reality (Brahma) as being "one" and "many" at the same time, and also since they cannot conceive that Brahma can be formless and multiform at the same time, they resort to a Māyā (the illusory power of ignorance) superimposed over the Reality of Brahma for explaining the coexistence of Brahma (devoid of activity and form) and universe (full of activities and forms). Trika does not support this viewpoint at all!
The one objecting the truth that the Great Lord is both one and many at the same time, as well as multiform even though He has "one form", quotes a passage to prove his point. In a nutshell this passage says that the difference among the objects is always produced either because the objects are essentially different from one another or because there is a superimposition over one of them or both. For example: A table is different from a chair because both objects are essentially different, but two identical tables can be different from each other simply because they were painted with different colors. Therefore, the color "superimposed" over the tables produces the difference between them. In the same way, the Supreme Lord (Paramaśiva), being one and having only one form, must have "something superimposed" so that He can appear as many and multiform. This is the argument presented by the one who objects. Abhinavagupta will sweep away his argumentation by another dṛṣṭānta -example or simile- extracted from the ordinary life. The 6th stanza is then simply his formulation of such an example.
2 Abhinavagupta compares the Lord to a pure crystal, because just as a crystal reflects all near it without changing its essential nature, even so the Lord exhibits multiplicity and various forms in spite of His being one and formless. When I say "formless" I mean that His form cannot be outlined even by the subtlest intellect. The difference between a mere crystal and the Lord is only that the crystal is reflecting objects that are outside itself. Besides, the crystal is not aware of the presence of such objects and their respective reflections on it. In this way, the Lord would be like a "divine" Crystal that reflects objects that are inside Himself and at the same time He is fully aware of their presence. All this multiplicity of beings, objects, roles, etc. cannot affect the purity of this divine Crystal. This is why when one fully realizes the Lord, viz. when one recognizes his own essential nature, what one perceives is the immutable Reality that has never been affected by anything. Śiva, the Great Lord, remains always the same and completely unaffected by all that is reflected on Him. This Śiva is You right here and right now and all these objects around along with all the thoughts in your mind, and the rest of things that are still unmanifest but ready to be manifested in the future, are reflecting on Your own Purity. And the space and time where all those things and thoughts dwell are also being reflected on Your own Purity. In this way, You seem to be "variegated" and full of different states and qualities, while simultaneously You remain completely Immaculate like a divine Crystal. This is the right way to think about "Oneself" and the universe. This kind of attitude cuts the chains of one's own ignorance at once.
3 When everybody takes a crystal, however covered it may be with colors, they say: "This is a crystal". There is no doubt about it, because the nature of the crystal overpowers the rest of qualifying attributes (e.g. colors) added to it. This is very easy to understand, right?
4 When everybody takes a crystal, they are fully aware that it is a crystal though the presence of qualifying attributes on it (e.g. colors), and they just say: "Well, all these things added to the crystal are here"... but that does not change their mind about the nature of the crystal itself, i.e. all these qualifying attributes do not change the nature of the crystal itself as they do in the case of a piece of cloth (e.g. a piece of cloth soaked in red dye) since they do not annihilate the essential nature of the crystal at all. They are just here, being reflected by the crystal or even on the crystal (like painting), but they do not penetrate into the core of the crystal itself. So, the essential nature of the crystal remains unaltered. Likewise, all these things "inside" the Great Lord (You!) do not change Him. They are real, because they are existing within the Lord, but they cannot affect His innermost nature. When one says: "I am thin", "I am dull", "I am intelligent", "I am rich", etc., one is not speaking about Oneself but only about the physical body, the mind, external things, etc. What Oneself IS remains the same all the time. This is what one realizes at the moment of final liberation: "That Śiva (Oneself) never changed even though so many things seemed to have happened to Him".
5 Thus, due to the total Purity of this Great Lord, He can be the immutable Lord of all and at the same time be full of multiple forms. All the categories or padārtha-s, beginning with Rudra-s (the liberated beings in charge of the universal manifestation, maintenance and withdrawal) and the knowers of the field -the individual souls dwelling in the category 12 or Puruṣatattva- and ending in gods, human beings, animals, birds, vegetables and the rest of things manifested by the Lord Himself -in short, all that has emanated from the category 13 or Prakṛtitattva (viz. tattva-s 14 to 36)-... all that is held in unity with Himself by the Great Lord, as if He were a divine Crystal, though His own essential nature never changes even a little bit. This example shows unity and diversity existing simultaneously without contradicting each other.
6 And this Great Lord Śiva, since He dwells as "I", is fully conscious of His own nature (His Self). This Self is closely clung to the undivided Delight (i.e. to Śakti, the Power of Śiva Himself) that appears as His own "I-consciousness" (I AM). This is happening now: The reader is conscious of himself though so many objects and beings are being reflected on him. This is not happening to a distant Śiva who nobody knows, because Śiva is the Essence of the reader himself. If the reader "reads" all this and at the same time he thinks that he is not Śiva, he will not ever understand this scripture adequately. And the undivided Delight or Śakti is what Śiva experiences constantly in the form of different moods, from the extreme absence of Bliss to the extreme presence of Bliss while meditating, etc. All this is His "undivided" Delight. This Delight is "undivided" (akhaṇḍa) because It is always "one and the same one". So, all the moods, from the complete absence of Bliss to the complete presence of Bliss are also His Bliss or Delight.
Spiritual aspirants still bound by their own ignorance believe that Bliss is only happening when they are "extremely happy" in meditation, chanting of mantra-s and the like, while the rest of states are full of "something else" (not of Bliss). In this way, their Bliss lasts the time they are meditating, chanting, etc. in lotus posture, for example, but the rest of the day, when they are busy with other "worldly" things, they are not in Bliss but "sunk in misery". This erroneous concept as far as the real nature of Bliss is concerned is usually seen in this world. But real Bliss is not like that because if that was true, i.e. that Bliss is only lasting a while and the rest of the day one is sunk in "another thing that is not Bliss", such a Bliss would be "divided" and consequently worthless. Who would want a Bliss like that, a Bliss that lasts only while one is meditating, chanting, etc.?
Such aspirants that are incapacitated by their own impurity (Āṇavamala), look to make the rest of states apart from the one they experience in meditation, chanting, etc. "blissful" too, but they fail miserably. Because they do not have to "make" anything but only have the right attitude about the real nature of Bliss: "Sadness is Bliss", "pain is Bliss", "worries are Bliss", "stupidity is Bliss", "happiness is Bliss", "indifference is Bliss" and so on and on. When they learn to consider all those states, generally branded as "worldly states", as Bliss and Bliss alone, they finally succeed. So, even if they are sunk in total misery, they will be replete with "undivided" Bliss. This is the Key to escape from bondage, which is characterized by "absence of Bliss"... not because Bliss is not present in bondage but rather because "one thinks that that absence of Bliss is NOT Bliss". Spiritual enlightenment is always about having the right attitude, the Śiva's attitude (e.g. the right attitude about Bliss) and NOT about practices such as meditation, chanting of mantra-s and so forth.
7 When it is taught that space and time do not affect the Self, the hidden purport in that statement is shown here with the example of a crystal reflecting red dye, blue, etc. Space and time, like colors, only dye the crystal but never alter its essential nature. When someone says: "I am 19 years old" or "I live in Brazil", he really means "My body is 19 years old" and "My body live in Brazil". Śiva, his Self, dwells everywhere and nowhere at the same time. This is why that person is said not to be either inside or outside his body, because the Self is not bound to space and time like the body is. All in all, all these bodies you can see (including yours) contain a person (the Self) who is neither inside nor outside it. Yes, this is not mental but it lies beyond the arena of mind.
This analogy using a crystal refutes the theory of the superimposition hinted at by the one objecting. To give more support to such an analogy, Yogarāja quotes a fragment of a Buddhist scripture, the Dharmakīrti's Pramāṇavārttika, where the author indicates that there is total unity between the qualifying attributes of a painting, such as its colors, and the cognition (the act of knowing) of the painting itself. They are only one and the same thing. If it was not so, nobody could perceive the qualifying attributes (e.g. the colors there). In fact, even the one beholding the painting is included in the process known as "cognition of a painting". As a result, there is complete unity between knower, knowledge and knowable or no cognition would be possible. In the same way, there is full unity between the Self as a crystal and all the reflections taking place in Him. This is very easy to understand, right?
8 In this way, space and time are not making the Great Lord appear as the multiplicity you find in this universe, since they themselves are also reflections on the crystal of the Highest Reality. Also, space and time, being mere reflections, cannot confine the Great Lord by any means, i.e. they cannot delimit the Self.
The only way one could imagine that the theory of the superimposition of essential qualities that are opposite to each other (e.g. the many selves superimposed over the "only Self") is right, it would be in the case that space and time were different from the Self. With the existence of such a duality, the theory of the superimposition could be valid. But as that is never occurring, i.e. space and time are not different from the Self because if they were so, viz. different from Him, they would not exist at all in their not being perceived by Him, such as Kṣemarāja explained it extensively in his Śivasūtravimarśinī I.1, the theory of the superimposition is never valid in the case of the Great Lord Śiva.
9 As it has been proved then, space and time are not different from Śiva and consequently they cannot delimit Him or alter His nature at all. Never! So, the presence of all the beings that are living in the framework of space and time is not contradicting the Truth that the Self is only "one", because all of them are also not different from the Self Himself. Therefore, there is no need to summon the theory of superimposition to explain the presence of many selves in one Self. This theory dealing with superimpositions would only be difficult to remove in the case that there were essential qualities that produce differences (e.g. space and time) but existing "apart from the Great Lord". With the arrival of this duality, the theory of the superimposition would therefore become valid. Anyway, as this is not the case, because the Lord is one with space and time, the presence of all the things contained in space and time does not deny His solitary Existence. It is clear, isn't it? Now, when Yogarāja and I were speaking about the Great Lord (a.k.a. Śiva, the Self), we were talking about the reader and not about someone else. I am making this point clear, because the Great Lord is prone to forget Himself in this Play of His.
An objection: If "the Experient or Knower, who is really Consciousness, (is) admitted (as being) only one, (but that) He Himself, in His having assumed (the aspects known as) body, senses and worlds, becomes many", then, in that case, when there is destruction of body, etc., He Himself would be destroyed. Or else, when that --body, etc.-- is produced, then He Himself would be produced.
Thus, each experient or knower (associated with body and so on) is divided according to the six changes applicable to a positive entity, (and as a result,) "he is born, exists, etc.". (Consequently,) in the case of this very Lord --the Fortunate One-- (who has become a limited experient or knower), enjoyment of heaven, hell, etc. would be obtained according to the variety of karma-s or activities whose nature is virtuous (or) sinful. So, how is it said (that) "his --of this limited experient or knower-- essential nature (is) Śiva".
(Abhinavagupta) also resolves --finishes off-- this (objection) by means of an example1 :
Just as the image of the moon moves in flowing water (and) does not move in still (water), even so this Self, the Great Master, (behaves) as regards the group (composed) of body, senses (and) worlds||7||
Just as , in a stream or current of water that is moving, the image or form of the moon which is really in the sky —it itself (being) completely motionless even though fallen inside a stream of water— moves, goes, as it were; even so, at that very moment elsewhere, in a pond which is not still, that image of the moon does not move, as it were. Thus, this (situation) is thought possible by all the experients or knowers in both cases, but that is not like that in reality --viz. though the reflected image of the moon appears to be moving or remaining still, all that is mere appearance--2 .
Space and time, which are connected with the water (and are) endowed with the capacity to generate differences, do not touch the essential nature of the moon which is in the sky. (It is) only the water which is like that. Moreover, in the case of the image of the moon reflected in it --in the water--, it is said that the difference has to do with motion, absence of motion, etc. present in the water. So, to that extent, (whether) in the case (of the image) of the moon present in the water of Ganges or descended upon mud, there is no loss or damage with respect to its essential nature.
Even so this Self whose essence is Caitanya --Consciousness in Absolute Freedom-- (behaves) regarding the self-created aggregate (composed) of body, senses (and) worlds when (this aggregate) disappears or arises. This (question about) "disappeared and arisen" (is) merely (a matter of) usage or common practice in the case of those who are bewildered by Māyā, as the (image of the) moon present in the water. However, "one's own Self neither is born nor dies". It was said so in the verses of Bhagavadgītā3 :
"It is never born or dies. This (embodied soul) has not come into being or will come into being, nor is coming into being (right now). This (embodied soul) (is) unborn, eternal, perpetual, ancient. (It is) not killed when the body is killed."
Therefore, this Self, the Free Great Master, whose essence is awareness of all in Himself, spreads like the state of Experient or Knower in all the experients or knowers. Consequently, (He is) certainly one's own essential nature in the annihilation or rise of the various states.
And this State of being the Great Master belonging to the Principle (called) Consciousness does what is very hard to be accomplished, viz. It, by getting endowed with the state of the experient (known as) paśu --lit. animal, beast, i.e. the limited individual-- in this and that way, (becomes) even the experiencer of enjoyment in heaven, hell, etc. whose --of that experiencer-- essential nature (is) Consciousness with the capacity to experience all4 .
On the contrary (of what one could think, with reference to) this state of paśu or limited individual, being restrained by the force generating bondage (and) consisting of virtue, sin, heaven, hell, hunger, thirst, etc., if it --such a state in bondage-- is manifested and touched --experienced-- by the Fortunate One --the Lord-- through the Light of His own Self, then (this state of paśu) gets (its) aforesaid existence in one's own Self (or) otherwise it would not have any essence. So, how is (the state of paśu) said to be for the annihilation of the essential nature of that Great Lord that is one's own Self?5
In every respect, that which consists of body, etc. is a created thing that can be eliminated or produced. Nonetheless, production and elimination never exist with regard to Caitanya or Consciousness in Absolute Freedom, i.e. the Eternal Lord.
On that account, only one Self becomes, (on the one hand,) manifold --multiform-- in the form of objects and subjects, (and), on the other hand, spreads in unity with everybody as the Experient of all. In this way, there (can) be no removal of the non-dualistic doctrine6 ||7||
1 Summing it up, the one that objects is saying that there would be the following conclusion if the Self who is only one becomes many: "With the generation of body, senses and worlds, as the Self becomes all that, when body, senses and worlds finally disappear, the Self would also disappear along with them. And in turn, when they are produced again, the Self would appear together with them again".
In this way, there would be a Self appearing and disappearing all the time in all of the individual selves associated with body, senses and worlds. This is the doctrine of the multiple selves born from only one Self. All these individual selves go through the six changes applicable to a positive entity (ṣaḍ-bhāva-vikāra). This subject-matter was already explained in the note 9 of the stanzas 2-3. At the end of his objection, he is trying to prove that since the individual selves experience misery almost all the time in the form of heaven, hell, etc. due to their actions, then how could these miserable individual selves be considered as the Supreme Self Himself (Śiva)? What he is attempting to do is to remove the non-dualistic doctrine between Supreme Self and individual self, i.e. that the individual self although his misery is the Supreme Self anyway.
2 The Supreme Self is compared to the image or form of the moon being reflected both in a stream of water and in a pond. Though the water in the pond is NOT still, as clearly specified by Yogarāja by the expression "niḥstimite sati - which is not still" (one would have expected the expression "stimite sati - which is still" instead, right?, because it would sound more logical), the reflection of the image of the moon will remain stationary because a pond is not a stream of water (e.g. a river). Anyway, what is happening to the reflection is not happening to the moon itself at all. All the limited experients think both situations possible, i.e. the image of the moon moving or remaining still. But that is not taking place in reality, because the moon is in the sky and not in the water. This is very easy to understand, of course. In the same way, the Supreme Self, though He appears to be going through different states such as "having a body, senses, worlds", He remains the Same One all the time, completely Pure and Immutable. In this manner, the theory of multiple independent selves is eliminated. There is only one Self and all the multiple selves that are manifested by the Power of this Self are like the reflection of the moon in the water. All of them seem to be experiencing this or that state, but all that does not affect the real Self in them all.
3 It is just the way the water is. This has nothing to do with the moon itself. Likewise, what the individual selves do or do not do never affect the Immaculate Self of all. The entire aggregate of body, senses and worlds, whether it appears or disappears, never touches His Absolute Purity. Nonetheless, it is a common practical among all these individual selves that are mere reflections of the Supreme Self and are still bewildered by His Māyā (His Power to make differences) to speak like this: "This person has been born" or "This person has died". All this has nothing to do with the Great Śiva, the Immortal One, obviously, just as all that is happening to the image of the moon being reflected in the water has nothing to do with the moon itself. This is easy to understand in theory, but in practice, oh my God... His Māyā clouds the intellects of saints sometimes. Hence, it is no surprise to have all these limited individuals around living completely at the mercy of the deceitful appearance of birth and death, isn't it?
4 He is the Great Master because nobody can own "all" as He can. He says: "Now", and you get final liberation. He says: "Not now", and you do not get final liberation. It is that simple, but most of these limited individuals around think that they will be able to force the Great Master by some methods or practices. If to perform practices were effective in revealing the Great Master, He would not be a Great Master but another servant. That is not possible then. Practices are mere pastimes for people that await His final decision about their liberation. Egos in most people hate to hear this because they want to exhibit their freedom somehow. But what freedom will they show when they have none? Inside, very inside, reader, you perfectly know that you are not free really... and on top of that you have no idea what to do in order to solve this problem. But as this truth is obvious but very difficult to swallow, those people are given practices for them to be entertained while the "real Work" is performed by His Power. Finally, if the decision is "Yes" in this life for him or her, a person gets final liberation in a trice whether he was doing a spiritual practice at that time or merely playing a videogame or driving a car or looking for a cat, etc. As He is one with everything, nothing can obstruct His Will. Most people want a democracy in their spiritual path, but that is impossible. If a democracy could be possible in His case, He would not be called "the Lord" but "the President" or something like this.
What is that which is very difficult to be accomplished?: It is bondage and final liberation. Only His Power can do this. It was His Power who contracted Śiva down to the level of a limited individual in bondage. So, it is only His Power who can expand Śiva up to the level of Great Master again. This cannot be accomplished by any individual self who is merely a reflection of the Great Master in the water of His own Māyā. And of course, all these things connected with bondage and final liberation are also mere appearances, because when one gets final liberation one realizes that there is no final liberation because one was always Śiva and not the limited individual endowed with body, senses and worlds. What one calls "individual self in bondage" is as if the moon thought that its image being reflected in the water is "itself" and consequently all that is happening to that image is happening to itself too. When this ignorance disappears, viz. when one realizes the Truth, Śiva is realized such as He always is. In other words, final liberation is when the moon at last realizes this simple fact: "All that is happening to its image in the water is not happening to itself". When that happens, that is final liberation. Anyway, there was no liberation really because the moon was always the moon. The same thing is true regarding individual selves in bondage attaining final liberation and realizing the simple fact that they were always Śiva and Śiva alone.
5 The state of paśu (lit. animal, beast) or limited individual has been manifested by His own Power (by Śakti Herself). So, it cannot ever annihilate the essential nature of the Great Lord that is one's own Self. By annihilation or vipralopa, the author is referring to the act of eclipsing the Supreme Self. Apparently, all this ignorance exhibited in this foolish world is eclipsing or obstructing the Great Master, and as a result, all of us will need to do many practices to remove it finally... but this is false, because this ignorance itself was manifested by His own Power and gets constantly its existence in Him. In this way, such an ignorance can never get in the way of the Great Master.
And this ignorance is not ever transforming Him either, i.e. "the Great Master turned into a limited individual and leaving behind His glorious essential nature". This is a false statement because the Great Master, Śiva, never turned into anything else. It was simply His own Power who generated the "celebrated" state of paśu or limited individual, as the image of the moon being reflected in the water. Therefore, it will be His own Power who shows the Truth again, i.e. that the reflection cannot affect the One being reflected. When one realizes this Truth, that is final liberation from his self-invented bondage.
6 Body, senses, worlds, etc. are things being created by Śakti. As they are so, they can be eliminated by Śakti too. But this Glorious Śiva who is the Great Master is Śaktimān or the Possessor of Śakti. Then, how could He be created by His own Power? And since He is not created He cannot either be destroyed. This is the meaning of: "Nonetheless, production and elimination never exist with regard to Caitanya or Consciousness in Absolute Freedom, i.e. the Eternal Lord".
Only one Self (Śiva) appears as all these subjects and objects one can perceive, and at the same time He dwells in all of them as the Experient or Knower of all. While He looks like an individual experient (like the image of the moon being reflected in the water), He retains His condition as the universal Experient (the moon itself). This is the purport.
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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