“What if I met the great Sage Abhinavagupta?(Part 2) – An Imaginary Dialogue with Abhinavagupta during COVID 19 times” by Niharika Sharma
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Ved wandered on the river bank for six days now. The twinkling stars and the flowing river water were no longer a comfort to his mind. He repeated Ātma-pratyabhijñā in his mind repeatedly. He patiently waited for Sage Abhinavagupta to return to their special spot on the river bank to answer his questions. Ved was left with unanswered questions when the Sage came to visit him last time. But new questions kept invading in his mind. Ved could only think if he has faith and ardent desire to achieve the highest Self (Shiva) will his Grace flow? How does one know about his Grace? The feeling of disheartenment crept in as he waited for Sage Abhinavaugupta once again on the river bank.

Ved – For the wildfire, the forest is the target;

For the waterfire, the water;

For the body’s fire, the body;

For the death’s conflagration, the worlds are target;

For the angry fire of your men, all men of ill-will;

Yet for your illusion’s lashing flames

I’m no target, O Lord of Caves. (Allama Prabhu – 966)

Ved looked at the stars and closed his eyes to feel the essence of his prayer. He desired to actualise the Shivahood.

Abhinavagupta – You have taken the first step. Knowledge of identity is your key to pratyabhijñā.

The familiar sound startled Ved. He looked behind him to see his Guru looking at the stars. He saw him in a different light. He no longer saw Sage Abhinavagupta as someone distinct from the entity of himself. He felt knowing this Yoginībhū was knowing Shiva.

A – Pratyabhijñā is not just recognition. It is coming to know the true identity of something never seen before but its identity was also not known due to ignorance. It is not a perception. It is knowledge of the true identity of the person perceived. It is not a memory either. Memory is the mental reproduction of something experienced by us in the past. But pratyabhijñā is not that. We are not knowing ourselves from previous experience of Self. The Self has been there. We are just too ignorant to see it.

V – But…when we ‘see’ Shiva, will it be Anumāna?

A – The King didn’t know Pandit A. Pandit B being the member of his court, brought Pandit A to meet the King. The king was informed about his and his qualifications. But the King knows the full identity of Pandit A. This is the scenario of pratyabhijñā. ……dṛṣte’ pyanupalakṣite. (I.P.K. 1.1.3) We ‘see’ ourselves, but we do not recognize, that is, not knowing the true identity of, ourselves. ….pūrṇaśaktisvabhāve īśvare sati svātmanyabhimukhībhūte tatpratisandhānena jñānam udeti, nūnaṁ sa eva īśvaro’ hum – iti (I.P.V. 1.1.1.) Humans are limited beings who have forgotten that they are Śiva, the infinite. This awareness of the real identity of the Self is the pratyabhijñā of the Self. The thing recognized (pratyabhijāpita) is not a new thing created afresh, but it already existed. Although it is a new event because the thing was in existence priorly but we didn’t know this before, it was hidden from our sight. This is the way to attain Shiva. This is your identity. My identity. It is what is real. It is what is Truth. This is something unheard and new in the history of paśu.

V – Can Śivahood merely be attained by knowing the one is identical to Śiva? Despite knowing this am still some bounded paśu. Is pratyabhijñā verbal or intellectual knowledge of one’s identity? If so, does this knowledge bring freedom?

A – Ved there are two kinds of ignorance. Simultaneously there are two kinds of knowledge. Bauddha ignorance is the one of buddhi. The removal of this ignorance is by intellectual knowledge acquired from scriptures. Pauruṣa ignorance is existential. This ignorance grips the entire person. It is spiritual impurity (mala) or bondage. Only by dīkṣā, practical initiation to the path of sādhanā can it be removed. Existential knowledge independently and unconditionally brings liberation.

V – But why do you refer to pratyabhijñā as knowledge? Does the unity of Śiva and paśu have any metaphysical ground of pratyabhijñā? What are its levels? Does Ego become a hindrance? Can it be directly explained?

A – Bhakti has relevance to pratyabhijñā Ved. Through the power of pratyabhijñā, you see the reduction of Śiva in this beautiful creation of his. His līlā. It holds the power of Upāyas. It brings liberation.

V – Why do you have to leave so early? My questions are still not answered.

A- Use your memory to recall all that I said Ved. Use the pratyabhijñā to know what is true. I will be back again to explain pratyabhijñā. I see the spark of a great Yogi in you. I will be here when the time is right. Go within Ved. May bliss be bestowed upon you.

Stay tuned for more about “Dialogues with Philosophers during COVID-19 times” 😊 
With Conscious Care, Together we shall overcome!

Care Consciously! #DefeatCorona !

Disclaimer: The opinions endorsed by the speaker is solely the author’s and not in any way endorsed by the Institute/Programme.