Influence of Spandasastra on Abhinavagupta
INFLUENCE OF SPANDASASTRA ON ABHINAVAGUPTA’S PHILOSOPHY
Kashmir Saivism in its most recognized sense denotes the monistic philosophy originated and developed in Kashmir. The system itself is a later development of the Sivacentered religious cult which comes under the realm of enormous Tantric tradition. Many branches and sub- systems were commenced within the wide area of Tantric Saiva Philosophy. Among the streams of Kashmir Saivism, Spanda- the doctrine which expounds the dynamic nature of reality- has a significant role. Since it trails an independent nature, most of the scholars considered Spandasastra as a separate branch1 of Saiva philosophy. Spandakarika is the fundamental treatise of this particular school and is generally attributed to Vasugupta. The four commentaries viz., vrtti by Kallata; vivrti by Ramakantha; spandapradipika by Bhttotpala; spandasandoha and spandanirnaya by Ksemaraja made the theory of spanda more popular and established. In the workshop on Trika Philosophy, 2011, Dr Navjivan Rastogi‟s comment on spanda could be viewed as an extended version of his anxiety expressed in his Introduction to Tantraloka in 1987.2This depiction indicates that the very topic is discussed hardly yet. Though the mutual relationship of different streams of the same area is uncommon, the influence of spandasastra in the later developments of Kashmir saivism should be treated seriously and this paper focuses especially in its influences on Abhinavagupta, the eleventh century synthesizer of the monistic saiva philosophy.
Abhinavagupta‟s inevitable contributions were the milestones in the history of Kashmir Saiva philosophy. His foremost uniqueness is the thorough and deep knowledge in different streams simultaneously with which he produced such an irreplaceable workTantraloka, which actually is a source book of the new insights in Indian philosophy and the history of Kashmir. Apart from this magnum opus Abhinavagupta propounded his novel ideas through the commentaries of post- scriptural saivite sources as well as various independent works. Like other thought systems3, spanda theory also contributed much to the development of his new amalgamated philosophy. Although Abhinava never wrote a commentary on spanda and he nevertheless used to develop this concept. In particular situations, Abhinava used to define the term Spanda based upon its technical nature. For eg, in Tantraloka the term is defined as: “This is a slight movement, sphurana, scintillating, not dependent on any other. It is a wave in the ocean of consciousness and consciousness cannot be without waves.”4 While in Paratrisikavivarana, he frequently uses the notion as well as the idea of spanda. According to the monistic saivism, whole universe is the manifestation of the supreme realty and habitually this is used to define as the creative power which situates in the same, omnipotent reality, Siva. So the universal nature of everything is clear from this. To establish the same, Abhinavagupta seeks the help of spanda theory: “All this universe consisting of 36 categories, though created by Siva who being of supreme Sakti, is of the nature of universal creative pulsation ( samanya spanda) rests in that consciousness itself in its own form which is predominantly sakti, ie., characterized by
particular creative pulsation (visesa spanda).”5 The same thing is discussed in the interpretation of Isvarapratyabhijnakarika 1-14 where spanda is identified with the imperceptible eternal stirsphuratta, being the essence of all beyond the limitations of time and space.6 Cognition has an important role in the philosophy of saivite monism. In the system the cogniser, the cognized and the cognition are same as well as supreme reality ie. Siva. As the process of creation, realization also related with the dynamic force which known through various terms and basically with the nature of spanda. Abhinava technically call this as Vimarsa and find similarities with spanda. Bettina Baumer says that: “If we deny self-shining nature to subject, there remains no room for question and answer. In the cognitive experience such as “I Know” there is consciousness (not only of self-luminous self but) of association with a stir (spanda) also. It is self because of this stir that self is admitted to be of sentient nature…”7 The creativity and cognition in case of poetry is also considered as spanda Discussing the crux of a text in its very opening part is the uniqueness of Abhinavagupta‟s style of interpretation. Almost such discussions also reflect the essence of his philosophical outlook. In Vimarsini, the commentary of Isvarapratyabhijnakarika, Siva (who is omnipotent as well as omniscient) is prayed who in the form of „I‟ consciousness, changes himself to the consciousness of „this‟ with the help of an external pulsation connotated as spandana: “anantabhavasambhavabhasane spandanam param/ upodghatayate yasya tam stumah sarvada sivam//”8
The notion of „Svasvabhava‟ is another term which is very common in spanda texts and to be connectected with Abhinava‟s principle of „Ahambhava‟. Apart from the usage of technical terms, sometimes he compares the idea of Visarga of kula tradition with spanda and makes his Agamic exegesis easier9. In sum, Abhinavaagupta manipulate the theory of Spanda in different manners though he admirably avoided the question about the independent nature of Spandasastra. Conversely he tries to incorporate this concept within his highly philosophical school of Kashmir Saivim- Trika. The causes of this predilection may be viewed as: 1. 2.
The lack of establishment of spandasastra, as a cult like krama or kula. Abhinavagupta was not ready to consider spanda doctrine- explicated very recently- as a well-organized philosophy, and 3. Since the concept basically encompasses some openings, it couldn‟t be denied completely. *****
NOTES 1. 2. 3.
4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9.
Spanda is considered as an individual system by some scholars while others make an utterly distinct opinion about its seperate existence. “ ….There was an acute controvercy with regard to the exact status of spanda system i.e., wether it was a separate system or a part of Trika system.” Rastogi says, “His references to some Naiyayikas (Kesamcana Naiyayikanam T.A. 2.1244), Vairinca Brahmavadins (T.A.V., III, p. 25), Nastika philosophers subscribing to the negation of soul and not to the denial of the authority of the Veda (T.A. 6.19-20) invite us to explore this unexplored area. Similarly his presentation of the Kaumarila view on Vedyata and its lengthy masterly refutation (T.A. 10.21-57) adds new dimensions to our understanding of Kumarila. Abhinava's presentation of Siddhanta Saivism in the 4th Ahnika in contrast to the sister systemsopens a new vista of information throwing new light on the evolution of the dualistic Saivism in Kashmir. He is an invaluable sourceof information on Buddhism. He practically refers to all sects of Buddhism so much so that he remains the only source of many exclusive theories of Buddhists.” Tantraloka 4.184-186. See Samanya and Visesa spandas in Mark Dyckscowski, The Doctrine of Vibration, p.107-109. Isvarapratyabhijnakarika, 1-2. Bettina Baumer, Abhinavagupta‟s hermeneutics of the Absolute, p. 87. ibid, p. 17. Bhaskari vol.1, p.47 See Jaideva Singh, Abhinavagupta- The trident of wisdom, p.37.
Nirmala. V, Research Scholar, SSUS, Kalady, Kerala.