In this excerpt from Light on Tantra in Kashmir Shaivism, Abhinavagupta's Tantraloka Chapter One Swami Lakshmanjoo reveals what is knowledge and what is ignorance.
"Complete knowledge and complete action is the formation of Śiva" ~Swami Lakshmanjoo
C) The two ways of
Knowledge and Ignorance (36–45)
Now, he explains in the following ślokas what is knowledge and what is ignorance.
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ज्ञानाज्ञानस्वरूपं यदुक्तं प्रत्येकमप्यदः।
द्विधा पौरुषबौद्धत्वभिदोक्तं शिवशासने॥३६॥
jñānājñānasvarūpaṁ yaduktaṁpratyekamapyadaḥ /
dvidhā pauruṣabauddhatvabhidoktaṁ śivaśāsane //36//
In the Śiva śāstras, the reality of knowledge and ignorance is said to be, is explained to be, in two ways: pauruṣa jñāna and pauruṣa ajñāna, bauddha jñāna and bauddha ajñāna–in the Śiva śāstras. Pauruṣa ajñāna [and pauruṣa jñāna are] concerned with that of puruṣa (the Self): the ignorance of the Self (pauruṣa ajñāna) and the knowledge of the Self (pauruṣa jñāna), these two. Bauddha ajñāna and bauddha jñāna are the ignorance of intellectual apprehension and the knowledge of intellectual apprehension, these two.90
Now he explains them fully in the following ślokas, thirty-seventh and a half:
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तत्र पुंसो यदज्ञानं मलाख्यं तज्जमप्यथ।
tatra puṁso yadajñānaṁ malākhyaṁ tajjamapyatha /
saṁkocidṛkkriyārūpaṁ tatpaśoravikalpitam /
In those two perceptions and two ignorances, the perception concerning puruṣa, that non-perception (ajñāna), is āṇava-mala, is malākhyam. Tajjamapi atha, although that āṇava-mala has come out from puruṣa itself–āṇavamala has come out, come forth, from puruṣa–but that āṇavamala covers the real state of Śiva, which is filled with consciousness and filled with action (filled with knowledge and action). Complete knowledge and complete action is the formation of śivatā (Śiva), and that śivatā is covered by this āṇavamala. And in place of this complete knowledge and complete action, He puts incomplete knowledge and incomplete action at its place, and that is owned by paśu91 (the limited being). That incomplete knowledge and incomplete action is owned by the limited being.
SCHOLAR: It is avikalpitam,92 it is a-priori for him.93 It is avikalpitam.
SWAMIJI: Avikalpitam, [it seems] real. He94 considers that, “It is my own real knowledge. That differentiated knowledge and differentiated perception of being is my own.” That is avikalpitam. It is vāstavam95 from his point of view.
SCHOLAR: But also in the sense of, for him, at the limited level, it is nirvikalpam.96
SCHOLAR: It is like prathamālocanātmakam.97
SWAMIJI: No, no, not prathamālocanātmakam.
SCHOLAR: Well, the commentator takes it like that I think.
SCHOLAR: Kriyāsvābhāsālocanātmakaṁ jñānam.
SWAMIJI: Ālocanātmakaṁ, [not] prathama ābhāsa. It is ālocanātmakaṁ, just “perceiving.”
SCHOLAR: Well, that is the first perception, direction perception, of objects?
SWAMIJI: Not the direct perception.
SCHOLAR: Because āṇavamala limits you into that saṅkoca dṛkkriyā98 . . .
SWAMIJI: Yes, yes.
SCHOLAR: . . . spontaneously without . . .
SWAMIJI: Yes, yes. Yes, from that point of view it is. The thirty-eighth [śloka]:
Audio 2 - 12:30
तदज्ञानं न बुद्ध्यंशोऽध्यवसायाद्यभावतः॥३८॥
tadajñānaṁ na buddhyaṁśo’dhyavasāyādyabhāvataḥ //38//
And that perception [i.e., ignorance] is not concerned with the intellect (na buddhyaṁśa) because adhyavasāyābhāvataḥ, the adhyavasāya is not existing there [in pauruṣa ajñāna].
SCHOLAR: So in that sense, too, it is avikalpitam.
SWAMIJI: Yes, in that sense.
JOHN: What is that word?
SWAMIJI: Adhyavasāya. Adhyavasāya means, judgment, differentiated judgment. Differentiated judgment has not come into existence at that time of pauruṣa ajñāna.
JOHN: In āṇavamala.
SWAMIJI: In āṇavamala. After āṇavamala, buddhi has come into existence.
90 For more on these two types of knowledge and ignorance, see Appendix 11 (p397).
91 Lit., a beast.
92 Lit., undoubted.
93 A-priori: reasoning or knowledge which proceeds from theoretical deduction, inference, or postulation, rather than from observation or experience.
94 Lord Śiva who has assumed the condition of an individual (paśu).
95 Substantial, real, true, genuine.
96 According to Kashmir Shaivism, the foundation of ignorance (āṇavamala) itself is a thought-less (nirvikalpa) condition because nirvikalpa always precedes, and is the very life of, ideation (vikalpa).
97 The scholar is referring to the first flow of perception (prathama ābhāsa, prathama prasara, prathama ālocana, prathama anusaṁ-dhāna), which is the initial “appearance of God consciousness in universal objectivity.” Swami Lakshmanjoo, trans., Śhivastotrāvalī–Hymns to Shiva by Utpaladeva, ed., John Hughes (Universal Shaiva Fellowship, Los Angeles, 2014), 9.5.
98 Contracted perception.
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