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Grace explained by Abhinavagupta in Tantraloka

Grace explained by Abhinavagupta in Tantraloka

abhinavagupta grace tantraloka Jul 21, 2023

Swami Lakshmanjoo explains what “causes” grace in Kashmir Shaivism and what are the “signs” by which you can understand that grace is there.

This is an excerpt from Abhinavagupta’s Tantraloka 13th anika, which we discussed during the online course “Grace on the Spiritual Path“.

Lord Shiva showers grace, bas! There is no why, it is his will. ~Swami Lakshmanjoo


vairāgyaṁ bhogavairasyaṁ

dharmaḥ ko’pi vivekitā /

satsaṅgaḥ parameśāna-

pūjādyabhyāsanityatā // 98 //


dehe kiṁcicca lakṣaṇam /

śāstrasevā bhogasaṁgha-

pūrṇatā jñānamaiśvaram // 99 //

ityapekṣyaṁ yadīśasya

dūṣyametacca pūrvavat /


Vairāgya-detachment, you must have detachment . . .

ERNIE:  This is the Vedas.

SWAMIJI:  . . . they say; Vedantins say you must have detachment and then grace will be showered–not till then. If you are attached grace won’t come. Bhoga vairasyam-no taste for worldly enjoyments, there must be no taste for worldly enjoyments, it must vanish in you. Dharmaḥ ko’pi, some great quality in you, there must be some great qualification in you; you must be compassionate, you must be helpful to everybody, you must be kind to everybody, you must tell truth to everybody, you must not hurt anybody. It is dharma . . .

ERNIE:  Virtuous.

SWAMIJI:  . . . virtuous actions, to maintain virtuous actions. If you maintain virtuous actions God will shower grace on you . . . they say.

SWAMIJI:  . . . universe, after all this is only torture and nothing else. Why should we be entangled in the enjoyment of this universe.

DENISE:  You must realize that.

SWAMIJI:  You must realize that inside, then God will shower grace on you.

Satsaṅga, be attached to the association with spiritual masters. Just divert your attention towards the association of spiritual masters, then God’s grace will shine.

. . . . . . . . . . .parameśāna-

pūjādyabhyāsanityatā // 98 (repeated)


Tendency to devote all the time in worship of Lord Śiva; to go to temples, to go to shrines, to go to mosques, churches, and go on reciting those spiritual words before Lord Śiva.

You also say so many things there, in church, with bending posture.

Don’t you say?

DENISE:  Right, “Oh God, forgive us for our sins . . .”


So by that grace will be showered.

Āpat-prāpti, or when you are stuck in torture, crisis–your son dies, your husband dies, your brother dies, your everybody dies, your government holds your property, finished–that is āpat-prāpti. That also becomes the cause of the grace of Lord Śiva, because you are absolutely support-less from all sides.

JOHN:  This is Vedantic point of view?

SWAMIJI:  This is Vedantic point.

JOHN:  But those other things are things that should be done, pūja’s and things etc. This is nothing that should be done.

ERNIE:  If this happens to you . . .

DENISE: God’s actions, right?


DENISE:  If God kills your son or your daughter . . .

JOHN:  No, before you had said, ‘that these are the things, vairagya and so forth, the things that Vedanta holds that one should do. Become detached, this and that and so forth . . .

SWAMIJI:  You just don’t talk . . . we will adjust these in our own way.

DENISE:  Today?

SWAMIJI:  Not today.

DENISE:  Tomorrow?

Before you go to Jammu?

SWAMIJI:  No, it is only . . .

ERNIE:  Arguments.

SWAMIJI:  Acha, acha . . .

DENISE:  Almost?

SWAMIJI:  Almost, we are finishing the theory of other schools today. We’ll finish today.

JOHN:  No, my question is, this āpat . . .

SWAMIJI:  Āpat-prapti.

JOHN:  . . . this is different from vairagya. This is something . . . before Vedanta was saying do this, i.e. go to pūja, go to temples, listen to this and this and this. But this isn’t something to do; your brother dies, your mother dies, everyone dies. That’s not something that you do?

SWAMIJI:  No, a change comes in your life.

ERNIE:  Dramatic.

SWAMIJI:  It will completely change, it is automatic. You feel helpless and you run away. You take the refuge of Lord Śiva only. You say, “it is useless to live in this world.”

DENISE:  Everyone at that point would go, “Oh God, help me!”

JOHN:  So, Vedanta holds this as also an important thing.

SWAMIJI:  Yes, this is.

JOHN:  But this is a different category than the first ones, puja-wooja?


JOHN:  This is separate.



dehe kiṁcicca lakṣaṇam  / 99A (Verse repeated)


And some aspects which are found in your own body.

For instance, you don’t want to lie down. You don’t want to lean on the back side. You have got tendency to sit like this [i.e. straight].

This is also the sign that grace will come.

DENISE:  How is that?

SWAMIJI:  If you do effort-ly . . . with great effort you will just sit like this; go on sitting for six hours like this. Grace will come. Without leaning, without . . .

ERNIE:  Support.

SWAMIJI:  . . . without support, this is . . .

śāstrasevā bhogasaṁgha-

pūrṇatā jñānamaiśvaram  // 99 (Verse repeated)


And śāstra-seva, studying śāstras, by the study of śāstras. If you go on thinking and discussing śāstras grace will come afterwards.

Bhoga saṁgha pūrṇatā, to get rid of worldly enjoyments.

“Oh, I have had enough, I don’t want anything more.” That is bhoga saṁgha pūrṇatā.

And jñānamaiśvaram, awareness of Lord Śiva, when awareness of Lord Śiva rises grace will come, awareness is maintained.

ityapekṣyaṁ yadīśasya

dūṣyametacca pūrvavat  / 100a


If you say that, “by this Lord Śiva’s grace will be showered,” I don’t believe, I won’t accept this theory.

DENISE:  By limited actions?

SWAMIJI:  No, because these things are created by individual–vairagya, detachment and all these things are created by individuals. And this creation of individuals are always limited, in limited surface.

How unlimited being is responsible for this limited action of ours?

These are all limited actions.

JOHN:  You mean how can these limited actions give rise to unlimited being.

SWAMIJI:  Unlimited being. He is so great, Lord Śiva is so great, but he won’t recognize these things. If he showers grace, he will shower grace, bas! There is no why. He has showered, bas, it is his will.

DENISE:  Why do they think these are signs that God is going to shower his grace? Why do they think, it must have happened with a few people like this?


DENISE:  It must have happened with some like this. First, they sat like this for six hours, and they did these actions and that action and they were pious.


DENISE:  So, everybody thinks that God will do the same thing if they follow their actions.


But our theory is not like that. Our theory accepts that these things come after grace.

DENISE:  After grace.

SWAMIJI:  After grace. These are the signs by which you can understand that grace is there. When Lord Śiva showers grace upon you, you’ll just sit like this for meditation . . . you won’t lean.

DENISE:  You won’t want to lean.

SWAMIJI:  You won’t like to lean, when Lord Śiva’s grace is responsible for everything. Not, these things won’t invoke Lord Śiva’s grace. Lord Śiva’s grace will make these function. But not these will make function Lord Śiva’s grace.

This is the misunderstanding in Vedantins.

JOHN:  Well, it’s a big misunderstanding, because one side believes that human beings can do something to gain something religious. Other side, our side believes that human beings can do nothing.

SWAMIJI:  No, it is his grace.

Source: Archives of the Lakshmanjoo Academy, Abhinavagupta’s Tantraloka 13th anika,
which we discussed during the online course “Grace on the Spiritual Path“.
All Content is subject to Copyright © John Hughes.

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