Grace explained by Abhinavagupta in Tantraloka

Swami Lakshmanjoo comments on Abhinavagutpa’s Tantraloka 13, in which he explains that limited actions do not cause. Kashmir Shaivism says that these are the signs by which you can understand that grace is there.

This is an excerpt from Abhinavagupta’s Tantraloka Ch13, which is part of the Grace and Spiritual Practice study set.

Grace - HisWill


vairagyam bhogavairasyam dharmah ko’pi vivekita /
satsangah parameshana-pujadyabhyasanityata // 98 //
apatpraptistanniriksha dehe kimcicca lakshanam /
shastraseva bhogasamgha-purnata jnanamaishvaram // 99 //
ityapekshyam yadishasyadushyametacca purvavat /


Vairagya ‘detachment’, you must have detachment.

ERNIE: This is the Vedas.

SWAMIJI: Vedas. 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 not be taste for worldly enjoyments. It must vanish in you. Dharmah ko’pi, some ‘great quality in you’, there must be some great qualification in you, viz., you must be compassionate, you must be helpful to everybody, you must be kind to everybody, you must tell the 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 [Vedantins] say.

[gap in recording]

. . . 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.
Satsanga, be attached to the ‘association with spiritual masters’. Just divert you attention towards the association of spiritual masters, then Gods grace will shine.

. . . . . . .  parameshana puja adi abhyasa nityata // 98 (repeated)

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

You also say so many things there, in church, with bending posture.
Don’t you say?

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

So [they say] by that grace will be showered.

Apatprapti, or when you are stuck in torture, crisis – your son dies, your husband dies, your brother dies, your everybody dies, your government holds your whole property, finished – that is apatprapti. That also becomes the cause of the grace of Lord Shiva, 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, puja’s and things etc. This is nothing that should be done.

ERNIE: If this happens to you . .

DENISE: This is 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, are 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: So, my question is, this apat . . .

SWAMIJI: Apatprapti.

JOHN: . . . this is different from vairagya. This is something [different]. Before Vedanta was saying do this, i.e., go to puja, go to temples, listen to this and this and this. But this isn’t something to do when 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 changes [you]. It is automatic. You feel helpless and you run away. You take the refuge of Lord Shiva 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 important thing.

SWAMIJI: Yes, this is.

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


JOHN: This is separate.


apatpraptistanniriksha dehe kimcicca lakshanam / 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 [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 . . .

shastraseva bhogasamgha-purnata jnanamaishvaram // 99 (not recited completely)

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

Bhoga samgha purnata, to get rid of worldly enjoyments. “Oh, I have had enough, I don’t want anything more.” That is bhoga samgha purnata.

And jnanam aishvaram, ‘awareness of Lord Shiva’, when awareness of Lord Shiva rises grace will come, i.e., [when] awareness is maintained.

ityapekshyam yadishasya dushyametacca purvavat / 100a

[Abhinavagupta says:] “If you say that by this Lord Shiva’s grace will be showered, I don’t believe it, I won’t accept this theory!”

DENISE: By limited actions?

SWAMIJI: No, because these things are created by individuals. Vairagya, ‘detachment’, and all these things are created by individuals. And this creation of individuals are always limited, in limited surface.
How [is that] unlimited being 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 Shiva 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 that? 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 actions 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 Shiva showers grace on 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 Shiva’s grace is responsible for everything. Not . . . [because] these things won’t invoke Lord Shiva’s grace. Lord Shiva’s grace will make these function. But not these will make function Lord Shiva’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.

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  1. February 17, 2018

    Grace comes to those whose minds become pure and hearts open but only after excruciating mental sickness at times.

  2. February 28, 2018

    i think Swami ji said ‘there is no way’ instead of ‘there is no why* it is His will!’
    humble suggestion

  3. April 27, 2018

    It happens effortlessly , when it happens. You cannot decide when it will or should happen ?
    It happens automatically.
    Waiting for that powerful time!

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