About the Tantraloka Abhinavagupta says the following:
“This Tantrāloka is the manifestation of the three and a half streams of divine nectar which encompass the essence of all spiritual wisdom. With its broad sweep, it embodies in its exposition the quintessence of the Trika school of thought. (Tantrāloka 36.15)
In this excerpt from the Light on the Tantra of Kashmir Shaivism, Abhinavagupta’s Tantraloka, Volume One Swami Lakshmanjoo explains the real cause of liberation.
Audio 9 – 05:30
क्रिया हि नाम विज्ञानान्नान्यद्वस्तु क्रमात्मताम् ।
उपायवशतः प्राप्तं तत्क्रियेति पुरोदितम् ॥२३१॥
kriyā hi nāma vijñānānnānyadvastu kramātmatām /
upāyavaśataḥ prāptaṁ tatkriyeti puroditam //231//
This kriyopāya,617 which is called āṇavopāya, which is one with āṇavopāya, is not other than vijñānopāya.618 This upāya, this means, is also residing in the field of knowledge; this means of action is also residing in the field of knowledge. This is also one with vijñāna (nānyat vastu). Kramātmatam upāyavaśataḥ prāptaṁ, knowledge residing in the field of succession is called jñāna śakti. Knowledge residing above the field of succession is called icchā śakti. Knowledge residing below the field of succession is called kriyā śakti. Knowledge is the thing. Knowledge is upwards and downwards. Knowledge residing above the field of succession, . . .
JOHN: That’s in icchā śakti.
SWAMIJI: . . . that is icchā śakti.
JOHN: Then knowledge residing in succession . . .
SWAMIJI: In succession is jñāna śakti. Knowledge residing below succession [is kriyā śakti].
JOHN: But what is “below succession”? What does it mean, “below succession”?
SWAMIJI: When there is no touch of knowledge in action.
JOHN: When it is just action.
SWAMIJI: When it is just action–pūjā, worship, [when there is] no awareness.
SWAMIJI: Yogāntatām, prāptaṁ tatkriyeti puroditam,619 that is kriyā śakti.
DEVOTEE: (inaudible) pāyavaśataḥ prāptaṁ tat kriya.
SWAMIJI: That is kriyā. So, in fact, kriyā, jñāna, and icchā are one.
Audio 9 – 07:22
सम्यग्ज्ञानं च मुक्त्येककारणं स्वपरस्थितम् ।
यतो हि कल्पनामात्रं स्वपरादिविभूतयः ॥२३२॥
samyagjñānaṁ ca muktyekakāraṇaṁ svaparasthitam /
yato hi kalpanāmātraṁ svaparādivibhūtayaḥ //232//
The cause of liberation, the cause of getting liberation, is not the master, is not the effort of the disciple, is not the effort of the master. The real cause of liberation is just where there is knowledge. Where there is knowledge, the appearance of knowledge, [that] is the cause of liberation. Svaparasthitam, it may reside in the master, it may be residing in the disciple, we don’t stress on that, we stress on knowledge. That perfect knowledge of Self is the cause of liberation. It may be residing in the master or it may be residing in the disciple. Yato hi kalpanāmātraṁ svaparādi vibhūtayaḥ, “This is the master,” “This is the disciple,” what does that [matter]? There is no difference! You may perceive that supreme knowledge in your master, [then] you are liberated! It doesn’t matter if [supreme knowledge] is not residing in you! Wherever it is residing, you are liberated. It may reside in the master, it may reside in you (in the disciple). Because, yato hi kalpanāmātraṁ svaparādo vibhūtayaḥ, “This is the master,” “This is the disciple,” this is all the ignorant way of understanding, the incorrect way of understanding. The correct way of understanding is, wherever there is knowledge, that is liberation. It may be residing in Lord Śiva, it may be residing in you. If you once perceive that it is residing in Lord Śiva, you are liberated. You may not perceive that it is residing in me.620 So there is faith: if you believe that your master is filled with the glory of awareness, [then] you are filled with the glory of awareness. It is not only the master who is filled with the glory.
Here we end.
SWAMIJI: (laughs) Yes, there is some other prakaraṇa.621 Yato hi kalpanāmātraṁ svaparādi, if the disciple gets awareness, if the disciple knows that, “The real knowledge is existing in my master,” it does not mean that it is existing in his master. It is existing in his awareness! In whose awareness?
DEVOTEES: In the disciple’s.
SWAMIJI: The disciple’s awareness, so he is liberated. He has perceived that [knowledge]. “There” and “here,” it is only kalpanā.622
SCHOLAR: Recognition (pratyabhijñā).
SWAMIJI: It is recognition, wherever it is. You may recognize it from the guru, you may recognize it from your own nature.
SCHOLAR: Because it is sparśa,623 it is like . . .
SCHOLAR: Is that right?
SWAMIJI: Cent-per-cent correct.624
In the previous śloka, he has explained that complete knowledge is the cause of liberation. [Complete knowledge] may be residing in the master or in the disciple. The division of the master and the disciple is an incorrect division. The master is the disciple and the disciple is the master. There is no difference between the master and the disciple.
Master and Disciple (233–237)
Audio 9 – 11:10
तुल्ये काल्पनिकत्वे च यदैक्यस्फुरणात्मकः ।
गुरुः स तावदेकात्मा सिद्धो मुक्तश्च भण्यते ॥२३३॥
tulye kālpanikatve ca yadaikyasphuraṇātmakaḥ /
guruḥ sa tāvadekātmā siddho muktaśca bhaṇyate //233//
The master possesses the fullness of knowledge, and that fullness of knowledge, wherever it pervades, is only the master. You should not think that it pervades in the disciple. It is the expansion of his glory. The master is expanding in the brain of the disciple also. So it is only the master that expands. Guruḥ sa tāvat ekātmā, and that master is one, and although he has entered in the memory of the disciple,625 but he is one and he is a siddha626 and he is muktaḥ.627 There is no difference between the master and the disciple.
SCHOLAR: Tulye kālpanikatve.
SWAMIJI: Tulye kālpanikatve, the kalpanā is the same in the master and in the disciple. [The notion] that “he is the master” or “he is the disciple,” it is incorrect, an incorrect theory. It is only one Lord who transforms in disciples in His own form. He is only one!
Audio 9 – 12:52
यावानस्य हि संतानो गुरुस्तावान्स कीर्तितः ।
सम्यग्ज्ञानमयश्चेति स्वात्मना मुच्यते ततः ॥२३४॥
yāvānasya hi saṁtāno gurustāvānsa kīrtitaḥ /
It is “tāvān.”628
samyagjñānamayaśceti svātmanā mucyate tataḥ //234//
The chain of master and disciples, the complete chain of master and disciples, is the chain of masters, it is not the chain of master and disciples. Gurustāvān sa kīrtitaḥ, this is the journey of the master only, from himself to the disciple, from the disciple to another disciple, from the disciple to another disciple. It is only one chain of the master. Samyag jñāna mayaśceti, when [the master] is complete, when [the master] completely possesses knowledge, when there is knowledge in the master only and not in the disciple, that knowledge is not complete of the master.629 It will be completed only when it is complete in the disciple also.
JOHN: Why is this? Why is knowledge said not to be complete in the master if it is not complete in the disciple?
SWAMIJI: The master is incomplete unless his disciple is also complete. His disciple must be complete in knowledge and then the master is complete in knowledge, because this is the expansion of his own nature in the disciples. He has expanded [his nature in his] disciples, so as long as the disciples are ignorant, the master is ignorant. You should not say, “The disciple is ignorant. The disciple has not achieved anything.” The master has not achieved that [completion]. So it is the duty of the master that the complete achievement should be made in all the chain of disciples.
JOHN: In all disciples.
SWAMIJI: Yes, all disciples. As long as it is not done, the master is not freed, the master is not liberated. He’ll be liberated only when his disciples will be liberated. This is the theory of the Tantrāloka. Svātmanā mucyate tadaḥ, so he does not liberate his disciples, he liberates his own self. As long as it is that he liberates his disciples, in fact, he liberates his own self.
JOHN: So, what this is also saying is that there is, in Shaivism, a much closer relationship between the disciple and the master.
SWAMIJI: Not “close.”
JOHN: Absolutely one.
SWAMIJI: It is only one, yes.
Audio 9 – 15:30
तत एव स्वसंतानं ज्ञानी तारयतीत्यदः ।
युक्त्यागमाभयां संसिद्धं तावानेको यतो मुनिः ॥२३५॥
tata eva svasaṁtānaṁ jñānī tārayatītyadaḥ /
yuktyāgamābhyāṁ saṁsiddhaṁ tāvāneko yato muniḥ //235
[not recited in full]
It is why this experienced and fully knowledgeable master makes all his disciples filled with his knowledge, yuktyāgamā-bhyām, by yuktis, by śāstrās,630 by experiences, and āgamā-bhyāṁ (by śāstras). Tāvānekoyatomuniḥ, in fact, the master is one, traveling in each and every chain of his disciples.
SCHOLAR: Instrumental dual.631
SWAMIJI: Yukti means, the tricks of the master, how to get liberation.
SCHOLAR: Doesn’t it also mean “logic”?
SWAMIJI: Logic, yes.
SWAMIJI: Reasoning, spiritual reasoning.
JOHN: Same as tarka?632
SWAMIJI: Tarka, yes, satarka.633
617 The means (upāya) pertaining to action (kriyā).
618 The means pertaining to knowledge (vijñāna).
619 Up to the supreme limit of yoga (yogāntatām), which has been explained in verse 149.
620 Swamiji is referring to himself.
621 Subject, topic.
622 A creation of the mind.
623 Lit., touch or contact.
624 Swamiji is confirming the scholar’s suggestion that the recognition of supreme knowledge can be likened to the sensation of sparśa (touch), which resides exactly within consciousness.
625 As a thought or notion (kalpanā).
626 An accomplished or perfected being.
628 Swamiji corrected “tāvat,” which appears in the text in which he is working, to read “tāvān.”
629 That is, the master’s knowledge is not complete.
631 The scholar is referring to the grammatical case of the word “yuktyāgamābhyām.”
632 “Transcendental discriminating logic.” Tantrāloka 4.40 (LJA archive).
633 Lit., having argument or reasoning, skilled in speculation.
Source: Light on the Tantra of Kashmir Shaivism, Abhinavagupta’s Tantraloka, Volume One
revealed by Swami Lakshmanjoo.
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