In this excerpt from The Light on Tantra in Kashmir Shaivism, Abhinavagupta’s Tantraloka, Volume One. Swami Lakshmanjoo explains “the real state of the master and the disciple”.
प्रसरन्ती स्वसंवित्तिः प्रष्ट्री शिष्यात्मतां गता ॥२५२॥
prasarantī svasaṁvittiḥ praṣṭrī śiṣyātmatāṁ gatā //252//
And that consciousness of one’s self, when that consciousness travels on the path without knowing how it is traveling, how that consciousness is traveling (anudghāṭitākāra, that traveling on the path without knowing [the path] on which it travels), and that consciousness is called praṣṭrī (praṣṭrī means, always questioning). And that consciousness is called “always questioning,” [because] he resides in the field of questioning. And that consciousness, in other words, would be called śiṣya (disciple).
JOHN: What is the exact meaning of “śiṣya”?
SWAMIJI: Śiṣya means, śāsu anuśiṣṭau.
SCHOLAR: To be taught.
SWAMIJI: To be taught.
JOHN: To be taught, or he who questions.
As long as he is questioning on the path on which he treads, or she treads, without knowing what is the path, that is [the condition of being a] śiṣya. That consciousness of your self has become a śiṣya (śiṣya has come from the verbal root śāsu).
यावत्येव भवेद्बाह्यप्रसरे प्रस्फुटात्मनि ।
अनुन्मीलितरूपा सा प्रष्ट्री तावति भण्यते ॥२५४॥
yāvatyeva bhavedbāhyaprasare prasphuṭātmani /
anunmīlitarūpā sā praṣṭrī tāvati bhaṇyate //254//
And that consciousness of your self, where that consciousness has absolutely forgotten the complete niścaya, ‘the complete perception [of your self]’, niścaya ātma tirohite; when that niścaya [fixity of purpose] is not yet done to that consciousness of one’s self, and it is treading on the path to know, to understand, and saṁhāra udayabhāgapi, and that niścaya sometimes dissolves and sometimes appears, reappears. And, in this way, as long as one’s consciousness flows on the path completely unaware of the point to be understood, that is the theory, that is the state, of praṣṭrī, that is the state of that person who puts a question (praṣṭrī tāvati bhaṇyate).
JOHN: What is this niścaya, coming and going?
SWAMIJI: Sometimes that consciousness concludes that, “This is the point.” Just after another second she understands, “No, this is not the point. There must be something else.”
SCHOLAR: I know too well.
SWAMIJI: “Oh, I understood this is the point!” Just [after another second], “Oh, this is not the point!” This is sṛṣṭi . . .
SWAMIJI: Yes. And that is the path on which that praṣṭrī treads – praṣṭrī.
SWAMIJI: Praṣṭrī, the questioner, consciousness-questioner.
SWAMIJI: Consciousness is the questioner.
स्वयमेवं विबोधश्च तथा प्रश्नोत्तरात्मकः ।
गुरुशिष्यपदेऽप्येष देहभेदो ह्यतात्त्विकः ॥२५५॥
svayamevaṁ vibodhaśca tathā praśnottarātmakaḥ /
guruśiṣyapade’pyeṣa dehabhedo hyatāttvikaḥ //255//
This is your own consciousness who puts the question and who puts the answer also, who gets the answer also. The questioner and the person who gives the answer to that question is your own consciousness established in the state of [both] master and disciple.
So this is one’s own consciousness that puts a question and it is one’s own consciousness that gets its reply in the state of the master and the disciple. And the state of the master and the disciple, too, are incorrect states, because dehabhedo hyatāttvikaḥ, the [distinction between the] body of the master and the body of the disciple is not real.
SCHOLAR: Not really separate.
SWAMIJI: No, the body, the body is separate, . . .
SWAMIJI: . . . dehabhedo hyatāttvikaḥ, it is not true.
SCHOLAR: The distinction of bodies (dehabheda).
SWAMIJI: The distinction of the body is not true. You should not put, “The distinction of the body in the master and the disciple.” You must put, “The distinction of consciousness”! [Because] if consciousness is distinct, [still] it is not distinct. Consciousness is one in the master and the same is in the disciple.
JOHN: What about the condition where the disciple, he experiences consciousness to be distinct [while] the master doesn’t experience consciousness to be distinct? So, from one point of view, the consciousness is distinct, . . .
SWAMIJI: But this is the master only that travels from distinction and non-distinction – this is the traveling of the master.
JOHN: So that is why you said earlier [that] it is the master who inserts and the master who . . . because the disciple is in ignorance and can’t do anything.
बोधो हि बोधरूपत्वादन्तर्नानाकृतीः स्थिताः ।
बहिराभासयत्येव द्राक्सामान्यविशेषतः ॥२५६॥
bodho hi bodharūpatvādantarnānākṛtīḥ sthitāḥ /
bahirābhāsayatyeva drāksāmānyaviśeṣataḥ //256//
This is bodha, this is one’s ‘own consciousness’, because of its being conscious he puts forth, externally, various formations of ascertainments, drāk (instantaneously), sāmānya viśeṣataḥ, in the way of sāmānya and in the way of viśeṣaḥ.
JOHN: Universality and individuality?
When there is doubt, when there is praśna (when there is questioning), that is sāmānya [general]. When there is an answer, . . .
JOHN: That is viśeṣa.
SWAMIJI: . . . that is viśeṣa [particular].
SCHOLAR: Because before viśeṣa there is universality in the sense that it might be anything.
SWAMIJI: Yes. The state of being the questioner is sāmānya. Viśeṣa is when the answer grows.
स्रक्ष्यमाणविशेषांशाकांक्षायोग्यस्य कस्यचित् ।
धर्मस्य सृष्टिः सामान्यसृष्टिः सा संशयात्मिका ॥२५७॥
srakṣyamāṇaviśeṣāṁśākāṁkṣāyogyasya kasyacit /
dharmasya sṛṣṭiḥ sāmānyasṛṣṭiḥ sā saṁśayātmikā //257//
That sāmānya sṛṣṭi, the creation of that sāmānya, is called doubt, and that doubt is only fulfilled by viśeṣa sṛṣṭi, by the particular flow of the answer, the particular flow [of the answer] that suits that praṣṭrī, that suits that [questioning] consciousness residing in the field of doubt.
Because, when you are residing in the field of doubt and you put your question before me, before some master, and I explain [the answer of] that question to you; if you are not satisfied, you say, “I am not satisfied, Sir, this is not the real answer I would like to know.” You don’t appreciate that answer.
So it seems that your consciousness is [already] filled with that answer. You know in the background what is the answer. It is why you don’t accept my answer if it is not fitting you. That is what he says here.
Srakṣyamāṇa viśeṣāṁśa akaṁkṣāyogyasya, he is desirous of knowing the answer that is residing in the background of his consciousness, in the consciousness of the disciple.
SCHOLAR: So you don’t ask anything which you don’t really know the answer to.
SWAMIJI: Yes. Dharmasya sṛṣṭiḥ sāmānya sṛṣṭiḥ sā saṁśayātmikā, that is saṁśayaḥ, that is the state of being a disciple. So, it is concluded there that the questioner knows the answer.
Source: The Light on Tantra in Kashmir Shaivism, Abhinavagupta’s Tantraloka,
Volume One, revealed by Swami Lakshmanjoo
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