Swami Lakshmanjoo reveals Kashmir Shaivism’s theory of reflection to explain how the world of diversity, though absolutely one with Parabhairava seems to be separate just like the images in a mirror seem to be separate from the mirror.
Pratibimbavada (the theory of reflection) is one of the main concepts of Kashmir Shaivism: “How is the actual state of Parabhairava existing?” Swami Lakshmanjoo explains this very essential concept with an example in this excerpt from the Essence of the Supreme Reality: Abhinavagupta’s Paramarthasara. Watch the whole video series on demand, also available as video study set (with book).
नगरग्रामादि चित्रमविभागि ।
भाति विभागेनैव च
परस्परं दर्पणादपि च ॥१२॥
बोधात् तद्वद् विभागशून्यमपि
अन्योन्यं च ततोऽपि च
विभक्तमाभाति जगदेतत् ॥१३॥
nagaragrāmādi citramavibhāgi /
bhāti vibhāgenaiva ca
parasparaṁ darpaṇādapi ca // 12 //
bodhāt tatvad vibhāgaśūnyamapi /
anyonyaṁ ca tato ‘pi ca
vibhaktamābhāti jagadetat // 13 //
How is the actual state of Parabhairava existing? And for this, he gives an example.
Darpaṇa bimbe yadvat, take outside mirror, keep mirror in your room here, darpaṇa bimbe, and see, but keep this well-cleaned mirror; nagaragrāmādi citram avibhāgi, nagaragrām, whatever is reflected in it, you see everything is reflected in the mirror which is only two feet by two feet, two feet length and two feet height . . . bas, only this much. And in this, you will feel the reflection of this house, the reflection of that house, the reflection of those trees, big trees, reflection of everything, whatever it is reflected on this. Citram: citram means it is not put in one ball there, because the dimension of this mirror is only two feet by two feet. It can’t come in two feet by two feet; it seems separate.
Bhāti vibhāgenaiva ca, and it seems separate.
You can’t [understand], after investigation, what has happened to this, how these trees seem to exist away from the space of mirror, back. But after investigating what is in the back, there is nothing. There is nothing. Only distance is seen, distance is observed. And at the same time, there is no weight also in this.
For instance, a big tree trunk has reflected in the mirror. If the weight of mirror was one kilo, after the reflection of this tree, which weighs 100 kilos, it does not create . . . the end of the
JONATHAN: Extra weight.
SWAMIJI: . . . extra weight. It is the same weight.
You couldn’t move it. Then you couldn’t move it . . .
He has said, Abhinavagupta has said, dharmaṇo ’pi achālasyat, you could not move it. In weight also, it is the same weight; it is only one kilo.
So this is the glamour of reflection. It is separate from each other and separate from the mirror also, what is reflected in this.
This is an example.
Now the main thing which is to be understood.
In the same way . . .
In the same way, that which is absolutely most pure, purest element–Parabhairava (Parabhairava is the purest element of the supreme mirror)–and in that supreme mirror, which is the purest element of Bhairava, in that Bhairava, vibhaktama jagad etat, from Śiva to pṛithvī, all this universe, it seems, you perceive that universe, absolutely separate from Bhairava, from that mirror, from Parabhairava. It is absolutely separate from Parabhairava. And not only that, it is separate from each other.
Pṛithvī [earth] is separated from jala [water], jala is separated from agni [fire], agni is separated from vayu [wind], vayu is separate, ākāśa [ether] is separate, antaḥkaraṇas [mind, intellect and ego] are separated, śabda, sparśa, rūpa, rasa and ghanda; prakṛiti, pṛithvī, jala, and māyā, śuddhavidhyā, īśvara, and sadāśiva, are all separate; vibhaktamābhāti, in the same way, this whole universe shines in the mirror of Parabhairava.