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Light on the Tantras Abhinavagupta

Translated from the French La Lumire sur les Tantras Chapters 1 through 5
! "#$ %&'()
Includes footnotes based on the commentary by Jayaratha

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Dedication This translation effort is dedicated first to the memory and enduring inspiration, empowerment and teachings of my first teacher and shaktipat guru, Swami Muktananda Paramaha>sa. With love and the eternal awe and imprint of his magnificent and radiant state of consciousness. Muktananda became immersed Kashmir Shaivism mostly in the last twelve years of his life. It was a sort of 're-discovery', and he indicated that it was the spiritual and philosophical framework that corresponded most completely to his own sadhana and experience after the intense grace received from his guru, Bhagawan Nityananda. Kashmir Shaivism irrigated Muktananda's radiance, informed his discourses and bathed us, his disciples, in the same ocean conveyed to us here by Abhinavagupta. I have never been the same since, and have, over the years, continuously returned to the shores of Shaivism to find clarity, inspiration and validation of my experience of life, meditation and light. I also wish to acknowledge the push and inspiration of Parvathi Nanda Nath, a Kashmiri yogini who skillfully straddles East and West, and brings the depths and mysteries of ancient oral Tantra into a harmonious symphony with elevated Shaivism she has rekindled my searching, my finding, my focus and effort. Infinite thanks to her love, freedom, spontaneity and insight. May this effort be beneficial to all adepts and seekers interested in the paths forged by the masters of Kashmir Shaivism. The Trika tradition continues today, even if it is a universe of practitioners that is somewhat small relative to those of other traditions, and it is hoped this small contribution will in some way help to keep the fires burning brightly.

Foreward to this translation The Tantrloka is one of the most important texts written by Abhinavagupta, frequently quoted and referenced in the work of many scholars and practitioners, but as of yet unavailable in English in its entirety. This work can be considered to be almost a 'textbook' or compendium written by Abhinavagupta, presumably primarily for the use of his current disciples and future adepts. Abhinavagupta's text is not introductory, and it presupposes considerable familiarity with the framework of Kashmir Shavism, as revealed by Vasugupta in the Shiva Sutras, and the subsequent commentaries and works by Ksemaraja, Utpaladeva and many others. This translation effort is intended primarily to provide practitioners in the tradition of Kashmir Shavism with a relatively easily readable version of the first five chapters of this text. In these first five chapters, Abhinavagupta presents a large and comprehensive overview of Kashmir Shavite philosophy, metaphysics and practice. These chapters cover the essence of the four 'upayas' of mainstream Kashmir Shavism, which can be considered as paths, approaches or phases for the practice of developing knowledge of ultimate reality through contemplation and meditation. The remaining chapters of the Tantrloka, 6 through 37, go into considerable detail about specific external practices, rituals and initiations. At this time, only Chapter 29 is available in English translation from the remainder of the text. A very brief synopsis of the other chapters is included by Abhinavagupta at the end of Chapter 1. Abhinavaguptas text is dense and the Sanskrit is often difficult, even for Sanskrit scholars, such as Andr Padoux and Lilian Silburn, who executed the French translation from which this is derived. The late Ms. Silburn and Mr. Padoux have been Sanskrit scholars their whole professional lives and their French translation is exceptional in its precision and clarity. Their work is based on a lifelong pursuit of thorough understanding and extensive study of the Kashmir Shavite traditions, and they had a personal relationship with the shavite teacher and master Lakshman Joo. They combine deep scholarly expertise honed over decades with an obvious passion and interest in the content of the material, which produces a vivid and lively French translation that is precised and complex but not dry and obtuse.

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This translation into English should not be viewed as a 'scholarly' effort based on research of the original Sanskrit. It is more of a precise and careful rendition into English intended to be readable and understandable. However, it remains very close to the original Sanskrit as well as the writing style of Abhinvagupta, and is not in any way a vulgarization or a 'reductionist' interpretation of the original, excessively digested. While translating I have brought to bear my readings of many texts of the Kashmir Shavite tradition as produced by a number of scholars, my deep familiarity with its key concepts and principles, and especially my long-term study of this philosophy and practice of the processes described herein for over thirty years. This practice was first developed under the guidance of Swami Muktananda with whom I lived continuously for eight years, then later with the Kashmiri yogini Parvathi Nanda Nath. My emphasis over these years has been much more that of a practitioner than a scholar, and inevitably, as in all translation work, this may introduce nuances linked to my personal experiences and viewpoints. Practitioners focus on direct experience, process and techniques rather than the precision of data favored by scholars looking for historical sequencing and references with other works. Scholarly research in these areas is extremely valuable, and has contributed to the frequent discovery of new manuscripts and translations of previously unavailable texts. Many scholars also focus on fine nuances of meaning of the Sanskrit, which is difficult since many Sanskrit words have multiple meanings. Sanskrit was used as the language of education and spiritual teaching over a period of multiple centuries, if not millenia, and certainly evolved over that timeframe. I have chosen to minimize this scholarly effort in my focus on rendering the material in one of Abhinavagupta's most important works relatively more easily accessible to the advanced practitioner. Readers who would like more scholarly footnotes and cross-references are referred to excellent works on Shavism produced by many well-known scholars. This text contains complex sentence structures with lots of concatenated elements. I have rendered the translation as faithfully as possible, often inserting key Sanskrit terms in parentheses to help the reader familiar with Sanskrit roots.

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The pincipal commentator of the Tantrloka is Rjnatha Jayaratha. Jayarathas main life's work was a very extensive commentary of this Tantrloka, and he was an ardent student of Shavism in the 12th century. This is about two hundred years after Abhinavagupta. While Jayaratha's commentary is very useful at times, it can also be repetitive and often simply paraphrasing Abhinavagupta. In wanting to assist the practitioner, I have frequently included Jayaratha's commentary in an abridged or paraphrased form within extensive footnotes to explain complex passages where it was needed most. His commentary is very lengthy, possibly ten times the length of Abhinavagupta's original text. It has therefore already been excerpted and digested by the French scholars, Padoux and Silburn, before my own selecting and abstracting process the commentary is therefore indeed a 'digest'. Whenever the reference 'Jayaratha:' begins in a footnote, the reader should know that, unless explicitly quoted, it is not a direct quote from his text but a very concise paraphrasing of his most important points. The commentary, even abridged, may also include some of Jayaratha's own biases due to culture, religious beliefs and spiritual practices and influences in his time period. This should be kept in mind when reading the excerpts from the commentary. The hope is that the result is a delicate balance between readability in English, and a structure and tone that attempts to precisely carry through Abhinavaguptas style and thought processes. It is important for the 21st century reader to keep some sense of historical timeframe as background. Abhinavagupta lived in Kashmir approximately during the years 960 -1040 CE, during the several centuries between the peak of the Buddhist influence (up to 9th century) and the Muslim Islamic rulers of the 13th and 14th centuries. The Kashmiri social environment at the time was, from what we know, reasonably stable and relatively prosperous for the period, much more culturally homogeneous and more religious in its worldview than ours. It was also obviously more limited in its access to means of communication and transportation. Abhinavagupta is truly an exceptional 'aggregator' of lineages and teachings, and this is an important component of his stature within the Shavite lineages and within the history of spiritual movements in India.

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He studied with many teachers (possibly fifteen different ones) and was born to a family with strong spiritual values. He lived a long stable and materially unencumbered life that gave him plenty of time and opportunities for extensive study and writing. He also lived within a peak period of the written spiritual text: a few centuries after the first texts were transcribed from previously oral traditions (5-6th centuries AD), and before the Muslim invasions of the 13th and 14th centuries caused a lot of disruption and result in the loss of many ancient treatises. Abhinavagupta combines and references teachings from the Trika, Pratyabhijna, Spanda and Krama schools within Kashmir Shavism as well as being heavily influenced by the teachings of the Kaula and yogini lineages active in Kashmir at that time that were still largely transmitted orally. Due to this, Abhinavagupta is truly an encyclopedic master of the currents and teachings within the whole Shavite universe, and the Tantrloka is, in many ways, his effort at summarizing these many traditions. This can cause some confusion for the reader, since the text contains a lot of quotations and references to other texts, and also spans a number of different approaches and teachings belonging to the Shavite tradition. Abhinavagupta presents the numerous teachings and traditions in the context of one or the other principal paths of Shavism (upaya) and these are heavily influenced by these other sources. Also, not to state the obvious, but Abhinavagupta did not have access to science, a scientific approach or several centuries of scientific discovery and research in the same manner as we do today, so his teachings were presented in a cultural context with a very religious and ritualistic worldview, rather than a scientific and secular worldview were he writing in our timeframe and geography. Abhinavagupta's teachings and worldview are obviously based on personal experience, instruction received from his numerous teachers and gurus, as well as prior teachings and treatises. Fairly frequently, he is defining the Trika framework by 'contrast' to the much more religious, ritualistic, and often dualistic traditions prevalent at his time. Kashmir Shavism emphasizes direct experience, intuitive reason and discrimination this was probably unusual in the spiritual/religious context of the time, and he may have been perceived as avant-garde and modern for his time period. Of course, he does take great pains to respect existing and prior beliefs and traditions, and this becomes evident in some of the lengthy passages where he is arguing the potency and validity of Trika Shavism relative to other traditions.

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Being part of a fairly traditional, ritualistic and religiously conservative society, Abhinavagupta often seems to be pushing up against these traditions in advocating the power and rational approach of Trika. Yet he uses a lot of the symbolism, language and references of these traditions in his presentation. To readers in the 21st century, the text can therefore seem to make extensive use of religious language (Shiva as god of gods, etc.), even though the references to supreme consciousness and the nature of awareness and the supreme self are concepts that are less laden with religious imagery and more modern. If Abhinavagupta were writing today, he would probably be taking an opposite tack, and defining the Trika system in contrast to the limitations of our prevalent secular and scientific worldview. Due to the importance of this context, it is my belief that his conceptual framework and his exposition should not be understood to be more complex than they are his teachings are the product of intense spiritual practice, self-inquiry and deep personal experiences of the various modalities of subjective awareness. They are accessible to spiritual practitioners in the 21st century without the need of extensive expertise in the totality of the literature, background and various currents of Hindu Tantric literature in that period. As frequently stated by Abhinavagupta, focusing exclusively on intellectual understanding of Shavism is not sufficient it is the discipline of practice, the study under appropriate guides and honest self-inquiry that will lead to the direct experience of the underlying principles of Shavism as presented here. Please note that Abhinavagupta writes in the form of verses composed of two halves of two lines each, often referred to in scholarly works as lines 'a', 'b', 'c', 'd'. Many of his sentences however, carry across verses, so that the last two lines of one verse are connected to the first two lines of the next verse. Sometimes he uses even more complex sequencing. Rather than focus on staying completely faithful to the original structure, I have chosen to work more loosely with the verse structure and make each verse in English the carrier of a single sentence or a single idea. Thus the exact correspondance with the original verse numbers may be off from the original Sanskrit by 1 or in some cases, 2 numbers. It is only important when referring to other texts and studies that quote specific verses in these first five chapters of the Tantrloka.

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This text makes use of many important concepts and formulations inherent in the Shavite tradition. The material takes time to digest and it is primarily through one's own practice that the concepts, words and teachings presented can become clearer, fully understandable and reach the full potential of their impact. May your practice bear fruit, may you be liberated from unconscious bonds to external objects, may the luminosity inside shine brightly and may we all continue to rediscover the deep insights and experiences described by Abhinavagupta.

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Abhinavagupta TANTRLOKA Light on Tantra Chapter 1 General Overview

Translators Notes (Roger-Orph Jeanty December 2008): This chapter provides a general overview of the Trika system and the contents of this work. As such, it is a broad survey and does not provide a lot of detail about each topic. Abhinavagupta focuses here on arguing the strengths and differences of the Trika system relative to other philosophical systems that were prevalent in his time period. Due to this, there are a substantial number of references to other preceding texts, tantras in particular. There is also deliberate rebuttal of arguments coming from other viewpoints, and a fairly extensive use of examples, which are not always completely clear without the historical context. While this chapter is a helpful introduction to the various topics covered quite broadly and quickly, it does leave the reader wanting to know more specifics, as are presented in further chapters. A detailed table of contents of the whole work is included by Abhinavagupta towards the end of this chapter.

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INVOCATION AND WORSHIP 1. To the immortal family of supreme rank, made of the emission whose essence emanates in constant pulsation, produced by the union of the couple formed by the father with the body of fullness and five faces that radiate splendor, and the mother who gleams in a constantly renewed radiance born in the pure creative power of %akti (power, energy), may the kernel of my heart (h&daya) flash forth completely` I salute the Goddess Par;, creative power of Consciousness (citpratibh;), associated with Bhairava, she whose seats are the lotuses placed on the tips of the trident formed by the knowing subject, the knowledge and the knowable. I salute the goddess (Apar;), residing in the body of Bhairava, the dancer who plays and flashes like lightning in a sky covered with thick clouds. Honor finally to (Par;par;), the radiating trident of gnosis (j@;na%~la) that destroys the triple enslavement of humans and can annihilate all obstacles on the path to truth. The %akti (power) of freedom (sv;tantrya%akti), the desire to create temporal succession (krama) and the fact itself of the flow of time (kramatva) are manifestations of the power of the Omnipresent (vibhu). May these three goddesses reveal to me internally the Without-Equal (anuttara). O Ganapati, unique son of the goddess, You whose nature makes divine omnipotence appear and who reigns on the large wheel of the rays of the senses, You, beautiful like the radiant moon and ocean of my consciousness in your gushing expansion, please come to my assistance ` May Macchanda, the Omnipresent, be favorable to me, he who repulsed the vast and multi-form glowing net (of M;y;), its assembly of knots and holes spread out everywhere ` Glory to the first masters shining like precious pearls in the river of spiritual tradition to which Tryambaka gave his name, unfailing pilots who guide us in the moving waves of the ocean of masterful treatises ` Glory to the master without equal celebrated on earth under the name r$ka[!ha, and glory to the Blessed Mahe%vara and to Bh~tir;ja, other forms taken on by him `


3. 4.






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Glory to the work performed by the great Utpaladeva from the teachings of the glorious Som;nanda, who emanates from supreme Consciousness like a perfume spreading everywhere ` I salute the master Lak^ma[agupta, similar to the bee who, invigorated by the enjoyment of the nectar of the flowers she gathers pollen from, becomes enchanted by her own subtle buzzing ` Everything I could desire was taught to me by the venerable Cukhulaka, eminent master, resting in complete bliss, versed in the meaning of all the Texts ` Glory to ambhun;tha, unique being who, accompanied by his beloved, was so accomplished in escaping the world ` As impenetrable as is the way of Shaivite Scriptures, the rays of his teachings nevertheless illuminated the path for me. Numerous and diverse are the manuals in use in different doctrinal schools. For the unequaled doctrine of the Trika, however, there is not even one. Therefore, upon the request of virtuous disciples and students, I have composed this clear and complete work. Abhinavagupta is teaching this doctrine, he who radiates the knowledge born from worship destroying the poison enveloping the bonds of unconsciousness he offers it to the succession of masters, and to start, at the lotus feet of Bha!!;n;tha and those of his consort Bha!!;rik;. One will not find here anything that has not been clearly expressed or suggested by the god of gods in the distinguished M;lin$vijayottara(tantra). This teaching of the omnipresent Lord Shiva divided into eight, eighteen and sixty-four has as its essence the doctrine of Trika whose essence is itself in the M;lin$vijayottara. Therefore, in obedience to our masters, we make manifest here everything that is contained in those treatises that have not been seen by sages who are foreign to this tradition. Such is the work of Abhinavagupta, he who obtained perfection by meditating on the lotus feet of the God with three eyes. To worship Lord Shiva, study this lotus of the heart of Abhinavagupta that bloomed in the splendor emanating from the luminous feet of Lord ambhu.




14. 15. 16.

17. 18.


20. 21.

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GENERAL INTRODUCTION 22. Ignorance is the inciting cause (hetu) of the universal outflow (sa>s&ti), knowledge is the unique cause (ekak;ra[am) of liberation. All the treatises proclaim this: Ignorance, it is said, is the fundamental impurity (;[avamala), cause of the sprout that gives birth to the flow of becoming. This is declared in the M;lin$vijayottaratantra, 1.231. This precision removes the possibility that this ignorance is that which resides in the intellect and is subsequent to sa>s;ra. He (Shiva) says that liberation takes place in the absence of this ignorance. The word ignorance does not mean absence of knowledge, which would lead to the error of an excessively wide definition (atiprasa[ga). Cannot one see that a clod of earth and other objects (inanimate and therefore ignorant) do not transmigrate nevertheless? This is explained in the ivas~tras where ignorance is none other than knowledge that doesnt reveal knowable reality in its totality. The Self is consciousness (caitanyam ;tm;), knowledge is the bond (j@;na> bandha+). These two initial aphorisms (of the ivas~tras), whether one takes them together or separately, confirm our concept that ignorance is limited knowledge. In the first s~tra, the word caitanya, consciousness, whose suffix (-ya) implies abstraction, expresses pure definitive freedom, beyond all distinctions (an;k^iptavi%e^a). The second s~tra, to the contrary, concerns an action or an instrument of action (kara[a), which implies duality in the essence of the pure consciousness. Ignorance is simply the deployment of duality which, being void of reality (tucchatv;t), is binding it must therefore be sliced this is what is said in a different manner. What is called liberation (mok^a) is not some sort of reality, conscious or unconscious, separate from the Self that is freedom. This term must not be understood as designating a particular entity.




26. 27.


29. 30.


In the M;lin$vijayottaratantra, 1.23: malam aj@;nam icchanti sa>s;r;]kurak;ra[am.

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Gradually, as the knowledge of the levels of the knowable unfolds, perfected more and more, higher and higher, it progressively puts an end to the corresponding aspects of the flow of becoming. Im not tainted by attraction (r;ga), etc. say the Yog;c;ras, I am emptiness think the adepts of S;>khya. These understandings, united or separated, only give liberation from one aspect of sa>s;ra. This is why freeing oneself of one limitation is not really liberation, since other limitations remain. The truly liberated is exempt from all limitations. Understanding the levels of the knowable, in its totality and without limits, allows no ignorance of any aspect of the knowable, and it is this that confers true deliverance. Knowledge and ignorance present themselves, according to the teaching of iva, in two distinct forms: one is spiritual (pauru^a), the other is intellectual (bauddha). Spiritual ignorance is what is named impurity (mala). Relevant to the mind, it is the veil that hides our own shaivite nature which is activity and consciousness in their fullness. This ignorance arises out of activity and consciousness that is contracted. It belongs to the enslaved being and is not relevant to the domain of differentiation, nor of the intellect, since it does not have the function of determination (adhyavas;ya), etc. That, I know it to be so: when such a determined notion arises, caused by the reflection (of the light) in the individual encumbered by the six cloaks2, one says that this knowledge is (intellectual) ignorance. Spiritual and intellectual ignorance reinforce each other. When the unconscious tendencies (sa>sk;ra) of the enslaved individual wear themselves out and he/she obtains the supreme state, then the spiritual knowledge (vij@;na>pauru^a>) that blooms is a knowledge without differentiation, (that can erase alternatives and duality).


34. 35.





40. 41.

K;la limitation of time and eternity, niyati limitation of omnipresence, space and cause, r;ga limitation of fulfillment, therefore attachment, vidy; - limited omniscience and knowledge, kal; - limited omnipotence and agency, maya limited consciousness

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Then, when the vikalpa deployed in harmony with the undifferentiated knowledge of the Self is fully manifest, it becomes intellectual knowledge (bauddhavij@;na). Just like ignorance, the two types of knowledge reinforce each other. If spiritual ignorance is destroyed through initiation (d$k^a), the knowledge that corresponds to it, is only revealed clearly when the body is dissolved. But if, thanks to intellectual knowledge, intellectual ignorance ceases to be deployed, liberation in this lifetime is there, in the palm of the hand. Initiation is truly liberating only if it is preceded by intellectual knowledge. What is predominant therefore, in this case, is again intellectual knowledge. This double aspect of knowledge and ignorance has been expounded by many venerable masters, first among whom is Khe!;p;la (Sadyojyoti), and in their works (on the gamas) Raurava, Sv;yambhuva, Mata]ga, etc. In regards to the acquisition of intellectual knowledge (bauddha vij@;na) to achieve certainty, what is most valuable is the study of texts that indicate the true nature of the knowable (j@eyatattva). If, through the means of initiation, the internal ignorance, spiritual in nature, disappears, but the intellectual ignorance that remains continues to operate, one remains subject to vikalpa. In fact, even after initiation, the nature of the Self may be linked to the intellect as long as the body survives, but not after death. After death, there is then liberation, spiritual ignorance having already disappeared. When intellectual ignorance ceases to be active, the vikalpas are extracted down to their roots and one acquires liberation immediately. As (the Creator) says in the venerable Ni%;!ana: He/she whose consciousness remains tied to the vikalpas attains iva after death of the body. The other (he/she who is without vikalpas) attains him now in this life. What dominate here are naturally the teachings of the shaivite texts.

43. 44. 45. 46.






52. The supreme reality (para> tattvam) of the knowable is iva, pure conscious light (prak;%a), because that which is not conscious light cannot become illumined nor have any real existence.

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Even the non-existence of things (avastut;) carries in itself the unique domain (ekagocara) of astonishment (camatk;ra): Wow, this pot is not here `. The notion this does not exist is different from the totally unconscious state intrinsic to an inanimate object, such as a wall. That which we call light illumines all locations. As it escapes from all negation (anapahnavan$yatv;t), what can logical constructions (m;nakalpan;) do to explain it? These logical criteria themselves, that give significance to that which exists, in the final analysis, it is the supreme Lord and only Him that gives them life (meaning). Even that individual who delights in negating everything must admit that the negation of knowledge, the knower and the known can only be possible to the extent that these are manifest to him/her, a conscious/aware subject. This reality of consciousness being both primordial in the affirmative or in the negative, what role can logical criteria play to prove its existence. The K;mik;gama thus declares that this reality, the supreme subject, does not depend on logical constructs (hetuv;da): The God of gods does not depend on anything on the contrary, it is they (logical criteria, pram;[a) that depend on him. He is therefore autonomous, independent, universal Lord, free of temporal succession, of space, of modality, since everything depends on Him. Therefore, He is omnipresent, eternal, in all forms, beneficial (%iva). Omnipresent, He fills the entire universe eternal, He has neither beginning nor end of all forms, He is revealed in all conscious and unconscious things. This is why (the gamas) such as the D$k^ottara declare that He has multiple aspects: iva is said to be of six forms (r~pa). He has the nature of the worlds (bhuvana), of the bodies (vigraha), of light (jyotis), of ether (kha), of sound (%abda) and of mantra linked to bindu, n;da, etc. Into whichever of these modalities (bh;va) the yogi is absorbed and attains through knowledge, such as ether, sound, etc. he will reach supreme deliverance: without a doubt.




57. 58. 59.

60. 61. 62.



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These are only secondary aspect of the God who nature is universal when all the limitations of his forms are eliminated, one reaches the state that has no limits (anavacchinnat;). Indeed, it is said in the K;mik;gama: The God takes on all the forms (;k&t$), but has none, as it is with water or the mirror. All things, mobile or immobile are integrally interpenetrated with Him (vy;pta). In Him, the attributes of omnipresence, omniscience, etc. are not distinct one from another, because in fact, He possesses a single attribute that contains all of them. One is therefore correct in admitting that He is indissolubly united to the %akti (power) of freedom (sv;tantrya%akti). Concerning his other multiple energies, their existence is due solely to the fact that they are united to this single %akti (power).





69. That which is named %akti (power, energy), is the actual nature (svar~pa) of something (bh;va) that conscious subjects imagine in different ways. That is why, even conceived of as the owner of %akti (power), iva is without duality.3 In reality, what difference is there in the various forms of divinity that are imagined by conscious subjects? Fire is the same, whether it is cooking or burning. This difference is nevertheless not nothing from the viewpoint of ultimate Reality, since everything which appears to consciousness does exist. The difference between %akti (power) and its owner is therefore also a reality. When, as a result of something, an overabundance of %akti (power) arises, this thing, having that same nature, is Shakti (energy) itself. It is the Goddess who, while manifesting in this manner, remains in essence different from her manifestation. In the same manner, due to his complete freedom, iva manifests, without any loss of his glorious power, as created in the mirror of the inherent consciousness of the subject, whether it is during contemplation (bh;van;) or in some other fashion.





Conscious subjects imagine all different kinds of forms for shakti (power), but Shiva is not affected by the multiplicity of these conceptualizations.

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This is why, in whichever way (mukha) He manifests, iva, who is without division (ana>%a), that is where Shakti (power) is. It is also clear that the passage (krama) from Him to his %akti (energy) (%aktitadvatkrama+) is also a reality (vastu). This has been explained in the Kira[;gama in the form of questions and answers: Experience, it is said therein, arises out of vikalpa, it is of a mental (m;nasa) nature, and that which is such cannot attain iva. So, if one cannot attain iva, how can initiation be performed?. This treatise answers: No, this is not the way it is. The immediate experience of hunger, of thirst, even though they are perceived mentally, they do not arise out of vikalpa. As one can know a tree simply by form or by color, without needing to taste it, in the same way one can know iva through n;da, bindu, etc., without the help of vikalpa. The energies of iva, as we have said, are multiple. The deployment of the sextuple cosmic division of the kal;, tattva, and bhuvana, of the phonemes, mantras and pada, also of emanation, maintenance, concealment, resorption (of the cosmos), of divine grace and of the Fourth (turya)4, are nothing other than the full unfolding (j&mbha[a) of divine omnipotence. In the same way, the waking, dream, and deep sleep states and others that transcend them are just the overabundance of the waves of freedom of the Lord. Mantras, mantre%varas and mah;mantre%varas have iva as their master5. Like them, conscious subjects, whether or not they are subject to limitation (kal;), are only manifestations of iva. The fundamental indestructible nature (dharma) of all the totality of all levels of manifestation (tattvagr;ma) is, according to the Tri%iromata6, the self that is the foundation of their true nature (;tmaiva hi svabh;v;tm;). This very subtle synthesis of the tattvas, (says this text), is present in the heart, in all the bodies and in the essence of all beings this is what is meant by the totality (gr;ma).




78. 79.


81. 82.


According to the commentator Jayaratha, this is different than the fourth state (turiya). It is the fullness present in the three acts of emanation, maintenance and resorption. 5 In Trika, it is considered that there is a hierarchy of seven conscious subjects (pram;t&), starting with the highest, iva. There are the Great Lords of the mantras (mah;mantre%vara), the Lords of the mantras (mantre%vara), and mantras. Then come the vij@;n;kala and the parlay;kala, who are not subject to kal;, the first tattva after m;ya. 6 This text is only known through numerous references in Tantr;loka, especially in Chap 29. The text is also called Tri%irobhairava or Tri%ira+%;stra, etc.

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84. 85.

It is, as we have said, the Self, the fundamental nature of which is flooded with the ambrosia of iva. The knowledge that one may have of this rests on the light (of consciousness) in the interval between existing and non-existing or between (two existings) (bh;v;bh;v;dimadhyata+). Remaining thus in its own location, this knowledge is similar to a vision that nothing obstructs. He who purifies pure knowledge which is that of the only and unique reality (viviktavastu), he, who one says, can hold himself immovable in the unique substratum of the totality of all levels of manifestation, this individual can succeed in everything. Having abandoned the breaths that ascend or descend, he penetrates in the center and settles in joy (r;mastha). The Tri%irobhairava continues: Whether he is walking or stopped, whether he is awake or dreaming, in the awakening or resting of consciousness (unme^a[anime^a[e), running or jumping, making efforts or perceiving energies, whether in the attributes of intellect, in things, in names, in types of activity, in all of this, the joy (bliss) is iva, penetrating everything (vy;paka), supreme cause. He who, having freed his thoughts of any impurities just by suppressing his memory, is meditating on the supreme object of Meditation, whether he is mobile or immobile, also attains the Supreme iva, named Bhairava, by means of the recitation (japa) of a mantra. Emancipated from existence as well as nonexistence, this japa has, it is said, iva as essence.7 Here, therefore, the diversity (of the means of liberation), whether they are close or distant, is the work of this divine liberty, since it depends on the pure freedom of consciousness. Therefore, how could the supreme Lord, who accomplishes the most difficult things in the fullness of his freedom, not appear in any form whatsoever? He appears without veils He appears while concealing himself He appears both concealed and revealed, because the variety of his aspects are overabundant. The three energies of the Lord that the masters call the %akti (power) of will (iccha), knowledge (j@;na) and activity (kriya) are in reality just different terms to designate His freedom.


87. 88.

89. 90.


92. 93.


Jayaratha comments using verses 145 and 146 of the Vij@;nabhairava on the topics of japa and dhy;na.

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95. The texts give to this deity several names corresponding to his nature: God (deva), Great Bhairava (mah;bhairava), Lord (pati), Supreme iva (parama%iva). This deity carries the universe and, nourishing and sustaining it, He is carried by it (bibharti-bhr$yate). He is the roar of the universe, accompanied by consciousness he protects those that are fearful of the flow of becoming.8 He is born in the heart where arises the awareness of the cry (rava) that is provoked by the fear of becoming. Through Him is produced, by means of his grace (%aktip;tata+), the awareness of the fearfulness of existence. He is what shines in those whose thought (manas) is attached to concentration on what is called the engulfing of time (k;lagr;sa), thereby drying out the substance (tattva) of time that animates the constellations. Master of the goddesses of the sense organs (svakara[adev$), whose cry (rava[a) frightens those beings that are chained and focused on themselves, and master of the group (ga[a) of the four internal or external energies khecar$, etc., He puts an end to the vortex of sa>s;ra.





100. He is thus the Very Frightening (mah;bh$ma+). These are the meanings of the name Bhairava that conform to his nature as described by the sages in the texts. 101. He is god, deva, because He plays without concern with what is to be attained or rejected. His play is an outpouring of his own bliss as an undifferentiated mass. He is god because his desire (icch;) dominates all that exists and because he is total freedom (svatantratvam).

102. He is god because, though he is not affected by the affairs of the world (vyavahara[a), a murmur towards that which is differentiated (sa>jalpa) is produced within Him because, manifesting all that exists, He illuminates all (dyotanam). 103. He is also worship (stuti) since all beings lean towards Him, enjoying all that He does. Lastly, being awakening (bodha), being composed of the totality of actions, having as qualities knowledge and activity, He is movement (gati), source of all manifestation. These are the interpretations of the word deva (god) given by the masters in the ivatanu%;stra.

The name Bhairava is tied to the root BH (to carry, sustain), the root RU (sound, noise, roar, etc.), the root BH (to fear) and the root AV (to protect).

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104. Since He teaches, defends, encloses, comes to the aid of and makes the fruit of actions (karma) ripen, He gives his assistance to all beings. This is why he is called Master (pati). His nature being auspicious, He is called the Beneficial (%iva): in Him, in fact, there is nothing that is not beneficial. 105. All these traits exist to some extent in Rudra, in Indra or other divine shaivite forms. This is why here, we have qualified iva as supremely great (paramamahat), in order to exclude these other limited aspects. 106. In this way, obeying the orders of iva, I will show that which must truly be known (j@eyasatattva), according to ones own immediate awareness of it (svasa>vit), according to intuitive reason (sattarka), and according to the treatises of the Lord, the Trika and the Krama.


107. The three energies of iva the Supreme, the Intermediate, the Lower, radiate forth during cosmic emanation, maintenance, resorption, and in the Fourth condition, thereby producing twelve9. 108. Such is iva, the supreme, in the fullness of his own true nature. Those who worship the wheel (cakra) of these twelve energies are in perfect union with Him (parini^!hita).

109. The texts declare that these energies are differentiated, their number increasing or decreasing according to the autonomy of divine freedom. 110. In this manner, Bhairava appears in the form of the solitary Hero (ekav$ra), as a couple (y;mala)10, he manifests with three or four %akti, he has a quintuple aspect, or shows himself adorned with six, seven, eight, nine and ten %akti (kal;) 11. He also appears accompanied by eleven female artisans12, or also as the master of the great twelve-spoked Wheel (cakra) of energies.


This subject is expanded in Chapter 4, verses 122 onwards. The fourth condition seems to refer to the pure Consciousness of cit%akti luminous awareness, according to what is described in Chapter 4. Four conditions times three energies produces this mandala of 12, which is described in detail in that section. Jayaratha indicates these twelve K;l$ shaktis were first described in the Krama Shaivite system, and form the wheel (or mandala) of the shaktis of Consciousness. 10 Jayarathas commentary refers back to the Netratantra, where the solitary hero is call M&tyujit, conqueror of death, and to the Yamalatantra. 11 Per Jayaratha: the three are Par;, Par;par; and Apar; - the four are: Jay;, Vijay;, Jayant$ and Aparajit; - the five are the faces of Shiva: Sadyoj;ta, V;madeva, Aghora, Tatpuru^a and %;na the six are: Vi%v;, %ik;, Raudr$, V$raka, Tryambik; and Gurv$ - the seven are the seven mothers (saptam;t&k;): Br;hm$, M;he%var$, Kaum;r$, Vais[av$, V;r;h$, Indr;[$, C;mu[#; - these become eight by adding Aghor; (a^!;m;tara+) and nine with Nav;tm;. The ten are: Um;, Durg;, Bhadrak;li, etc. Eleven are the eleven interstices of the cakra (kha[#acakrokt;+). The twelve are obviously the K;l$. 12 This could be understood as dakinis or yoginis.

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Lastly, as all-powerful Master (prabhu), Lord possessing all %akti (energy), He unfolds in the form of a thousand rays, even as an infinite number of rays in the universal chakra (vi%vacakra). These chakras or mandalas of energies are distinguished by characteristics unique to each of their categories (varga), described in various portions of texts. The Tri%irobhairavatantra indicates that iva, by the diversity of his aspects, rules over six chakras of 4, 6, 8, 12, 16 and 24 %akti. According to this text, the names of the goddesses in the chakras derives from the ideas that one makes concerning their nature, which is linked to meditation (dhy;na) on their aspects (;k&ti), which vary according to whether the activities of these goddesses are peaceful or fearsome (saumyaraudra).13 The internal creative power (;ntar$ pratibh;), essential manifestation (tanu) of the unique Lord, Consciousness itself, is thus worshipped in the limited form of one particular wave of Consciousness, a chakra with peaceful or other energies (sa>vid~rmicakram). Through the means of an invocation such as: May he prosper`, through meditation associated with an internal murmur, through also external ritual actions, the Goddess-Consciousness, having been evoked, manifests externally and appears to the adept as bearer of the desirable fruit. The rite of pu^!i consists in filling with liquid (saras$) that which is dried up: meditation acts in the manner of the pure water in the ritual by highlighting this process (filling with liquid, in this case with divine %akti).


114. 115.




119. The phonemes which, by their nature, produce sweetness (rasa), in particular 120. the dental and labio-dental ones when they are associated with other phonemes and become seeds, b$jamantras, manifest this mode of consciousness.14 121. Thus, why would the murmuring vocalization (sa>jalpa) of an expression such as Create prosperity` Fill with rasa`, the nature of which is vikalpa, also not fill this consciousness?


Jayaratha quotes this text from the Tri%irobhairavatantra: Whichever is the form that the sadhaka wishes to evoke, iva, like the magical jewel (cint;mani), takes it on immediately. 14 Commentary suggests Abhinavagupta is talking about dental SA and labio-dental VA as in sv;h;. VA is associated with Varuna, god of rain, which is vital to prosperity. Sv;h; is the final confirmation accompanying any offering.

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122. This action is performed when one says: This nectar, this milk, this ghee, sources of strength, may I, thanks to them, fructify this seed that will bring this being into existence.15 123. In this manner, whether beings desire sensory experiences (bhoga) or liberation (mok^a), they worship the Lord of the universe, Bhairava, who is Awakening, in a form that is either limited or unlimited.

124. The divine teacher (guru) has indeed taught that those that are faithful to other deities, it is in fact, Me that they are worshipping16. Those that judge a particular deity, distinct from consciousness, worthy of an offering, if they were to examine that which they consider as such, would realize that in reality, this deity is not different than Consciousness. 125. Because Consciousness is an expansion of absolute subjectivity (ahant;prath;tmana+), created by a global awareness without limits (avicchinnat;mar%ar~p;), it unfolds of its own accord and does not need a worship preceded by an invocation (vidhi). 126. Such an invocation is a creation (s&^!y;tm;) that must precede the worship of deities, because these, belonging to the domain of the knowable, are creations arising under the effect of %akti (power). On the other hand, Consciousness, in the form of the absolute I (aha>r~p;), is eternal and has the inherent nature of self-unfoldment (svaprathan;tmik;).17 127. An invocation is a commandment (niyoga) and a creative impulse, or the power to bring on absorption (bh;van;). This power is triple and it incites to action (codana). 128. The gods Indra, etc can only be attained through an invocation, but this is not the case for Consciousness, the absolute I (aha>bodha).

129. Those who make offerings to these deities only see appearances that are within the domain of the knowable. Even though they know Consciousness, they do not really know it. 130. This is said in the Bhagavadg$t;: As they do not know Me in my true reality, they move away from Me18, and this separation is the descent into the essence of the limited.


Jayaratha specifies that here it is referring to the embryo that will create a human being. Bhagavad Gita Ch. 9.23 17 Jayaratha comments that Consciousness is always present, manifesting spontaneously (sak&dvibh;toyam ;tm;). 18 Bhagavad Gita Ch. 9.24

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This is why it has been said: Those that worship deities go to these deities, etc. but those that immerse the known (of which these deities are part) into that which is beyond them, discover in them the unlimited, the permanence inherent in Consciousness: these devotees come to Me.19 Everywhere here, the word I (aham) uniquely means (ekav;caka) Consciousness (bodha). This is also meant by the terms Beneficiary and Lord, if one is thinking about who is making the offering and to whom it is addressed. Consciousness alone, it is proclaimed, not some other divine form, is both the supplicant and the offering. It is not a deity. It is not concerned by the invocation, nor the mantras, nor the texts on which this invocation rests. This consciousness, concealing itself, reaches all the way to the level of inert objects (ja#apada). Concealed or revealed, consciousness becomes all that exists, from deities to plants, its two aspects, sentient and non-sentient, being also infinitely diverse. Consciousness is absolutely free. Who could not perceive it? As it is said in the Tri%irobhairavatantra, he who knows consciousness is perfectly awake. The modality of the knowable is in reality an attribute of Consciousness, therefore the shadow projected by that which is manifest cannot obscure its presence. That which is called person (pudgala), individual (a[u) etc. which form the sentient part of it (consciousness), rests in numerous and varied aspects in its non-concealed manifestation (an;vara[abh;g;>%e). Even though there is no real division in immutable Consciousness, the gradual disappearance of its concealing veils is a significant characteristic. We shall present a detailed exposition of all this while discussing the descent of energy (%aktipat)20, when we examine more gross (coarse) manifestation, after we have described the supreme stage.


133. 134.

135. 136.


138. 139.


140. Whereas the Omnipresent manifests to certain conscious subjects its inherent essence in complete fullness, to others its reveals it progressively.

Bhagavad Gita Ch. 9.25. This is mostly in Chapter 13 of the Tantr;loka, not translated here.

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For limited beings, the supreme knowledge is the manifestation of the essence of consciousness which is the immanent reality in all things. All other forms of knowledge are inferior and have multiple aspects.

142. This knowledge manifests in accordance with a direct means (s;k^;t) or with indirectly derived means that present a variety of differences.21 143. Each of these various means subdivides further, whether, relative to itself or others, it is conditioning (being learned) or conditioned (already assimilated), whether it presents itself totally or in part, whether it operates immediately or over time.22

144. The path of knowledge is not considered here as ignorance23, but as subtle knowledge. The supreme means, the path of iva, is composed of subtle will (icch;). 145. The modalities that are path and goal (up;yopeyabh;v;+), are due to an error belonging to the gross knowledge inherent to the energy of activity, which causes bondage and liberation.24 146. That which flashes forth immediately in the pure consciousness of self, completely apparent at the dawn of knowledge (;dy;) in the unique undifferentiated realm, is that which is called will (icch;). 147. In the same way as an object appears clearly to someone whose eyes are open, without needing to focus, so is the nature of iva revealed to certain exceptional beings. 148. But if, by means of a progressive search pursued repeatedly based on a certainty originating in vikalpa (dualistic thinking), one can reach a global awareness of consciousness (par;mar%a), this means is known as the path of knowledge (j@;nop;ya).

149. However, the means operating with external objective reality and produced by constructive imagination is the path traditionally considered as the path of activity. Nevertheless, the differences between these paths has no implications regarding their common objective: liberation (apavarga).


Jayaratha comments that the paths form a continuity, and that there is no disconnection between these means. One leads to the other. 22 According to Jayarathas commentary, the three principal paths therefore divide each into two (6), then two again (12) and lastly two again, thereby creating 24 variations. 23 Abhinavagupta is referring to his comments about limited knowledge as ignorance in verses 26 and 27 of this chapter. 24 In the realm of limited knowledge, path and goal appear as a dichotomy. In reality, iva, supreme conscious light is both the path and the goal.

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150. Indeed, as it is said in the venerable G;ma%astra, activity does not really differ from knowledge which, when it is deployed, culminates in yoga (union). Yoga is not other than knowledge, nor is activity other than yoga. 151. This meaning of the word activity designates dynamic intuition in action (mati), that has reached the summits of the levels of reality, occurring when the impressions (v;san;) of our own empirical consciousness (citta) have been fully appeased.

152. The impressions imprinted in our own consciousness are due to the impurities of illusion and action. Intuition (mati), which has the nature of consciousness, is the cause of their disappearance. 153. Intuition rests (adhi%;yin$) in all the levels of reality, starting with the body. It, along with activity and yoga, consists in dissolving these levels into Consciousness.

154. Truthfully, even in ordinary activity, the idea of movement is first internal, then becomes an action when it penetrates the body, into space and into the organs of locomotion. 155. What one calls activity is therefore none other than knowledge. Therefore, we have been correct in indicating (verse 22) that only knowledge is able to confer liberation.

156. Liberation (mok^a) is none other, in reality, than the unfolding of our own essence, this being none other than the consciousness of the Self. 157. The %akti of activity, knowledge and will are not added to consciousness, since, logically, nothing exists that is without consciousness (asa>vit). Also, one cannot postulate or defend the existence of a subject (other than consciousness) who would be a carrier of properties (dharmin) (i.e. a carrier of these %akti). According to the teachings of the Supreme Lord contrary to what is said in the Ka[;da system25 - there is in fact no subject that is carrying the properties that are characteristic of the %akti (dharmar~p;[;m ;%raya+).26 If the three energies, will, knowledge and activity, were different than iva (holder of the power), then our affirmation according to which there is only one unique iva would be without reality.




Ka[;da is the mythical founder of Vai%e^ika system. In this system, substances, their properties and their actions are realities the ;tman, the Self is one of these substances. 26 In the Trika system, there is no difference between dharmin (that which supports) and dharma (that which is supported), in other words, between iva and his attributes or shaktis (energies).

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160. As a result, that which is consciousness is complete freedom, and, to the extent that it diversifies, it deploys into multiple %akti (energies). 161. Liberation is the unfoldment of the Self (;tmaprath;). It is therefore impossible to say that one who has knowledge can remain not liberated, under the pretext that a cause cannot always produce an effect27.

162. Knowledge and liberation do not seem to us to be linked by a mandatory relationship of cause and effect, therefore this argument must be rejected. 163. Activity is, in its essence, knowledge. But since it carries in itself all that is coarse, one perceives in it the diversity of objects.

164. The means associated with the path of activity (kriyop;ya) are divided into means that are perceptible and means that are external (gr;hyab;hya), which, dividing and sub-dividing, are innumerable.28 165. Thus, we are refuting the argument of those who indicate that different means and paths lead to different types of liberation. 166. Liberation remains identical despite the diversity of possible causes destruction, disappearance, decay - that put an end to impurities and the energy that enlivens them the manner in which a pot or other object is broken is not important, the end result is the same.

167. The Lord teaches this division into three paths in the Ancient Treatise30, where interpenetrations are described: 168. The penetration (;ve%a) that is produced through an intense awakening (pratibodha), for whom is without thought (aki>cit cintaka), is said to be inherent to iva (ambhu).

27 28

This is affirmed by the Buddhist logician Dharmak$rti. Jayaratha explains how perceptible means include mantra-related practices (the body plays a role but the means is not visible). External means include offerings, mandalas (yantras), that are externally visible. This produces many means described in the chapters beyond Chapter 5. 29 In verses 167 to 232, Abhinavagupta explains interpenetration (sam;ve%a) and penetration (;ve%a), which are total absorption into the deity, for each of the three main paths. These two terms are used interchangeably. Interpenetration could be understood a mutual merging or mutual penetration. 30 The M;lin$vijayottaratantra, ancient Trika text frequently referred to.

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169. The interpenetration obtained by meditating solely through the heart on an object (vastu), without any recitation of mantra through breath (ucc;ra) is called here of the %akti (%akta). 170. The interpenetration obtained through recitation associated with breath, by disciplining the organs, by meditation, through the means of the phonemes or by fixation on a point of support (in the body or external), this is called interpenetration of the individual (;[ava). 171. For whom is without thought31, which means for whom in which vikalpa (discursive thought) is not operating, there occurs spontaneous and sudden merging (jhatiti sam;patti) into that which must be known.

172. How does this occur? Through a very strong awakening, says iva, oriented towards that which must be known and which attains immediately its complete unfoldment. 173. The awakening described in verse 168 above can also be produced by a master (guru[;). Penetration (;ve%a), that is identification with Supreme iva, consists in merging ones own individual nature that is not free, into the primordial (;dya) ambhu, inseparable from his %aktis.

174. Verse 168 means in fact, that everything that is worthy of knowing is revealed spontaneously, suddenly, with a certainty (nic%caya) beyond intellectual conviction. This overwhelms the limited conscious subject reflected in the mirror of the intellect. 175. Dwelling thus in the eminently pure heart, that which is worthy of being known is gradually revealed there in all its glory.

176. That which can be known has two forms: the inert and pure consciousness. The first is imaginary (kalpita), the other is true. Such is this division into two. 177. The interpenetration into the inert part has the specific form of a reflection the interpenetration into absolute consciousness (caitanya) is pure identity. 178. This is why the interpenetration proper to ambhu (%;mbhavasam;ve%a) is an undifferentiated consciousness, independent of any meditation etc., where one attains identity with iva (%ivat;d;tmyam).

179. Through this mode of interpenetration, the intellectual certainties that arise subsequently can support the identity with iva, but cannot in themselves be means to access Supreme identity.

In the following verses, 171-186, Abhinavagupta is describing the characteristics of %ambhavop;ya.

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To those who contend that one can prove undifferentiated knowledge (nirvikalpa) through the means of vikalpa (discursive thought), we reply that the latter can only confirm that which is already self-evident (siddha).32 To say this is perceived comes from the manifest development of an intellectual certainty, but to say I perceive results from the power of identification with the undifferentiated. The flashing forth of this perception in undifferentiated consciousness, that is the evidence. This is not the result of differentiating thought, because it is devoid of objective reference. That Consciousness be or not be concerned by differentiative thinking is due entirely to the fact that Consciousness appears in a variable form, pure or impure. An expert in gemstones can notice the particularities of a large number of stones, even if these are presented to him at night, during a flash of lightning. Such a purity of consciousness is due to the practices of past lives or due to wish of the Lord I%vara who is limited by nothing. This will be explained further. This Ancient Treatise (M;lin$vijayottaratantra) describes fifty forms of this interpenetration resulting from the differences between some of the thirty-six tattvas.33 Three of these, the individual (pum), science (vidya) and energy (%akti)34 are divided respectively into four, ten and three, and penetrate (vy;paka) all the others. This is why these are counted separately from the others, that are not penetrating. In addition, these are distinguished among themselves by being respectively: impure, both pure and impure, and pure.35




184. 185. 186. 187.



32 33

This is reviewed further by Abhinavagupta in verses 228-229. In the following verses, 187-209, Abhinavagupta is describing the characteristics of %aktop;ya. 34 These 3 terms are from the ancient M;lin$vijayottaratantra text. Jayaratha indicates that their equivalents would be the 3 tattvas: puru^a, %uddhavidy; and %akti. They penetrate and are subtly present in the other 33 tattvas. Abhinavagupta indicates these 3 are superior in quality (gu[otk&^!;) and form a level of cosmic manifestation superior to the others. 35 Jayarathas commentary continues: there are 4 divisions of puru^a into 4 types of conscious subjects (pram;t&): sakala, ordinary limited conscious subjects pralay;kala, subjects who escape limitation only during cosmic dissolution vij@;n;kala, subjects who escape limitation through knowledge and - %uddhapram;t&, the pure conscious knowing subject. The tattva of pure Science (%uddhavidya) is considered to have ten divisions corresponding to the ten kal; (phonetic energies) that go from the mantra OM followed by bindu, ardhacandra, etc. to the supreme energy that transcends thought, unman;. (footer continued on next page).

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190. The gross (coarse) elements (bh~ta) are directly perceptible. They are therefore counted apart from the other tattvas, whose existence is deduced by going from the effect to the cause.36 191. To exist (bh~tam), is in fact, to be perceived by all as truly existing (sadbh;va), a condition that is recognized37 through these four elements plus space (;k;%a).

192. But shouldnt one discuss instead the interpenetration into the energies of iva, which are quintuple? Why is it necessary here to mention the absorption into the elements (bhaut;ve%a), etc.? 193. We could not justify this course of action by saying we only touched on this topic incidentally. People who have no spirit and have changeable ideas are not among us`38

194. We will answer this by saying that when dualistic treatises affirm duality between the supreme iva and the elements, etc., we exclude such a duality. 195. Indeed, these thirty-six tattvas, just like anything else, are in reality just the Supreme Goddess herself, the totally free energy of Rudra.

196. This is why the second chapter of this ancient text (M;lin$vijayottaratantra) described the presence in all forms (vi%var~patvam) of the elements earth, etc. due to their subdivision into fifteen, etc.39 197. This is similar to the situation when an object is in front of oneself and is apprehended in its totality (nira>%abh;vasa>bodha) through the partial perception of its qualities, each absorbed separately. 198. Thus, those who purify themselves from the flow of dualistic thoughts (vikalpa) through the study of revealed texts, worship the supreme iva through his attributes (dharma) non-differentiation, permanence, majesty, etc.

199. Since these attributes are aspects of his own energy (%aktir~patv;t), whether they worship all or a subset of them, they find themselves merged into him.

akti has thee manifestations: activity (kriya), knowledge (j@;na) and will (icch;). Thus, to the 33 other tattvas, one must add these 4 divisions of puru^a, 10 of %uddhavidy;, 3 of %akti, which makes a total of 50 cosmic divisions to which correspond each of 50 types of interpenetration (sam;ve%a). 36 In the process of emanation, the gross elements arise out of the tattvas that precede them. However, here, it is by starting from the perceptible gross elements that one can logically infer the existence of the preceding tattvas that are their causation. 37 Jayaratha comments: the 5 gross elements are recognized by all whether they are ignorant or have knowledge of causation. 38 These two verses 192-193 are quotations from the M;lin$vijayottaratantra. 39 Complex subdivisions in the M;lin$vijayottaratantra (Chapter 2 v. 1-7) that are not relevant here.

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200. Due to the force (p;!av;t) of these attributes, those who remain in the diversity of their own discursive thoughts (svavikalp;nt;+), still attain, outside of duality, the fullness of the flow of these attributes and of He who carries them. 201. This is why the eminent Vidy;pati40 has said: If the knowledge born of experience could not perceive your undifferentiated Essence within mental constructions (kalpana), the diversity of perceptions (sa>vida+) that are formed deep within us could not be distinctly manifested and experienced. 202. As indicated in the Mata]gatantra: The dwelling place of the Supreme Master - (this was the manner of speaking of those who could discern) is composed of the rays of his %akti (energies). 203. This power shines forth, luminous, pure, immobile, immutable. It is the 204. supreme summit, subtle, omnipresent, made of ambrosia, without any veil, peaceful, entirely in love with the only Reality, without beginning or end, beneficial using a metaphor, she is said to be m~rti, manifest aspect of the supreme deity. 205. The purpose and objective of this metaphor is to show that the self-evident experience of the manifestations of these energies is to immediately identify with the carrier (dharmin) of these attributes. 206. Called %akti (energies), these attributes are worshipped under one or another appropriate aspect, enabling identification with Him who possesses them. 207. Whether one is more or less distant from Consciousness, one will be able to embrace either a limited number or an infinity of these %akti (energies). This is similar to when one uses the specific properties of certain types of plants, such as dhava, or whether one is only concerned with their existence (sattva).41 208. Thus, full nature itself, conscious light (prak;%atva), pure awareness (cit), the essential nature of Bhairava (bhairavatvam), these all contain the universal omnipenetrating %akti (energies). 209. However, Sad;%iva, %vara, etc. do not penetrate (vy;pti) the levels of reality that are superior to them, but only the energies that are inferior. When one worships Sad;%iva, etc., the fruit of the worship varies depending on how distant these deities are from full Consciousness.



Ancient shaivite author of an undiscovered text, the Pram;[astotra, frequently quoted by Abhinavagupta. Dhava is an Indian plant (anoheissus latifolia). The point Abhinavagupta is making here, according to Jayaratha, is that there is only one Consciousness with which one should merge, but that Shivas energies are present in all manifestation. One may focus on the specific characteristics of one plant, or dwell on the fact of existence, which includes all things.

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210. What we have just discussed relates to the path of energy (%aktopaya) and rests on the deployment of differentiated thought (vaikalpikapathakrama). We have presented this here precisely because the path of iva, which is that of the undifferentiated, is its opposite. 211. He/she who rises on the path of the undifferentiated (avikalpapatha), whatever the journey taken from the earth up to Sad;%iva, it is through that route that identification with iva will be attained.

212. A very pure heart, whose conscious light illumines the primordial resplendent domain (bh~mi) will identify with iva, with Consciousness, through the means of this light. 213. This is the true path associated with the supreme energy of will, called the interpenetration with ambhu, exposed by ambhun;tha42, the disciple of Sumati.

214. We will now present the interpenetration related to the %akti (energy) where the heart (cetas) is clearly revealed in the form of intelligence (dh$), of thought (manas) and of sense of self (aha>k&ti). Viewed as vikalpa, it appears as composed of illusion (m;y;), but it is in reality will, knowledge and activity. 215. Though the path of energy relates to the functions of affirmation (adhyavas;ya), imagination (sa>kalpa), presumption (abhim;na) and that in this respect it also relates to illusion, nevertheless it ends in undifferentiated knowledge.43 216. The undifferentiated domain (bh~) belonging to ambhu, which is not deployed in fullness in the limited being due to the imperfections of this knowing subject, unfolds fully when these imperfections disappear. 217. In a similar fashion, within the path of energy exists a state of differentiation (vikalpa) where knowledge and activity are manifest (sphu!;), even though there remains a certain contraction (sa>koca), as we have described earlier. 218. For the adept who strives with ardor to eliminate all these contractions, the energy that throbs forth makes everything he wishes manifest internally, especially identification with the Supreme conscious subject.


The non-dual shaivite tradition called Ardhatryambaka, which is that of Kula presented here by Abhinavagupta, was founded by Macchandavibhu. He had several disciples whose names are forgotten, after which came Sumati, whose disciple Somadeva had ambhun;tha as disciple, who in turn was the Kula master of Abhinavagupta. 43 Jayaratha - abhim;na: overestimating oneself, a function of aha>kara sa>kalpa: intention, a function of manas adhyavas;ya: determination, comprehension, a function of buddhi. In %aktop;ya, these egocentric tendencies, that are related to illusion, are empowered by divine energy and lead the adept into interpenetration with the absolute.

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219. But isnt differentiated thinking (vikalpa) therefore absent from the path of the individual (;[avop;ya)? No, it is also present there, but it uses different methods, such as the recitation of mantras, to which the path of energy does not resort. 220. The expression recitation of mantras (ucc;ra) must be understood in the plural, as in a variety of methods that use the body and which are absent in the path of energy. The state of energy (%aktita) is both with and without divisions (bhed;bheda).44 221. One calls individual (anu), in truth, that which clearly relates to division (bheda) - the path that corresponds to this is individual (;[ava). Even though the certainties that one can develop within it are of the nature of vikalpa, it is also, in the final analysis, into undifferentiated consciousness that it culminates. 222. But can one say that intelligence, thought, sense of self, individual all penetrate (vy;pnuyu+) iva? No, they penetrate only the reality that is below them. How can one support such a statement?45 223. For us, who are not dualists, it is only iva who takes on all these forms, principles or limitations (that;vidha+). Having concealed his essence, He shines forth again through all of them with his own luminosity. 224. But even dualistic treatises, such as the Mata]ga and the others, say it clearly: 225. the conscious light (prak;%a) of iva, which fills all levels of reality down to the lowest, resides everywhere, thanks to which the supreme domain (padam) shines forth also at the level of intelligence and thought. 226. These interpenetrations are both directed towards the ocean of undifferentiated consciousness, because without access to it, nothing can exist whatsoever.46 227. This is why iva has declared that one must not imagine any differences in the fruits obtained in the attainment of consciousness. This statement suggests indirectly the prime tendency toward the fabrications of imagination (kalpan;). 228. Even for those who think that the validity (pr;m;[at;) of undifferentiated consciousness depends on vikalpa, for them, undifferentiated consciousness rests on the succession of vikalpas.


Jayaratha indicates that there is non-division because mantras are not explicitly recited, but that there is also division, because discursive thoughts (vikalpas) are still present. 45 There is slight sarcasm in Abhinavaguptas style he is presenting statements from dualistic thinking in order to better contrast the Trika approach. 46 This repeats (verses 180-181) the dependence that Abhinavagupta has explained between vikalpa and nirvikalpa. The two interpenetrations referred to in this verse are those of %aktop;ya and ;[avop;ya.

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229. In a similar manner, an inexperienced jeweler doesnt fully know the value of gemstones in the beginning, but after many experiences and repeated research, he obtains finally undifferentiated knowledge (avikalpa) that does not need any methods. He is then declared an expert jeweler. 230. The path of iva (%ambhavop;ya) is pure indivision (unity) the path of energy (%aktop;ya) is both with and without division (unity and differentiation) the path of the individual (;[avop;ya) is just division (differentiation). 231. All the details of the ritual actions that we will clearly present further, relate in fact, exclusively to this last form of knowledge (vij@;na), and its path.

232. Action, in fact, in nothing other than knowledge linked to temporality (kram;tmat;m) in order to serve as means or path (up;yava%ata+). It is this knowledge that is then called activity.47


233. The principal cause of liberation is perfected knowledge, whether it resides in oneself or in another. In fact, the manifestations (vibh~ti) of self and other (in other words, of teacher and disciple) are simply imaginary constructs.48 234. Whomever are the individuals who are in union with the teacher who radiates forth while they are still are under the influence of concept-constructing imagination (k;lpanik;), they are one with him/her. One can then declare the teacher accomplished and liberated (siddho mukta%ca).49 235. Whatever the longevity of his/her lineage (sa>t;na), the teacher is then up to the measure and is composed of perfect knowledge (samyagj@;na). From then on, by liberating others, he/she are liberated themselves.


Since Abhinavagupta does not subscribe to the dualistic notion that the impurity (mala) is a substance, but indeed ignorance, here, in preparation of the lengthy presentation of ;[avop;ya (chapters 6-37 in this Tantr;loka), he is clarifying that ritual action is in reality, knowledge submitted to the limitations of temporality. 48 Jayaratha emphasizes: Alone, absolute Consciousness (sa>vit) throbs forth and produces self, the other and all things (svapar;dy;bh;satay;). 49 Jayaratha explains that when the master radiates forth (which means that he/she is immersed in the vibrating light of Consciousness), whether it is within himself/herself, within disciples with whom he/she is in union, or in any plane of reality with which he/she is in union, when no division exists in the manifestation of him/herself and others, then the grasp of awareness of consciousness that he/she has is composed of a compact and impenetrable mass of consciousness (ekaghanasa>vidr~pa). Since, in this state, he/she has no other consciousness that that of the throbbing of this union, (aikyasphura[;vadhi+), the self being one (eka ;tm;), one can say that he/she is fully accomplished (siddha), liberated, and enjoys the state of supreme iva (p;ramai%varya). Being conscious of the unity of his/her own consciousness, he/she attains unity with the supreme conscious Light.

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236. When it is said that the j@;nin liberates his/her lineage (svasa>t;na), this is perfectly confirmed by reason as well as by Scriptures. The mystical teacher (muni), in fact, is in union with his/her lineage. 237. Therefore, we radically refute those who say: If liberation is due to knowledge, how do actions, such as rituals, initiation, etc., lead to liberation? 238. If one realizes that these actions have in reality knowledge as their true nature, then they can liberate those who possess this knowledge. But it would be false to think that they can liberate those who do not have this knowledge. 239. As to those who declare that the impurity (mala) is a material substance (dravya) as is, for example, the cataract that renders the retina opaque a substance that is removed by the action of initiation (d$k^;) acting like a collyrium or other remedy, we refute this doctrine. 240. This is condemned by both reason and by the sacred Texts and we teach and establish the true nature of the triple link that is formed by impurity, illusion and actions.50


241. Such is the triple nature of the paths, with ;[avop;ya, based on the lowest form of knowledge, %;ktop;ya based on the middle form of knowledge, and %;mbhavop;ya based on the highest form knowledge. 242. To this can be added supreme knowledge beyond all paths (up;y;divivarjitam), resting in the %akti of bliss (;nanda%akti), and which is named the Without-Equal or Incomparable (anuttara).51

243. This knowledge shines of its own radiance even the vidya, vidye%vara and other superior knowing subjects have trouble attaining it. 244. It is presented in the Siddhatantra52 and clearly described in the 18th chapter of the M;lin$vijayottaratantra, where it is declared: This must not be revealed if ankara (iva) does not favor it.

Abhinavagupta is refuting the doctrine of dualistic shaivite agamas for whom the atman of limited beings is soiled from the beginning of cosmic manifestation by the triple bond (p;%atraya) formed by the essential impurity of limited being (;[avamala), the consequences of actions (karman) and the material realities produced by m;y;. This triple impurity is considered by the dualists to be a substance, that can only be removed by an action, in particular that of initiation. For Abhinavagupta, ritual action is simply a certain form of knowledge manifested within temporality (see verse 232). 51 Jayaratha comments that in supreme knowledge, path and goal are united. In this knowledge, the energy of bliss rests is its own nature, whereas the energies of will, knowledge, activity, etc. as elevated as they may be are still externally directed. 52 Also called the Siddhayoge%var$mata, which is summarized in the M;lin$vijayottaratantra.

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245. This topic of the four types of knowledge, that bring about powers as well as liberation, is treated in this work called Tantr;loka. 246. Everything that is perceived either externally or internally is first manifested in an undefined or general form.53 247. Doubt, in this respect, is the initial knowledge of an object that, since it cannot be clearly described, appears in a generally undefined manner this perception being made by a subject who is mostly well-defined (otherwise, the perception would not be possible).54 248. In the expression what is that? (etat kim), principal aspect of doubt, the that is well-defined. Doubt comes when qualities belonging to the object and enabling its recognition, including existence or non-existence, are not welldefined. 249. The formula what is? (kim) is applicable to an undefined object. The question has an imprecise form, since the object has yet to be defined. 250. Is that a human being or a tree trunk? This question is a secondary type of doubt (sa>%aya) because it presupposes that a considerable number of qualities or particular characteristics have already been determined (ni%caya).55 251. In addition, doubt, which arises when one cannot determine the characteristics belonging to one or another of two objects, must nevertheless include the question about the existence itself of the object otherwise it is simply an option or alternative (vikalpa) and not a doubt. 252. The question posed about this object is definitely a doubt, since it deals with the beginning of its manifestation (prathana) before it has been determined. 253. Such is the attitude taken by consciousness itself when it is presented with an object whose specific traits have yet to be determined. It questions and finds itself in the position of the disciple in front of the teacher.


In verses 246 to 277, Abhinavagupta uses arguments based on the traditional Indian system of logic called Ny;ya, which has 3 movements: enunciation (udde%a) the mentioning or naming of an object definition (lak^ana) describing an object by its unique characteristics verification (par$k^a) investigating whether a definition is applicable or not to the object. In this section, Abhinavagupta is linking perception of external physical objects with the movement of divine consciousness that manifests the universe. He traces the same movement within logical reasoning, in the levels of speech, in the energies of iva, and in the relationship between teacher and disciple. It is the constant unfoldment of the undifferentiated into the differentiated, with the underlying stratum of indivisible Consciousness always present and permeating the universe. 54 Jayaratha: It is indeed a conscious subject that has the capability of wondering about the world he/she is perceiving. 55 Here there has been progression in the knowledge of an object, since it is mostly a matter of choice between various interpretations of what is being perceived and what is beginning to be defined.

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254. Thus, when the prior awareness based on intellectual certainty is occulted, Consciousness, even though it participates in the preceding resorption and manifestation, becomes questioning. 255. In this questioning mode, it remains non-developed or concealed (anunm$lita) relative to the external flow of objectivity. 256. It is therefore Consciousness itself that is both question and answer. At this level of teacher and disciple, the difference between the bodies is not important (at;ttvika). 257. Awakened consciousness (bodha), manifests suddenly (;bh;sayati) the innumerable forms it contains within itself, in either a general or specific manner. 258. Doubt relates to general emanation that has to be subsequently completed by the manifestation of particular characteristics.56 259. It is only after the end of the emanation of these specific characteristics that the certainty of determination will appear that can satisfy the knowing subject (pram;t&). 260. The unfolding of objectivity produced in this manner, which results in the confirmation of the efficiency of the subject itself (sv;tmav$ry;krama[ap;!av;t), is the process of definition (lak^a[a), response (uttara) and determination or certainty (nir[aya). 261. As for verification (par$k^a[a), it is composed of repeated statements and definitions that support the specific traits that have been already determined. 262. This triple process of statement, definition and verification is constantly present in all living beings in the forms of knowledge such as direct perception, inference, analogy, authoritative speech, etc.


External objects are perceived in two ways. One way is generic two objects have the same common (s;m;nya) characteristic, as is the case of height between a human being and the trunk of a tree. The other way is specific it rests on the differences between the objects, a distinctive trait (vi%e^a) e.g. the trunk is hollow and not the human being, therefore the certainty its a trunk arises.

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263 - 276 Summary57 277. It is Consciousness, this Goddess, who through her own volition and eternally, animates the triple process of perception (statement), definition and verification, and who takes on the form of all Scriptures58. 278 329 Table of Contents These five verses describe the content of the book that is translated here:
Chapter 1 - The different forms of knowledge (vij@anabheda): a general introduction to the nature of knowledge (j@;na) and ignorance, and to the nature of consciousness. Presentation of the means or paths (up;ya) towards realizing the absolute through absorption or interpenetration (;ve%a, sam;ve%a), following the teachings of the M;lin$vijayottaratantra. An introduction to the whole work of the Tantr;loka. 334 verses. Chapter 2 - The non-means (anup;ya), also called gatop;ya: where all means disappear. 50 verses. Chapter 3 - The supreme means (parop;ya), or means of ambhu (%sambhavop;ya) also called icchop;ya, the means of the pre-discursive impulse (icch;) to cognition. This is where the var[apar;mar%a, the phonematic emanation of the cosmos, is described. 293 verses. Chapter 4 - The means of power (%aktop;ya) or way of cognition (j@;nop;ya). 278 verses. Chapter 5 - The way of the limited soul (;[avop;ya), or of the ordinary human being (narop;ya). This is also called kriyop;ya: the means of ritual action. 159 verses.


Verses 263 to 276 have not been translated, because they have lengthy examples, but the gist of Jayarathas commentary is as follows: Abhinavagupta details what is meant by perception, definition and verification. He says that the first, direct perception (or statement) is nirvikalpa, undifferentiated. Then definition is vikalpa, since it involves dualistic conceptual thinking. The third, verification, is a series of vikalpas, concept-testing, that relate to the preceding perceptions. He then expands the explanation of perception. Perception is an emanation (s&^!i) of an object, which other emanations composed of vikalpa will subsequently make more precise. These other elements are perceived by the knowing subject as being linked to temporality. This is in fact, the movement of consciousness creating the world. Definition is a form of consciousness where the emanation of that which must appear to define an object coincides with the dissolution (sa>h;ra) of that which we previously emanated. In other words, its a mental process where the undefined general aspect through which the object is initially perceived is dissolved, whilst appears all that describes it and defines its nature. Lastly, verification consists in a movement which allows comparison and testing of the preceding emanations and dissolutions according to the needs of the knowing subject until certainty is reached. Then Abhinavagupta indicates how the three movements of consciousness correspond to the three levels of speech: pa%yanti, madhyam;, and vaikhar$. It is within them that the characteristics of cosmic manifestation are made precise, and for mankind, the specifics of language and discursive (dualistic) thought constructs. These also correspond to the three goddesses of Trika: Par;, Par;par; and Apar;, and also to the three shaktis of will, knowledge and activity.


The Scriptures that are referred to and explained in this work.

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These verses give the content of the rest of book, summarized as follows:
Chapter 6 - The means of time (k;lop;ya) deals with human and cosmic time (k;la) and its divisions. Also the linkage between time and the cycle of breathing. Thereby, how to dissolve the flow of time and escape the flow of becoming (sa>s;ra) through yogic control of the breath (also associated with Sanskrit phonemes). 251 verses. Chapter 7 - The arising of the wheels of power or chakras (cakrodaya): the chakras of the %akti (energies), their role and their use in conjunction with mantras and breaths (pr;[a) in the search for liberation. 71 verses. Chapter 8 - The path of space (de%;dhvam): cosmology, the worlds (loka) and the deities that animate them. The cosmic context in which the shaivite adept pursues his seeking. 432 verses. Chapters 9 and 10 The path and the division of the tattvas (tattv;dhvan and tattvabhedanam): presentation of the system of the universe resulting from the appearance of the tattvas, the categories of manifestation. These two chapters also discuss karman, the consequences of actions, and mala, the impurity inherent in human nature, the four modalities of consciousness (waking, dream, etc.), the properties of things, as well as mental and physical means to achieve liberated consciousness. 314 verses in Chapter 9 and 309 verses in Chapter 10. Chapter 11 - The path of the kal; (kal;dhvan): the kal; are both fragmenting and limiting energies as well as divisions of the cosmos produced by divine power. These kal; are described, as well their associated mantras and phonemes. 118 verses. Chapter 12 - Adhvaprayoga: the implementation of liberation through the path of kal; using psycho-somatic practices. 26 verses. Chapter 13 - The descent of energy (%aktip;ta), or divine grace, whose role is fundamental not only in the means to liberation, but also for initiation, d$k^;, which is presented subsequently. This chapter also details the obstructions to grace due to mala, or due to various powers of concealment (tirodh;na). In this section Abhinavagupta highlights the superiority of the shaivite path such as described in the Tantraloka over the classic Indian philosophical systems (S;>khya, etc.), due to its submission to and illumination by divine grace. 361 verses.

Chapters 14 through 26 deal with d$k^; and the various forms of shaivite initiation.
Chapter 14 - Introduction to initiation (d$k^opakrama): divine will is at the root of concealment (tirobh;va) that enslaves beings as well as the knowledge that liberates them, notably through the means of initiation. It is useless to try and escape sa>s;ra through suicide because only knowledge and divine grace can give liberation at death or during this life. 46 verses. Chapter 15 - Samayad$k^;: regular initiation, or initiation according to the rules (samaya). This is the first level of initiation, through which one enters the shaivite family as a regular adept (samayin), permitted to study its Scriptures, to assist in ceremonies but not to execute rituals. The rituals of samayad$k^; are numerous (dream analysis, ritual baths, imposition of mantras, purifications, pujas, oblations, etc.) and are performed in a sacrificial pavilion. These aim to purify the adept to be initiated, and instill in him/her new energies, pure and liberating. Tantraloka describes this initiation in detail, similar to that prescribed by the ;gamas. The importance of this is reflected in the length of this chapter, the longest in the Tantr;loka. 611 verses.

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Chapter 16 - Putrakad$k^;: the initiation of spiritual offspring (putraka), also called vi%e^ad$k^;, a special initiation, or also nirv;[ad$k%;, liberating initiation. It is given to the samayin and makes her/him into a putraka, a true initiate, free of the impurity (mala) and authorized to accomplish rituals. This chapter describes the ma[#ala used in the initiation, animal sacrifices, various purifications, variations on the rituals, the use and nature of mantras, etc. 311 verses. Chapter 17 - Rituals to be accomplished by the putraka to achieve identification with Bhairava. How to make sacred cords, purification of the tattvas (tattva%uddhi), burning of bondage (p;%adaha), etc. 122 verses. Chapter 18 - The abbreviated initiation (sa>k^iptad$k^;), a simplified initiation ritual that, according to Abhinavagupta, can nevertheless give the state of iva (%ivat;pattid;) to the adept who receives it. The efficiency of this ritual is noted, also described in the ;gamas. 11 verses. Chapter 19 - The initiation of immediate liberation (sadyonirv;[ad;d$k^;). It enables the recipient who has received sufficient grace, whether infirm or aged, and about to leave the body, to be united with iva at the moment of death. It is also called a]kara initiation (%;]karad$k^;). 56 verses. Chapter 20 - The initiation that relieves the recipient from the burden of past actions (tul;%uddhid$k^;): it serves to diminish the effect of karman by destroying their seeds. This chapter does not give a lot of details but refers to other tantras. It indicates however, that if this initiation is done with a lot of force (sud$pt;), it can even give liberation to plants: this may be hyperbola, but highlights its efficaciousness. 16 verses. Chapter 21 - The initiation of someone who is absent (parok^ad$k^;), whether they are alive or dead. This initiation, of which there are several types of various degrees of efficiency, is done with the help of a ritual net (jala) which is meant to capture those that are being initiated, as well as the nav;tman mantra. 61 verses. Chapter 22 - The removal of marks (li]goddh;ra): a ritual that is complementary to initiation which removes from the the initiated samayin the marks remaining from prior life, especially those resulting from prior rituals or observances that may have been followed. The li]goddh;ra purifies from sins and destroys doubt (%a]kaccheda). 48 verses. Chapter 23 - Consecration (abhi^eka or abhi^ecana): this is ;c;ryad$k^;, the initiation conferred to a putraka thereby making him/her a spiritual master, an ;c;rya or guru. Abhinavagupta describes the ritual itself only briefly (it is similar to a royal anointing). He insists however, on the science and the intellectual and spiritual qualities that master must possess. He describes the vow or observances (vrata) that the master must follow after the ritual and what he/she must know in order to destroy the ignorance of his/her disciples and instruct them in the shaivite path. These prescriptions, he adds, are not relevant for gnostic" masters (j@;nin), which are those who have received the aptitude to teach directly from iva and not through a ritual. The last two verses of this chapter compare the initiation of the adept (s;dhakad$k^; or s;dhak;bhi^eka) and the ;c;ry;bhi^eka, and indicate their similarities, except that the s;dhaka must in addition receive instructions related to mantra, which he must master through appropriate practice in his/her search for liberation and/or enjoyment (bhoga). 103 verses. Chapter 24 - antye^!i : the final offering, or funerary rites. This is also considered an initiation, the ritual being that of parok^ad$k^; described in chapter 21. This funerary initiation has the effect of purifying the subtle body (purya^!aka) of the deceased and therefore of ensuring a favorable posthumous destiny. 24 verses.

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Chapter 25 - %r;ddha: the ceremonies that follow a funeral, that are meant to act as an initiation destroying the effects of ignorance and assisting in obtaining ecstatic states as well as liberation (bhogamok^ad;). 29 verses. Chapter 26 - Other actions to accomplish (%e^av&tti): rules to follow and regular practices to be performed in a sacred purified space (sta[#ila) by the initiate. 76 verses. Chapter 27 - The worship of the linga (li]gap~j; or li]g;rc;): a daily worship of the shaivite adept. Several types of li]ga are described, which are physical supports for the practices (sculpted or painted image, a three-dimensional %ivali]ga itself, or the most favored, which is a skull with an incision). Also described are the rules for daily worship, different types of rosaries (malas), as well as variations of pujas, all of which should tend towards union with divinity. 59 verses. Chapter 28 - Occasional rituals (naimittika): the special days and circumstances under which these should be practiced. Why and how to practice them. These are the worship of various deities, rituals for propiating favorable outcomes, expiating impurities or honoring the master (gurup~j;). 434 verses. Chapter 29 - This chapter describes a secret ritual, the kulay;ga, an esoteric sacrificial rite of the Kula, or mah;y;ga, great sacrifice, that can only be accomplished by masters or the most qualified disciples. It is a tantric ritual including sexual union with an initiated partner. 291 verses. Chapter 30 - Listing of the principal mantras used in the traditions of Trika, Kula and Krama. Abhinavagupta reminds us that their essential nature (svar~pa) is that of self-awareness (vimar%a), which is the freedom and conscious level of speech of divine Consciousness. 123 verses. Chapter 31 - The ma[#ala: description of the way to trace the ma[#ala of the tridents and lotuses (tri%~l;bjama[#ala) according to five shaivite tantras: Trikasadbh;va, M;lin$vijayottara, Devy;y;mala, Tri%irobhairava and Siddhayoge%var$mata. 163 verses. Chapter 32 - The mudr;: for Abhinavagupta, these are reflected images of deities (pratibimba), which they represent figuratively by identifying to themselves the adept that performs the mudras, and through this process, they bring the presence of these deities to the adept. This chapter describes several variations of the principal mudr; of Trika, the khecar$mudr;, a complex pose as well as a mystical attitude that allows the adept to identify with the deity that it represents. But, says Abhinavagupta in conclusion, for the perfected being, whatever attitude he/she takes on, that is a mudr;: the rest is simply gesticulation. 67 verses. Chapter 33 - The conjunction (ek$k;ra) of the wheels (chakras) and energies (%akti) in worship and spiritual seeking, where all these forces must merge into one. 32 verses. Chapter 34 - How the adept enters into his own true essential nature (svasvar~paprave%a). 3 verses. Verse 1 - The individual who, in attaining the state of iva, penetrates always further into the path of the limited being (;[avop;ya), presented in the preceding chapters in various ways, will rest very closely to his true being. Verse 2 Then, leaving this limited plane, he/she attains the level of energy (power) i.e. %aktop;ya. Then gradually, bit by bit, he/she attains the level of the nature of ambhu (%ambhavop;ya). Verse 3 Thus, he/she who partakes of the true nature of Bhairava, who is irrigtated and fertilized by the powerful rays of divine Consciousness, gradually will come to rest in the true Self, thereby transcending the paths to liberation, but keeping within him/herself all the diversity of the world. This is how the supreme Lord describes the entry of the adept into his own Self.

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Chapter 35 - The collection of Scriptures (%astramelana): all Scriptures are valid and useful in their domain and at their own level, the highest being however the non-dual shaivite treatises whose essence is found in the texts of Trika and whose knowledge was given to Abhinavagupta by his master ambhun;tha. 44 verses. Chapter 36 - The transmission of the Scriptures (%astr;vas;ra), from their revelation by Bhairava up to the masters of Trika, whose teachings are described in this Tantr;loka. 15 verses. Chapter 37 - The texts that should be read: these are the scriptures from the Bhairava tradition (bhairav;gama), whose essence is found in the M;lin$vijayottaratantra and whose metaphysical teaching has been presented by Abhinavagupta in his M;lin$vijayav;rttika. It is therefore this latter work and the present Tantr;loka that should be read to obtain all the fruits one could desire, as well as liberation in this life (j$vanmukti). In the final verses of this chapter (33 to 85), Abhinavagupta describes how his family came to settle in Kashmir, and how beautiful this region is he speaks about his parents and his teachers and describes the circumstances surrounding the writing of this Tantr;loka. 85 verses.

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330. The Self is indivisible luminous consciousness: it coexists with and has the same extent as the totality of %akti. Concealing its innate greatness, it appears as captive (baddha). Its liberation results from the manifestation of its inherent essential nature (svabh;va): the luminous erupting emanation of the Self. Having several modalities, this liberation takes on a variety of forms: the purpose of this chapter was to briefly present them. 331. Erroneous knowledge, which is darkness, gives birth to these imperfections which are the defects which obscure true vision. Due to its presence (erroneous knowledge), true knowledge, though pure in its essence, appears as having stains however, when these defects in vision disappear, the obscuring of vision dissipates completely. Then, how could the slightest hint of impurity remain?

332. O totality of everything (bh;vavr;ta)` By force, You take over the hearts of humankind and You play, like an actor, by hiding the heart of the Self (;tmah&dayam) under multiple detours. He who says You are inert (ja#a) is himself insensitive, pretending in error to have a heart (sah&dayam). And nevertheless, even in this insensitivity, it seems there is worship, because he is pretending to be like You`59 333. With any impurity vanished, knowing the Supreme as well as the inferior, made of the same nature as iva, these are the masters qualified for mystical research. Of what use is it then to ask them to remove far away the irritation of aversion?60 334. Thus ends this chapter of the Tantr;loka, composed by Abhinavagupta, where the nature of discriminating knowledge (vij@;nasatt;) is presented, and the varieties of its manifestation.


Jayaratha comments: Divine consciousness manifests the universe, therefore it is the totality of everything. Therefore, even something insensitive or inert is part of Consciousness. Everything that exists is none other than an aspect of consciousness (bh;v;n;m hi vastuta%caitanyam eva r~pam). If something is not part of Consciousness, it does not exist. In addition, in a tantric perspective, objects, through their innate beauty, can contribute to the unfolding of a being, and thereby help the adept to open up to divinity, such as is the case with the beauty of rituals and the elements used in worship. See also Vijnanbhairava, dharana 117. 60 Jayaratha comments: It is not necessary to ask favors of qualified spiritual masters: filled with the grace of iva, he/she will act on his own, without error, on behalf of the well-being of all creatures.

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--------------------------End of the first chapter ---------------------------

Abhinavagupta TANTRALOKA
Translated from the French La Lumire sur les Tantras Published by Lilian Silburn and Andr Padoux Collge de France Institut de Civilisation Indienne, Fascicule 66 (1998) Editions De Boccard Translator into English: Roger-Orph Jeanty Reviewer: Parvathi Nanda Nath 2008 2010

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Abhinavagupta TANTRLOKA Light on Tantra Chapter 2 Anup;ya

Translators Notes (Roger-Orph Jeanty Spring 2009): This chapter is short and describes the non-path anup;ya. It is both the immediate revelation of consciousness received by the very few and the culmination of all the other paths. It could also be translated as beyond path.

Tantr;loka Chapter 2 (winter 2008-2009)



I now begin this second chapter with the purpose of stating clearly what is the original domain (pada), the incomparable certainty of knowledge (j@apti) that never ends. What is the purpose of trying to teach that which is not a path? Revelation is given here once and forever, after which there is no more path.1 In the absence of any means of access, how can one know that this Reality is beyond any means? And for those for whom it shines forth spontaneously, what else is there for us to say? The quadruple means mentioned previously2 (the three paths and the non-path), that are embodied in the ultimate Knowledge (vij@;na), are none other than the inherent nature (svabh;va) of the Omnipresent (vibhu), and this Omnipresent is arising forth eternally. Since He radiates forth in innumerable modalities (svabh;va), some seekers penetrate into Him gradually, others in the pulsation of the first encounter. This penetration can therefore take place with a path or without a path, and the absence of path does not exclude the existence of a variety of means. The mode of access (vidhi) presented here is that of immaculate beings entirely dedicated (up;s$na) to their own Bhairava consciousness, without adhering to any particular path.3 Ritual actions and yoga practice cannot serve as a path in this instance, because Consciousness does not arise from activity. It is the opposite, activity is born from Consciousness. If we presume there is a path that leads to knowledge, it would be knowledge itself. Indeed, how could luminosity (prak;%atva) that dwells within what is inherently light itself come from somewhere else? The reality of Consciousness (sa>vittattvam) shines of its own radiance (svaprak;%a). From there on, to what purpose serve logical procedures that enable it to become known? If it didnt shine forth in this manner, the universe, devoid of light, would not reveal itself since it would be unconscious.4

2. 3.


5. 6. 7.




Jayaratha: an-up;ya means non-path, or it can be interpreted as a very reduced path (alpop;ya), access without any modality. It is revealed once and there is no need for repeated experiences as in the other paths. 2 In chapter 1, verses 140 and following. 3 Jayaratha: these individuals are not subject to the stain of vikalpa and receive the most intense form of grace (%aktipat). 4 Jayaratha: if Consciousness did not shine of its own inherent nature, nothing would be illumined.

Tantr;loka Chapter 2 (winter 2008-2009)


11. 12.

All paths, whether they are internal or external, depend on this Consciousness. How else could they serve to reveal the access to it? Leave your concentration (avadh;na) right there. In fact, on what are you concentrating? Examine this yourself. To concentrate on complete fullness is obviously not possible to concentrate on that which is not fullness does not allow you to reach its inherent nature (satyabh;va).5 From this, how could a realization (bh;van;) that derives its strength (pr;[a) from concentration offer a direct access to the supreme path to Bhairava? And those who seek to perceive this Essence using this means of concentration as if it were an immediate path, they are similar to ignorant people who would take a firefly to look at the sun. All these means which are external, and which one thinks can produce an internal path, are nothing else than the conscious light itself, the magnificent inherent inner essence of iva.6 Blue, yellow, happiness, etc. are all only conscious light, iva. What other could reside in this supreme non-duality composed of pure light? The relationship between path and goal is itself light, and only light. Its duality, some say, its differentiation, its non-differentiation: thus Parame%vara reveals himself, He whose essence is conscious light. At this level 7, happiness, pain, bondage, liberation, awareness and nonawareness are just synonyms designating a single unified Reality, just like pitcher and jug signify the same object.8 In fact, how could there be, within conscious light (praka%a), a portion of it devoid of light? Either this portion shines forth therein and the duality light/non-light has no reason to exist, or it doesnt shine there then how can it be real? One can therefore not establish logically any distinctions relating to conscious light.

13. 14.


16. 17. 18. 19.

20. 21.

Here, Abhinavagupta is quoting verse 117 of the second chapter of the M;lin$vijayav;rttika. Jayaratha: Everything that one may consider here as forming a path, isnt it all luminous? If its not luminous, it doesnt exist and cannot be a path. If it is luminous, it then resides itself in iva, luminosity in his essence, because nothing exists outside of him but then, in what way is it a path? 7 This at the level of supreme non-duality, where only iva is knowing. 8 Jayaratha quotes the ivad&^!i, where Som;nanda articulates expressively the unique light where subject and object exist: The pots knowing is identical to me, and my knowing is identical to the pots. According to Som;nanda, whether it is a pot or a high level of the eternal iva (Sada%iva), in the knowledge that I have of them, I am identical to them and they are to me: Sada%ivas knowing is mine, and mine is his. Only iva exists who knows himself through the multiplicity of objects(D 5.107).

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22. 23.

To admit the theory of the unity of conscious light, well-established here, is to push far away all the partisans of distinct knowledge. Only light exists: the term unity does not have a numerical meaning that would imply division within consciousness the only thing that is denied here, is non-light within Consciousness. This light, inaccessible, is not energy, the great Goddess, since it has no support, and since it doesnt serve as support, it is also not the god iva, holder of the energy. Since there is no meditator, this light is not that which is meditated on, and since there is nothing that is meditated on, this light is not the meditator. Without a worshipper, no worshipped, and without a worshipped, no worshipper. The light is neither mantra, nor deity whose mantra one recites (mantrya), nor mantra narrator. The light is neither initiation, initiator, nor initiated: it is Mahe%vara. Within this light, no agent, no activity, no object of action, no representation of deity, no sacred space (sth;na), no throne, no restraint (nirodha)9, no aspersion, no actualization of the presence of the deity (sa>dh;na)10, no other rituals or practices that end with the dismissal of the deity. This light is neither being, nor non-being, nor both at the same time, nor their negation. In truth, this state is difficult to recognize due to its incomparable (anuttara) and indescribable nature.11 In ordinary knowledge, one uses the word be with something that manifests as this, a pot for example, but this is not the case for Bhairava. Non-being, that which is not conscious light (aprak;%a), has no efficiency towards anything whatsoever. Bhairava, however, is Reality, life of the entire universe, He is identical to the conscious Light. For this double reason, He is not composed of these two parts (being and nonbeing), but neither is he devoid of them. He radiates as universal Self. Under which form, then, could one express Him?






29. 30.


No ritual, invocation or effort is present to retain or restrain a divine presence, or the presence of a deity A ritual that fixates the deity in the image used for worship, where it is retained until dismissed (visarjana). 11 Quote from a tantra called Flame of illumination (bharga%ikh;) describing the inaccessible Supreme Reality (anup;ya).

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The Tri%irobhairavatantra proclaims: The supreme domain (param padam) is the receptacle (garbha) of energy, and thanks to the energy that rests within it, it has as essence supreme knowledge (paraj@ana). This supreme domain includes neither existence nor non-existence, neither duality nor non-duality, because it is beyond the reach of language. It is rooted (v$r~#ha) on the path of the inexpressible. It is held (sth;) within energy, it is exempt from energy. In this manner, beings purified by the supreme Reality of consciousness in which they are seated, are not constrained to any means: they have firmly set foot on the incomparable path.12 The dance of things, while remaining present to them, dissolves entirely into the Bhairava fire of Consciousness.13 For them, happiness, pain, fear, anxiety, dualistic thinking (vikalpan;) are lost completely in supreme undifferentiated (nirvikalpa) interpenetration (par;ve%a). For them, there is mantra, no dhy;na, no worship nor imaginary constructions (kalpan;), nor any of the illusionary appearances that go progressively from the initiation of the disciple (samaya) to the consecration of the master (;c;rya). Holding the ax that cuts into pieces the weaving of restrictions presented in the treatises, their only task left to accomplish is to bestow grace. The worldly person accomplishes his task with effort, motivated by his own well-being and not engaged in any activity favorable to others. To the contrary, it is only for the benefit of humanity that unfolds the activity of one who is filled by the Reality of Bhairava and whose impurities related to the process of becoming have been destroyed.14



35. 36.


38. 39.


Jayaratha: according to the masters, those who become identified with the ultimate Reality of Consciousness are purified from the impurities of differentiation. They are no longer dependent on internal or external means, become content and peaceful on the incomparable path. This path is beyond everything with respect to its indivisible mass of wonderment, its complete fullness of delight. This path unfolds in consciousness that has completely blossomed. Abandoning the multiple modalities of becoming, immersed in unfolding Consciousness, whatever position you find yourself in, stay there, do not go to the outside or the inside, rest in the energy of bliss, Jayaratha exhorts. 13 In anup;ya everything becomes anup;ya. In the same way as wood, leaves, stones and all objects that fall into a salt mine become salt, all things that fall into Consciousness become that. 14 The individual immersed in anup;ya acts spontaneously and freely, without the notion of acquiring, achieving or attaining anything, like a flower that blooms.

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Those whose consciousness is very pure and contemplate this Reality in a progressive series of identifications, become identical to it. Such is the nature of the grace of those who are identified with this supreme Reality.15 In the Siddhayoge%var$mata, the Omnipresent says that the end-point of rituals that go from worship and sacrifice to initiation, is indeed the perfected knowledge (parij@;na) of this Reality. Superior to the purified ritual area is the article of worship made from a skull, superior to this is the article made of cloth, then in order of superiority comes meditation, the object meditated upon, then concentration (dh;ra[a), and that which results from yoga, lastly superior to all is knowledge.16 In truth, one who attains the state of complete accomplishment (mah;siddha) through knowledge is called a king among yogis. If one who dwells in anup;ya wishes to bestow grace on those whose consciousness is not completely purified through the power (dh;man) of his freedom (and not through sacred texts), he can use the modalities that we will describe further. These modalities vary depending on the subjects to which he bestows grace, and can be differentiated in means that are superior, inferior or that which is composed of their mixed flows (sa>k$r[atva). In this regard, the being who is identical to the Lord Shiva must also respect oral tradition and the study of texts, which are in themselves means. This beings freedom in anup;ya is in no way limited by this however, individuals whose consciousness is not purified cannot receive grace unless they follow a path. This is explained in the exposition of the true treatise rmi, which rests in the lineage of siddhas, as well as by masters such as Som;nanda.17



43. 44.


46. 47.



Jayaratha: beings who benefit from the most intense descent of grace perceive easily that they enjoy interpenetration without any means simply through supreme contemplation (paradar%ana), after multiple immersions into consciousness, they identify with the supreme Reality (or with the master), just like one lamps lights another without any separation. The master shares grace by his/her presence. The identification with the master is the result of the disciples unwavering conviction. The master does nothing except dwell within grace, which has as its essence, pure contemplation. 16 Verses 42 and 43 are quoted from the Siddhayoge%var$mata. 17 Jayaratha indicates how this reference to the rmikaula being within the lineage of siddhas, highlights the value of this text. He quotes several verses which describe the characteristics of iva, who transcends all opposites: emptiness (%~nya) and non-emptiness (a%~nya), pure and without form or qualities.

Tantr;loka Chapter 2 (winter 2008-2009)



Through the words of the master, through the purification resulting from the application of reason and faith in the treatises, through all of those together or separately, all the clouds of doubt evaporate in a manner similar to how the sun dissipates darkness, and the feet of the All-Powerful are touched, their splendor radiating in the sky of the heart. The exposition of this chapter describing the disappearance of any path has just been made to allow beings to discern the inexpressible domain that is without equal.


---------------------------------End of the second chapter ----------------------------------

Abhinavagupta TANTRALOKA Light on Tantra

Translated from the French La Lumire sur les Tantras Published by Lilian Silburn and Andr Padoux Collge de France Institut de Civilisation Indienne, Fascicule 66 (1998) Editions De Boccard Translator into English: Roger-Orph Jeanty Reviewer: Parvathi Nanda Nath 2008 2010

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