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The Philosophy of Sadhana with Special Reference to the Trika Philosophy of Kashmir.

The contribution this book makes to sound scholarship starts with the title itself. It specifies that the book deals with sadhana as understood in the Trika philosophy of Kashmir, rather than some vague entity such as Kashmir Shaivism, although it would have provided a shorter and more rounded, if imprecise, title. The term 'Kashmir Shaivism' is a misnomer, as Kashmir witnessed "the rise of as many as four Saiva schools", one of which may be preferably described as Trika rather than Pratyabhijna, the Sarvadarsana-sangraha notwithstanding, as the latter constitutes the philosophical branch of the Trika system. The term Trika itself, however, is variously explained. The explanation most consistent with the intellectual undertaking represented by the book would probably be the one according to which Trika refers to the triad of Malini, Siddha and Namaka agamas, in view of the claim that schools based on the agamic tradition attach relatively more importance to the modes of spiritual discipline or sadhana than those based on the Vedic tradition. The agama texts, significantly, lay the same claim to eternality as the Vedas, a point conceded early within the tradition by Kulluka Bhatta (vide his gloss on Manu II.1).

This book places the emphasis where it belongs in presenting the Trika school--on spiritual praxis or sadhana--and explains concisely yet comprehensively the four main upayas or ways of realization constitutive of such sadhana in that school: (1) anupaya (the pathless path); (2) sambhava upaya (the path of Siva); (3) sakta upaya (the path of Sakti) and (4) anava upaya (the path of the aspirant, considered atomic in the sense that the spiritual core of the worldly aspirant consists of consciousness contracted to a point, as contrasted with its intrinsic and pristine infinity). Thus the scheme involves a gradation of paths depending on the extent to which the seeker has come under the sway of divine grace (saktipata). If the epistemic violence involved in applying the categories of the Trika school to the spiritual figures of modern India be overlooked, Ramana Maharsi (1879-1950) and Ramakrsna Paramahamsa (1836-1886) immediately suggest themselves as exemplars of the anupaya and sakta upayas respectively.

The presentation of the Trika school in this book includes interpretation as well as comparison. The author admits at several points that he is explicating the implicit and does not fail to notice the systemic asymmetries or paradoxes. Sometimes one gets the impression that the explication is perhaps unduly influenced by points of reference that lie outside the tradition. Yet, at other times, it helps deepen one's understanding of the concepts of another school or tradition, as for instance, that of adhyasa in Advaita, when it is pointed out that in "the Trika system the superimposition of the Self on the not-Self precedes the Identification of the Self with the not-Self" (p. 17 note 80, emphasis supplied) and that the Ego-appearance "has the gross physical body as its basis", a statement which sheds a shaft of light on the concept of dehatmabuddhi. Some philosophical problems do arise in the course of the lucid elaboration of the Trika school. For instance, it is claimed in the Trika school that, in number, both purusas and prakrtis are unlimited, with "one prakrti for every purusa", and yet it is also claimed that there can be no "absolute liberation of one soul to the exclusion of others". This is clearly an allusion to the doctrine of sarvamukti and it is claimed that even the "Advaita Vedanta of Sankara has a similar view", as represented by Appaya Diksita (sixteenth century). (However, it must not be overlooked that Appaya Diksita represents a minority view within Advaita. Yet his view is presented with the |perhaps inadvertent~ implication that it is the standard Advaitin view.) Similarly, the author cites from the Vedantasara as if it were a text of the Trika school. Sometimes his adumbrations of the Advaitin position are problematical. A critical comparative study of the Trika and Advaita schools is now clearly a desideratum in the study of Indian philosophy. For instance, the Trika school seems to achieve some of its results by splitting the two dimensions of maya identified in Advaita as avarana and viksepa by assigning viksepa to Isvara (here Siva) as His power of self-projection, leaving avarana or obscuration as the defining feature of maya, perhaps not a surprising development in a system which glides with equal ease between 'monism' and monotheism. Some aspects of the Trika school are also striking on their own. To identify only two: (1) for a system which emphasizes caitanya or consciousness, it is somewhat surprising that certain crucial changes are said to occur in an aspirant unawares, including such a crucial one as the dissolution of the ego. (2) Of perhaps more interest is this second one: while the Hindu tradition in general, taking the spiritual aspirant as the starting point, emphasizes the freedom of the aspirant in the matter of the choice (ista) of the spiritual path, the Trika system stands this on its head. It starts with God and in emphasizing His freedom leaves "hardly any room for free choice" on the part of the aspirant for whom "everything is practically predetermined, as it were, by the intensity of divine grace descending on the individual".

Inasmuch as intelligence consists in making subtle distinctions and intelligibility in making these distinctions clearly understood, this book provides both a remarkably intelligent and intelligible account of sadhana in the Trika philosophy of Kashmir.

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Author:Sharma, Arvind
Publication:The Journal of the American Oriental Society
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jul 1, 1993
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