dakSiNAmUrti stotra, and Tamil and Kashmir zaivisms

Vidyasankar Sundaresan vsundaresan at HOTMAIL.COM
Sun May 30 01:44:43 UTC 1999

Dear Palaniappan,

I was just going to mail you privately after reading your recent essay on
the Indology website, when I saw that you have asked about the dakshiNAmUrti
stotra and the mAnasollAsa on the list itself.

Ramakrishnan, who is on this list, can give you more details regarding these
two texts, but I thought I would quickly make a few points of general

1. The indebtedness of non-dual Kashmir Saiva schools to Sankara's advaita
vedAnta is a topic that remains quite mysterious. Contemporary scholars of
Tantra would not consider that there is much influence, while traditional
scholars might assert one, or at least a relatedness. The biggest reason to
doubt any influence is that the two schools come from totally different
scriptural traditions. Sankara's references are totally upanishadic, with an
almost resounding silence on the Agamic texts. Kashmir Saivism is almost
totally based on the Agamas/Tantras, with only a passing acknowledgement of
upanishadic passages. Markandeya Sastri's contention that Sankara himself
inherited an ancient Sivadvaita system of thought would be contested by
those who do critical studies of Sankara's undisputed texts, but Gopinath
Kaviraj has also said the same thing. You could read Natalia Isayeva's "From
early Vedanta to Kashmir Saivism" for an excellent discussion of the two
non-dual traditions. However, while there is a good discussion of
philosophical issues, I seem to remember that there is little mention of
historical cross-influence in this book.

2. The notion that the thought of the mAnasollAsa is close to that of the
non-dual pratyabhijnA school of Kashmir Saivism is quite wrong. With all due
respect to the scholars of an earlier ear, I think it is based on a total
misconception regarding the use of the word pratyabhijnA in the stotra and
in the commentary. In the hymn, the word is used as follows - sushuptaH
pumAn, prAg asvApsam iti prabodhasamaye yaH pratyabhijnAyate. This is simply
a *vedAntic* description of the waking and deep sleep states. It refers to
the person who is aware of no objects whatsoever in the state of deep sleep,
and who "recognizes" on waking up as follows, "I slept well before." The
point being made here is that pure consciousness is not absent in deep
sleep, although there is no subject-object awareness in that state. The
commentary follows in the same vein, and expounds the vedAntic analysis that
is only hinted at in the hymn.

What should be noted is that the word pratyabhijnA is used almost casually,
and in a wholly vedAntic context. In the Kashmir Shaiva school, pratyabhijnA
becomes a highly technical word, where the sAdhaka "recognizes" his identity
with Siva, as a result of meditative practice. The mere occurence of the
word in the stotra and the commentary seems to have misled researchers into
thinking that the poem is by abhinavagupta and the commentary by one of his
disciples (e.g. Karl Potter, Encyclopedia of Indian Philosophies, Vol 3 and
references therein). Nobody seems to have noticed the fact that maNDana
miSra's brahmasiddhi uses the word pratybhijnA in almost as casual a fashion
too, and in the identical context of an analysis of deep sleep and waking
states. Irrespective of the authorship of mAnasollAsa, the use of the word
pratyabhijnA must have been standard vedAntic practice in Sankara's times
(maNDana was most certainly a contemporary of Sankara).

3. A final point that all scholars seem to have missed, although it is right
there, staring everybody in the face - mAnasollAsa is quite advaita
vedAntic, and not oriented towards any kind of Kashmir Saivism, when it says
that ultimately even scripture is mAyA and therefore not real, just as the
universe is mithyA. Non-dual Kashmir Saiva authors take great pains to set
themselves apart from this view, and assert that scripture is real, because
it comes from the real Siva, and that the world is also real, as it is
created by the real Siva. It is very surprising to me that this has been
overlooked so thoroughly by those who have written about mAnasollAsa, and it
can only be attributed to a lack of appreciation for how the two traditions
viewed their respective scriptures.

4. This is not to say that the mAnasollAsa is totally unaware of Saiva
Agamas. As a matter of fact, it explicitly refers to 36 tattvas, and to
Sivayogis, and to those expert in the SivAgamas. However, this seems to have
compounded the problem, as researchers have tended to assume in the past
that any mention of 36 tattvas necessarily implies Kashmir Saivism. On the
other hand, I am inclined to think that the mAnasollAsa is simply referring
to the source texts on which the later school of abhinavagupta based itself.
And it is entirely possible that some of these source texts being referred
to in the mAnasollAsa were entirely south Indian in origin and influence.
The mAnasollAsa could, however, be a composite text. It is very possible
that this text is independent of any Kashmir Saiva concerns, but reflects a
dialogue between Sankaran vedAnta and *southern* Saivas. The only Saivas
being discussed in this text are dualists, who hold that ISvara is only the
efficient (and not the material) cause of the universe.

5. The text of sundara pANDya (a pre-Sankaran author) seems to be
unavailable, except in quotations in later vedAntic authors. The author may
be the same as one who is called dra(m)viDAcArya by many authors. However,
sureSvara uses the term 'gauDair-drAviDaiH' once, but this is most certainly
a reference to Sankara, his own guru, and gauDapAda, Sankara's paramaguru,
and therefore, not a reference to sundara pANDya.

6. Finally, the kind of wide-ranging questions you are raising could well do
with informed input from scholars of Tantra like Padoux, Sanderson or
Ortega, but I doubt you will be able to contact them on this list. Perhaps
Dominic Goodall, who is here, can give you better information in this
regard. However, the view most accepted by scholars is that abhinavagupta
and his followers influenced Tamil Saivism. The reverse influence, from
Tamil Nadu to Kashmir, that you posit may not go very well. But the
preference for Sanskrit sources over Tamil ones among scholarly circles is
nothing new to you!

Best wishes,

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