Ancestral voices

In Kashmir Saivism, God is virtually an artist who expresses himself in the form of the world and transforms himself into a character to play a role but is always free to recall his true nature and enjoy the world as a creative spectator.

It is the essential nature of the absolute will, according to Saivagama doctrine, to manifest it self,  just as it is the sun`s essential nature to shine and send forth rays.

Now, experience and consciousness imply a “self” and, therefore, the absolute is both self luminous ( ‘Siva’ or ‘Prakasha’) and self consciousness ( ‘Sakti’ or ‘Vimarsa’).

There can be no consciousness without self and no self without consciousness.

Consciousness is thus, the capacity of self awareness which is called ‘Sakti’.

It was this central philosophical principle which led  Abhinavagupta to reinterpret the nature of the aesthetic experience.

Some of his main ideas follow:

The aesthetic experience is “Ananda” (Bliss/Joy).  It is self luminous and self conscious, devoid of all duality;  it emerges from a single unified source which has the potency of multiplicity.

The aesthetic experience is thus different from ordinary experience as it is not based on objective perception but it is a subjective experience and analogous to mystic experience.

It is in this context that Abhinavagupta uses the word ‘Camatkara’ (a flash of lightening) which means the sudden  increase of the consciousness of the self which is free from limitations.

This is what produces ‘Ananda’.  Here he incorporates Bhattanayaka`s  term ‘Sadharanikarana’  (universalisation)  to explain the freedom from limitation which is achieved in aesthetic experience.

in ‘Ancestral Voices’ by Ramesh Chandra Shah


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