Gitartha Samgraha (critical Study)

by Partha Sarathi Sil | 2020 | 34,788 words

This page relates ‘Jnanashatka in the Gitarthasangraha’ of the study on Abhinavagupta’s Gitartha Samgraha commentary on the Bhagavad Gita: one of the core texts of Indian Philosophy. The Gitartha Sangraha is written in the light of Kashmir Shaivism and brings to Shaiva metaphysics and Yoga integrated in the Bhagavadgita. This study deals with Abhinava’s vision about the purpose of human existence and the accomplishment of salvation (i.e., self-realisation).

5. Jñānaṣaṭka in the Gītārthasaṅgraha

The combined form of the two tattvas, Śiva and Śakti, is Yāmala (unification), where Śiva is of the form of generative and Śakti, the independent mother[1]. Abhinavagupta has made obeisance to his yāmala form in his Gītārthasaṅgraha. To acquire this knowledge it is necessary to perform activities with devotion as prescribed by the śāstras.

It is said in the Śivasūtra that incomplete knowledge is ignorance

caitanyamātmājñānam ca bandhaḥ”.

It can be learned from the sȗtra ‘Caitanyamātmā’ that atman is consciousness. In consideration of the division of the Gītā in ṣaṭkas it can be found that Jñānayoga has been mentioned in the Karmayoga’s ṣaṭka. However, in the ṣaṭka of Jñānayoga, comprised of the last six chapters of the Gītā, it is stated that after gradually knowing the nature of the tattvas like Kṣara, akṣara, Jīva, Jagat, Daivīsampad and Āsurīsampad. Lastly, through the instruction of renunciation and abandonment the tattvas of the Jñānayoga can be properly understood.

Like karmakāṇḍa and Bhaktikāṇḍa, jñānakāṇḍa also cannot be confined to a particular boundary in the Gītārthasaṅgraha. Throughout the entire Bhagavadgītā advices of Lord Kṛṣṇa and knowledge have been expressed.

The third hexade, however, has been considered by the ācārya Saraswatī as jñānakāṇḍa–

tritīye tu tayoraikyam vākyārtho varṇyate sphuṭam /
evamapyatra kāṇḍānām saṃbandho’sti parasparam

Here the thirteenth chapter to the end, it is declared as jñānakaṇḍa or the Jñānaṣaṭka. Here gradual discussion has been made on kṣetra-kṣetrajña-yoga, guṇatraya-vibhāga-yoga, daivāsura-sampad-vibhāga-yoga and karma-sannyāsa-yoga. Here Arjuna is the enquirer disciple and Lord Kṛṣṇa, the preceptor and advisor. He is the dispeller of ignorance. To the mundane people this physical body of us is kṣetra, to the prudent person, individual soul is the kṣetra and he who knows the physical form is the kṣetrajña. The Veda also says that the kṣetrajña is to be worshipped[3]. To the intelligent Paramātman is the kṣetrajña[4]. Abhinavagupta in this part of his commentary has said why the word ‘mama’ is used in sixth case ending in accusative[5]. He says that here by this knowledge I (Parameśvara) am to be understood. So, genitive is employed in the place of accusative[6]. At the beginning of the first chapter Abhinavagupta has said that the thing which destroys the doubt of sādhaka, is advice. This doubt is mainly about the understanding of which one is vidyā and which is avidyā. He has counted the knowledge as the highest in respect of advice to the path of emancipation[7]. What is knowledge? In this context it is said in the Gīṭārthasaṅgraha’s second chapter that knowledge is that which the consequence of undesired object is[8]. Though Lord Kṛṣṇa has spoken about jñāna as well as Karman, Abhinavagupta has admitted the supremacy of knowledge[9]. Where there is primacy of Karman admitted in the Yoga philosophy[10]. According to Kashmir Śaivism, this jñāna, knowledge and kriyā, action both are considered as saṃvit tattva, the concept of transcendent consciousness. So it is said that knowledge cannot exist without action, and action without knowledge[11]. Abhinavagupta has expressed the unseparated nature of jñāna and kriya in the Gītārthasaṅgraha. In respect of the ignorant person the activities like agnihotra etc. are instruments of attainment, but the knowledge is attainable. Knowledge is manifested by performing the activities admitted by the śāstras. The prudent sādhaka performs the right deeds, but an ignorant person should not be imparted the advice of non-dual. He should abide by the instruction of the śāśtra first. The jñāna yogin remains unattached though he lives in this mundane world. He does not have any bondage[12] as the Karman cannot enchain the god who is crystal clear like the sky[13]. Jñāna is Brahman, and that is Vijñāna which destroys the spiritual activities related to god. Abhinavagupta thinks that the activities, performed without any desire, gets destroyed having been entered into the fire of knowledge[14]. No new expectation generates from that action, because the seed of Karman destroys completely[15].

All actions turn to ashes in the fire of knowledge. As a result no new seed of action sprouts again. Sādhaka procures knowledge by salutations, by respect. It is also referred to in the yogasūtra. Abhinavagupta has said that yoga is performed by yoga. There the sādhaka’s knowledge is perceivable knowledge which is complete with truth[16]. There is no such thing as pure as the knowledge in the world. As the knowledge is pure, it can be perceived only by feeling[17]. When ignorance is destroyed by knowledge, the self illumination of knowledge is established. Abhinavagupta has said that knowledge is an unerring intellect. Where there is accumulation of various knowledge, the vijñāna is manifested there[18]. To expand will and knowledge, one should continue the mind[19]. Due to want of envy sādhaka’s perception of equality becomes possible and he enters into the domain of knowledge[20]. Abhinavagupta has mentioned in the Gītārthasaṅgraha that sādhaka performs the both the karmayoga and jñānayoga through the perception of non-dual. In fact, there is no difference between action and knowledge. This state of indifference is sat, truth[21]. As there is inseparable relation between jñāna and karma, similarly inseparable relation between bhakti and jñāna is also described. Affection to god is termed as jñāna in the bhaktiyoga of the twelfth chapter[22]. Here the combination of bhakti and jñāna manifests loyalty to Maheśvara. By forsaking the fruit of deeds refuge to the god and thereby attainment of knowledge is the way to emancipation. So, knowledge is considered as the best of all[23].Besides the Jñānaṣaṭaka and many other places where Jñānayoga has been discussed at the highest level, the thirteenth chapter dealing with the matter of Jñātā and Jñeya states[24]. It is said in the fourteenth chapter, the knowledge by which sages transforms into accomplished yogin, is not a new knowledge[25]. It is rather a matter of feeling and it is proved since ancient times. This is the knowledge to be known as the Parameśvara and his power, the root cause of everything[26].

It is the independent knowledge which is the root of all the knowable matters and by which this universe is created. It is the knowledge innate in the form of aham, I experience. Abhinavagupta has expressed all types of knowledge in the Gītārthasaṅgraha by mahāsṛṣṭi, the great creation, apohana, negation and smaraṇa, remembrance. Knowledge and ignorance, vidyā and avidyā all co-exist in this world. So, what is avidyā? We find the answer as demonical tāmasī vṛtti is avidyā. Sādhaka gets the result by the knowledge which arises from the feelings of thought[27]. In this regard Abhinavagupta has mentioned also views of the Mīmāṃsakas in the Gītārthasaṅgraha[28]. It is therefore, wise for the yogins to submit themselves for the cause of knowledge being freed from the clutch of Karman, because the knowledge has been considered foremost in the eighteenth chapter[29]. In the eighteenth chapter the Lord has described to Arjuna the three forms of instrumentalities belonging to knowledge[30]. It is necessary to practise sāttvika happiness for gaining appropriate knowledge. It is, however, very hard to achieve. With a view to making it understand rightly, Abhinavagupta has cited example quoting from the Kaṭhopaniṣad[31]. Cleanliness of mind is fulfilled by it and as a result the sādhaka requires no other happiness. The implication of all the advices of Lord Kṛṣṇa is the devotion to knowledge, by which bondage is removed[32]. The advices which the god pertained to His devotee are most secret. It is more secret than the Vedānta śastra. Here the non-dual tattva of the mysterious śāstra been expressed here by the Lord. Though this knowledge has been explained in different ways many times, Abhinavagupta has explained it here in distinct words. Explaining of knowledge again and again illuminates the intellect. The knowledge of Parameśvara is very secret; these are contained in the Śaiva śāstra[33]. This secrecy enables the devotee to attain emancipation[34]. These things gradually happen by penances, respect and advices of the preceptor. In the battlefield Arjuna decides to perform his own duty on hearing the advices of the Lord. Here, the attitude towards war is the prime thing. But Abhinavagupta has maintained in the last chapter that by this attitude the knowledge of the Supreme Brahman has not been accomplished[35].

When the yogin, whose mind is engrossed in Parameśvara, performs his deeds devoid of attachment and always keeps himself engaged in the meditation of Parameśvara, can attain final emancipation (Kaivalya)[36]. This is the knowledge of non-dual Parameśvara where dualism is destroyed and non-dualistic existent Śiva manifests. Considering every tattvas as the manifestation of Bhagavad-tattvas, Abhinavagupta has stated in the Gītārthasaṅgraha that “this Śakti of the Lord is instrumental in creation in all wombs, because of being the original cause[37].

Footnotes and references:




Madhusudan Saraswati, Gītopadghātabhāṣya.


kvacicchutau kṣetrajña upāsyaḥ iti śrūyate | Gītārthasaṅgraha, 13/1.


saṃsāriṇāṃ śarīraṃ kṣetraṃ yatra karmabījaprarohaḥ | Gītārthasaṅgraha, 13/3.


mameti karmaṇi ṣaṣṭhī, Gītārthasaṅgraha, 13/3.


ataeva saṃśayanirṇodaka evopadeśa iti vidyāvidyāṅgasaṃghaṭṭamayaḥ saṃśaya ucyate | Gītārthasaṅgraha, 1/ prārambha


jñānaṃ ca pradhānaṃ... jñānapradhānam, Gītārthasaṅgraha, Preface.


yadaprārthyamānaṃ phalaṃ tat jñānam, Gītārthasaṅgraha, 2/48.


karma uktaṃ jñānaṃ ca | tatra na dvayoḥ prādhānyaṃ yuktamapitu jñānasya | Gītārthasaṅgraha, 3/2.


sāṃkhyānāṃ jñānaṃ pradhānaṃ yogināṃ ca karmeti | Gītārthasaṅgraha, 3/3.


jñānaṃ karmaṇā rahitaṃ na bhavati, karma ca kauśalopetaṃ jñānarahitaṃ na bhavati, ityekameva vastu jñānakarmanī | Gītārthasaṅgraha, 3/5.


ayaṃ na siddhāntaḥ sarvathā muktasaṃgasya svadharmacāriṇo nāsti kaścit puṇyapāpātmako bandhaḥ | Gītārthasaṅgraha, 3/35.


ākāśapratimatvaṃ kāmanābhāvāt | Gītārthasaṅgraha, 4/14.


jñānaṃ brahma, vijñānaṃ ca bhagavanmayīṃ kriyāṃ nāśayati | Gītārthasaṅgraha, 3/46.


ataeva kāmeṣu kāmyamāneṣu phaleṣu saṅkalpa vihāya kriyamāṇāni karmāṇi kathitakathayiṣyamāṇasvarūpe jñānāgnāvanupraviśya dahyante | Gītārthasaṅgraha, 4/19.


uktaṃ hi yoga eva yogasyopāyaḥ | ṛtambharā tatra prajñā (Y.Su. 1/48), Gītārthasaṅgraha, 4/34.


pavitraṃ hi jñānasamaṃ nāsti |.. pavitratāṃ cāsya svayaṃ jñāsyati suprabuddhatāyām | Gītārthasaṅgraha, 4/40.


jñānam abhrāntā buddhiḥ | vividhaṃ jñānaṃ tatra tadvijñānaṃ prāgyuktyuditam karma | Gītārthasaṅgraha, 3/8.


uktaṃ ca śivopaniṣadi ‘icchāyāmathavā jñāne jāte cittaṃ niveśayet’ (V.B.,18), Gītārthasaṅgraha, 7/18.


anasūyatvaṃ jñānasaṃkrāntau kāraṇaṃ mukhyam | Gītārthasaṅgraha, 9/1.


sātvatadharmaguptā sat satyaṃ kriyājñānayorubhayorapi bhedāpratibhāsātmakaṃ, tathā sattātmakaṃ prakāśarūpaṃ tattvaṃ vidyate yeṣāṃ te sāttvatāḥ | Gītārthasaṅgraha, 11/18.


tasmādevāveśāt dhyānaṃ bhagavanmayatvaṃ viśeṣyate.... sati dhyāne bhagavanmayatve karmaphalāni saṃnyasituṃ yujyante | Gītārthasaṅgraha, 12/12.


ataḥ sarvamūlatvādāveśātmakaṃ jñānameva pradhānam | Ibid.


Gītārthasaṅgraha, 13/15.


yadeva pūrvoktaṃ jñānaṃ tadeva punaḥ prakarṣeṇa pratyekaṃ guṇasvarūpanirūpaṇatayā vaitatyena vakṣyāmi | yajjñātvā ityanenāsya jñānasya dṛṣṭapratyayatāṃ prasiddhiṃ cāha | Gītārthasaṅgraha, 14/1.


sarvāsu yoniṣu ādikāraṇatayā bṛṃhikā bhagavacchaktiḥ sakalasaṃsāravamanasvabhāvā mātā | pitā tvahaṃ śaktimānavyapadeśyaḥ | Gītārthasaṅgraha, 14/4.


āsurabhāgasaṃniviṣṭā tāmasī kilāvidyā | Gītārthasaṅgraha, 16/5.


phalāṃśe bhāvanāśca pratyayo'nuvidhāyakaḥ (ślo.vā), Gītārthasaṅgraha, 18/3.


ato yogināmāveśo nāstīti tānprati karaṇādigirāṃ prasaṅgo nāsti, api tu jñānamātre eva tātparyam | Gītārthasaṅgraha, 18/18.


jñānaṃ karma ca kartā ca tridhaiva guṇabhedataḥ |
procyate guṇasaṃkhyāne yathāvacchṛṇu tānyapi || Gītā, Gītārthasaṅgraha, 18/19.


uktaṃ ca śrutau—kṣurasya dhārā viṣamā durātyayā ityadi | Gītārthasaṅgraha, 18/37.


ato madabhihitavijñānapramāṇapuraḥsarīkāreṇa karmāṇyanutiṣṭha | tathā sati bandho nivartsyati | Gītārthasaṅgraha, 18/60.


guhyāt vedāntādapi guhyam paramādvaitaprakāśanāt | Gītārthasaṅgraha, 18/63.


asya jñānasya gopyamānatvaṃ siddhidim sarvajanāviṣayatvāt | Gītārthasaṅgraha, 18/67.


naṣṭo moha ityadinā yuddhapravṛttistāvadarjunasyotpannā na tu samyag brahmavittvaṃ jātam iti sūcayanbhāvino'nugītārthasyāvakāśaṃ dadāti | Gītārthasaṅgraha, 18/73.




Gītārthasaṅgraha, 12/4.

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