Gitartha Samgraha (critical Study)

by Partha Sarathi Sil | 2020 | 34,788 words

This page relates ‘Concept of Moksha 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).

7. Concept of Mokṣa in the Gītārthasaṅgraha

In Indian philosophy mokṣa, liberation is one of the foremost point of discussion. Varieties of synonyms like niḥśreyas, apavarga etc. have been used in the Indian philosophy to explain the term mokṣa. The word mokṣa is referred to in the Śaiva philosophy as well as Bhagavadgītā. Abhinavagupta has raised the context of mokṣa in the light of Kashmir Śaivism while he explained the Bhagavadgītā. At the beginning of the book, the six ślokas, which he mentioned as the benedictory ślokas, have stated the Bhagavadgītā as the means for attainment of mokṣa. The way how a yogin can be gradually absorbed in Śiva’s entity through the process of worship, has been discussed here.

Due to supreme Lord’s imposition of limitation (saṃkoca) Āṇavamala is produced and it is the prime obstruction in the way of feeling of the divine nature of spiritual monads. Only the supreme Lord can destroy this defilement by his divine grace. Śaktipāta or descent of anugraha takes place by the rite of Guru. The Guru saves the way of disciple to reach the desired goal by means of Sādhanā. So, according to the tantric view, guru is the representative of Supreme Lord. Thus the rite of initiation (Dīkṣā) is an activity that leads the disciple to proceed through the spiritual path after tearing the cover of ignorance. The Kashmir Śaivism speaks of three types of Kriyā or upāya according to the levels of awareness of the experients. They are Śāṃbhava, Śākta and Āṇava upaya. Abhinavagupta talks about another upāya named anupāya in his texts Tantrāloka and Tantrasāra. By this upāya the (Sādhaka) spiritual seeker can attain the descent divine grace spontaneously. As no other support of any spiritual discipline is needed here to attain the divine grace, it is called anupāya. Paramaśiva emancipates his devotee from the sorrows of birth and death by showering anugraha or divine grace. The word ‘anugṛhṇāmi’ as mentioned in the 4th chapter of the Gītārthasaṅgraha also suggests the same sense[1]. It is therefore obvious from the examination of Gītārthasaṅgraha that the Supreme Lord as Vāsudeva or Maheśvara is no different. There ‘I’ the consciousness power in the form of blesses, recognize myself as the essence of Śiva. With the recognition of one’s true nature devoid of defilements, the soul becomes completely emancipated and thus the universal nature of the Supreme Lord is clearly revealed in the Gītārthasaṅgraha.

According to Kashmir Śaivism, ātman is of the nature of prakāśa, illumination and vimarśa, self revelation. Prakāśa is self-effulgent light which requires no other light to reveal it. Revelation of caitanya, consciousness constitutes the ever-pulsating power, which transforms the revealed caitanya into self effulgent light. It is the vimarśa śakti, power of innate self-revelation. The Kashmira Śaiva philosophers establish non-fracture between non living and conscious and thus establish the view of entirety. When the alive person knows the undivided entity by his penances, he emancipates. During initiation of the sādhaka, descent of the divine power as divine grace happens through the guru. Then the path of liberation expands. Descent of divine śakti or the conceot of mokṣa in respect of propitiation to god has been shown by Abhinavagupta in the Gītārthasaṅgraha. As for example, he has said in the second chapter that the sādhaka, having attachment to yoga, gets rid of the cycle of birth and death by forsaking the fruit of deeds, and attains Brahman[2]. After leaving aside all desires from mind, that yogin attains emancipation which is of the nature of peace[3]. That means, the sādhaka who desires mokṣa, should keep his sense organs controlled always[4]. The self-controlled person generally resides in this earth being freed from bondage[5].

Abhinavagupta has said that for knowing the nature of god if someone with detachment to the material world, concentrates his intellect to the Parameśvara, can attain the entity of Śiva[6]. Mokṣa is possible only for him who has born in human womb as mentioned in the Gītārthasaṅgraha[7]. If the sādhaka attains Vāsudeva’s own nature, he transforms into a transparent form like Parameśvara[8].

Abhinavagupta has expressed very nicely the way of spiritual performances of the preceptor and disciple. While describing the vital energies like prana, apāna etc. he has mentioned how a guru, preceptor pours purity in the mind of his śiṣya, disciple[9]. By performing svādhyāya yajña, the pertains the Supreme consciousness, saṃvid to the mind of the disciple and gives him emancipation. The yajñas are said to be means to attain Brahman[10]. These yajñas are mainly maintained by the karmayoga. If performed properly, they bring mokṣa. When ignorance is destroyed by knowledge, then the self-luminous nature of knowledge is established[11]. In this way by attaining supreme knowledge sādhaka’s material desires disappear and he attains emancipation. Maheśvara is the experiencer. Sādhaka offers his fruit of penance to this experiencer and becomes able to get liberation[12]. It is also possible to be liberated by maintaining equal outlook among all the creatures of the world and performing the earthly activities without any attachment[13]. Both the virtuous and sinful if possessed of equality in outlook, are worthy to attain mokṣa[14]. It is very good fortune to take birth in the clan of yogins. Taking birth in the rich family creates obstruction in the attainment of mokṣa. So, one can easily attain emancipation if born in the clan of the yogin[15].

According to the Trika śāstra, if the yogin performs worship devoid of any desire, can attain mokṣa[16]. He has said this in the Tantrāloka also. The Lord has said in the Gītā that he who knows me, does not take rebirth[17]. On the other hand, those who worship for getting the desired objects, they after getting those objects again climb the cycle of birth and death. The gods like Brahmā and others also have birth and death like human beings[18]. Only in the form of Maheśvara there remains perpetual emancipation. The Gītā has said that the sādhaka, who dies during the progress of the sun to the north, gets emancipation[19]. All the tattvas of this earth are derived from Parameśvara. The sādhaka who acquires this knowledge, can perceive the non-dual identity of Parameśvara from inside and outside[20]. Being an artificial devotee and absorbing in the meditation of Maheśvara emancipation cannot be guaranteed[21]. God himself rescues his devotee from this earth of death and provides him with liberation[22]. It is also possible to attain emancipation by the grace of guru as well as descent of the divine śakti of Parameśvara[23]. Due to god’s grace the yogin, overwhelmed with the supreme joy, easily dissolves in the entity of Brahman[24]. Man can not get rid of this circle of mundane by worshiping god through any way. For this the sādhaka should practise without any interruption. Abhinavagupta did not mention same same ślokas of the fourteenth chapter. He said that he did not introduce and explain those imaginary ślokas to avoid repetition[25]. He has said there, the person who transcends all the guṇas and excels the guṇas, becomes freed yogin. The sādhaka being initiated into the consecration of Parameśvara and by worshipping Maheśvara devoid of anger etc. attains the entity of Maheśvara[26]. To both the prudent and a household the attachment of activities remain the same. In spite of that those activities make way for emancipation to the prudent person[27]. All the behaviours attached to mundane existence appear to the prudent as filled with Śiva. He perceives everything as god Śaṅkara and attains mokṣa[28].

Footnotes and references:


Gītārthasaṅgraha, 4/11.


yogabuddhiyuktāḥ karmaṇāṃ phalaṃ tyaktvā janmabandhaṃ tyajanti brahmāsattāmavāpnuvanti | Gītārthasaṅgraha, 2/53.


sa yogī sarvakāmasaṃnyasitvāt śāntirūpaṃ mokṣameti | Gītārthasaṅgraha, 2/73.


yaḥ sukhopāyaṃ siddhimapavargaṃ vā prepsati tena indriyakautukanivṛtti mātraphalatayaiva bhogā yathopanatamāsevyā iti | Gītārthasaṅgraha, 3/12.


evaṃvidho yogī sarvavyavahārān vartayannapi mukta eva | Gītārthasaṅgraha, 5/28.


tathā caiva cidantaḥ manmayatvātparipūrṇecchatvāt krodhādirahitā niṣphalaṃ karma karaṇīyaṃ kurvāṇā bahavo matsvarūpamavāptāḥ | Gītārthasaṅgraha, 4/10.


mānuṣa eva loke bhogāpavargalakṣaṇā siddhirnānyatra iti | Gītārthasaṅgraha, 4/12.


mama kila kathamākāśakalpasya karmabhirlepaḥ | ākāśapratimatvaṃ kāmanābhāvāt | Gītārthasaṅgraha, 4/14.


śiṣyātmanā ca nayānayagrahaṇāya kecit... pratiṣṭhitamānasaḥ | Gītārthasaṅgraha, 4/30.


sarve caite yajñāḥ brahmaṇo mukhe dvāre upāyatve kathitāḥ | Gītārthasaṅgraha, 4/32.


jñānena tu ajñāne nāśite, jñānasya svaprakāśatvaṃ svataḥ siddham, Gītārthasaṅgraha, 5/16.


yajñaphaleṣu bhoktā tyaktaphalatvāt | evaṃ tapaḥsu | īdṛśaṃ bhagavattattvaṃ vidan yathātathāsthito'pi mucyata iti śivam | Gītārthasaṅgraha, 5/29.


sarvāṇyevātra bhūtāni samatvenānupasyataḥ |
jaḍavadvyavahāro'pi mokṣāyaivāvakalpate || Gītārthasaṅgraha, Saṅgrahaśloka-5.


sa ca viśiṣyate—kramātkramaṃ saṃsārāttarati | Gītārthasaṅgraha, 6/ 9


yadi tu tāratamyenāsyāpavargeṇa bhavitavyaṃ tadā yogikula eva jāyate | Gītārthasaṅgraha, 6/44.


kintu siddhānto'yamatra yaḥ kāmanāparihāreṇa yatkiṃciddevatārūpamālambate tasya tat śuddhamuktabhāvena paryavasati | Gītārthasaṅgraha, 7/24.


māṃ tu prāpya na punaryogino janmāditrāsamāpnuvanti | Gītārthasaṅgraha, 8/15.


eṣaḥ ca paricchedaḥ prajāpatīnāmapyasti | Gītārthasaṅgraha, 8/19.


Gītārthasaṅgraha, 8/26.


sarvatattvagatatvena vijñāte parameśvare |
antarbahirna sāvastha na yasyāṃ bhāsate vibhuḥ || Gītārthasaṅgraha, Saṅgrahaśloka-8.


māheśvaryaviṣayo yeṣāṃ samāveśaḥ akṛtrimastanmayībhāvaḥ te yuktatamā mama matāḥ | Gītārthasaṅgraha, 12/2.


tathā ca mama stotre-(tantrāloka), Gītārthasaṅgraha, 12/8.


tīvratarabhagavacchaktipātaṃ cirataraprasāditagurucaraṇānugrahaṃ ca vinā durlabha āveśaḥ | Gītārthasaṅgraha, 12/9.


paramānandavaivaśyasañjātāveśasaṃpadaḥ |
svayaṃ sarvāsvavasthasu brahmasattā hyayatnataḥ || Gītārthasaṅgraha, Saṅgrahaśloka-12.


atra kecidasaṃbaddhāḥ ślokāḥ kalpitāḥ, punaruktatvātte tyajyā eva | etadguṇātītavṛttistu mokṣāyaiva kalpate | Gītārthasaṅgraha, 14/20.


ataeva prāpyāpyupāyaṃ pārameśvadīkṣādi, ye tathāvidhakrodhamohādigranthisandarbhagarbhīkṛtāntardṛśa, Gītārthasaṅgraha, 15/11.


Gītārthasaṅgraha, Saṅgrahaśloka-17.


Gītārthasaṅgraha, Saṅgrahaśloka-18.

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