Abhinavagupta’s defination of Moksha

In the process of meditation, AUM expands in stages of Akara, Ukara, Makara and then Nada, Bindu, Kala, Shanta and Ati Shanta. If Vedic Brahman is Shantam or peace, Tantric Brahman is Aanandam or Bliss. The human psychological I-consciousness is ‘relative’ in the sense; self-consciousness is in contrast with the not-self but the pure I-consciousness is ‘absolute’ awareness. It is immediate — like a flash of lightning. When one has this consciousness, one can be aware of the real nature of the Self and non-Self.

Vijnana Bhairava’s text of Tantric Trika Shaivism of Kashmir, refers to meditation (dharani) on the sound of stringed instruments. The iconic commentator Abhinavagupta was himself known to play the veena. He would have appreciated the vibrant temple culture in which stringed instruments and the drum interwove melody and rhythm and inspired the ritual dances. Abhinavagupta says that the mind naturally tends towards plain sound. A swara or a musical note has the power to superimpose on the mind evolving beyond mere sound, thus making it responsive through emotion. On Taala or rhythm and Kaala or time fractions and Layaa or rest, Abhinavagupta offers a multi-dimensional eulogy to his deity Siva — One who in essence is illusory, yet in whom is perfect equilibrium of every act of the world by means of time divisions. One who is in perfect tempo, based on the substratum of ‘rest,’ says he. Sound develops into forms in space perceived by us through light. Sound alone consents to move — to word to sentence, poem, song, dance, painting, sculpture and so on as. The phoneme syllables A to Ksa, bring about will, knowledge and action, appearing in the temporal and spatial as forms, ingeniously varied and distinct.

There are three aspects in Tantra practices — Kula follows Vama/left handed techniques with substance uses, ritualised sex, etc, Mishra both external and internal rites and the purest and highest path of Samaya. The purest Devi Upasana comes under this.

The worship here follows the knowledge of Sri Yantra with meditation. Every experience is in the subtlest state alone with contemplative devotion. In the South, the Tirumantiram (Srimantra in Sanskrit) of Tirumoolar, refers to Bhuvanapati/Shiva chakra. This, many understand to be the Sammelana chakra of Srividya. It is the representation through diagram of this Yantra and the worship with the 15-letter mantra, which one needs to correlate as the Tamil equivalent to the Sanskrit syllables. The vowels and consonants of Sanskrit are inscribed in the vertices of the Sri Yantra.

The practice of a Sastra by a Sadhaka becomes a dedication to the supreme only if based on three axioms — Asti (Existence in consciousness), Bhati (splendour of the ONE truth) and Priyam (Blissful awareness). This triad splits into four quarters in learning — Acharyat Paadam or a quarter from the preceptor or Guru, Swayam Adhyaya or by the sishya himself with own intelligence, Brahmachaaribhyo or through other students and peers and lastly Kaalakramena or over a period of time. This is how Bharatamuni also advises practitioners while he refers occasionally, that as time moves on, deterioration in values, skills, strength and learning is bound to happen. Dance, however, seems to solve all puzzles inherent in philosophical discourses by leading to their true meaning. The 72,000 nerve currents that are divided as 36,000 for each side — Siva and Sakti — merge in the central channel. The 36 chapters of Natya Sastra are significant when expanded as thousands of these bio-plasmic energy fields. In one Nritta Karana called ‘Leenam,’ one is doing full prostrations, standing for the body-mind in contemplation. The other Karanas total to 107, energising the secret Marmas or vital points in us.

Siva in his form as Rudra, cries aloud to announce the birth of the worlds, just as a new born would do. He is Tamobhimani — rules darkness or Tamo Guna without which light can never be known.

Worshipping Sakti or energy, dancing as ‘light and sound’ is itself, the eternal realisation of ONE Consciousness or Siva. Abhinavagupta puts Moksha or liberation as nothing else but the awareness of one’s true nature. The highest attainment is that of Siva-consciousness in which the entire universe appears as I or Siva and this comes by Saktipata — the descent of Sakti or Anugraha (grace).

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