Monday, December 2, 2013

Recognition - Pratyabhijna

One of philosophical systems of Kashmir Shaivism is Pratyabhijna which literally means to recognize one's own self once again. Etymologically, Pratyabhijna is formed from prati (something once known, now appearing as forgotten), abhi (immediate) and jna (to know). So, the meaning is direct knowledge of one's self, recognition. It represents a mental act by which one realizes and re-unites with the original state i.e. universal consciousness. According to this philosophy, the individual self (atman) is identical with the Supreme Lord but due to the influence of maya (ignorance), it forgets its divine nature, becomes liable to limitation and bondage, and thinks itself to be different from the Supreme Lord. The central thesis is that everything is Shiva, absolute consciousness, and it is possible to re-cognize our essential nature of Shivahood. In this system, the Ultimate Reality voluntarily descends to the level of the Jiva or empirical individual who, in turn, becomes duty bound to ascend and recognize himself as Shiva. Thus, the slave (pashu - the human condition) becomes the master (pati - the divine condition). He is jeevan mukhta. He experiences Shivahood right in the world as a living and existing individual. One of the central texts on this theme - Pratyabhijna Hrdayam - says what you are, what you have forgotten, and how to remember.
Pratybhijjna is to cognise oneself as Shiva as that is the stuff of one's being. Though, I think that any practice can't yield this result without its blessing. After all, only He cognises his original reality. And the Self in us (being a spark of the divine) is the pivot of our life. As Lalleshwari‎ wrote:
Don‪'‬t speak of Hindu or Musulman
‏If you are wise‪,‬ know yourself
‏That is the recognition of the true Friend ‪.‬


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