The Reformulation of the svātantryavāda and ābhāsavāda in the Doctrinal Teachings of the Tripurārahasya

Location: Campion Hall, Brewer St, Oxford, OX1 1QS
Speaker: Dr Silvia Schwarz Linder
Date: June 1, 2018
Time: 3:15pm to 4:15pm

The aim of this paper is to highlight a specific, crucial element of the teachings of the Tripurārahasya (TR) (“The Secret [Doctrine] of [the Goddess] Tripurā”), a Sanskrit work of South Indian origin, probably composed between the 12th and 15th century and associated with the Tantric Śākta religious tradition of the Śrīvidyā.

The element in question is the reformulation, to be found in the TR, of the Pratyabhijñā twofold doctrine known as svātantryavāda and ābhāsavāda. Acccording to this doctrine the world is an image reflected (pratibimba) in the mirror of the divine luminous Consciousness which, on account of her reflective awareness (vimarśa) and her sovereign freedom (svātantrya), projects the reflection of the world within herself as her own manifestation (ābhāsa).

By examining the relevant passages from both the māhātmyakhaṇḍa and the jñānakhaṇḍa (the two extant sections of the work) in light of the evidence of the sources of Kashmirian non-dualist Śaivism that influenced the author(s) of the TR in their treatment of this topic, I hope to provide a coherent account of the main features of this doctrine, as it was recast in the TR.

Dr Silvia Schwarz Linder has lectured in the past at the Leopold-Franzens-Universität in Innsbruck and at the University Ca’ Foscari in Venice. Presently she is Research Associate at the Institut für Indologie und Zentralasienwissenschaften of the University of Leipzig, and is affiliated with the Śākta Traditions project at the OCHS led by Professor Gavin Flood and Dr Bjarne Wernicke-Olesen. Her interests focus on the Tantric religious traditions of the Śrīvidyā and of the Pāñcarātra, specifically on the philosophical and theological doctrines expressed in the relevant South Indian Sanskrit textual traditions. She has also translated into Italian texts from the Sanskrit narrative and devotional literature, for editions aimed at a general readership.