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Accueil > Oriente > Skora : Tantrāloka

Skora : Tantrāloka

vendredi 20 avril 2018

The Reality-Text-Light? [
] is AG Abhinavagupta
Abhinavagupta (950-1020), maître du shivaïsme du Cachemire, aussi maître en yoga, tantra, poétique, dramaturgie.
’s encyclopedic, detailed exposition of all tantric Śaiva metaphysical discourses and yogic and ritual practices as they existed in his time ; at the same time it is an attempt to appropriate the Krama Kālī cult and all other heterodox traditions. To effect this, he reinterprets and uses as his authoritative umbrella another text, entitled Victory of the Garlanded Goddess Tantra (hereafter MVT). [1]

In the 37th chapter of his work, Abhinavagupta? states the purpose of the Reality-Text-Light : [2]

[to reveal] the truth of the tantras, according to logic and tradition ; guided by the light that emanates from (the Reality-Text-Light)... the devoted will be able to easily orient themselves in the rituals [that lead to liberation].

The term tantra, Gnoli further notes, refers to various types of texts, mostly ritualistic, either extra-orthodox or anti-orthodox, written by unknown authors beginning from approximately the first centuries c.e. [3] These arose from various schools of thought, not only Śaivite, but also Vaişnavite and Buddhist. They were similar in claiming that they were written in an age of decay to help provide a more direct way towards acquiring superhuman powers and liberation. The tantras that AG elucidated were those that, according to AG, emanated from Śiva Shiva
le Seigneur
Himself and promised liberation. These revelations contained the very stuff of Siva, emitted by Siva. Thus, it is not enough to say that they were revealed by Śiva. For AG, they were the very self-revelations of Śiva himself ; they were Śiva.

This leads us to ask what precisely the term tantrāloka meant for AG. The literal meaning of the term tantra is "extension" or "warp on a loom." [4] The term may be applied to reality itself, a reality that is extensive or whose essence extends itself, continually repeating itself on different levels. (One might think here of a great Mandelbrot set.) Significantly, the term may also refer to a text, in every sense of that notion, that is, "text" not only as a body of words, but as something that is woven or con-structed and containing a deep structure. Further, the various meanings of tantra, floating around two lod, "reality," and "text" come together in AG’s vision of tantra. For Abhinavagupta, Reality is made up of layers upon layers of consciousness. In other words, Reality is deep, it is text-ured ; Reality is one great text-ile consisting of the warp and woof of consciousness ; or quite simply Reality is a Text. This is reflected in the fact that the Godhead itself is called by AG "Mass of Sounds ;" the Godhead continually emits these sounds that condense gradually to give rise to the universe of objects and the universe of meaning. For Abhinavagupta, the universe is meaningful to us precisely because it emanates from God ; life is meaningful when everything comes together for us, when through receiving sounds from [8] others we are pointed in the right direction, when we remember where everything came from. Thus when the MVT referred to itself as a "tantra" it meant that it was transmitting the primordial revelation emanating from Siva in no less than 35 million ślokas. [5] The term tantra also refers to the tradition of which AG was a part. Thus, some of the connotations of tantra that AG has in mind? are : "extension," "emission," "transmission," "text," and "reality." For AG, therefore, tantra refers to a text that embodied, emitted, and transmitted an extensive reality. Any borderline between reality and text was obliterated for AG. Thus, I have translated the term tantra as Reality-Text and the term tantrāloka as the Reality-Text-Light. I assume that this latter term carries all the following meanings : "Light-that-belongs-to-the-Reality-Text," "Light-that-shines-on-the-Reality-Text," "Light-that-is-the-Reality-Text," "Light-that-arises-from-the-Reality-Text," and so on.


[1Alexis Sanderson, "Abhinavagupta," in Encyclopedia of Religion, vol. 1, p. 8 ; and Teun Goudriaan, "Hindu Tantric and Sākta Literature," in Hindu Tantric and Śãkta Literature (History of Indian Literature, edited by Jan Gonda, vol. 2, fasc. 2), by Teun Goudriaan and Sanjukta Gupta (Wiesbaden : Otto Harrassowitz, 1981), p. 163.

[2TĀ 37.83 : noted and translated by Raniero Gnoli, Luce delle Sacre Scritture (Tantrāloka), Classici delle Religioni, sezione prima, Le religioni orientali (Turin : Unione Tipografico-Editrice Torinese, 1972), p. 12. What follows here is my translation of Gnoli’s Italian translation.

[3In most of this paragraph, I am following Gnoli, LDSS, pp. 12-13.

[4See Teun Goudriaan, "Introduction, History and Philosophy," in Hindu Tantrism, by Sanjukta Gupta, et. al. (Leiden : E.J. Brill, 1979), p. 5.

[5Goudriaan, "Hindu Tantric Literature in Sanskrit," p. 7, n. 31, with reference to MVT 1.9.