We know that Hindu philosophy refers to Shad Darshana viz. Sankhya, Yoga, Nyaya, Vaisheshika, Mimansa and Vedanta. These Darshan/philosophies are based on various Darshan Sutras witten by Rishis. The most popular Vedanta school is further classified as Advaita, Vishishtadvaita, Dvaita, Achintya Bhedabheda, Suddhadvaita etc. These are classification is based on the different interpretation or Bhashya written by Acharyas on Brahma Sutras.

Among various Shruti & Smriti scriptures, Agamas are those scripture not so popular or say people usually don't know much about them. That was the primary purpose of asking the question - What are the Agama scriptures? Are they related to Shruti/Vedas?.

Now I want to know is there any philosophy or Darshana based on Agamas?

  • You also started "the most popular" !! Sep 3, 2017 at 5:36
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    @RakeshJoshi First of all it is not popular. Secondly, even if it is, then it also have to be mentioned that it is most popular now i.e in Kali Yuga. Most people agree with scriptures that people of Kali Yuga are basically dumb and bad. So, something being most popular in Kali does not at all mean that it is the best among its kinds. BTW i have a question asking" Which Darshanas were available during earlier Yugas'?
    – Rickross
    Nov 22, 2017 at 9:13

4 Answers 4


I can answer only based on ShAkta scriptures. I can't elaborate anything on man made philosophies.

Also, Agamas are plenty in number. They can be divided into ShAkta, Shaiva and other similar groups.

Note that, my answer is only based on the ShAkta Agamas, and also on as much as i know about them.

The 6 Darshanas are first of all condemned in KulArnava Tantram, which is one of the most authoritative ShAkta Agamas, as follows:

[Lord Shiva says to Goddess PArvati]
Shadadarsana MahAkupe PatitAh Pashavah Priye|
ParamArtham Na JAnanti PashupAshaniyantritAh ||


The Pashus are thrown into the giant well (MahAkupa) [which is of the form of the] six Darshanas. Bounded by the PAshas, these persons do not know about the supreme truth (ParamArtha).

KulArnava Tantram 1.87



The man in bondage is a Pashu. It does not indicate anything derogatory. And the PAshas are the bondages.

When, the JivA is bounded by the PAshas he is a Pashu, relieved of those PAshas is the Supreme SadAshiva.

Viz-PAshavadhah Smrito Jivah PAshamuktah SadAshivah

. So, the basic idea is similar to Advaita Vedanta where Jiva does not know its true nature which is of the nature of Paramatma.



According Shaiva Agamas, Mala (impurity), Karma ( actions) and MAyA (illusion or avidyA) are the three pAshas.

Again, Mala, Karma, MAyA and Bodhshakti are also known as PAshas.

The six Kanchukas (Shatkanchuka) viz- MAya, KAla, Niyati, KalA, VidyA and RAga are also PAshas.

The Pancha Kleshas viz- AvidyA, AshmitA, RAga, Dvesha, and Abhinibhesha. are also PAshas according to Shaiva scriptures.

In ShAkta scriptures usually we find mention of eight PAshas viz- GhrinA (disgust), LajjA (shame), Bhaya (fear), ShankA (apprehension), Jugusa ( translation of this and few others pending ), Kula, Shila and JAti. But in some scriptures we also find mention of 52 and 62 PAshas.


Now, the reason why the six darshanas are condemned becomes clear upon reading the next verse given below:

Pathanti VedashastrAni Vivadanti Parasparam |
Na JAnanti Param Tattvam Darvi PAkarasam YathA ||


These persons constantly debate and argue with each other by reading Veda and other scriptures. But they don't get a clue of the Supreme Truth (Param Tattvam) just like the ladle does not get the taste of the food [which is cooked with its help].

KulArnava Tantram 1.94

And, this is actually what you see as happening in reality. All the philosophers claiming their thinking as the correct one and the most superior one argues with each other but all that is in vain.

That no such philosophy is capable enough to depict the correct nature of Brahman (the Supreme reality) is made clear by Lord Shiva in the following verse:

Advaitam Kecidicchanti Dvaitam icchanti ChApare |
Mama Tatvam Na JAnanti DvaitAdvaita Vivarjitam ||


Some prefers Advaita (non-dualism), some other prefers Dvaita (dualism). But my true nature (or the nature of the Brahman), which is devoid of both Dvaita and Advaita (DvaitAdvaita Vivarjitam) is not known to either of them.

KulArnava Tantram 1.110.

To be frank, here what is condemned is not the 6 philosophies but the nature of unintelligent persons reading them and trying to come into some kind of conclusions and also engaging into debates with each other.

The Philosophies are like VichAras which arise from mind (Mana) and intellect (Buddhi). When one is merged with the Supreme Being, the mind, intellect and all other faculties are also equally merged. So, then, where is the question of VichAra like Dvaita or Advaita or something else?

Also that the aforementioned NindA (criticism) of Shad Darshanas is something like Nahi-Ninda (superficial criticism) is also made clear in the following verses:

Shada DarshanAni MehAngAni Padau Kukshih Karau Sirah |
Teshu Bhedantu Yah KurjAnmAngam Chedayettu Sah ||


The six Darshanas are my six limbs viz- two legs, two hands, the torso and the head. One who discriminates between them equivalently cuts my limbs (Angachedana).

YetAnyeva KulasvApi ShadangAni Bhavanti Hi |
TasmAd VedAtmak ShAstram Viddhi KaulAtmakam Priye ||


These six Darshanas are the six limbs of KulashAstras too. That's why know that the Vedatmaka scriptures are also KaulAtamka in nature.

KulArnava Tantram 2.85,86.

So, the 6 darshanas are also the philosophies of Kaulism or Shaktism.

About why Agamas are not popular like some other Shastras like Veda, PurAna

Among various Shruti & Smriti scriptures, Agamas are those scripture not so popular or say people usually don't know much about them.

The primary reason behind this is that they are meant to be kept secret. This is per the orders of Lord Shiva who created all of them. Secondarily, Agamic knowledge should only be learned from one's Guru. It flows through Sampradayas and secretly. And, thirdly, Agamas are terse and esoteric in nature. Difficult to understand on ones own.

For example:

PAramparjya KramAyAtam Panchavaktreshu Samshtitham |
Akathyam PAramArthena TthApi Kathayami Te ||

So, here Lord Shiva clearly says, that the Agamic knowledge which was originally situated in His five faces are to be propagated through Guru Paramapara. And he also says, that this knowledge can not be given or should not be spoken of (Akathyam) in general.


Deyam BhaktAya ShishyAya Anyatha Patanam Bhavet |

This knowledge can be passed on to only able disciples otherwise downfall is inevitable.


GuhyAd Guhyataram Devi SArAt SAram PrAt Param


RahasyAtirahasyAni KulashAstrAni PArvati

So, this knowledge should be kept as top most secret. And that's why it is not that popular among the masses.

Veda ShAstra PurAnAni PrakAshyAni Kuleswari |
Shaiva ShAktAgamAh Sarve RahasyAh ParikirtitAh ||


Veda, PurAnas and other Shastras can be made public (or revealed) but the Shaiva and ShAkta Agamas are famous as secret and mysterious.

KulArnava Tantram 3.4

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    Nice answer BTW one thing I noticed in puranas is that ,there are also sections related. "Tantra" within them.Like Bhagvat purana ,shiva purana etc. describing tantrik worship procedure of particular deity in detail or Beeja mantras and Tantrik mantras etc. Sep 3, 2017 at 9:38
  • OHk @SwiftPushkar actually the answer to this Q is that Shakta scripures do not give any importance to philosophies although they say that the 6 darshans are also the philosophies of Shaktism. Shakta scriptures state that indulgence in philosophies, which are speculative in nature, are for the Pashus, who are in their lowest stage of spiritual evolution.
    – Rickross
    Sep 3, 2017 at 9:55
  • Haha ,quite intresting .I didn't knew about this thing before. Anyway there is one school of thought ( I don't know it's still in exsistance or not) called "Shaktadavaitavada" Here the article it's also about Shakta Upanishads - en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shakta_Upanishads Sep 3, 2017 at 10:06
  • Yes Shaktism is pretty much Advaita ( Brahman and Jiva are the same, in this sense). @SwiftPushkar
    – Rickross
    Sep 3, 2017 at 10:07
  • Really a great answer.Hats off.Only one typo i think is here :KulasvApi should be Kulasvapi.Kindly check.i think its kulesu plus api?
    – user17294
    Feb 12, 2019 at 10:20

First, not all philosophies are man made. Trika tradition was established by Lord Shiva himself. From Shakta - Shaiva Agamas, one of the tradition is Trika containing dual, non dual & semi - dual philosophies, which was started by sage DurvAsa (who was initiated by Lord Shiva in the system of Trika) at the beginning of Kaliyuga (you can read here). This tradition is directly mentioned in VijnAnabhairava tantra.

Bhairavi, the sakti of Bhairava says - O deva (divine one) who in manifesting the universe and treating it as your play are my very self, I have heard in to all the scriptures which have come forth from the union of Rudra and his pair saktti or which are the outcome of Rudrayamala Tantra, including the Trika together with its divisions. I have heard the Trika which is the quintessence of all the scriptures and also all its further essential ramifications. But O supreme Lord, even now my doubt has not been removed. Verse 1.

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    First, not all philosophies are man made. Trika is made by Lord Shiva himself.----- that's all right but where does the scriptures mention that Trika is a philosophy? Trika is not a speculative doctrine like the philosophies are.
    – Rickross
    Sep 3, 2017 at 9:51
  • @Rickross Trika is a tradition containing group of philosophies. I think every tradition has some philosophy. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trika Sep 3, 2017 at 12:13
  • @Rickross Philosophy definition : the study of the fundamental nature of knowledge, reality, and existence, especially when considered as an academic discipline. Sep 3, 2017 at 12:13
  • Which scriptures mention Trika as a darshana ?
    – Rickross
    Sep 3, 2017 at 12:14
  • @Rickross It is a tradition containing philosophies precisely. Sep 3, 2017 at 12:14

Agamas are mainly practice oriented and hence not much of philosophy given therein. Especially, the philosophy is not usually mentioned separately like other sects. Sometimes philosophy is derived from its core teachings and practices. Though there are many sects of agamas like shaiva, shAkta, saura, ganapatya etc. I am posting about agamas related to shaiva/shakta.

Shaiva Siddhantam is the system of Saivism which is the pre-historic religion of India. This system is not only logical but also scientific. The basic concepts of Saiva Siddhanta philosophy are already found in the Vedas and the Sivagamas have elaborated them further. It was not founded by any particular person and has no particular date of origin.

“Saivism has been recognised as the most ancient religion which is living in the world” - Sir John Marshall

The term Siddhantam was first used by great Saint Tirumular in his great work,Tirumantiram verse 1421.

“Having learned all that learned must be.

Having practised all yoga that have to be,

They, then, pursue the path of Jnana in graduation sure,

And so pass into the world of Formless Sound beyond;

And there, rid of all impurities,

Envision the Supreme, the Self-created;

They, forsooth, are the Saiva Siddhantis true.

It is stated here that the goal of Saiva Siddhantam is to get rid of all impurities.


In the name of God and religion, it does not divide or dissect people. The founders and propagators of the Saiva religion and philosophy are broad minded and noble hearted. They taught us that God is LOVE and LOVE is God – ANBE SIVAM.

  • Thennadudaiya Sivane potri; Ennattavarkkum iraiva potri

The proclaimation of Saint Sundarar,

Appalukkum adisarnthar; adiyarkum adiyen....

The profound comment of Sekkilar on that sacred line of Sundarar, would indisputably uphold the the universality of Saiva religion and philosophy. Saivism is a living and popular faith followed by more than 250 million people around the world today but its traditional bases are in India, particularly in South India. But historical fact shows that Sivalinga worship goes back to the period of Indus civilization 5000 B.C and even beyond.

Saiva Siddhantam explains the triple realities. GOD, SOUL and its BONDAGE. It also elaborates spiritual matters involving the soul. What is God?, His nature?, What is the purpose of this life? What is the reason of creation? Who am I? What is our relationship to God?. These are some of the questions answered in this philosophy. Not only it gives logical explanations but also gives us the strength to think and ‘rebuild’ our current faith and understanding about GOD. Its is therefore, necessary and useful to understand this great philosophy.

Saiva Siddhantam does not consider God as the only eternal entity which is refered to as Pathi. Like God, souls or Pasu is also eternal that has neither beginning nor end. Souls are many and have their own limitations. Its capabilities are limited due to the bondage or Pasam. Ths is also eternal like God and souls. The soul is known as Pasu due to its nature of being under Pasam.

Existence of FIVE elements:

The triple realities or Mupporul Unmai ( Pathi, Pasu and Pasam) are God, Soul and its Bondage which consist of Anavam, Karmam and Mayai.

GOD is Supreme Being and all knowing

SOULS are capable of knowing anything is they are taught only.

ANAVAM creates ignorance and egoism to the souls

KARMAM is giving experience to the souls.

MAYAI helps the souls to get away from ignorance. It is the source of the cosmos which includes world and all living entities.

Perception of truth

PRAMANAM or perception of truth is how Saiva Siddhantam maintains many more logical evidences to ensure the existence of the five eternal elements.

i. Direct experience by the five senses called pulan arivu Knowledge of things directly by five senses; this knowledge is free from error and doubt.

ii. Inference by mind called anthakarna arivu With our previous knowledge of things, we can infer the cause while the effect is present in the cause itself. Fire and smoke theory.

iii. Verbal testimony of Sacred books of Saivism called Nool Arivu Verbal testimony of Sacred books, the words of Saints sent by Lord Siva. These are taught by Lord to enlighten souls. Behind all evidences, the intelligence of the individual soul is highly considered to be the means of valid knowledge. The real evidence of truth is in the enquiry of each individual to find out the truth for himself. It is proved beyond doubts that Saiva Siddhanta has bestowed the right to the respective individual soul to decide the existence of categories on the validity of their own knowledge.

Concept of GOD in Saiva Siddhantam

Saivism believes in the existence of God or Pathi. Pathi means Lord of the souls. Saivism proves His existence in many ways. Saiva scriptures and the words and deeds of Saiva Saints provide proof of His existence. Saivism also gives logical explanations to support this fact.

All things goes through the process of beginning, existence and decay which is certainly been created or made by someone. From this physical body to the entire cosmos, it has a beginning and obviously will come to an end. Hence this also should have a maker, who commonly we believe to be God.Concept of God existed based on the need for soul. What are the elements that we cant live without was established as God and since we cant live without food ( annam ), so food was considered Supreme or Paramporul. Then soul’s intelligence made a conclusion that food will not exist without soil, which depends on rain. Rain depends on air, sun (fire) and finally all on space; the fifth and highest element after air, earth, fire and water. Pancha bootha to Athidevas; to Indra; to Brahma and to Vishnu in the end. But truth in Siddhanta is; He who performs a Mahasankaram can be the supreme.

Saivites believe Lord Siva as the supreme God, who is worshipped as SIVAM ( Aruvam or formless state), SADASIVAM ( Aruruvam or formless form state) and MAHESWARA ( Uruvam or form state ).

The formless form refered here is the Sivalingam which is seen in all Siva temples. The form or Uruvam is refered to the 25 Muhurtams or forms of Lord Siva used for worship. It is stated in Sivagamas, other than these 25 Muhurtams or forms, worship to other forms are prohibited. Although there are more than 25 forms of Lord Siva which is mentioned in the Agamas but these forms are the elaborated forms of the 25 main forms. It is mentioned that there are 64 forms in total.



Agamas are mainly practice oriented and hence not much of philosophy given therein. Especially, the philosophy is not usually mentioned separately like other sects. Sometimes philosophy is derived from its core teachings and practices. Though there are many sects of agamas like shaiva, shAkta, saura, ganapatya etc. I am posting about agamas related to shaiva/shakta. In another post I have shared about important differences between Vedantic Non dual philosophy and agamic non dual philosophy.

Kashmiri Shaiva Philosophy

What is commonly called “Kashmiri Shaivism” is actually a group of several monistic and tantric religious traditions that flourished in Kashmir from the latter centuries of the first millennium C.E. through the early centuries of the second. These traditions have survived only in an attenuated form among the Brahmans of Kashmir, but there have recently been efforts to revive them in India and globally. These traditions must be distinguished from a dualistic Shaiva Siddhānta tradition that also flourished in medieval Kashmir. The most salient philosophy of monistic Kashmiri Shaivism is the Pratyabhijnā, or "Recognition," system propounded in the writings of Utpaladeva (c. 925-975 C.E.) and Abhinavagupta (c. 975-1025 C.E.). Abhinavagupta's disciple Kshemarāja (c. 1000-1050) and other successors interpreted that philosophy as defining retrospectively the significance of earlier monistic Shaiva theology and philosophy. This article will focus on the historical development and basic teachings of the Pratyabhijnā philosophy.

Tantra and Kashmiri Shaivism

While tantrism is a complex and controversial subject, one of its most definitive characteristics for contemporary classifications—if not its most definitive one—is the pursuit of power. Tantric traditions are thus those that aim at increasing the power of the practitioner. The theological designation for the essence of such power is Shakti (the female counterpart to the male divine principle, whose essence is power). The manifestations of Shakti that the practitioner of tantra aspire after vary greatly, from relatively limited magical proficiencies (siddhis or vibhūtis), through royal power, to the deindividualized and liberated saint's omnipotence to the performance of God’s cosmic acts.

Trika" Sub-tradition of Shaivism

The tradition of monistic Shaivism called “Trika” (referring to its emphasis on various triads of modalities of Shakti and cosmic levels) produced the first work of full-fledged scholastic philosophy. This was the Shivadrishti, "Cognition of Shiva," by Somānanda (c. 900-950 C.E.). (See the summary of themes of the Shivadrishti below.)

Utpaladeva, a student of Somānanda, wrote a commentary on the Shivadrishti, the Shivadrishtivritti. He also wrote several other works interpreting and furthering the work of Somānanda with much greater sophistication. Those texts are the foundational works of the Pratyabhijnā philosophy of focus in this article. The most comprehensive of these texts are the Īshvarapratyabhijnākārikā, "Verses on the Recognition of the Lord," and two commentaries on the Verses, the short Īshvarapratyabhijnākārikāvritti, and the more detailed Īshvarapratyabhijnāvivriti. (The latter text has been accessible to contemporary scholars only in fragments.) Utpaladeva also wrote a trilogy of more specialized philosophical studies, the Siddhitrayī, "Three Proofs"—Īshvarasiddhi, "Proof of the Lord;" Ajadapramātrisiddhi, "Proof of a Subject who is not Insentient;" and Sambandhasiddhi, "Proof of Relation."

Abhinavagupta, widely recognized as one of the greatest philosophers of South Asia, was a disciple of a disciple of Utpaladeva. Abhinava profoundly elaborated and augmented Utpaladeva's arguments in long commentaries, one directly on the Verses, the Īshvarapratyabhijnāvimarshinī; and the other on Utpaladeva's longer autocommentary, the Īshvarapratyabhijnāvivritivimarshinī.

While Abhinavagupta's Pratyabhijnā commentaries are of paramount philosophical importance, this thinker's greatest significance in the history of tantrism is probably his effort, in his monumental Tantrāloka and numerous other works, to systematize and provide a critical philosophical structure to non-philosophical tantric theology. Abhinava utilized categories from the Pratyabhijnā philosophy to interpret and organize the diverse aspects of doctrine and practice and Shaiva symbolism from the “Trika” sub-tradition; and he synthesized under the rubric of this philosophically rationalized Trika Shaivism an enormous range of symbolism and practice from other Shaiva and Shākta traditions as well. Abhinavagupta is also renowned for his works on Sanskrit poetics—in which he interpreted aesthetic experience as homologous to, and practically approaching the monistic Shaiva soteriological realization.

Basic Themes of Somānanda's Shivadrishti

While the focus of this article is on Utpaladeva's and Abhinavagupta's Pratyabhijnā philosophy, mention should be made of some of the basic themes of Somānanda's precursory Shivadrishti.

Somānanda's broadest concern is to explain how Shiva through the various modalities of his Shakti emanates a real universe that remains identical with himself. In establishing the Shaiva doctrine he refutes a number of alternative views on ultimate reality, the self, God and the metaphysical status of the world. He devotes the greatest polemical efforts against the theories of the 4th-6th century Vaiyākarana (or "Grammarian") philosopher Bhartrihari.

According to Bhartrihari, the ultimate reality is the Word Absolute (shabdabrahman)—a super-linguistic plenum, which fragments and emanates into the multiplicity of forms of expressive speech and referents of that speech. Somānanda repudiates the view that a linguistic entity could be the ultimate reality, while at the same time identifying the true source of language as the Sound (nāda) integral to Shiva's creative power.

Somānanda takes a less polemical approach towards Shāktism. He argues that there is ultimately no difference between Shakti and Shiva, who is the possessor of Shakti. He supports this contention with the analogy of the inseparability of heat from fire, which is the possessor of heat. Nevertheless, he asserts that it is more proper to refer to the ultimate reality as Shiva rather than Shakti. Other Hindu schools criticized by Somānanda include the Pancarātra as well as the Vedānta, Sāmkhya and Nyāya-Vaisheshika systems.

Purposes and Methods of Utpaladeva's and Abhinavagupta's Pratyabhijnā System

Utpaladeva and Abhinavagupta ambitiously conceive the Pratyabhijnā system as both a philosophical apologetics (which follows Sanskritic standards of scholastic argument) and an internalized form of tantric ritual that leads students directly to identification with Shiva. They explain the basic means by which the system conveys Shiva-identity according to the same basic ritual pattern described above, as shaktyāvishkarana, "the revealing of Shakti."

The Pratyabhijnā philosophers, however, also frame Shakti as the reason of a publicly assessable inference, or "inference for the sake of others" (parārthānumāna). According to the scholastic logic, the reason identifies a quality in the inferential subject "I" known to be invariably concomitant with the predicate, "Shiva." Thus I am Shiva because I have his quality, that is, Shakti, the capacity of emanating and controlling the universe.

The Pratyabhijnā Epistemology

In order to address debates on epistemology that were then current, Utpaladeva and Abhinavagupta further explain the mythic and ritual pattern of Shiva and Shakti in terms of recognition. The specific problem the writers address had been formulated by the Buddhist logic school of Dignāga and Dharmakīrti, which flourished in medieval Kashmir. Contemporary interpreters have characterized the philosophy of Buddhist logic as a species of phenomenalism akin to that of David Hume. According to this school, the foundation of knowledge is a series of momentary and discrete perceptual data (svalakshana). There are no grounds in those data for the recognitions of any enduring entities through ostensible cognitions utilizing linguistic or conceptual interpretation (savikalpaka jnāna). In debates over several centuries, the Buddhist logicians had propounded arguments attacking many concepts that seemed commonsensical and were religiously significant to the various orthodox Hindu philosophical schools—such as ideas of external objects, ordinary and ritual action, an enduring Self, God, and revelation.

The Pratyabhijnā philosophers' response to the problematic posed by Buddhist logic revolutionized earlier approaches of the Nyaya philosophers, the Shaiva Siddhāntin Sadyojyoti and even Utpaladeva's teacher Somānanda, and may be characterized as a form of transcendental argumentation. Utpaladeva and Abhinavagupta interpret their central myth of Shiva's emanation and control of the universe through Shakti as itself an act of self-recognition (ahampratyavamarsha, pratyabhijnā). Furthermore, abjuring Somānanda's agonistic stance towards Bhartrihari, they also equate Shiva's self-recognition (Shakti) with the principle of Supreme Speech (parāvāk), which they derive from the Grammarian. They thereby appropriate the Grammarian's explanation of creation as linguistic in nature. Thus the Kashmiri Shaiva philosophers ascribe to Speech a primordial status, denied by the Buddhist logicians.

Utpaladeva's and Abhinavagupta's epistemology may best be illustrated by its approach to perceptual cognition. The Pratyabhijnā arguments on this subject may be divided into those centered around two sets of terms: prakāsha; and vimarsha and cognates such as pratyavamarsha and parāmarsha.

Prakāsha is the "bare subjective awareness" that validates each cognition, so that one knows that one knows. The thrust of the arguments about prakāsha is analogous to George Berkeley's thesis of idealism that esse est percipi. The Shaivas contend that, as no object is known without validating awareness, this awareness actually constitutes all objects. There is no ground even for a "representationalist" inference of objects external to awareness that cause its diverse contents, because causality can be posited only between phenomena of which one has been aware. Furthermore, the Kashmiri Shaivas argue that there cannot be another subject outside of one's own awareness. They conclude, however, not with solipsism as usually understood in the West, but a conception of a universal awareness. All sentient and insentient beings are essentially one awareness.

Vimarsha and its cognates have the significance of apprehension or judgment with a recognitive structure, and may be glossed as "recognitive apprehension." (The recognitive is the act of recognizing or an awareness that something perceived has been perceived before.) Utpaladeva's and Abhinavagupta's arguments centering on these terms develop earlier considerations of Bhartrihari on the linguistic nature of experience. Utpaladeva and Abhinavagupta refute the Buddhist contention that recognition is a contingent reaction to direct experience by claiming that it is integral or transcendental to all experience. Some of the considerations they adduce to support this claim are the following: that children must build upon a subtle, innate form of linguistic apprehension in their learning of conventional language; that there must be a recognitive ordering of our most basic experiences of situations and movements in order to account for our ability to perform rapid behaviors; and that some form of subtle application of language in all experiences is necessary in order to account for our ability to remember them.

The two phases of argument operate together. The idealistic prakāsha arguments make the recognition shown by the vimarsha arguments to be integral to all epistemic processes, constitutive of them and their objects. Moreover, on the radical logic of the Kashmiri Shaiva idealism, the recognition generating all things belongs to one subject. It must therefore be his self-recognition. As it is through the monistic subject's self-recognition that all phenomena are created, the Pratyabhijnā thinkers have ostensibly demonstrated their cosmogonic myth of Shiva's emanation through Shakti in terms of self-recognition. The student, by coming to see this self-recognition as the inner reality of all that is experienced, is led to full participation in it.

The Pratyabhijnā Ontology: The Syntax of Empowered Identity

Just as Utpaladeva and Abhinavagupta appropriate Bhartrihari in equating self-recognition with Supreme Speech and thereby interpreting recognitive apprehension as linguistic in nature, they also follow the Grammarian school in interpreting being or existence (sattā) (the generic referent of language) as action (kriyā). The Grammarian view itself originated in Brahmanic interpretations of the Veda as expressing injunctions for sacrifice. The Kashmiri Shaivas further agree with much of Vedic exegetics in conceiving being as both narrative and recapitulatory ritual action. Following the account above, it is Shiva's mythic action through Shakti as self-recognition that constitutes all experience and objects of experience, and that is reenacted by philosophical discourse.

The Pratyabhijnā thinkers propound their philosophy of Shiva's action to explain a wide range of topics of ontology. One of their concerns is to describe how Shiva's action generates a multiplicity of relationships (sambandha) or universals (sāmānya) as the referents of discrete instances of recognitive apprehension. With this theory they attempt to subvert the Buddhist logicians' contention that evanescent particulars are ontologically fundamental. For the Shaivas, categories are primitive, and particulars are formed out of syntheses of those categories.


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