Anuttarashtika

Anuttarāṣṭikā
by Abhinavagupta

The anuttarāṣṭikā is a hymn of eight (aṣṭikā) verses by Abhinavagupta, on the method of anupāya (no method) in the light of the highest reality–anuttara.
It has been know to the scholarly circles of Kashmir Shaiva pandits since its inception by the illustrious Abhinavagupta, who devoted the second chapter of his magnum opus – Tantrāloka – to the method (upāya) known as anupāya, which literally means ‘no method’.
As far as the present writer is aware, the earliest mention of the Anuttarāṣṭikā to the English speaking world was when it appeared as the first hymn in Appendix C – Philosophical Stotras of Abhinava, in KC Pandey’s encyclopedic book: Abhinavagupta – An Historical and Philosophical Study (Chowkhamba Sanskrit Series, Vol 1. 1935).
The first English translations that I am aware of is that of Lilian Silburn, a French scholar, who studied the annutarāṣṭikā from the great Shaiva master Swami Lakshmanjoo as early as 1948. Silburn studied the text in English, and later published the same in French in her book Hymnes de Abhinavagupta, (Paris 1970).
During his lifetime Swami Lakshmanjoo translated this hymn in Kashmiri language on a number of occasions. Once such occasion was at the Shaiva Institute Hall in Gupta Ganga during the 1970s. Upon completion of that talk, Swamiji told one of his life-long devotees, Shri Pranath Kaul, that this was the only stotra (hymn) that one needed to study.
The following English translation is a compilation from Lilian Silburn’s original English notes, and Shri Pranath Kaul’s clear recollection of Swamiji’s translation.

Anuttarāṣṭikā
by Abhinavagupta

saṁkrāmotra na bhāvanā na ca kathā – yuktir na carcā na ca
dhyānaṁ vā na ca dhāraṇā na ca japā – bhyāsa prayāso na ca  /
tatkiṁ nāma suniścitaṁ vada paraṁ   satyaṁ ca tacchruyatāṁ
na tyāgī na parigrahī bhaja sukhaṁ   sarvaṁ yathāvasthitaḥ  // 1

In this highest state of supreme God consciousness [anuttara] there is no need of spiritual progress, no contemplation, no art of expression, no investigation, no meditation, no concentration, no recitation, exertion or practice. Tell me then, what is the supreme and well-ascertained truth? Listen indeed to this! Neither abandon nor accept anything, enjoy everything, remain as you are!

saṁsāro ‘sti na tattvatast anubhritāṁ   bandhasya vārtaiva kā
bandho yasya na jātu tasya vitathā   muktasya muktikriyā  /
mithyāmoha kṛideṣa rajju bhujaga – cchāyā piśāca bhramo
mā kiṁcittyaja mā gṛihāṇa vilasa   svastho yathā-vasthitaḥ  // 2

In reality there is no such thing as birth and death, so how can the question arise of bondage for living beings? There never was any such bondage for the one who is entirely free, and therefore, to struggle for liberation is useless and nothing more than delusion–like a dark shadow mistaken for a demon, or a rope seen as a snake. It is all based on deceitful perception which has no substance. Neither abandon nor accept anything, remain as you are, well established in your own Self.

pūjāpūjaka pūjya bhedasaraṇiḥ   keyaṁ kathānuttare
saṁkrāmaḥ kila kasya kena vidadhe   ko vā praveśa kramaḥ  /
māyeyaṁ na cid-advayāt paratayā   bhinnāpyaho vartate
sarvaṁ svānubhava svabhāva vimalaṁ   cintāṁ vṛithā mā kṛithāḥ // 3

In the oneness of that supreme state of anuttara what talk can there be, and what differentiated path of adorer, adored and adoration? To whom and by what means could a progression function; or what could constitute the succession of penetrating into the Self? Wonder of wonders! Though it appears differentiated this illusion is no other than consciousness–one without a second. Everything is nothing but the pure essence of your own Self-experience, so why worry in vain!

ānando ‘tra na vittam adyamadavan – naivāṅ ganāsaṅgavat
dīpārkendu kṛita prabhā prakaravan   naiva prakaśodayaḥ  /
harṣaḥ saṁbhṛita bheda mukti sukhabhūr – bhārāvatāropamaḥ
sarvā dvaita padasya vismṛita nidheḥ   prāptiḥ prakāśodayaḥ  // 4

One cannot compare the bliss of this state to the intoxication of wealth or wine, nor to the union with a beloved women. And the brilliant flow of light is unlike the collection of rays from a lamp, the sun or the moon. This excessive joy of the Self is comparable only to the weight of that blissful state which descends when one gets liberated from all differentiation. The flow of this supreme consciousness is the state of universal oneness, which is nothing other than your own treasure abode that you had temporarily forgotten.

rāga dveśa sukhā sukho dayalayā – haṅkaradainyādayo
ye bhāvāḥ pravibhānti viśva vapuṣo   bhinna svabhāvā na te  /
vyaktiṁ paśyasi yasya yasya sahasā   tattat-tadekātmatā-
saṁvid rūpam avekṣya kiṁ na ramase   tadbhāvanā-nirbharaḥ  // 5

Attraction and repulsion, pleasure and pain, rising and setting, self-confidence and depression; all these states with which the universe is formed shine as mutually different but in reality they are not. Whenever you perceive the specificity of some thing, at that very moment you should perceive the essence of your own consciousness as one with it… why not take delight in the fullness of that awareness!

pūrvābhāva bhavakriyā hi sahasā   bhāvāḥ sadā ‘sminbhave
madhyākāra vikāra saṅkara-vatāṁ   teṣāṁ kutaḥ satyatā  /
niḥsatye capale prapañca nicaye   svapna bhrame peśale
śaṅkātaṅka kalaṅka yukti kalanā – tītaḥ prabuddho bhava  // 6

In this world the totality of objects appear eternally in the present moment, i.e. the activity of universality has no previous or future existence. Differentiated action is an illusion based on the unlawful pervasion of an intermediate state which is unreal, transient, fraudulent, just like a heap of appearances in the illusion of a dream. Remain above these defects which have been wrongfully forged by the stigma of doubts, hence be awakened!
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bhāvānāṁ na samudbhavo ‘sti sahajas – tvad bhāvitā bhāntyamī
niḥsatyā api-satyatām-anubhava – bhrāntyā bhajanti kṣaṇam  /
tvatsaṅkalpaja  eṣa viśva mahimā   nāstyasya janmānyataḥ
tasmāt-tvaṁ vibhavena bhāsi bhuvane – ṣvekopy-anekātmakaḥ  // 7

For the insentient there is no outflow of objective things, for those are manifested only when experienced by thee. Though deprived of reality they share reality in one instant through ones erroneous perception. Thus the greatness of this universe arises from your own imagination–it does not take birth from anything else. Therefore, you alone shine in all these worlds, and though one, you become many by your own glory!

yatsatyaṁ yad asatyamalpa-bahulaṁ   nityaṁ na nityaṁ ca yat
yan māyām-alinaṁ yadātma-vimalaṁ   citdarpaṇe rājate  /
tatsarvaṁ sva-vimarśa-saṁvidudayād   rūpa-prakāśātmakaṁ
jñātvā svānubhavā dhirūḍha-mahimā   viśveśvaratvaṁ bhaja  // 8

Real or unreal, small or plentiful, eternal or momentary, what is colored by the illusion of differentiation and what is pure in one’s own Self, in reality, this universe, rising from your own consciousness and becoming one with your essence, appears glorified in the mirror of Consciousness.
Having ascertained the sublimity of the universe and having understood the greatness of establishing ones own Self-experience, enjoy universal sovereignty.

Courtesy of Universal Shaiva Fellowship and Lakshmanjoo Academy, Los Angeles.

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