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ANUBHĀVA (mysticism): [ಅನುಭಾವ]


The term anubhāva has been used by the Vachana-writers synonymously with terms like “svānubhāva”, “shivānubhava”, “Yōga”, “advaita-sthiti”, “samarasa” (“sāmarasya”) , [ಸ್ವಾನುಭಾವ, ಶಿವಾನುಭಾವ, ಯೋಗ, ಅದ್ವೈತ-ಸ್ಥಿತಿ, ಸಮರಸ, ಸಾಮರಸ್ಯ] and may refer either to one single mystic experience or to the very life of a mystic (shivayogi) [ಶಿವಯೋಗಿ]. Anubhāva may be tentatively defined as suprasensory and supraintellectual experience leading to the direct knowledge of Parashiva. Some of the most important features that determine the anubhāva may be listed as follows:

An ordinary sense-experience involves necessarily the sense, mind (manasu) [ಮನಸ್ಸು ], intellect (buddhi) [ಬುದ್ದಿ] and ego (aham) [ಅಹಂ]. For example, when my sense comes in contact with an object, it sends a message (of smell, taste, colour, etc.) to the mind, which allows one report at a time into the intellect. The latter determines this object as red, sweet, etc. At the same time, but indirectly and indistinctly, I become aware of myself as the subject. That is, the experience results in the proposition “I know that this is red, sweet, etc.”. In contrast, anubhāva begins only after the temporary cessation of the activities of sense, mind, intellect and ego. It may sometimes begin with gazing at an object, or listening to monotonous sounds, like ‘Om’, etc. but anubhāva proper does not involve senseexperience. There are no elements in sense-experience, which may be regarded as the criteria of anubhāva.

Mystic experience begins when the subject (Shivyōgi) withdraws his senses from their objects and tentatively and deliberately stops the activities of the mind, intellect ad ego, so that he has neither external awareness nor internal awareness. This is the precondition for the subject to concentrate his mind on something and this concentration is necessary for the intense meditation. Sometimes the Shivyōgi may experience unparalleled brilliant light, which, after he returns to the waking state, he regards as chit-prakāsha [ಚಿತ್-ಪ್ರಕಾಶ] (consciousness-brilliance), chit-sūrya (consciousness-sun)[ಚಿತ್-ಸೂರ್ಯ]. He even regards it as the highest God, Parashiva, and calls it Jyōtir-Linga [ಜ್ಯೋತಿರ್ಲಿಂಗ], Prakāsha-Linga (light-God)[ಪ್ರಕಾಶ ಲಿಂಗ ]. It may be recalled here that the Greek word “Deus”, means God as well as day (light). This state is also characterised by bliss, which is perhaps due to the temporary separation of the soul from the senses, mind, body, etc.

In the next stage, the subject experiences the unbroken expansion of his consciousness or becoming one with the universal soul or Parashiva. On returning to the waking state he compares this to the union of river with sea, of part space with the whole space, etc. But soon he becomes unaware of himself and the world; he is neither aware of Parashiva in whom he has merged nor of the union itself. It is a state, which lies beyond the duality of I and it. Nor is he aware that he is not aware of anything. This is comparable to the deep sleep in which one is unable to state that he is sleeping or that he is not aware of anything, or to the dream dreamt by a baby.

When the Shivyōgi returns to the waking state he realises that his entire personality has undergone a tremendous change, that he has lost his earlier self and is totally guided and controlled by an irresistibly superior power (i.e., Parashiva). He realises that his thoughts, talks, acts, wishes, are, strictly speaking, not his, but those of Parashiva. Parashiva occupies Shivyōgi’s personality in such a way that he regards his legs, hands, speech organ, etc. as Parashiva’s instruments. It is because of this the Shivyōgi regards himself as not different form Parashiva and regards himself as a vehicle of Parashiva. Henceforth he is no more a self-centred person, but a Parashiva-centred one.

The Shivyōgi has an undeniable sense of fulfilment, such that he sets no selfish goal before himself, for he has already achieved the highest goal. All his concerns are for his fellow beings.

Ineffability is another criterion of the Lingayāta mysticism and this for two reasons.

1. The mystic experience offers a particular situation, which the Shivyōgi has never experienced before. He had earlier seen himself and objects as independent entities, but now he is confused whether he, Parashiva and the world are identical or different. He is able to distinguish between the different objects, as house, stone, tree, mountain, table, etc. but is not ready to deny that they are one (that is, Parashiva runs through them). In short, he finds his mystic situation ineffable. He uses imageries and symbols to describe this situation, but in the end realises that their use does not succeed fully.

2. The bliss he has attained in the course of mystic experience, like any other ordinary pleasure (or pain), is ineffable. The statement “Her grief cannot be described” may mean that her grief has great intensity, but unless we step into her mind we cannot experience that grief and, therefore, cannot describe it. The same can be said about the bliss, described sometimes as qualitatively different from the pleasure known to us.

The most important feature of Lingayāta mysticism is the unitary experience. The Shivyōgi not merely believes, but experiences the oneness of all things, of the world and God and himself. As a result he comes to regard the hills, trees, rivers, etc. as places where Parashiva resides. Though these are different yet they are one in the sense that Parashiva is the central principle that vibrates in them all. There may be empty space without or between objects, but there is no space or object in which Parashiva is absent. Parashiva for Shivyōgi is all-pervasive, all-inclusive, indivisible, infinite consciousness.

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