, Volume 40, Issue 2, pp 225-257
Date: 12 May 2011

The Two Pratyabhijñā Theories of Error

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Abstract

In this essay, it is argued that Abhinavagupta’s theory of error, the apūrṇakhyāti theory, synthesizes two distinguishable Pratyabhijñā treatments of error that were developed in three phases prior to him. The first theory was developed in two stages, initially by Somānanda in the Śivadṛṣṭi (ŚD) and subsequently by Utpaladeva in his Īśvarapratyabhijñākārikās (ĪPK) and his short autocommentary thereon, the Īśvarapratyabhijñāvṛtti (ĪPVṛ). This theory served to explain individual acts of misperception, and it was developed with the philosophy of the Buddhist epistemologists in mind. In a third phase, Utpaladeva developed in his Śivadṛṣṭivṛtti (ŚDVṛ) a second theory of error, one that involved the noncognition of non-duality (abhedākhyāti) and served to explain both the appearance and perception of multiplicity, despite the strict monism to which all Pratyabhijñā authors subscribe. Abhinavagupta’s treatment of error, then, is significant not only because it was meant to explain all the various theories of error offered by opposing philosophical schools, as Rastogi has shown, but more importantly because it synthesized the thinking of his predecessors on the matter in a single, elegant account of error.