Pratyabhijna (Sanskrit: प्रत्यभिज्ञा, romanizedpratyabhijñā, lit. 're-cognition') is an idealistic monistic and theistic school of philosophy in Kashmir Shaivism, originating in the 9th century CE. The term Trika was used by Abhinavagupta to represent the entire Kashmir Shaivism or to designate the Pratyabhijna system.[1]

The name of the system is derived from its most famous work, Īśvara-pratyabhijñā-kārikā by Utpaladeva.[2]:254 Etymologically, Pratyabhijna is formed from prati- ("re-") + abhi (preposition meaning "closely") + *jñā ("to know"). So, the meaning is direct knowledge of one's self, "recognition".[3]:117

The central thesis of this philosophy is that everything is Śiva, absolute consciousness, and it is possible to re-cognize this fundamental reality and be freed from limitations, identified with Śiva and immersed in bliss.[4] Thus, the slave (paśu - the human condition) shakes off the fetters (paśa) and becomes the master (pati - the divine condition).[2]:254

Masters and texts

The Pratyabhijna system had a period of intense development between the 9th and the 11th centuries,[5]:409 with a lineage of masters and disciples who wrote treatises and mystical poetry.

The founder of the Pratyabhijna school was Somananda (875–925 CE).[6] His work Śivadṛṣṭi is the basis of the system.[3]:3 He was followed by his son and disciple, Utpaladeva (900–950 CE),[7] who wrote the most important treatise of the system, Īśvara pratyabhijñā kārikā.[3]:3[2]:254 Expanding on the ideas of his father, the Īśvara-pratyabhijñā-kārikā is a philosophical treaty discussing the fundamental doctrine of the school and comparing it with various rival schools, analyzing the differences and refuting them, in the style of Buddhist logic. The name of the school is derived from the title of this work, and even more, in the rest of India, sometimes, the whole Kashmiri Shaivite philosophy was referred to by the name of Pratyabhijñā Shastra.

Another important master of this school is Abhinavagupta, who carried out a synthesis between various schools of Kashmir Shaivism in his magnum opus, Tantrāloka.[3]:3 Abhinavagupta also wrote two commentaries on Īśvara-pratyabhijñā-kārikā.[8][7] The disciple of Abhinavagupta, Kshemaraja wrote a digest of the Pratyabhijna philosophy called Pratyabhijñā-hṛdaya[3]:3[5]:305 – "The Essence of Re-cognition", which is the most popular introduction to the system.[citation needed]