Volume XII:2 July - December 2022
The Risen Christ by Jyoti Sahi
The Risen Christ by Jyoti Sahi

As a Flash of Lightning

As when lightning has flashed – Aah! – and made us blink – Aah!”[1]. The unique beauty of the Upaniṣad is to communicate spiritual experience to us in its purest form. Long before the scholarly treatises expounded on the Awakening and its modalities, the words of the ancient sages led back to the original outpouring of light: the glare of a flash of lightning that in a second tears open the interior heavens, the cry of a human being who from now on sees everything in an unimagined clarity. We could speak here of a primordial poetic magma, remembering that the very etymology of poetry is poiein in the Greek: to create, to bring out a newness that is absolute. Even more powerful is the Sanskrit term kavi which designates the poet, that is to say literally the seer, the one who “knows the mystery of the past, the present and the future”[2] – qualities that ultimately are those of the Absolute: “kaviṃ purāṇaṃ anuśāsitāraṃ,”“the Poet, the most Ancient One, the Controller.”[3] 

The Upaniṣad brought a climax to the fascination with the light that inhabited the ṛṣi,the seers of the Vedic era. But whereas their elders fixed the splendour of the sun in its glorious rising, the later masters set out in a search for the interior sun, the supreme witness that shines motionless at the depths of the heart. They allowed themselves to be filled with a longing for the light whose sovereign freedom is the very symbol of the infinite consciousness which in the Awakening no longer knows any obstacle to its flight into the immaculate azure. Moreover, the sages of the Upaniṣad ascended once again the pathway of the cosmic manifestation to rediscover the luminous dark source, the place where they disappeared forever, engulfed in the mystery.

The inner dazzling

It took courage and ardour for the ascetics to undertake the pilgrimage towards the guhā, the “secret cave of the heart,” “the utmost height.”[4] Above all, they had to be chosen by the Absolute because the Ātman, the Self, the inner principle that is sought, “cannot be won by speaking, not by intelligence or much learning. It can be won by the one whom It chooses. To him the Ātman reveals its own form”[5].

Faced with the enigma of the world, the sages chose the most unexpected way to identify the source of the light, by first immersing themselves in the darkened fabric of the world by going back against all the evidence. But once they were able to tear aside its dense texture of ignorance (avidyā),they reached a greater darkness – that of the infinite mystery that fills the cave of the heart: “Those who worship ignorance enter into blind darkness: those who delight in knowledge (vidyā) enter into greater darkness.”[6] Surrounded on all sides by vertiginous paradoxes through which they later expressed their upaniṣad, they understood that “the gods seems to love the mysterious, and hate the obvious.”[7] This, so to speak, was the inner ritual of their mystical initiation up to the moment where the Awakening burst forth in all is brilliance, to “lead them from the unreal to the real, from darkness lead to light, from death to immortality”[8] allowing them to discover in an instant of eternity that “ahaṃ brahmāsmi,”[9] “I am Brahman,” the very mystery of the cosmos manifested as the innermost mystery of the human being.

“Seeing above darkness the highest light, seeing, each for himself, the highest, we have reached the sun, the god among gods, the highest light – the highest light”[10] sings the Chāndogya Upaniṣad, taking up on a deeper level the jubilation of the seers of the Ṛg Veda.[11] Every night can then fade in front of the sun that will shine forever in the depths of the heart: “When it has risen above, it will not rise and will not set, but will rest, solitary, in the middle [...] It does not rise and set for him: it is always daytime for the one who knows the mystery of Brahman[12].

It is in these terms so simple yet of an inexhaustible richness that the ancient Upaniṣad, still very close to the overwhelming spiritual experience of the sages, describe the experience of the Awakening to the divine light which, obtained in a flash as brief as lightning, frees the human being from all binding and conditioning. This is the supreme gift that no spiritual technique can obtain and that gives the world in its original glory back to the seer when he comprehends from the depths of his being that “all this, everything that moves on the earth should be covered by the Lord.”[13] As Henri Le Saux-Swāmi Abhishiktānanda (1910-1973) who devoted his life to examining the jewels of Hindu mysticism wrote: “The Upanishadic seer is much less the man who ‘knows this or that’, than the man who ‘knows thus (evam)’, as the Upaniṣad constantly reiterate, calling him evamvid. It is like a new knowing, a new way of looking at things, at the world, a new illumination which makes one perceive everything quite differently. It is essentially a matter of passing on an experience of oneself, which does not convey any new information, so to speak, but which is much more an awakening to an unsuspected depth in oneself, an awakening to oneself, to things, to the mystery which, when projected, is called God.”[14] 

Awakening, the term that governed the wonder of the Veda before the splendour of the cosmos is launched at a new depth to designate a mystical knowledge, a definitive enlightenment. A blinding vision of the Absolute identified with a light which, in its glory, is the very fabric of the world, the secret engraved at the foundation of everything: “tameva bhāntamanubhāti sarvaṃ tasya bhāsā sarvamidaṃ vibhāti,”“The sun does not shine there, nor the moon and stars. Lightning does not shine there, let alone fire. When It shines, everything shines with its light and everything is a reflection of its splendour.”[15]

Already, the Īśa Upaniṣad affirmed that the dearest wish of the man preparing himself to leave his body was to enter into the light which at the moment of death he discovers to be his own mystery: “The face of truth is concealed by a golden vessel. Reveal it, Pūṣan, to my sight, which has truth as its dharma. Pūṣan, Ekarṣi, Yama, Sūrya, son of Prajāpati, draw apart your rays and draw them together. I see the light that is your most beautiful form. That very person (puruṣa) – I am he.”[16] But for those who in the Awakening have reached “the further shore beyond darkness,”[17] death is definitively dead in this present life and the final liberation (mokṣa) is already obtained in this carnal condition of which all limitations are finally transcended: “That serene being which, after having risen from out of this earthly body, and having reached the highest light, appears in its true form. ‘That is the Self,’ thus he spoke. This is the immortal, the fearless, this is Brahman. The name of Brahman is ‘truth’.”[18] The seer understands clearly then that “sarvaṃ Brahman,” “everything is Brahman”: everything is plenitude, spaciousness, light, an ocean of glory. Free from all ignorance, his being no longer presents any obstacle to the experience of fullness that the recognition of the Ātman or Brahman at the heart of everything obtains for him: “Seeing this, thinking this, knowing this – taking pleasure in the Ātman, playing in the Ātman, making love with the Ātman, delighting in the Ātman – one becomes one’s own ruler, and wins freedom to move in all worlds.”[19] Such is the fullness of light and freedom that India has sought with an unparalleled degree of fervour: “Om! That is full (pūrnam), this is full. Fullness comes forth from fullness. When fullness is taken from fullness, only fullness remains.”[20]

A good many centuries after the first ecstatic cries of the seers of the Upaniṣad, the Bhagavadgītā again took up, by drawing them together in an almost similar manner, the themes of light, of the journey beyond death and of the inner liberation already in this present life: “When a man knows this, he goes beyond death. It is Brahman, without beginning, supreme: beyond what is and beyond what is not. It is invisible: It cannot be seen. It is far away, and It is close, It moves, and It does not move, It is inside everything, and It is outside of everything. It is One in all things; and It seems as if it were multiple. It carries all beings: destruction comes from It, and creation also comes from It. It is the Light of all lights that shines beyond the darkness. It is the vision and the end of the vision that is achieved by the vision – which remains at the heart of all things.”[21] Testimony of the unique spiritual quest of an entire people continually launched towards the supreme place where “the sun shines not, nor the moon gives light, nor fire burns, for the Light of my glory is there. Those who reach that abode return no more.”[22]

Liberation in this life

Contemporary with the sages of the Upaniṣad, Siddhārta Gautama (563-483) is the most emblematic figure of the Awakening, the bodhi, to the extent of only being referred to as the Buddha: the Awakened. With him, the only state that the human being is authorised to desire appeared in full light in the darkness of the world, like the blooming of an immaculate lotus from the depths of a muddy pool. However, the Buddha never defined the reality of nirvāṇa. He only stated four noble truths: the reality of the painful impermanence of all things (duḥkha),its cause, the possibility of its cessation, and the eightfold path that leads to it. A major event in the history of humanity, the Awakening of Siddhārta Gautama has however notably shifted Indian thought towards a negative connotation of the world from which it is now necessary to escape in order to obtain liberation from the endless cycle of births (saṃsāra). Here the primordial optimism of the Vedas, for which the human being could receive no greater blessing than to “live a hundred autumns”[23] before leaving to join his fathers, seemed to be lost. Parallel to the rise of Buddhist thought which drew Hinduism in new directions, the key term mokṣa, deliverance, underwent a significant evolution. From one of the four puruṣārtha – the values that fulfil a human life in a completely happy way – mokṣa has definitively supplanted dharma, artha and kāma[24] to become almost the sole reality that is pursued. The final liberation from the saṃsāra and the attainment of the ultimate plenitude became then the horizon for all the paths that the many Hindu schools subsequently undertook. From the Sanskrit root muc meaning to untie, to release, to liberate, three derivatives were granted a considerable future: mokṣa, the desire for liberation, the quest for deliverance; mukti, the achievement of this objective and mukta which designates the one who is established in such a state. Fruit as much of the enlightenments of the Upaniṣad as of the destiny of the Buddha, the ideal of jīvan-mukti – the deliverance (mokṣa) obtained in this very life, unlike the videha-mukti which is granted only after bodily death – has set itself as the peak of all spiritual realisation, the vanishing point towards which every mumukṣu tends – literally the one who aspires to the final liberation.

Śaṅkara (788-820) is the thinker within Hinduism who deployed the theme of jīvan-mukti with a rare intensity, an immense figure whose influence extends right up to the present day. Admittedly, many of his detractors denounced him for showing over much influence from Buddhism that he nevertheless fought against. It is obvious, for example, that like the disciples of the Awakened One, his teaching was aimed at liberation of self from the illusory world to enter the definitive light. Whilst Buddhists in a radical manner weaned the human being away from any permanent support with their central doctrine of anātman, the non-self, Śaṅkara nevertheless assigned the final word to the plenitude of Brahman: “Anyone who knows Brahman becomes Brahman.”[25] Beyond all the mythological accretions with which tradition adorned his life and all the later treatises that were generously attributed to him, Śaṅkara’sprincipal contribution was to re-establish Vedic Orthodoxy, commenting not on the four ancient Vedas but on the three sets (prasthānatrayī) of the more recent texts: the Upaniṣad, the Bhagavadgītā and the Brahmasūtra.[26] In general, he stuck to it word for word to elucidate the difficulties of comprehension but for some passages, he proposed new interpretations upon which the school of advaita vedānta was founded, based on a radical reading of the statement “ahaṃ brahmāsmi,”[27] “I am Brahman.” For Śaṅkara, the spiritual fulfilment which the Scriptures witness was the jīvan-mukta,the one who in this current life has realised his strict non-duality with the Absolute and who is therefore delivered from all fear – this being the most undeniable outer sign of his inner liberation: “O Janaka, you have certainly attained Brahman that is fearlessness.”[28] The Ekaślokī, attributed to Śaṅkara, summarised in a single Sanskrit verse the doctrine of the advaita vedānta and its mystical journey:

Teacher: What is the light for you?

Student: For me, sun is the light in the day, and lamps in the night.

Teacher: All right, tell me what is the light that makes you see the sun and the lamps?

Student: Eyes.

Teacher: What is the light when you close your eyes?

Student: Intellect.

Teacher: What is the light for you to perceive the intellect?

Student: It is me.

Teacher: Thus, you are the Ultimate Light.

Student: Yes, Lord, I am That.[29]

Śaṅkara’s masterpiece is the Bhāṣya, his commentary on the Brahmasūtra offering new clarifications for the interpretation of the Upaniṣad. In the fourth and closing section of the book, the fulfilment of jīvan-mukti is widely present. It is based mainly on an elucidation of the famous passage “eṣa samprasādo” from the Chāndogya Upaniṣad: “That serene being which, after having risen from out of this earthly body, and having reached the highest light, appears in its true form. ‘That is the Self,’ thus he spoke. This is the immortal, the fearless, this is Brahman.”[30] Śaṅkara writes: “The soul than attains liberation (mukta) [...] becomes free form its erstwhile bondage and continues as the pure Self”[31]. It is above all the final lines of the Bhāṣya that make the ideal of jīvan-mukti ring out most powerfully in the light of the ultimate brahmasūtra,[32] taking up the final declaration of the Chāndogya Upaniṣad, na ca punar āvartate na ca punar āvartate,” “there is no return, yes, there is no return!”[33].

For such Upanishadic passages as, “Going up through that nerve one gets immortality,”[34] “They no more return to this world,”[35] “Those who proceed along this path of the gods do not return to this human cycle of birth and death,”[36] “He reaches the world of Brahman and does not return under here.”[37] [...] Non-return stands as an accomplished fact for those from whom the darkness of ignorance has been completely removed as a result of their full illumination and who therefore cling to that liberation as their highest goal which exists ever as an already established fact. The non-return of those who take refuge in the qualified Brahman becomes a fact only because they too have that unconditioned Brahman[38] as their ultimate resort. The repetition of the sūtra, “There is no return on the strength of the Upanishadic declaration,” shows that the scripture ends here.[39]

Śaṅkara’sfollowers brought scholastic refinements tothe advaita vedānta by resounding the mahāvākyāni, the four great statements from the Upaniṣad:“aham brahmāsmi,” “I am Brahman”;[40]tat tvam asi,” “you are that”;[41]ayam ātmā Brahma,” “this ātman is Brahman[42] and “prajñānam Brahma,” “consciousness is Brahman.”[43] Among the later treatises attributed to the Master, the Vivekacūḍāmaṇi took up the figure of jīvan-mukta, but it reserved this ideal for the lone renunciant, the sannyāsin – as in the original Buddhism, only the monk (bhikṣu) was able to claim the state of arhat. As one late Upaniṣad puts it: “The mystery of Glory and immortality, raised to the highest heavens, hidden in the secret of the heart, where only those who have renounced everything can penetrate.”[44] A truly spiritual guide, the Vivekacūḍāmaṇi assigns to the renunciant journeying towards the Awakening the necessary quality of being a mumukṣu, that is to say a being totally desiring the mokṣa. A splendid paradox of the only permitted desire because “the stopping of desire is what is called freedom even in this life itself – jīvan-mukti.”[45] This is followed by the description of the brahmavidyā, the knowledge of Brahman possessed by the living liberated being, who having removed the veil of the māyā,the cosmic illusion that covers everything, contemplates only the light of the Eternal: “He who knows no difference between the world and Brahman in his real consciousness – he is a jīvan-mukta, free even in this life.”[46]

The whole treatise then sings over and over of the greatness of the being who has realized in mystical knowing (jñāna) his non-dual unity with the Absolute: “In the consciousness of Brahman, staying there forever, free from external desires, enjoying the blessedness unknown by others, seeing this world as in his dream, and yet full in established understanding – surely he is the enjoyer of endless merits. He is blessed indeed. He is to be followed in this world.”[47] Peace and the absence of fear attest to his Awakening: “Those ascetics and great souls whose desires have been fully fulfilled, who have become full of peace, who have made themselves fully controlled, knowing the Supreme Truth and uniting themselves with That, attain this blissful state of freedom.”[48] The Vivekacūḍāmaṇi dared to push the paradox to the point of asserting that the jīvan-mukta, living by the absolute freedom of Brahman, can choose to remain invisible to the eyes of the world that is incapable of recognising his grandeur: “Sometimes he appears like a fool, sometimes like a wise man, sometimes as a king – full of possessions – sometimes as an ignorant man, sometimes quiet, sometimes in that great snake that attracts with its mesmeric power, sometimes like a worthy man very much respected, sometimes in servitude, sometimes unknown – the wise one wanders thus, always delighted in the Bliss Supreme.”[49]

Whatever the external conditions in which his bodily life now unfolds, the living liberated one is permanently established in samadhī, the state of equanimity of his spirit that is immersed in the beatitude of Brahman. His consciousness has expanded to become the very consciousness of the Brahman which fills the universe and contemplates its glory in all things: “Samadhī comes to him alone who is full of the spirit of renunciation. Those who practice samadhī become established in the understanding of Brahman, and from that established understanding comes the freedom from all bondages. One who becomes free from all bondages feels eternal Bliss.”[50] These quotations from the Vivekacūḍāmaṇi have the merit of reminding us that in the eyes of Śaṅkara up until his most recent commentators, the advaita vedānta, beyond its speculative austerity, is the testimony to the spiritual experience of jīvan-mukti,the final horizon that illuminates all of the Scriptures and the realisation of what in truth we have always been. Indeed, it is because he is plunged into ignorance (avidyā) that the human being lives like a sleepwalker, always passing his deepest identity by. To awaken him, he will require the compassion of the jīvan-mukta, some later evolutions of which will affirm that like the bodhisattva of Buddhist wisdom, his bountiful help will never fail humanity until all attain the nitya-mukti, the final and total deliverance where no one will be left in the shadows of the illusory world.

Vidyāraṇya (1297-1386), twelfth pontiff of Sringeri (one of the four monasteries that Śaṅkara had founded to perpetuate his teaching), is the author of the Jīvan-mukti-viveka.[51] In this classic work of the Vedānta offering an overview of the spiritual ideal of jīvan-mukti, the author has been particularly interested in how the living being who is liberated continues to exist in his body in the midst of worldly activities, without producing any karmic acts that will lead to a new birth. In what is above all a work of anthology, Vidyāraṇya has made some sparkling quotations from the tradition available to his readers, such as this one from the Laghu Yogavāsiṣṭha: “The jīvan-mukta is he who does not frighten the world, nor is he afraid of the world; he is free from joy, anger and fear as well.”[52] More recently, Swāmi Nikhilānanda (1895-1973), monk from the Ramakrishna Mission, described in a very beautiful synthesis, the form of spiritual fulfilment in Vedantic wisdom:

A jīvan-mukta demonstrates by his life and action, the reality of Brahman and the illusoriness of the names and forms (nāmarūpa) of the relative world. Having himself crossed the ocean of birth and death, he helps others to the shore of Immortality. [...] Completely free from the illusory notion of the physical individuality he is aware of his identity with all beings. He is conscious that he feels through all hearts, walks with all feet, eats through all mouths, and thinks with all minds. He regards the pain and pleasure of others as his own pain and pleasure. Physical death and birth have no meaning for him, a change of body being to him like a change of garments or like going from one room to another. [...] He does not have to come back to the world of darkness again; for he has entered into the world of Light. If compassion for mankind moves him to assume again a body, he is born as a free soul always conscious of his divine nature.[53]

The light of the Tantra

Whilst the Vedānta, also known as Uttara Mīmāṃsā, was being elaborated with Bādarāyaṇa to whom the Brahmasūtra are attributed, and then by Gauḍapādain the sixth century and Śaṅkara in the seventh century, another movement was appearing in an India that was experiencing the same spiritual simmering as during the time of the Upaniṣadand the Buddha. Re-assuming the ascetic heritage of theśramana, the ancient ascetics who were the first to be attentive to the importance of breath in human existence, new thinkers craving for spiritual experience were paying greater attention to the states of consciousness – especially to the inner equanimity of the samadhī. This led them to develop techniques of recollection, better known under the generic name of yoga. To their eyes, here was to be found the royal path of union with the Absolute, surpassing in its spiritual effectiveness the Vedic ritual (yajña)or the purely speculative knowledge (jñāna): “High as a mountain a thousand leagues long, sinfulness accumulated throughout life! Only the practice of meditation can destroy it: there is no other way.” [54] The corpus of the Upaniṣad was then enriched by a new series of texts called “Yoga Upaniṣad” in which the ideal of the jīvan-mukta shines out in all its glory as the culmination of the sādhanā,the spiritual exercise of the yogin

When he manages to practice the meditation described as ‘non-qualified’, the adept will in twelve days achieve this supreme goal of yoga, the final enstasis. He is, therefore, one who is liberated in this life thanks to his ability to hold his breath as long as he wishes and the fact that his individual soul has been able to unite with the universal Soul. He can thus, if he so desires, abandon his body and rest forever in the womb of the supreme Brahman, or, on the other hand, preserve his bodily integrity; he can, if he so desires, travel the worlds thanks to his powers such as the ability to move around at will; he can become God, if he wants to and enjoy the pleasures of Heaven, or transform himself at will into man, animal or genie, become a lion, a tiger, an elephant, a horse, or even attain the status of Supreme Lord! These different metamorphoses are only a matter of differing practices, the ultimate goal remains the same which is to reach the state of absolute aloneness.[55]

Apart from the increasingly refined description of the techniques for breath retention and bodily postures, as well as the wondrous powers (siddhi) acquired by the yogin, these new trends developed an astonishing symbolic vision of the body – a true microcosm of the universe and a vessel for the Absolute – centred around seven centres (cakra) which from the base of the spine up to the top of the skull which with the help of three nerve channels (nāḍī), offer a path of light for the ascent of the kuṇḍalinī, the primordial energy, the ancient serpent that is coiled within the depths of the human being. When the kuṇḍalinī is “awakened through appropriate practises,” it “brings the yogin to the state of liberation by uniting the individualised energy and consciousness with the universal consciousness.”[56] Then, as the Yogakuṇḍalinī Upaniṣad affirms,“cleansed of all defilement, delivered from the state of bewilderment where it is retained by its captive condition, the subtle body shines out: it is made of pure consciousness, it is the very essence of the person, since it is none other than the universal Soul that is present in all beings!”[57]

As a result of new intuitions on the path of spiritual liberation, the Tantric currents transfigured Hinduism and Buddhism from the fifth to seventh centuries. The etymology of the term ‘tantra’ brings together two Sanskrit roots: tan designating the fabric, the expansion and tra the liberation. By addressing not only the sannyāsin but also “the whole of mankind without restriction of race, caste, sex or creed,”[58] this sophisticated esoteric pathway wanted to discover the fabric of reality through an expansion of the human consciousness into the spaces of the Divine Consciousness which alone can provide the definitive liberation. Presenting themselves as teachings generally revealed by Śiva to the Goddess, the Śakti or divine energy, the Tantra were considered by their followers as “superior to the Veda (and as its continuation), for they are more effective in leading humans towards liberation, leading them more rapidly and up to higher spiritual plane than the Veda-based teachings. They also claim to be better adapted to the needs of beings living in the present dark cosmic age (kaliyuga), where desire or passion (kāma) prevails.”[59]

If the tantric currents spread throughout India, it is probably in Kashmir between the 9th and 10th centuries that they found their mystical and speculative climax, particularly with Abhinavagupta (950-1020), by re-orchestrating, into a powerful synthesis, the traditional themes of light, consciousness and freedom of which Śiva-Bhairava – the ultimate reality – is the absolute plenitude: “The innermost light of illumination, the manifestation of the unique Lord, pure Consciousness, is worshipped in the limited form of a wave of Consciousness, the wheel of beneficial energies.”[60] This light, which is the Infinite Consciousness of Śiva, continually gives itself freely in its divine shining (prakāśa) which the whole worldly reality reflects (vimarśa): “Bhairava, the Light, is self-evident; without beginning, He is the first and last of all things, the Eternal Present. And so what else can be said of Him? The unfolding of the categories of existence (tattva) and creation, which are the expansion of His own Self, He illumines, luminous with his own Light, in identity with Himself, and because He illumines Himself, so too He reflects on his own nature, without his wonder (camatkāra) being in any way diminished.”[61]

Since the supreme reality is the Consciousness of Śiva-Bhairava, the whole path of inner liberation will consist for the human being to return to the splendour of the One, plunging his limited consciousness (cittapralaya) into the infinite Consciousness. The Vijñāna Bhairava states here that “if one contemplates simultaneously that one’s entire body and the universe consists of nothing but Consciousness, then the mind becomes free from thoughts and the supreme Awakening occurs.”[62] As Lilian Silburn (1908-1993) wrote commenting on this famous tantric treatise, in “the illuminating splendour” of this state of liberation where “the Self perpetually blazes,” “the illumined thought fades away completely in the face of the indestructible Light (citprakāśa)whilst the internalised cosmos identifies itself with the absolute, Paramaśiva.”[63] This is a return to our deepest nature that we have never in fact left, even if it had been covered by different impurities (mala) due to spiritual ignorance: “Liberation is in fact nothing other than the revelation of our own nature, which, in turn is simply the full awareness of our own self and nothing else.”[64] “The yogin, resting even for an instant is this ocean of consciousness, intent on devouring time, becomes instantly a ‘Wanderer in the Sky’ (khecara) and is liberated”;[65] Abhinavagupta says that such a being has “devoured time” because “in this very moment, [...] in the present, actual moment, when the mystical experience is realised,” the “past and future are found to be excluded. But then in turn, the present moment in its turn is also rejected since it depends upon the other two. As a consequence, we overcome the present moment and enter into the eternal which is liberated from temporal duration.”[66]

Lilian Silburn notes here that the surest sign for recognising an awakened being who is totally established in the Supreme Consciousness is “the wonder that he experiences”: “The most ordinary things appear extraordinary to the yogin who is contemplating them in their essence. A simple touch of Consciousness is enough for a sound or a colour to appear to him as divine. The entire body, the things perceived, being impregnated with pure consciousness, are transfigured. So, the spontaneous bliss engendered in this way is new at every moment.”[67] Having acquired the absolute freedom of the divine Consciousness, the yogin “dives into [an] ocean of immortality” and, “flooded by the waves of nectar”[68], he becomes even in his flesh fully permeable to the divine energy: “He walks at will in the Self, for everywhere he finds only the Self or Bhairava. He absorbs himself so deeply into the free Bhairava that he identifies with Him”.[69] But all of this is the work of the sudden and extremely intense descent of the divine energy (śaktipāta) – a grace that is not the result of any technique, but which generally relies on the mediation of the guru, who is so important in the Tantric traditions. At this moment where the Self is revealed in a blazing manner, the ecstasy of the fifth śivasūtra is fully experienced: “udyamo bhairava,”[70] “the upsurge of Bhairava.”

It is indeed the journey of the human being towards jīvan-mukti that the tantric traditions of Kashmir from Vasugupta to Kṣemarāja have described with an unequalled detail and refinement, making their works one of the pinnacles of Indian thought. The jīvan-mukta ideal which emerged in the first Upaniṣad and was later thematised by Śaṅkara and his successors, found a remarkable centrality within Tantrism: “jīvann api vimukto ‘sau kurvann api ca ceṣṭitam,” “he is liberated although he still remains in this life and although he indulges in ordinary activities,”[71] declares the one hundred and forty-second verse of the Vijñāna Bhairava that Lilian Silburn commented upon thus: The human being freed from his bonds while he still lives (jīvan-mukta)retains his vital principle whilst having permanently recognised his own identity with the Ultimate Consciousness. His body remains perceptible; he experiences pleasant or painful feelings, and he performs his daily tasks.” [72] Of this being that “strictly speaking one cannot [...] designate by the term ‘liberated’(mukta) since it contents itself with regaining consciousness of its inalienable freedom that can neither be lost nor found,”[73] it will be said that it is the mahāmṛtyuñjaya,the “supreme conqueror of death.”[74] It is also the one who has definitively overcome all fear, like Bhairava of whom the maṅgalasūtra of the commentary that Kṣemarāja made of the Vijñāna Bhairava praises: “Glorious is the Supreme whose nature is Consciousness who bestows fearlessness to the fearful and hence is the cause of the overcoming of fear of those afflicted by worldly existence, who is revealed in the innermost abode of the heart, the Lord of the fearful, the Ender of Death, who removes fear, along with his own Energy, Lord Bhairava, who fills the whole Universe.” Finally, when he re-opens his eyes,[75] the jīvan-mukta contemplates the universe emerging from the absolute Consciousness – that is to say, from his own consciousness in total non-duality: “everything that he perceives, the world and his body, forms his own person that has become universal because he is no longer restricted by dependence on his individual body. [...] In the absence of the division between subject and object, the yogin cannot distinguish what belongs to him in his own right from what belongs to the universe: the whole world is the Self; and the Self is the whole world. Indeed, for him a single undifferentiated energy fills them both. Such is the expansion of the inner glory.”[76]

We can only bow before the grandeur of such an experience that India bears witness to through so many mystical treatises and even more through those whom over the ages she has considered as jīvan-mukta. The splendid horizon of her spiritual quest where “words break down, the mind swirls made frantic by the great light that everywhere surrounds and absorbs it in a flash...”[77] If this mystical fulfilment may seem inaccessible to us, it nevertheless radiates a light that we can already recognise (pratyabhijñā) as being that which shines at the very depths of our hearts.

The first born from the dead

For a disciple of Christ, how could the Indian visions of the jīvan-mukta not find a powerful echo in the Risen One, totally freed from the bonds of death and living forevermore since his awakening on Easter morning? For certain, the Christian faith confesses that Christ died and then rose again, he is the “first born from the dead” (Col 1:18), the one who by his death destroyed death forever. Here, a Hindu could easily consider the resurrection of Christ as a case of videha-mukti,a liberation after death, a lower stage compared with the jīvan-mukti. However, instead of making hasty comparisons that lead to erroneous judgments about one tradition or the other, could we not take time to allow them to mutually enlighten each other, so that new and hitherto unsuspected perspectives might appear for each of them? It is remarkable to see the Greek verbs egerein,“to awaken” and apoluein “to untie” that are used in the New Testament to evoke the resurrection, appear in a dramatic light on the horizon of the jīvan-mukta. The resurrection, whose “time and hour” were known only to the “blessed night” that saw “the victorious Christ rising from the underworld”[78] is an event hidden within the secret of God that the Scriptures evoke with the brilliance of “the lightning that flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other” (Luke 17:24). The liturgy in the great office of the Easter Vigil, represents it as an explosion of imperishable light that expands throughout the world to the very depths of the human heart: “For it is God who said: ‘let light shine out of darkness’ who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Cor 4, 6). The evangelists describe the Risen One manifesting himself (ōphtē[79]) to his disciples in the sovereign freedom of his glorious body freed from the laws of space and time: “Constituted in the fullest dignity of his sonship, Christ has done with servitude. The flesh, that mark of slavery imprinted upon Christ on earth which made it possible for his divine liberty to be fettered, has been destroyed.”[80] The Paschal greeting “Peace be with you” (John 20:19) reveals a being who has gone beyond all fear and penetrated into the “new creation” (2 Cor 5:17), a transfigured world that has regained its original beauty in the glorious body of Jesus: “The Risen One is the irruption and the first representative of the future world; it is an eschatological reality that ‘touches’ this world and is verifiable in its effects; it is a reality and a story, but not in the manner of a worldly story linked to time and mortality.”[81]

Moreover, faced with the penetrating developments about the consciousness of jīvan-mukta, we can venture to ask ourselves how the Risen One apprehended the world, what new perceptions inhabited him – he who now contemplated everything from the “further shore” (John 6:25) to which he had acceded, plunging time into eternity. The Christian Scriptures here have a confusing sobriety that easily gives rise to the disturbing fable from the poet Jean Grosjean[82] of a Messiah disconcerted before his apostles who were so mired in the old world that they had not the slightest idea of the kingdom of light in which their Master was now moving. Moreover, the terror grips us facing the fact that in a certain sense, the Resurrection remains the great unthought of Christian theology, or at the very least it has been “relegated to the second rank,”[83] being the subject of only three of the five hundred and twelve questions in Saint Thomas Aquinas’s Summae Theologiae.[84]

There is however a promising vein that we can follow from Saint Paul to Teilhard de Chardin, the one who was granted his wish to die on Easter Day. Amongst those who over the ages have meditated on the Resurrection, we find furthermore the Redemptorist François-Xavier Durrwell (1912-2005) who re-captured the whole centrality of the great mystery of the Christian faith by receiving remarkable spiritual intuitions that allowed him to take up anew the legacy of the Fathers, in particular Irenaeus of Lyon. In August 1939, Durrwell understood that the Resurrection is the complete outpouring of the Holy Spirit into the man Jesus offered to his Father on the Cross. He then realised that death and resurrection for Christ meant the end of life according to the flesh and entry into the life of the Spirit. Moreover, through his Paschal Mystery, Christ has become a source of salvation for those who come to drink of the Spirit that flows from his pierced side and enter into communion with him, even beyond the institutional boundaries of the Church.[85] To hear now these too rare theologians of the Resurrection, after having been taught by the thinkers of the jīvan-mukti, will certainly be of great benefit in the rich change of spiritual scenery that the meeting between the Hindu and Christian traditions will bring about. 

The Resurrection of Christ is nowadays the subject of a serious misunderstanding in the Christian consciousness. Most of the time, mortal biological life – bios in Greek – is confused with the eternal life of the Spirit, the Trinitarian communion: zoē. Nevertheless, the Scriptures never use bios for the Resurrection because it is not a palingenesis but an access to a new existential dimension operated by the Spirit, the definitive entry into the divine life: “The resurrection appears as the anticipated form of the new existence that God will grant to all creation at the time of the final consummation. It therefore has nothing to do with a simple return to the biological life that existed before (as was the case for Lazarus, to whom his previous life was returned... but to die again). On the contrary, Jesus entered into the new life, the life that will never end, being the eternal life of God himself: ‘Christ, raised from the dead, will no longer die again; death no longer has dominion over him’ (Rom 6:9).”[86] In the Resurrection, human nature, eternally assumed by the Son, undergoes a qualitative transmutation: it is fully glorified by the Spirit and participates without any obstacle in the divine life (zoē)of the intra-Trinitarian relationships. This is the new existence of the Risen Christ, true God and true man: “The resurrection of Jesus is the supreme form of God’s closeness to the world, being the supreme form of the integration of a part of the world into the divine life. The risen Jesus is humanity assumed by God, redeemed from the power of death, immersed in the very life of God and become thus the salvation of the creation.”[87]

To speak here of God’s ultimate proximity to the world leads us to consider the newness that the Resurrection brought to human nature in relation to the Incarnation – a subtlety that few theologians have highlighted as acutely as Hilary of Poitiers did. In his De Trinitate, the holy bishop spoke of “offensio unitatis,” “offence to unity,” to characterise the consequences in Jesus of the assumption of the “forma servi.” The incarnate Son certainly still lives in the intra-Trinitarian relationships but under a kenotic mode that Hilary calls “vacuitatis dipensatio,” “the economy of being brought to annihilation.”[88] At the Resurrection, there was an unsurpassed newness in the full reintegration of the Son, with his glorified flesh, in the “forma Dei.” Human nature is now fully assumed into the Trinitarian relationships without the screen imposed by the “offensio unitatis”: “The newness brought by the economy had inflicted an offence on the unity and there could be no perfect unity, as it previously was, if the flesh assumed were not glorified by the Father.” [89] In the same vein, in his great work[90] François-Xavier Durrwell recalled a penetrating interpretation that Origen made of the promise of Jesus: “Let anyone who is thirsty, come to me and let the one who believes in me drink!” to which the evangelist adds: “According to the word of Scripture: ‘Out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water’”(John 7:37-38). By punctuating the text differently from the most commonly admitted version, Origen[91] asserted that it was not from the believer that the living water flowed but rather from the glorified bodily humanity of Christ that became the source of the Spirit – that “Spirit which believers were to receive; for as yet there was no Spirit, because Jesus had not yet been glorified” (John 7:39). Making the Risen Christ thus the source of the Spirit was consistent with Saint Paul’s statement, “The first man, Adam, became a living being the last Adam – Christ – became the spiritual being who gives life” (1 Cor 15:45): “Christ was not always this life-giving spirit, but ‘became’ so. He was the son of our common ancestor and moulded into his image, before becoming the principle of spiritual humanity.

To him also applied the law that ‘that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is psychic’ (1 Cor 15:47). The life-giving spirit, the ‘heavenly man’, as the Apostle also calls him, can be identified with the God-man only in as much as the divinity of Christ is consummated in the Resurrection. Ambrosiaster comments, ‘The second Adam became a living spirit through the Resurrection’.”[92] Through the gift of the Father at the Resurrection, Christ’s glorified human nature has been totally spiritualised: “Christ is spirit, reality, truth, it is he who gives history its meaning and its fulfilment, because he himself is wholly saturated by the Holy Spirit. He is so filled by him that he is transformed into his shining glory and his power of life and becomes in his turn a principle of life and of glory [...] Christ is so completely transformed by the Holy Spirit that everything in him is changed into spiritual reality.” [93] From now on, nothing of the glorified flesh of the Risen One will resist the grip of the Spirit, as revealed by Saint Paul’s impressive oxymoron “sōma pneumatikon,”“the spiritual body” (1 Cor 15:44). Thus, “seen from this angle, the Resurrection is the definitive outpouring of the Spirit in Jesus, which carries the Incarnation to that fullness in which the Word makes real the possibilities of the divine nature, reaching the extreme limit of what it can fulfil and be in the human being. At the same time, it is the fullness of human existence brought to the maximum possible participation in God. Thus, the fullness of God’s incarnation in humanity and the fullness of mankind’s participation in the life of God in the Spirit match each other in the Resurrection.”[94]

To evoke the glorified humanity of Jesus that reaches the summit of the glory possessed by the Son from all eternity, Scripture resorted to the moving psalm: “You are my Son, today I have begotten you” (Ps 2:7; cf. Acts 13:33), making the Resurrection a new and definitive birth following the eternal generation of the Son in the womb of the Father and of his temporal birth from the womb of Mary. The Epistle to the Colossians, in a declaration with the promise of a considerable theological destiny, affirmed that “in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily” (Col 2:9). But the “firstborn from the dead” (Col 1:18) is also the “firstborn of a multitude of brethren” (Rom 8:29) and what was accomplished once and for all in the glorified human nature of the Risen One has become a promise for the whole of the living: “The resurrection becomes the pivot of salvation: in it is realised the greatest possible conjugation between God and human being, and at the same time the definitive rooting of human being in God, through the integration of all human beings into the humanity of Jesus. Jesus is therefore salvation personified: he is the saved humanity, that is to say fulfilled, perfected, irreversibly present to God; and he is also salvific humanity, which is inclusive for all, shared by all.”[95] 

Few theologians have meditated with the vigour of Saint Irenaeus on the glorification of the flesh “capable of receiving and containing the power of God”[96] and on the promise that this flesh, which having received in fullness the anointing of the Spirit, has become for all mankind: “The light of the Father has burst forth in the flesh of our Lord, then shining from his flesh, it came into us, and so man attained incorruptibility, enveloped as he was by this light of the Father.”[97] In a fully Christian way that can contrast with other spiritual horizons, Irenaeus combined the two inseparable dimensions of the flesh and the Spirit. “Caro salutis est cardo,”[98] “the flesh is the pivot of salvation,” wrote Tertullian; “caro et Spiritus,” more precisely according to Irenaeus because “it is the Spirit of God who descended on [Jesus] – the Spirit of that very God who, through the prophets, had promised to confer on him the Anointing, so that, we ourselves receiving from the superabundance of this Anointing, may be saved.”[99] Thus the glorified flesh of Christ became “the pledge of our own resurrection,”[100] that is, perfect possession of our own flesh by the Spirit: “And this is why this Spirit descended on the Son of God who became the Son of Man: in this way, with him, the Spirit became accustomed to dwell in the human race, to rest on men, to reside in the work modelled by God; it realised in them the will of the Father and renewed them by making them pass from their decay to the newness of Christ.”[101]

In the final books of the Adversus Haereses, Irenaeus offered almost unsurpassable – and today unfortunately forgotten – developments on the gift of the incorruptibility that all flesh will receive through the mediation of the glorified flesh of the Resurrected. As always in his work, the great theologian did not try to offer subjective innovations but a more penetrating understanding of Scripture, in this case of the passage from Saint Paul: “For this corruptible body must put on incorruptibility and this mortal body must put on immortality. When this corruptible body puts on incorruptibility, and this mortal body puts on immortality, then the Scripture will be fulfilled: ‘Death has been swallowed up in victory’” (1 Cor 15:53-54). Whilst holding firmly onto the paradox of the flesh and the Spirit that is only resolved in the Resurrection, Irenaeus interpreted the Pauline passage as follows: “The weakness of the flesh will be absorbed by the power of the Spirit, and such a man will no longer be carnal, but spiritual, because of the communion of the Spirit. [...] For the weakness of the flesh, thus absorbed, brings forth the power of the Spirit; the Spirit, for its part absorbing weakness, receives in itself the flesh as an inheritance. And it is from these two things that living man is made: living thanks to the participation of the Spirit, man by the substance of the flesh.”[102] Commenting on the same Pauline quotation, he went on to describe how Christ, “the supreme conqueror of death,” will introduce humanity possessed by the Spirit into the new creation: “These words will be truly said when this mortal and corruptible flesh, facing death, crushed under the dominion of death, ascends to life and assumes incorruptibility and immortality: for it is then that death will truly be defeated, when this flesh, which was its prey, escapes its power. [...] But the transfiguration by which from being mortal and corruptible it becomes immortal and incorruptible, does not come from its own substance; this transfiguration comes from the action of the Lord, who has the power to bring immortality to what is mortal and incorruptibility to what is corruptible.”[103]

Irenaeus did not specify when this would be accomplished and whether this gift of incorruptibility would only take place after death. For him, it was important, against all the Gnostics who were removing the carnal dimension from the salvation of humankind, to recall that “neither the substance nor the matter of creation will be annihilated”[104] but that everything will be subjected to the power of the Spirit. The holy bishop of Lyon resounded a promise for all – the spiritualisation of the flesh and the gift of incorruptibility which are rooted in the Risen Christ, the one who is forever freed from the bonds of death and fully awakened in the light of the new creation. As he recalled again in the final amazing lines of Adversus Haereses: “There is in fact only one Son, who has fulfilled the will of the Father, and only one human race, in whom the mysteries of God are fulfilled. These mysteries, the angels aspire to contemplate them, but they cannot fully examine the Wisdom of God, by whose action the work fashioned by him is made consistent and concorporeal with the Son: for God willed that his Offspring, the firstborn Word, descend to the creation, that is to say, to the work modelled and be seized by it, and that the creature in turn might grasp the Word and ascend to Him, thus surpassing the angels and becoming the image and likeness of God.”[105] 

The pledge of the Resurrection

So far, the jīvan-mukta, “Wanderer in the Sky” (khecara) in a sovereign freedom, and the Risen One, streaming with light on Easter morning and promising spiritualisation to all flesh, seem not to have encountered each other in Hindu and Christian thought. The two traditions have been separated by too many abysses of ignorance to be able to live a fruitful emulation of sanctity of which we can perceive the whole potential enrichment at the end of this journey with each other. Some people whose lives have been conducted at the intersection of the two religious universes, have however anticipated the questions that were posed to their faith when confronted with the faith of the other. This is the case of Henri Le Saux who in the content of his letters or his personal diary, offers some stimulating reflections on the Resurrection.

On April 6, 1966, he wrote to Sister Thérèse de Jésus: “And it is there where I come to Easter! You no longer feel it, you say. But Easter, like all that has to do with time and history, belongs to the world of signs. [...] Easter is the awakening to Being in each moment; it is the attainment in every moment to the further shore. It is the entire cosmic mystery, creator, incarnator and redeemer that is contained in each Yes. [...] Each awakening to God, is it not a Passover? And is there any awakening to God where Christ might not be present? Christ is without doubt the climax of this presence; of his own Easter, the summit; of this awakening, the point of pure light from which all splendour flows and converges.”[106] An attentive reader of the Upaniṣad, Le Saux had perceived with great acuity the new insights that the mystical writings of Hinduism brought to the theological question of Christ consciousness. This theme became increasingly central to his thinking at the end of his life when he distanced himself from the so-called theology of fulfilment in Christ. However, the way in which he interpreted the divine “ego eimi” (the very characteristic“ I am” by which Christ referred to himself) brought him more towards the Shankarian non-duality (advaita) than the Trinitarian Revelation[107] – an almost inherent risk for those venture into unexplored lands.

In a final letter to Sister Thérèse, dated April 14, 1973, he wrote: “I will celebrate Easter, as so often, in total solitude. Beyond the symbolism of the Resurrection, there is the frightening discovery that there is no death, and indeed no birth. The ‘I’ is there, from all time and forever. An awakening that nullifies all the threats of death because it is an awakening at a level that transcends all becoming – that of which one can only simply say asti, ‘it is’.”[108] It would surely be of value to gather together all the notes that Le Saux made about Easter so that they help us to answer the stimulating question that the jīvan-mukti ideal poses for the Christian concerning the consciousness of the Risen Christ, as long as we are able to stammer something about a reality that will always remain largely hidden to us. Such an emulation would without doubt have the merit of revitalising the theology of the Resurrection so that the great mystery of the Christian faith might regain its centrality not only in the thinking but above all in the life of the disciples of Jesus.         

Another question is worthy of being briefly raised: that of the pledge of the Resurrection, or in other words, the presence of the “new creation” in the world in which we live today. During the first Easter vigil that he celebrated as Pope, Benedict XVI declared that the Resurrection “is – if we can for once use the language of the theory of evolution – the greatest ‘mutation’, the absolutely most decisive leap into a totally new dimension that has ever happened in the long history of life and its developments: a leap of a completely new order, which concerns us and which concerns the whole of history. [...] The Resurrection was like an explosion of light, an explosion of love, which untied the hitherto indissoluble bond of ‘die and become.’ It inaugurated a new dimension of being, of life, in which matter has also been integrated, in a transformed way, and through which a new world arises. [...] It is a qualitative leap in the history of evolution and of life in general, towards a new future life, towards a new world which, starting from Christ, already continually penetrates our world, transforms it and attracts it to Him.”[109]

To quote a parable from the Gospel (Mt 13:31-32), the Resurrection is like a tiny mustard seed embedded in the field of the world and sufficiently invisible to our own eyes that we may doubt its reality or its action. However, the grain grows patiently until the day when it will have become a tree capable of sheltering all the birds of the world: the creation recapitulated in the Pleroma of Christ. The Eucharist celebrated “donec veniat,” until the Parousia of Christ, is the anticipation here on earth of this final fulfilment. It is “a meal of the end of time, taken with the risen Christ in whom is the end of the world,”[110] it “is both a pasch already present, and a parasceve, a vigil of the feast. It is adapted to our interlude between two eras, a parousia which exists alongside our carnal state and at the same time a presence which looks forward with longing, a food which increases the hunger it satisfies.”[111] 

However, the Eucharist is not only an anticipation but it is also a realisation: that of the glorious body of the Risen Christ which in faith, manifests itself in this matter that is fully porous to the Spirit and fully assumed into the Trinitarian communion for which the Eucharist is already named. In the “transformed host” which “is the anticipation of the transformation of matter and its deification into the Christological ‘fullness’,”[112] the Resurrection is given to be contemplated – not just that of Christ but also our own resurrection when our flesh will be fully spiritualised. Jules Monchanin (1895-1957) here likened “the Parousia” to “a cosmic transubstantiation, the universe being fully the Body of the Risen One – and our bodies as incorporated into his Body, participating in the universe transubstantiated in Him.”[113] Thus the Eucharist is the promise of our incorruptibility, as Irenaeus of Lyon rightly saw it: “How can they still say that the flesh goes to corruption and has no part in life, while it is nourished by the body of the Lord and his blood? So let them change their way of thinking, or refrain from offering what we have just said! For us, our way of thinking is in tune with the Eucharist, and the Eucharist in return confirms our way of thinking. For we offer him what is his, proclaiming in a harmonious way the communion and the union of the flesh and the Spirit: for just as the bread that comes from the earth, after having received the invocation of God, is no longer ordinary bread, but the Eucharist that is made up of two things, one earthly and the other celestial, likewise our bodies that participate in the Eucharist are no longer corruptible, since they have hope of the resurrection.”[114]

The Eucharist will always resist trivialisation or being reduced to a pure rite because it leads to what the scholastics called the res: the Trinitarian communion and the eschatological communion of the creation in Christ. In order to celebrate it with an enhanced consciousness of what is being accomplished in it, it would be good to listen to the tantric traditions that have brought to an extreme interiority the ritual action which has structured Hinduism since the primordial times of the Veda. Rejecting any routine mechanism that threatens the rites, the Tantra were not afraid to claim that only a jīvan-mukta was actually able celebrate them: “devo bhūtvā devaṃ yajet,”[115]“without having become god one cannot worship god.” Faithful to the great spiritualisation that this new path preached with vigour, the Vijñāna Bhairava recalled here that “worship (pūjā) does not consist in offering flowers and other substances. The real worship consists rather in setting one’s mind firmly on the supreme Void of thought-free consciousness. This worship is an absorption with great fervour and respect.”[116] For sure, the Christian will not be able to renounce the humble reality of the matter being offered in the liturgy or the fact that the sacrament works on its own (ex opere operato)but is it not with an increased awareness of being immersed in the mystery of the Resurrection that he will be able to proclaim with a more intense truth: “Death has been swallowed up in victory. Where, O Death, is your victory? Where, O Death, is your sting?” (1 Cor 15:54-55). 

Trans. by Roderick Campbell Guion 


[1] Kena Upaniṣad IV, 4.

[2] Bhagavadgītā VII, 26.

[3] Bhagavadgītā VIII, 9. See also Bhagavadgītā Gita X, 37: kavīnā uśanā kaviḥ.”

[4] Kaṭha Upaniṣad III, 1: “guhāṃ praviṣṭau parame parārdhe,.”

[5] Kaṭha Upaniṣad II, 23.

[6] Īśa Upaniṣad 9.

[7] Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad IV, 2, 2.

[8] Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad I, 3, 28.

[9] Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad I, 4, 10.

[10] Chāndogya Upaniṣad III, 17, 8.

[11]Ṛg Veda I, 50, 10.

[12]Chāndogya UpaniṣadIII, 11, 1.3.

[13] Īśa Upaniṣad 1.

[14] Swāmī Abhishiktānanda, “The Upanishads,” The Further shore, Delhi: ISPCK, 1975, p. 62.

[15] Kaṭha Upaniṣad V, 15.

[16] Īśa upaniṣad 15-16.

[17] Chāndogya Upaniṣad VII, 26, 2.

[18] Chāndogya Upaniṣad VIII, 3, 4.

[19] Chāndogya Upaniṣad VII, 25, 2.

[20] Īśa upaniṣad 1.

[21] Bhagavadgītā 13, 13.15-17.

[22] Bhagavadgītā 15, 6.

[23] Ṛg Veda X, 18.

[24] Dharma is the religious aspect of life and also conformity to the demands of the caste; its importance is central to the Mahābhārata of Vyāsa or in the Manusmṛiti (Laws of Manu). Artha is the economic and political aspect of life, masterfully exposed in the Arthaśāstra of Kauṭilya. Finally, Kāma is the dimension of sensual pleasure as shown in the famous treatise of the Kāmasūtra of Vātsyāyana.

[25] Muṇḍaka UpaniṣadIII, 2, 19.

[26] The Brahmasūtraare a set of brief proposals shedding light on the difficulties contained in the Upaniṣad. This major text of Hindu thought was commented on, among others, by Śaṅkara, Rāmānujā (1017-1137), Madhvācārya (1238-1317) giving birth to the different schools of the Vedānta.

[27] Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad I, 4, 10.

[28] Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad IV, 2, 4.

[29] Śaṅkara, Ekaślokī.

[30] Chāndogya Upaniṣad VIII, 3, 4.

[31] Śaṅkara, Brahmasūtra Bhāṣya IV, 4, 2, Kolkata: Advaita Ashrama, 1965, p. 896.

[32]Anāvitti śabdādanāvitti śabdāt,” “There is no return on the strength of the Upanishadic declaration, there is no return.”

[33] Chāndogya Upaniṣad VIII, 15.

[34] Kaṭha Upaniṣad III, 16; Chāndogya Upaniṣad VI, 5.

[35] Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad VI, 2, 15

[36] Chāndogya Upaniṣad IV, 15, 5.

[37] Chāndogya Upaniṣad VIII, 15, 1.

[38] To harmonize the seemingly contradictory statements of the Upaniṣad, Śaṅkara made a distinction between the saguṇa Brahman,the Absolute manifested in the multiplicity of the world and qualified by it, and the nirguṇa Brahman, the Absolute detached from any relationship with the illusory world.

[39] Śaṅkara, Brahmasūtra Bhāṣya IV, 4, 22, p. 912.

[40] Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad I, 4, 10.

[41] Chāndogya Upaniṣad VI, 8-16.

[42] Māṇḍūkya Upaniṣad I, 2.

[43] Aitareya Upaniṣad III, 1, 3

[44] Mahānārāyaṇa Upaniṣad XII, 14.

[45] Śaṅkara, Vivekacūḍāmaṇi, 317.

[46] Śaṅkara, Vivekacūḍāmaṇi, 439.

[47] Śaṅkara, Vivekacūḍāmaṇi, 425.

[48] Śaṅkara, Vivekacūḍāmaṇi, 471.

[49] Śaṅkara, Vivekacūḍāmaṇi, 542.

[50] Śaṅkara, Vivekacūḍāmaṇi, 375.

[51] Swāmi Vidyāraṇya, Jīvan-mukti-viveka, Kolkata: Advaita Ashram, 1996.

[52] Laghu Yogavāsiṣṭha V, 95.

[53] Swāmī Nikhilānanda, Introduction to Sri Sankarācarya, Ātmabodha, Self-knowledge, Madras: Sri Ramakrishna Math, 1947, pp. 115-117.

[54] Dhyānabindu Upaniṣad 6. Cf. Upanishad du Yoga, Paris: Gallimard, 1971, p. 50.

[55] Yogatattva Upaniṣad 106-111. Cf. Upanishad du Yoga, pp. 65-66.

[56] A. Padoux, Vāc. The Concept of the Word in Selected Hindu Tantras, Delhi: Sri Satguru Publications, 1992, p. 125.

[57] Yogakuṇḍalinī Upaniṣad 77-78. Cf. Upanishad du Yoga, p. 103.

[58] Le Vijñāna Bhairava, translation by L. Silburn, Paris: É. de Boccard, 1999, p. 8.

[59] A. Padoux, The Hindu Tantric World. An Overview, Chicago-London: The University of Chicago Press, 2017, p. 8.

[60] Abhinavagupta, Tantrāloka I, 116.

[61] Abhinavagupta, Parātriṃśikāvivaraa.

[62] Vijñāna Bhairava 63.

[63] Le Vijñāna Bhairava, p. 65.

[64] Abhinavagupta, Tantrāloka I, 156.

[65] Abhinavagupta, Mālinīvijayavartikā.

[66] Le Vijñāna Bhairava, pp. 61-62.

[67]Śivasūtra et Vimarśinī de Kṣemarāja, translation by L. Silburn, Paris: É. de Boccard, 1980, pp. 132-133.

[68] Netra Tantra 7,48: “He should pour out the energy, thereby becoming all pervasive, flooded by the waves of nectar. Being established in the flood of nectar he dives into that ocean of immortality”; cf. B. S. Bäumer, The Yoga of Netra Tantra. Third Eye and Overcoming Death, Delhi: DK Printworld, 2019, pp. 178-179.

[69]Śivasūtra et Vimarśinī de Kṣemarāja, p. 133.

[70]Śivasūtra et Vimarśinī de Kṣemarāja, p. 18.

[71]Le Vijñāna Bhairava, p. 162.

[72]Le Vijñāna Bhairava, p. 163.

[73]Le Vijñāna Bhairava, p. 64.

[74]Vijñāna Bhairava 8.

[75] Cf. Śivasūtra 45: bhūyaḥ syāl pralimīlana,” “Again there is reopening of the eyes.”

[76]Śivasūtra et Vimarśinī de Kṣemarāja, pp. 134-135

[77] Ajātānanda, Années de grâce.

[78] Cf. Exultet of the Easter Vigil:O vere beata nox, quæ sola meruit scire tempus et horam in qua Christus ab inferis resurrexit.”

[79] Cf. 1 Cor 15:5-7. The Divine Passive ōphtē, which we can translate as “he made himself seen,” “he was manifested,” means that the Resurrection is the gift par excellence that the Father gave to the Son. If as Christians we hold the Resurrection to be the greatest divine gift, the Hindu quest should not be caricatured as the work of a single human being left to his own strength. The Tantric tradition clearly states that the state of jīvan-mukta is obtained by śaktipāta, a descent of grace that finds its ultimate raison d’être in the Absolute.

[80] F.-X. Durrwell, The Resurrection. A Biblical Study, New York: Sheed and Ward, 1960, p. 134.

[81]O. González de Cardenal, Cristologia, Milano: San Paolo, 2004, p. 146.

[82]J. Grosjean, Le Messie, Paris: Gallimard, 1974.

[83]O. González de Cardenal, Cristologia, p. 147.

[84] Cf. Thomas Aquinas, Summa theologiae, IIIa, q. 53-55.

[85] Cf. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Gaudium et spes 22: “And this applies not only to those who believe in Christ, but to all people of good will, in whose hearts grace invisibly acts. In fact, since Christ died for all and man’s final vocation is truly unique, namely divine, we must hold that the Holy Spirit offers to all, in a way that God knows, the possibility of being associated with the Paschal Mystery.”

[86]O. González de Cardenal, Cristologia, p. 149.

[87]O. González de Cardenal, Cristologia, p. 154.

[88] Hillary of Poitiers, De Trinitate 41.

[89] Hillary of Poitiers, De Trinitate 38: “dispensationis novitas offensionem unitatis intulerat, ut perfecta antea fuerat, nulla esse nunc poterat, nisi glorificata apud se fuisset carnis adsumptio,.”

[90] F.-X. Durrwell, The Resurrection, p. 81.

[91] Origen, Homilies on the Exodus 11, 2.

[92] F.-X. Durrwell, The Resurrection, p. 100.

[93] F.-X. Durrwell, The Resurrection, p. 103.

[94]O. González de Cardenal, Cristologia, p. 172.

[95]O. González de Cardenal, Cristologia, p. 172.

[96] Irenaeus of Lyon, Adversus Haereses V, 3, 2. Cf. Id., Contre les hérésies. Dénonciation et réfutation de la gnose au nom menteur, Paris: Le Cerf, 2001, p. 577.

[97] Irenaeus of Lyon, Adversus Haereses IV, 20, 2. Cf. Id., Contre les hérésies, p. 470.

[98]Tertullian, De resurrectione mortuorum 8,2.

[99]Irenaeus of Lyon, Adversus Haereses III, 9, 3. Cf. Id., Contre les hérésies, p. 301.

[100]Tertullian, De Carne Christi, I.

[101] Irenaeus of Lyon, Adversus Haereses III, 17, 1. Cf. Id., Contre les hérésies, p. 357.

[102] Irenaeus of Lyon, Adversus Haereses V, 9, 2. Cf. Id., Contre les hérésies, p. 592.

[103] Irenaeus of Lyon, Adversus Haereses V, 13, 3. Cf. Id., Contre les hérésies, p. 606.

[104] Irenaeus of Lyon, Adversus Haereses V, 36, 1. Cf. Id., Contre les hérésies, p. 676.

[105] Irenaeus of Lyon, Adversus Haereses V, 36, 3. Cf. Id., Contre les hérésies, pp. 678-679.

[106]H. Le Saux-Thérèse de Jésus, Le Swami et la Carmélite I. L’appel de l’Inde,Orbey: Arfuyen, 2022, pp. 180-181.

[107] Cf. Y. Vagneux, Co-esse. Le mystère trinitaire dans la pensée de Jules Monchanin - Swâmi Paramârûbyânanda (1895-1957), Paris: Desclée de Brouwer, 2015, pp. 570-572.

[108]H. Le Saux-Thérèse de Jésus, Le Swami et la Carmélite II. La beauté du Gange, Orbey: Arfuyen, 2023 (to be published).

[109] Benedict XVI, Homily for the Holy Saturday Vigil, 15th April 2006.

[110] F.-X. Durrwell, The Resurrection, p. 328.

[111] F.-X. Durrwell, The Resurrection, p. 329.

[112] J. Ratzinger, L’esprit de la liturgie, Geneva: Ad solem, 2001, p. 25.

[113] Unpublished letter from J. Monchanin to M. Prost of 25th January 1940.

[114] Irenaeus of Lyon, Adversus Haereses IV, 18, 5. Cf. Id., Contre les hérésies, p. 464.

[115] Gandharva Tantra.

[116] Le Vijñāna Bhairava, śloka 147, p. 165.

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