Journal of Indian Philosophy

, Volume 37, Issue 4, pp 349–366 | Cite as

Remarks on Compassion and Altruism in the Pratyabhijñā Philosophy



According to Utpaladeva and Abhinavagupta, a subject who has freed himself from the bondage of individuality is necessarily compassionate, and his action, necessarily altruistic. This article explores the paradoxical aspects of this statement; for not only does it seem contradictory with the Pratyabhijñā’s non-dualism (how can compassion and altruism have any meaning if the various subjects are in fact a single, all-encompassing Self?)—it also implies a subtle shift in meaning as regards the very notion of compassion (karuṇā, kr̥pā), since according to the two Śaivas, compassion does not result from the awareness of the others’ pain (duḥkha)—as in Buddhism—but from the awareness of one’s own bliss (ānanda). The article thus shows that in spite of their radical criticism of traditional ethical categories such as merit (dharma) and demerit (adharma), the two Śaiva philosophers still make use of ethical categories, but not without pro- foundly transforming them.


Utpaladeva Abhinavagupta Pratyabhijñā Compassion Altruism 


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.École Pratique des Hautes Études, ParisParisFrance

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