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1 Etymology 2 Religion
2.1 Direct cognition 2.2 Advaita Vedanta 2.3 Neo-Vedanta 2.4 Saiva Siddhanta 2.5 Waking and dreaming
3 Anubhāvah (अनुभावः) and Indian aesthetics 4 References
Etymology The term anubhava or anubhavah (Sanskrit) is a compound of:
अनु anu: 'after', 'afterwards', 'later on', 'in consequence of', 'being indicated by'; भ(भु)व bhava: 'causing', 'delighting' or 'experiencing'.
अनुभव – 'direct perception or cognition', 'knowledge derived from personal observation or experiment, 'notion', 'apprehension', 'the impression on the mind not derived from memory', 'one of the kinds of knowledge', 'experience', 'understanding', 'result', 'consequence'; अनुभवसिद्ध – 'established by experience'.
Several related words express the mental state which can be communicated to others or represented (अभिनय – 'acting'), either verbally or physically or emotionally, in one or different contexts:
भाव bhāvah: 'feeling', 'emotion', 'sentiment', 'temperament', 'mood'; विभाव vibhāvah: 'any condition which produces or develops a particular state of body or mind'; अनुभाव anubhāvah: 'greatness', 'dignity', 'firm opinion or determination', 'an external manifestation or indication of a feeling by appropriate looks, gestures etc., called by some ensuant'; अनुभू anubhū: to enjoy, taste, experience or suffer; अनुभूति anubhūti: 'realization', self-realization'.
Anubhāvas are not causes, but aesthetic experiences and important
ingredients of Rasa. Anubhavah is not a sense-experience.
Anubhavah refers to poetic, narrative or ritual experience, enjoyment,
relish or delight resulting, for the devotee or the seeker after
truth, in the ecstatic experience of the divine; it is a means to
understand during one’s own life-time the true nature of one’s own
self which is the real nature of the Atman by experiencing the sublime
delight of the unity with the Supreme Self .
Cognition is said to be of two kinds – smrti ('reproductive') which
is other than re-cognitive perception requiring disposition, and
anubhavah ('productive') which involves a kind of awareness not
derived from disposition alone. The difference between the waking
state and the dreaming state becomes known through anubhava
The sage of the Mundaka
स यो ह् वै तत्परमं ब्रह्म
वेद ब्रह्मैव भवति – "Verily he becomes
Brahman, who knows Brahman. " – (Mundaka
This is so because
जन्माद्यस्य यतः "That (is Brahman) from which (are derived) the birth etc., of this (universe)." - (Brahma Sutras I.i.2)
Shankara holds anubhava to be a pramana, an independent source of
knowledge which is provided by contemplation (nididhyasana). In his
commentary on this sutra Shankara explains that a thing cannot be
simultaneously judged to be existent and non-existent for the valid
knowledge of the true nature of a thing does not depend on human
notions and यतः ( yatah ) ('that from which') in this sutra "is
not meant to present an inference but speaks of a cause that is by
nature eternal, pure, free and intrinsically omniscient" (which has to
be experienced and felt). The realization of the Supreme Word
(śabda), which is truth and reality, happens intuitively (a stage of
pratibha), and resembles Shankara’s concept of anubhava.
Padmapada (fl. 8th century), a student of Shankara, in his
Panchapādikā, expounding Prabhākara’s view, explains that
knowledge is anubhava i.e. the immediate experience, the
resultant-cognition gained through valid means of knowledge when the
subject and the object manifest and the self of the knower is known
indirectly as "I". And, according to Abhinavagupta, the very
continuous and proper remembrance of the mantra (of a ritual) is the
attainment of the condition in which the devout upāsaka as a routine
has the continuous and direct anubhava ('experience') of the Self as
no different from himself.
Swami Dayananda notes that anubhava has a more specific meaning than
its conventional meaning of "experience", namely "direct knowledge".
Dayananda explains that interpreting anubahva as "experience" may lead
to a misunderstanding of Advaita Vedanta, and a mistaken rejection of
the study of the scriptures as mere intellectual understanding.
Stressing the meaning of anubhava as knowledge,
^ V.S.Apte. The Practical Sanskrit-English Dictionary. Digital
Dictionaries of South Asia. p. 11.
^ Encyclopaedia of Indian Literature. Sahitya Akademi.
^ P.Pratap Kumar. Contemporary Hinduism. Routledge. p. 220.
^ Kisor Kumar Chakrabarti. Classical Indian Philosophy of Mind. SUNY
Press. pp. 35, 43,.
^ Nalini kanta Brahma. Philosophy of
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