article explores a difficult verse from the Trident of Wisdom by Abhinavagupta, which says: "The one
not born of Yogic mysticism, nor belonging to the World-God, glimpses the exploding clarity of the
triadic Brahman in the heart of the Awe-ful Âtman, O Womb of Beauty!" This essay is based on
a word-by-word analysis of the Sanskrit original, and concludes with a few comments about the samâdhi
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Excerpt From "The Third Brahman":
The phrase "tritiyam' Brahman"
is a puzzling one. Tritiya is the Ordinal form of the number three, which means that it gets translated as "Third" or "the third part" - which is clear enough on its own. The problem comes with the application of this number to Brahman. There are two numbers which are commonly employed in the effort to characterize Brahman: two and four. Two appears in its privative form: the Un-two (advaita) or non-dual, which is meant to free us from believing that there is any way of relating to Reality (since there has to be something more than a unique if there is to be a relationship at all). The four appears courtesy of the Mâñd:ûkyopanis:ad, which makes an oblique reference to Brahman as the fourth (state of consciousness). Brahman is not specifically mentioned, nor could it be, for the same reason that it's referred to as Un-dual.
Although the two and the four are used in the process of discussing Brahman, Reality, neither one is directly affiliated with it. The phrase "tritiyam' Brahman," on the other hand, is at once a positive statement, and a direct one - either one of which is novel to the discussion of Brahman. That is, declaring Brahman to be the Second, the Third, or the Seventh, or any other number presents a challenge to our habit of avoiding any positive or direct statement about Reality - a habit which has been nurtured by Vedánta. Advaita, and Shankara, are skilled in leading us to the edge of a cliff and then declaring that where the cliff is not is where we shall encounter Reality. (They often go on to inform us that we're already in free-fall, we just don't know it yet - that our experience of substance is comprised solely of ignorance.) All of this is done through the famous "neti neti" process of reasoned elimination.