Utpala was a Brahmin by birth and lived around the middle of 900AD. A poet, a mystic and a philosopher, Somananda's Shivadrishti inspired him to write Pralyabhijunasutras - a book which is given a place of authority on Shaivism. It contains instructions on practical Yoga also. He discussed monism but his approach was different from that of Vasugupta. In ecstasy he would sing rapturous notes intensely musical and full of meaning. He had passion for music which is common to mystics. He also wrote Sivastotravali, a collection of poems. It contains very powerful hymns which reflect Utpala as a mad lover, a mystic, a devotee and a drunken soul.
Philosophy of Utpala
In his philosophy Utpala was more devotional than Shankara. What is significant about the works and philosophy of Utpala is not his divergence from any kind of standard theological belief but his presentation of things. These are given a significant insight by the light of understanding which shows that he lived in the world of which he speaks. In the spiritual path it is the actual experience that counts and not the discourses of philosophy.
According to his philosophical reckoning, Utpala does not deny the existence of free will in man, but he implies the indispensable character of Divine Grace. This sort of attitude is found in all mystics. Lal Ded saw him in everything that she saw; Rabindranath Tagore and Kabir felt him in everything that they touched.
Metaphysics of Utpala is not different from that of the Vedic doctrine. He says-
"There is nothing to be known from outside; my own light shines on all sides."
Giving the conception of Divinity, Utpala writes-
"One who is second less, thoughtless, infinitely deep and the very life-breath of all"
Utpala possesses the awareness of mystery and the consciousness of the unknown. Utpala's intellectualism and mysticism is of a high order. His school of self-introspection is a school in itself. His love and music is soul-lifting. The chief characteristic of Utpala's language is symbolism. He has the power to penetrate human feelings and the magic to transform people. The philosopher has the dynamic touch to mesmerize and enthrall people one.
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