Date(s) - 21/06/2021 - 22/06/2021
Ācārya Abhinavagupta: Legacy and Significance
Convener: Dr. Alka Tyagi
Ācārya Abhinavagupta, the 10th century Kashmir Śaiva sage, scholar, aesthete, spiritual master, and visionary thinker shaped Trika Śaiva philosophy and religion into a perfected system of thought and realisation. He is remembered as an extraordinary human being, with prodigious and multifarious gifts and accomplishments. The world knows him as a philosopher, exegete, and aesthete but in Kashmir and within the Trika lineage, he is a Siddha and Guru, a spiritual master par excellence.
Ācārya Abhinavagupta, in addition to composing dozens of extraordinarily original and innovative texts, also preserved, edited and documented a prolific corpus of ancient Tantras. His best-known work, the Tantrāloka, is a unique masterpiece, whose breadth, scope, profundity, intellectual rigour, and wisdom, make it unparalleled global philosophical and spiritual literature. We are only now beginning to understand the magnitude of its magnificence.
In the Tantrāloka, Abhinavagupta not only preserveshis inherited tradition in accordance to Guru-Śishyaparampara and develop the philosophy of Trika into Anuttaratrika,but he also refines the discursive and practical field of spiritual experience. Tantrāloka, in that sense, is as much a philosophical exegesis as a practitioner’s guide to the realms of higher consciousness. In order to accomplish this feat, Abhinavagupta developed a language to express the spiritual experience and helps to bring it to the access of human intellect without compromising the esoteric element that marks all spiritual experience.
His purely experience-based logical expositions in philosophical works like Īśvarapratyabhijñāvimarśinīand Īśvarapratyabhijñāvivṛittivimarśinīon the Kashmir Śaiva theory of Pratyabhijñāfirmly establish the idea of the Supreme Reality as the non-dual consciousness that we call Śiva. His Paratriṁśikāvivarṇais a profound exposition of creation of the universal phenomena as an offshoot of Shakti as Supreme Speech, Parāvāk, that relates to the scientific origin of Sanskrit language and grammar. In his devotional compositions such as his Bhairava Stava, Anuttarāṣtikā, KramaStotra and Anubhavanivedena, Abhinavagupta preserves the esoteric and emotional elements of the Bhairavāgamas.
Abhinavagupta’s contribution to the field of aesthetics is world-famous. His Abhinavabhāratī, the extraordinary commentary on Bharata’s classic text of poetics and dramaturgy, Natyaśāstra, conjoins aesthetic experience to the experience of non-dual perception of reality, which conforms with the non-dual Trika philosophy that is fundamental to his oeuvre. Similarly, his commentary on the Bhagavad Gita, the Geetārthasangrah shows this Vedānta text in the light of Śivādvyavāda.
On the occasion of ĀcāryaAbhinavagputa’s birth anniversary, IIAS Shimla is organizing a two-day symposium to celebrate his legacy and to keep alive the awareness of this great master’s contribution to various dimensions of human existence.