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Legendary moving Monk of Kashmir
Abhinav Gupt was born in 950 AD in Kashmir and died in 1020 AD. He was a philosopher, mystic, aesthetician an important musician, poet, dramatist, exegete, theologian and polymathic personality. He exercised strong influences on Indian culture. This mystic Shaivacharya monk has no parallel scholar in the world. His year-long millennium celebrations started on January 4, 2016 and would conclude on January 17 next year. The “Sankalap Divas”, besides the Union Capital was held at four places in the country simultaneously. Those places are Jammu, Dharamshala (H.P), Bengaluru and Uttrakhand. In Jammu the function was held at SSK Bohri.
Though greatest exponent of Kashmir Shaivism tradition Abhinav Gupt was ignored and his legacy could not be carried forward but now it has become the need of the hour to show to the world that Kashmir is not a place for flourishing gun culture but is a place where the power of the pen has always swayed. Kashmiris have shown their trait of civilization and ethos in the year 1947 when there was no bloodshed like other neighbouring areas of Jammu province of the State and Punjab province of British India. At that time, Jammu province could not escape from the virus of bloodshed because of strong influence of neighbouring Punjab province of British India. Unfortunately, the peace loving people of Kashmir province to some extent fell a prey to violent culture of Jehadi Muslim elements especially amongst some misguided youths. This happened because of weak governments both at the helm of affairs both in the State and in the Centre. The authority of the duly elected government was hijacked by the Jehadi elements who even at one point of time had succeeded to establish Shariat courts in Kashmir valley. The writ of the government was not seen running anywhere and ultimately Governor Rule was imposed. At that time, the people of Jammu province also showed their culture of tolerance and brotherhood when they gave refuge to the forcibly evicted populace of Kashmir region both Hindus and Muslims who had refused to toe in lines of radicals. The Hindus enblock were haunted because of their religious belief. The works and conduct of Abhinav Gupt are the answer to the conflict between logic and faith as for him there was no difference between man and man having different views to show obeisance to God. Very few numbers of youth of Kashmir has adopted the gun culture because of ignorance and brain washing. They should be made aware of their century old culture, heritage and inheritance. They should be reminded that their forefathers had also at the relevant time remained the followers of Abhinav Gupt and followed the prevalent philosophy of Shaivism.
Abhinav Gupt was the progeny of parents who had established themselves in divine essence and from childhood he was supposed to be, “Depository of knowledge”. His mother died when he was just 2 years old and his father afterwards favoured spiritual path. His father was his first Guru who instructed him in Sanskrit grammar, logic and literature. His brother and sister were also ardent devotees of Lord Shiva. He had more than 15 gurus and tried to grab knowledge from anybody whose ideas appealed to him. In his “Tantra Lok” treatise he has made a reference to his forefathers who according to him 200 years ago from his birth had settled in Kashmir during the reign of Lalita Ditya Ruler of Kashmir whose empire extended up to Kanawj territory of present Uttar Pradesh State. At that time, his forefather Abhi Gupt was a renowned scholar and King Lalita Ditya who was found of Scholars requested him to settle in Kashmir. He accepted his request and King Lalita Ditya granted him great estate and built a house for him (Reference- Kavyparkash page 50). That house during Abhinav Gupt’s period had become an Ashram where great scholars of that time from Kashmir used to assemble (both males and females) and frequent discussions on religious matters were taking place. He remained unmarried all his life and used his energy (Ojas) as a vital force to power the spiritual nerves system for reunion of Pursha as Shiva and Shakti. He travelled mostly inside Kashmir. He did not take on regular duties of his family and lived his life as a writer and a teacher. He has authored between 35-49 literary works and “Tantra Lok” is the most important work on Shaivism which is considered as encyclopaedia.
This important treatise so far has been translated only by one foreign Sanskrit Scholar who was an Italian and his name was Reniero Gnoli. Various contemporary scholars have characterised Abhinav Gupt as a Scholar and saint for the development of Kashmir Shaivism and in possession of Yogic realisation. Chapter 29 of his “Tantra Lok” was also translated in English by Sanskrit Scholar namely, John R. Dupvche with the help of Jarathas’ commentary.
The last recognised Master of oral tradition of Kashmir Shaivism was kept alive by Swami Lakhman Joo who too gave a condensed version of the important philosophical chapters of Tantra Lok in his book, Kashmir Shaivism- The Secret Supreme. All over the world Kashmir Shaivism has recognition and some Universities have made some provision for its research work. The credit goes to the Sanskrit Scholars of Jammu Region who decades ago suggested the name of Jammu Cultural Theatre on the name of Abhinav Gupt. Now this is known as Abhinav Theatre. I suggest to the Governor of the State of Jammu and Kashmir State to revive Kashmir Shaivism in the State Universities of which he happens to be the Chancellor.
There is a legend that at the time of his death, Abhinav Gupt took with him 1200 disciples and marched off to a cave which is known as Bhairava Cave situated in village Magam and it exists there even at present. He made an entry in the cave by reciting his poem Bhairva, Stava, a devotional work. They were never to be seen again. Recently, some Jehadi elements had tried to cause damage to that cave in village Magam but a devotee of Lord Shiva took the courage by approaching the State High Court and has obtained stay order to keep Status quo on spot. It is the need of the hour that the cave should be declared as a national heritage place and it should be preserved at any cost like other defiled Hindu Shrines in Kashmir Valley. It is the duty of every citizen of India that we should revive this unique spiritual technique of God realisation through the medium of Kashmir Shaivism so that the world can be guided to live in peace and harmony.
Advait Vedant, Aesthetics
Acharya Abhinavagupta made substantial contributions to Indian aesthetics. For presenting his views on literature, natya and other art forms, besides his views on a potential theory of art and aesthetics, Abhinavagupta rigorously examined all major trends of Indian thought, especially Advaita Vedanta and Buddhism, while upholding the non-dualistic Shaiva philosophy of Kashmir and the theory of art and aesthetics deeply rooted in it.
Abhinavagupta offers relatively real status and value to differentiated reality without compromising the principle of unity which is anuttara, ultimate, and yet immanent, as well as seen in all forms.
Unfolding thus, the theory of art and aesthetic experience enshrined in the Natyashastra – and relating it to the philosophy of language on the one hand and the darshana as well as the world view of Agamic/ Tantric tradition on the other – and the theory of rasa and dhvani carried forward by him has been instrumental to the speculations on the theory of art and aesthetics prior and posterior to Abhinavagupta.
Acharya Abhinavagupta maintained that each and every thing in this objective universe is the manifestation of Supreme Shiva. By dint of his Svatantraya Shakti – also known as Para Pratibha – Shiva creates everything anew. The concept of pratibha, that is, creative vision, has been discussed by Abhinavagupta in its various aspects, namely, mystical, religious, metaphysical and the aesthetic aspects.
Pratibha in the aesthetic context has been discussed on
Abhinavagupta’s metaphysical standpoint. He believes that the poet’s creative imagination is that state of consciousness, which shines with ever new scintillation. He compares the poet’s creative vision to Para Pratibha, the supreme power of Shiva, which resides in Shiva eternally, revealing the entire creation in the process of abhasa, Self-revelation.
Pratibha originates in rasavesa, the blissful state of the poet’s mind, and realises its fulfilment in the heart of sahrdaya, the connoisseur, with the relish of rasasvadana, aesthetic experience.
Thus, Pratibha works as the creative faculty in the poet’s mind and it functions in creating taste in the heart of an appreciative audience who could be listeners or readers, too. In this way, pratibha dwells in both the poet or artiste and the audience and connoisseur.
At the spiritual level, a yogi enters into ever higher planes of spirituality due to pratibha. This creative vision raises a practitioner from the level of individuality to the state of pure knowledge. Achieving liberation thus, such a yogi becomes one with Shiva while living.
Abhinavagupta composed his Bhairavastava in such an ecstatic state that the recitation of this stave creates ecstasy in the heart of the devotee even today. “O Bhairava, having perceived you, my dear lord, as beauty par excellence and unique which is rare for abhaktas, that is, non-devotees; thus filled with your presence, my consciousness intensely dances and sings.”
The 10th-11th century Acharya Abhinavagupta mentions the date of composition of the stave in the concluding verse, as the tenth day of the month of Pausha, which falls on December 21 2019. This day is also celebrated by Kashmiri Pandits as the day of Ananda Bhaira.