Abhinavagupta was a profound scholar of Kashmir during the second half of the 10th century CE.

He was a philosopher, mystic, and commentator of religious scriptures.

Birth: 950 CE

Demise: 1016 CE

Father: Narasimhagupta

Mother: Vimalakala

He was considered as a Yoginibhu, a superhuman born out of the union of a Siddha and a Yogini.

He was Jeevanmukta (freed from the shackles of worldly life).


Gurus of Abhinavagupta

  • Vyakarana - Narasimhagupta
  • Tantra - Vamananatha
  • Brahmavidya - Bhutiraja
  • Shaivism - Bhutirajatanaya
  • Krama and Trika - Lakshmanagupta
  • Dhwani (suggestive poetry) - Induraja
  • Drama - Bhattatota


Abhinavagupta during his time was considered as the highest scholar by the followers of the disciplines - Siddhanta, Vama, Bhairava, Yamala, Kaula, Trika, and Ekavira.


His works

Abhinavagupta has written his own books as well as commentaries.

  1. Tantraloka - It covers the tantric principles given in the 64 Shaiva Agamas.

Kula, Tantra, and Krama systems are dealt with in detail.

It is a complete guide to Shaivism covering both theoretical and practical aspects.

Tantraloka is spread over 37 chapters.

Study of Tantraloka and its practice can make the sadhaka a Bhairava himself.

  1. Tantrasara - This is a summary of Tantraloka.
  2. Tantravatadhanika - A very brief summary of Tantraloka.
  3. Paramarthasara - Essentials of Trika system.
  4. Malinivijayavartika - Kashmir Shaivism.
  5. Bodhapanchadashika - Monistic Shaivism.
  6. Ishvarapratyabhijna Vimarshini - Commentary on Ishvarapratyabhijna Karika of Utpaladeva.
  7. Ishvarapratyabhijna Vivriti Vimarshini - A more detailed commentary.
  8. Paratrisika Vivarana - Commentary of Paratrisika
  9. Bhagavad Gitartha Samgraha - Commentary on Bhagavad Gita.
  10. Abhinava Bharati - Commentary on Natyashastra of Bharatamuni.
  11. Dhvanyavaloka Lochana - Commentary on Dhvanyavaloka of Anandavardhana.
  12. Rahasyapanchadashika.
  13. Paramathacharcha.
  14. Anuttarastika.
  15. Paramarthadwadashika.
  16. Mahopadeshavimshatika.
  17. Tantrocchaya.
  18. Bimba Pratibimba Vada.
  19. Paryantapanchashika.
  20. Kramastotra.
  21. Bhairavastotra.
  22. Dehastha Devata Stotra.
  23. Prakarana Vivarana.
  24. Prakeernaka Vivarana.
  25. Purvapanchika.


Abhinavagupta’s philosophy

  • Shiva is the one and only universal reality.
  • Shakti is the nature of Shiva.
  • I-consciousness is his static aspect.
  • His dynamic aspect is fivefold - srishti, stithi, samhara, tirobhava, and anugraha.
  • His dynamic aspect itself is called Shakti.
  • The difference between Shiva and Shakti is only in the name.
  • Shiva through Shakti manifests the world.
  • He brings about all the changes.
  • He doesn’t change himself.
  • The world is a reflection on the cosmic consciousness.
  • The world is a real manifestation of the supreme reality, Shiva.
  • Jiva is Shiva himself.
  • The body is a place of worship.
  • All Devatas are present in the body.
  • The body is the perfect temple for worship.
  • Diksha from an able Guru is necessary for moksha.
  • Mantra japa and deep contemplation are needed for this.
  • Methods of sadhana vary according to the level of the sadhaka.
  • Meditating upon Brahman is the fastest way to attain Shiva-hood.


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