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Abhinavagupta

(c. 975—1025)


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(c.975–1025)

Greatest of the Kashmiri Śaiva theologians. His works deal with the theoretical, yogic, and ritual aspects of the Tantric Trika and Krama traditions, the theology of the Pratyabhijñā school, and aesthetics. He argued for a ‘supreme nondualism’ (paramādvayavāda), which regarded both plurality and unity as ways in which the Absolute represented itself through the independent power of its consciousness. In his writings on the nature of aesthetic experience (rasa), he developed a subsequently famous theory which regarded rasa as a distinct mode of experience situated between ordinary awareness and enlightenment, although it differs from the latter only in degree. His principal works include a commentary on the root text of the Kashmiri Śaiva tradition—a Tantra he considered to be the highest revelation—the Mālinīvijayottara Tantra (the Mālinīślokavārttika), the immense Tantrāloka (‘Light on Tantra’), its summary, the Tantrasāra (‘Essence of Tantra’), and, in the field of aesthetics, his commentaries on Bharata's Nāṭyaśāstra (Abhinavabhāratī) and Ānandavardhana's Dhvanyāloka. His influence (filtered through the works of his pupil, Kṣemarāja) was crucial to the history of Śaivism, first in Kashmir, and then at Cidambaram in Tamil Nadu.

Subjects: Religion


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