incarnate to enlighten the people"
by Swami Lakshman Joo
Abhinavagupta was one of the most outstanding Acharyas of
Shaiva philosophy. We learn from references about
him in Tantraloka and Paratrimshika Vivarana that
he lived in Kashmir about the end of the tenth and
the beginning of eleventh centuries A.D. The
earliest ancestor of Abhinavagupta was a famous
Brahmin, Attrigupta, who lived in Autarvedi, the
ancient name of tract of land lying between the
Ganga and the Yamuna. Attrigupta, a great Shaiva
teacher, was invited by King Lalitaditya, who
ruled over Kashmir from 700-736 A.D. A spacious
house was soon built by the orders of the king on
the banks of the Jhelum (Vitasta) for Attrigupta
and a big Jagir was granted to him for his
maintenance. Many generations after him, one of
his descendants, named Varahagupta, became a great
scholar of Shaiva philosophy. His son,
Narasimhagupta, alias Chukhala, father of
Abhinavagupta, was also a great Shaiva teacher.
was a great scholar and Shaiva teacher, who
possessed knowledge in all matters relating to
Kashmir Shaivism. The versatility of this genius
was recognised in his own time. He was one of the
best authorities on Shaiva philosophy and various
branches of Sanskrit literature. The great Acharya
sat at the feet of many teachers for the
traditional and authoritative knowledge. Such was
his humility and devotion that these teachers
imparted to him all the learning they possessed.
The celebrated author of Kavya Prakash, Rajanaka
Mammatta calls him the Shankaracharya of Kashmir.
are eight great Yogic powers explained in Shastras
first is the superhuman power of becoming as
small as an atom;
second is the Yogic power of increasing the size
of one's own body at will;
third is the supernatural power of assuming
excessive lightness at will;
fourth is the superhuman power of obtaining
fifth is the Yogic power of attaining
sixth is the superhuman power of commanding the
seventh Yogic power is to fascinate the whole
eighth is to possess unrestrained will viz.
whatever he wills comes true.
these eight Yogic powers were possessed by Acharya
Malinivijayotara Shastra six great signs of
spiritual advancement are explained as follows:
Unswerving devotional attachment to Shiva;
Full attainment of Mantra Siddhi;
Attainment of controlling power over all the
Capacity to accomplish the desired end;
Mastery over the whole science of rhetorics and
The sudden dawning of the knowledge of all the
six great spiritual signs also were observed by
discerning people in Abhinavagupta and in his time
everybody looked upon him as Shiva incarnate.
Shaivism is called Trika philosophy. Trika means
threefold science of man and his world. This Trika
contains the science of (individual), (the energy)
and (the universal). The purpose of Trika is to
show how an individual rises to the state of
universal through energy. The Trika philosophy is
classified by Abhinavagupta in four systems which
are Krama system, Spanda system, Kula system and
says that Krama deals with space and time. He
explains that actually there is no space. When one
deals with forms, the space appears. When one is
established in formless state of being, for him
there is no space. In the same way when there is
something to be done, then only the existence of
time shines and when you have nothing to do, then
time has no existence.
the Spanda system, Abhinavagupta says that it is
that movement which actually is no movement.
Spanda makes us realise that whatever is in
movement actually is established in unmoved point.
So although everyting seems moving actually it is
not moving at all.
for the Kula system, he says that Kula means the
Science of Totality. In each and every part of the
universe totality shines - throughout. Take a
small part of any object. In that part you will
see the universal energy existing.
Pratyabijnya system deals with the school of
recognition. Abhinavagupta, while explaining this
school of recognition, says;
make it clear, at the time of God-realization
nothing new is realised; on the contrary, the Yogi
feels that this state of God-consciousness which
he was experiencing was already known to him.
this school of recognition, Abhinavagupta says,
the state of God-consciousness is already there.
He comes to the conclusion that in this universe
you have to see and realise the Kingdom of God-
consciousness only everywhere and nothing else.
works have been atributed to Abhinavagupta though
only a few are extant. Some of the works of his
Bhairavastotra; (2) Malinivijaya Vartika (3)
Bharata Natya Shastra-Tika; (4) Dwanmalokalochana;
(5) Natyalochana; (6) Purva-Panchika; (7)
Gitarthasangraha; (8) Bodha Pancha Dashika; (9)
Paramartha Charcha; (10) Dehastha
Devatachakrastotra; (11) Paratrimshike Vivarana;
(12) Paratrimshika Lagu Vitti; (13) Kramastotra;
(14) Ishwara Pratyabijnya-Vimarshini; (15) Ishwar
Pratyabijnya Vivriti Vimarshini; (16) Paramartha
Sara; (17) Tantraloka; (18) Tantra Sara, etc.
Besides these, he wrote many other works.
Madhuraja, a devotee of Abhinavagupta, writes
Shree-Kantha-Nath Shiva Himself appeared in
Kashmir in the form of Abhinavagupta to enlighten
the people. Madhuraja also asserts that
Abhinavagupta was, in fact, the incarnation of
Bhairava-Nath Shiva. In conclusion I would say
that Abhinavagupta was the pride of Kashmir. He is
even now the pride of Kashmir, as his works and
teachings continue to deeply influence the