Lalitaditya of Kashmir brought Atrigupta from Kanoj to Kashmir around
AD 740, and requested Atrigupta to settle and live in Kashmir permanently.
Another Scholar Sangmaditya who had married a Brahmin girl came to Kashmir
in the course of his wanderings. Both Sangmaditya and Atrigupta were Saiva
scholars and came to settle down in Kashmir. In the same period, the great
Shankaracharya, who flourished between AD 780 and 820 visited Kashmir and
was honoured there. The period between AD 750 and 900 appears to be full
of activity in the field of Saiva monism in Kashmir.
And the fact that King Lalitaditya brought Atrigupta from Kanoj and
requested him to settle permanently in Kashmir suggests that kings of
Kashmir were also interested in this activity.
King Lalitaditya ordered a good house to be built on the bank of
the river Vitasta (Jhelum) on a plot opposite the temple of Sitamusmalin
(Siva) for Atrigupta to settle there permanently. A big jagir was granted
to him for maintenance.
Atrigupta was a very learned Brahmin. He had attained scholarship
in all branches of Knowledge in general and Siva shastra in particular.
Atrigupta belonged to the Agastya gotra and was the ancestor of
Abhinavgupta. Abhinavgupta’s grandfather was Varagupta. He was also a
great scholar and a devotee of lord Siva. The Scholastic traditions were
maintained in the family from generation to generation.
Abhinavgupta’s father, Narsimhagupta alias Cukhulaka was also a
great scholar and had equal proficiency in all the Shastras. He too was a
great devotee of Siva. Vimlakala was
Abhinav’s mother; she was a pious and religious lady. Narsimhagupta and
Vimlakala made a happy couple and carried on household duties not for any
worldly attachment but because it was ordained by the Shastras. Their
family atmosphere was thoroughly religious and scholarly. Abhinavgupta was
born to this couple between AD 950 and 960.
Abhinavgupta rose to the position of Acharya of the Siva sects in
Kashmir by his exposition of the Siva philosophy and practice of life of a
Siva yogi. It is believed among Saivas that it is only yoginibahu who can
properly understand and intelligently propound the tenets of Siva monism.
Hence he is believed to be a yoginibahu. According to Siva tenets the
parents desirous of a son of the status of a yoginibahu, should rise above
all worldly desires at the time of meeting. The mother should identify
herself with Shakti and the father with Shiva. It is traditionally
believed in Kashmir that Abhinavgupta was born of a yogini.
Abhinavgupta studied Mahabhasya under his father Cukhulaka. He was
well versed in grammar. His proficiency in grammar is evident at every
point in his writings. Pandit Vamancarya Jahalkikar says that Abhinav was
sent to a pathshala when he was just a boy. His teachers were highly
impressed by his versatile intelligence and keen memory.
Abhinavgupta, born in a family, which had a long tradition of
scholarship and devoutness to lord Siva. He spent every day of his life in
an atmosphere, which was surcharged with scholarly and devotional spirit.
Besides his parents, his family consisted of uncle Vamanagupta, a younger
brother Manoratha and five cousins. His uncle Vamanagupta was a scholar
and a poet. Abhinava studied under him for sometime. Abhinavgupta had an
insatiable desire for learning, he studied different shastras under
different teachers and even travelled out of Kashmir to do so. The
teachers and the subjects he studied under them, are as follows:
Abhinavgupta was greatly attached to his mother but while he was
still a boy, the cruel hands of death snatched his mother away from him.
After his mother's death the only center of attachment was his father, the
focus both for his filial and papillary love. But his father also soon
afterwards, renounced his worldly life and took the order of the saniyasin.
These events turned away Abhinava's mind from all worldly attachments and
he took to the path of devotion towards lord Shiva. The change was so firm
that he made up his mind never to marry. This was a turning point in his
life and it put an end to his interest in secular literature and his
domestic life. Thenceforth he went from teacher to teacher in quest of
Agamic knowledge, which would advance his spiritual leanings. His great
work Tantraloka bears testimony to the great zeal with which he pursued
the study of Agamic literature and the proficiency that he attained in it.
His study of Agamas appears
to have begun under Lakshmangupta. He studied all the three branches of
Agamic lore viz Krama, Trika, and Kula.
Pratyabhinjna system is a branch of Trika system.
of monastic Shivasim Subject
under whom he took guidance
All these branches in monastic Saivism agree to the concept of
ultimate principal. They have however shown different methods of realising
that ultimate. Abhinavgupta having read and practiced all these methods
was a proper person to synthesize them into one common system acceptable
to all. He did that in his famous epitomic Tantraloka, a statement based
on Shastra, Yukti and Anubhava. Which gave him the honour of being
recognized as Acharya of all the sects.
will be easy for us to get an idea of the philosophy of the Saiva system
from Pratyabhijna literature. Saivasim both in theory and practice is open
to all without any restriction of caste. One who has keen desire for
knowledge and liberation is free to study and practice Saivism. However there is a distinction between one who desires to
practice Saivism and attain liberation in his life and the one who is keen
on the study of Saiva philosophy with all its intricacies. For a simple
follower of Saiva ritual, only firm determination will suffice but in the
case of a person interested in Saiva Philosophy, determination alone will
not do, he must posses knowledge of Vedas, Vedangas, six systems of
Philosophy, Grammar and Tarka. Then only will he be able to understand and
appreciate the necessity of the arguments in Pratyabhijna. The aim of all
the systems of Indian philosophy in general and Pratyabhijna in particular
is to help the individual in realization and to point out ways and means
by which that end is to be achieved i.e. removing the evil of ignorance.
All the systems of Indian philosophy hold that ignorance is the cause of
bondage (Bandana) and only Knowledge is the cause of Moksha (liberation).
Bondage according to Saiva philosophy is due to impurity (mala) which is
of three types viz.1. Anavamala 2) Karmamala 3)
Mayamala. They are explained as under:
: This is innate
ignorance, it consists in the loss of universality and cosequent
forgetfulness of its true nature. It is mere consciousness of supposed
: It is of the nature
of indefinite desire. The impurity of innate ignorance (Anavamala) is the
condition of indefinite and limitless desire. It is a potential desire,
which as such has no definite object. But when it actualises, it is
responsible for countless association of the self with creations of Maya.
: It is
psycho-physical limitations, all that the self is associated with because
of the said two impurities.
For Saiva Philosophy, the self-realization brings with it, an
understanding in which there is a new interpretation and appreciation of
the universe. According to this system, therefore, self-realization is
self-recognition (Pratyabhijna). Self-realization in fact is a matter of
divine grace, which comes through the agency of a guru. It may also come
directly without the agency of guru.
Every person knows that it is his soul, which knows and acts.
Philosophy tells us that man's soul is identical with the universal soul.
We are not conscious of the universal power of knowledge and action which
is already there in us, because of the innate ignorance (Ajnana) which
works as an impediment in the knowing of the real power of the soul.
Unless we are made conscious of them we shall never recognize the nature
of the soul and be conscious of it. It is to make us conscious of the
power of knowledge and action, that Pratyabhijna is necessary. Our
knowledge got from the reading of the philosophical books is intellectual
(Bauddha jnana). It is not spiritual (Paurusa Janana).
The intellectual knowledge can only give us an idea of the
universal power of the self. That does not suffice for liberation. It is
only the spiritual knowledge that liberates us. The consciousness of these
powers in us can change our whole personality so much that our attitude of
viewing life becomes altogether different. This new and different
interpretation of the universe, which leads us to extreme happiness, is
the result of Pratyabhijna. The Pratyabhijna, therefore, removes our
limited power of knowledge and action in respect of the soul and reveals
before us the same soul in its universal form, the recognition of which
leads us to happiness and gratification.
was the greatest Acharya of monastic Saivisim in Kashmir, his place among
the ex-founders of monastic Saivasim is the same as that of Shri
Shankracharya in expounding the advaita Vedanta. For Saivas in Kashmir, he
was the final authority in the matter of Saiva thought and ritual. In the
field of poetics and aesthetic thought, writers in that field have
acknowledged him as the final authority. The absolute monastic thought of
India flowed through two currents namely the Advaita Vedanta of Sankara
and Saiva darsana of Abhinavgupta, one started from Nigama (veda) and
other from Agama (Monistic Saivisim) But ultimately they meet in the same
point in the form of realization of the absolute as One.
G .T .Deshpande]