ABHINAVAGUPTA lived in Kashmir about the end of the tenth and beginning of eleventh centuries A.D. A versatile genius he injected new meaning into Shaiva Philosophy.
As an original thinker he shattered to pieces the established belief which laid heavy emphasis on caste and gender restrictions in relation to spiritual practice. He took to task those philosophical systems which held the prerequisite that spirituality required rigorous discipline–systems which made the quest for enlightenment the legitimate right of a chosen few. He abhorred the idea that spiritual revelation was only possible in a purely monastic surrounding, or that those caught in the householder way of life had to wait till the last portion of life before they could fully give themselves to spiritual pursuits. This idea was best expressed by Abhinavagupta in one of his concluding verses of Patanjali’s Paramarthasara:
“O my devotees! On this path of supreme Bhairava, whoever has taken a step with pure desire, no matter if that desire is slow or intense; it does not matter if he is a Brahmin, if he is a sweeper, if he is an outcast, or if he is anybody; he becomes one with Para-bhairava.” (103)
Abhinavagupta’s ideas were radical for his time, but since he spoke from the level of direct experience no one was capable of refuting him.
Having achieved the eight great siddhi powers he clearly exhibited the six illustrious spiritual signs: unswerving devotional attachment to Shiva; full attainment of mantra siddhi; control over the five elements; capacity to accomplish any desired end; complete mastery over the science of rhetoric and poetry; and the spontaneous dawning of knowledge of all philosophies.
The poet Madhuraja asserted that Abhinavagupta was the incarnation of Bhairava-natha Shiva. Swami Lakshmanjoo considered Abhinavagupta the pride of Kashmir and the final authority on all aspects of Shaivism. Even today his works and teachings continue to deeply influence discerning people worldwide.
This website is for those sincere seekers who wish to take a step on the path of Kashmir Shaivism, and in doing so, come to an understanding of their own divinity. The flavor of Abhinavagupta’s teaching is sprinkled throughout, enlivened by the translations of Swami Lakshmanjoo.
The hymns contained herein are the treasured gifts handed down from generation to generation by the revered masters of the sacred tradition of Kashmir Shaivism.
Om Namah Shivaya!
Above painting of “Abhinavagupta and the lineage of (some) masters of Kashmir Shaivism”, used with permission of the artist: Copyright © Claudia Dose.