The opportunity to bring out the Second Edition has been utilized for adding an offset picture of Abhinavagupta and four new Chapters, besides giving a more complete account of his life, works and historical background of his thought.
The authenticity of the picture in paint lies in its being a faithful representation of the pen-picture, drawn by his pupil, Madhuraja Yogin, who was present at the celebration of the 'recognition of Abhinavagupta as the spiritual head of all the Saiva sects by the contemporary great spiritualists, both male and female.
The picture has a religio-philosophical significance; because it presents him as a typical follower of the Kula system. Two 'Dutis', each with a jar of Siva-Rasa, a kind of intoxicant, in the right hand and a lotus-flower and a citron-fruit in the left, are waiting upon him and dance, song and music are going on in front of him; but his mind, being in touch with the Reality, is experiencing the spiritual bliss, and the expression of his eyes stands as a witness to it. For, the characteristic feature of the Kaulism is that it denies antagonism between sensuous joy and spiritual bliss (Ananda); recognises the former to be a means to the latter; and emphatically asserts that it is meant for the few, who are highly proficient in the Raja-Yoga as distinct from the heath-Yoga, who have such a control over the mind that they can withdraw it from the stimulating object even at a time when it is being enjoyed most and concentrate it on the tip of Susumna.
It has an aesthetic significance. Abhinavagupta is a well recognised authority on Saivaism in general and on poetics, dramaturgy, music, aesthetics and the three monistic systems of the Saiva philosophy, dealt with in the present edition, in particular, on account of the 48 works which his powerful pen produced. The picture presents his as a practical musician, playing upon Nada-Vina, a stringed instrument, capable of producing the original musical sound, called Nada, and experiencing the transcendental bliss (Ananda). It shows that his assertion that the sensuous aspect of a work of fine art leads an aesthete, who possesses the necessary subjective conditions, to the highest level of perfects bliss through the imaginative, emotive and Kathartic levels, is based upon his personal experience.
It has an historical importance; because it presents an important event in the history of Sanskrit Literature in so far as it presents Abhinavagupta explaining the sections on music in the Natya Sastra of Bharata to his pupils, Ksemaraja etc., who are attentively listening to him and are taking down the words of the master: and also because it reflects a very important religio-philosophical movement in the 10th century A. D.
The pictorial art can present just one moment of life of its object of presentation which the pictorial genius conceives to be the most important visual aspect, inasmuch s it reflects the inner being in a way that suggests the state of consciousness, self or Atman. Accordingly the central fact, presented in the picture, is the expression of the eyes, which suggests the rest of the self in itself, the experience of the Self of Itself. (Svatma-paramarsa).
Two of the smaller works of Abhinavagupta (i) the Paryanta Pancasika and (ii) the Ghatakarpara Kulaka Vivrti have been given a small Chapter each, because there is a misunderstanding about them in the minds of some scholars.
The two monistic systems, the Krama and the Kula, which developed side by side with the Pratyabhijna, are known to few. The Kashmir Saiva thought, therefore, has been identified with the Pratybhijna only. Accordingly the philosophical works of Abhinavagupta are attempted to be interpreted in the light of this known system. Hence arose the misunderstanding about the system of philosophy, presented in the Paryanta Pancasika. The third Chapter in the historical part of this work attempts to remove it.
There are very few poetic production in the vast Sanskrit Literature, which present so many problems as does the Ghatakarpara Kulaka. A separate small chapter, therefore, has been devoted to it to solve them in the light, thrown on them by Abhinavagupta's commentary, the Vivrti, on it. It shows that the poem "Ghatakarpara" does not simply reverse the "motif of the Meghaduta by making a love-lorn lady, in the rainy season, send a message to her lover" : that the word "Kulaka", which is an essential part of the title of the poem, according to Abhinavagupta, does not mean a set of five or more verses with only one finite verb, as it is ordinarily understood to mean : on the contrary, it means a type of musical poetic composition (Gita-Kavya) - consisting of a group of songs, which presents one theme and, therefore, the members of which are well connected with one another,-meant for presentation on the stage in a manner different from that of a drama inasmuch as in it singing, acting and dance follow one another: that such poems were not only being staged at the time of Abhinavagupta : that it belongs to the highest type of poetry inasmuch as it is highly suggestive, as has been pointed out by Abhinavagupta in his commentary: that the repetition of different groups of letters (Yamaka) in it is not a sign of laboured composition, nor is its condemnation by our contemporaries as a low type of poetry justifiable, in the light of Abhinavagupta's critical estimate of it, which seems to have anticipated such an adverse criticism : that, according to Abhinavagupta, who follows the Kashmirian tradition about it, it is from the pen of Kalidasa and that the status of Kalidasa as the topmost poet is not adversely affected by this poem; for, the use of Yamakas in it gives such a musical value to it as enhances its emotional and aesthetic value. The Kashmirian tradition about Kalidasa's authorship of the Ghatakarpara Kulaka seems to be supported by the fact that in the Malavikagnimitra, the musical poetic composition of Sarmistha is a poem of this type.
The sixth Chapter in the philosophical part presents the Krama system in a proper historical perspective and gives an account of the literature on and of the exponents of it. It is a monistic system. Like the dualistic-cum-monistic Saiva system, propounded by Lakulisa and known as Lakulisa Pasupata, it has a pentadic tendency: it thinks in terms of groups of five concepts or postulates. Accordingly the basic pentad, which represents the five forms in which the Absolute manifests itself, consists of the five, Vyomavamesvari etc., and the aspects of speech, which are recognised to he three by Bhartrhari in his Vakyapadiyam, four by Somananda in his Siva Drsti, are admitted to be five, adding Suksma to the generally recognised four, Para, Pasyanti, Madhyama and vaikhari. It is a Sakta system, not only in its ritualistic aspect, in which it enjoins the use of wine, woman and meat, but also in its philosophical aspect inasmuch as it recognises the Ultimate Metaphysical Principle to be Kali and advocates the following of the Saktopaya for the realisation o the Reality. It asserts that the ethical value of an action is entirely determined by the motive. Hence the use of the prohibited, such as wine etc., in the ritual does not mean moral turpitude, because the motive in it is not the satisfaction of the senses, but the realisation of the Real.
The last Chapter deals with the Kula system. It traces the history of the system from the 5th century A. D., when it was propagated by Macchanda alias Mina, to the 18th century A. D. when Bhaskara Raya wrote his commentary on the Nityasodasikarnava in Kasi (Varanasi). It gives an account of the vast literature on it in an historical order, though most of it is known from Abhinava's references only.
The Kaulism is a difficult system of philosophy. It has been recognised as such by Abhinavagupta himself. Its chief contribution is the conception of "Anuttara", a word, which has been interpreted in twenty-two different ways to bring out the full philosophical significance of it. It synthesizes the Saivaism and the Saktism and holds the Ultimate Reality to be the unity of Anuttara and Anuttara, in which the plurality is as absent s in the first letter of the Devanagari alphabetical system "a" in such instances as "Simanta" in which the following "a" at the beginning of "Anta" becomes one with the preceding, at the end of the word "Sima", according to Panini's aphorism "Atogune".
It is, therefore, a monistic system. It was very much influenced in its development by the philosophy of language, propounded by the philosophers of language like Nandikesvara, Panini, Patanjali, Bhartrihari, Vrsabha, Punyaraja, Helaraja etc. it gives the philosophy of the letters of the Devanagari alphabetical system, in a way which has close similarity with that of the letters of the fourteen aphorisms in the beginning of Panini's system, given earlier by Nandikesvara. It spread, not only all over India, including the South, but over China also and influenced the Buddhism. Its Tantric aspect got so firmly rooted in China that sages from India went there to learn the Kaulika practices.
In conclusion I very sincerely thank the University Grants Commission for the timely help to enable me to complete this work and to "prepare and publish" others according to the plan; the authorities of the Lucknow University for giving me the necessary facilities for continuing teaching and research; learned scholars in many Universities such as Dr. N. N. Choudhury, Delhi Professor P. Pradhan, Cuttack, Dr. Ashutosh Bhattacharya, Calcutta, Professor C. K. Pandey, Patna, Dr. R. S. Tripathi, Aligarh, Professor Viramani Prasad Upadhyaya, Gorakhpur, for enlightening me on some points referred to them; te Management and the workers of the Chowkhamba Sanskrit Series, Varanasi, for their enthusiasm in bringing out this work; scholars in general for their deep interest, which has been responsible for the demand for the second edition; and Mr. Aditya Prakash Misra M. A. and Mrs. Lila Pandey B. A. for their devoted and selfless assistance.
The work now being placed before the public-Abhinavagupta: An Historical and Philosophical Study by Dr. Kanti Chandra Pandey –is an important contribution to scholarship. It provides an account of well-known, but little-studied, philosophical system, known under the several names of 'Siva' 'Trika' 'Pratyabhijna' and others. The basic Sutras expounding the system are by Siva himself, followed by Parasurama Gaudapada and others: but like Sankaracarya in the realm of Vedanta whose basis lay in the Upanisads, the person who made the system intelligible was the great Abhinava Gupta who hails, like so many writers of the period, from Kashmir. He is a voluminous writer on several subjects-on Dramaturgy, on Rhetoric, on the Philosophy of Poetry and on Philosophy. But whatever he wrote, not only on Philosophy but also on poetry and Poetics-in all there runs the under-current of spirituality culminating in that 'Brahmasvada' the idea of which he has made so popular.
I have only to add, in the words of my esteemed friend, Mahamahopadhyaya Pandit Gopinath Kaviraj that in the succeeding volumes the author will "concentrate" his energy on the constructive side of his work-viz. its exposition and interpretation, more than on the refutation of doctrines". It is not that there is no constructive aspect in the present volume: there is plenty of it : but is so embeded in the mass of polemics in which our writers always revel, that an ordinary student will find it difficult to utilize it for his purpose.
It is encouraging to find a young scholar appearing on the horizon of Sanskrit philosophical Scholarship with such innate and acquired aptitude as one finds evinced in the following pages; especially the "historical sense" of which there is ample evidence in the first part of the work.
I hope the volume will find readers. I assure them they will be more than repaid.
Original Tantric Texts (23)
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