Abhinavagupta, a leading figure in Kashmir Saivism, is increasingly being recognized as one of the chief contributors to the evolution of Indian thought. In his encyclopaedic work, the Tantraloka, 'Light on the Tantras', he describes the various tantras of his day and places at their apex the most extreme of them, the Kula ritual, which proposes the use of wine and meat and intercourse with women of the lower castes.
Is Abhinavagupta's esteem of the Kula ritual just the shadow side of genius, an aberration best forgotten? This work is a translation - the first into English of any chapter of the Tantraloka of Abhinavagupa's version of the Kuala ritual. It also provides a translation - the first into any language - of Jayaratha's indispensable commentary. It shows the structure of the text, which is not a confused mass of codes and activities but is articulated as finely as an Indian temple. The translation is accompanied by a commentary, the appendices, including glossary and index of words.
The Kula ritual leads the practitioner to ever more exalted stages of the mantra finally to reach the highest level of consciousness, the experience of mantravyapti, the 'pervasion of the mantra'. The person who knows this pervasion knows that he is Bhairava. The supreme mantra of consciousness is none other than the mantra SAUH, the supreme goddess Para, which expresses both the supreme reality and all manifested reality. In this way Abhinavagupta breaks down the dualism between sacred and profane, ritual and ordinary life so that the Kula practitioner is liberated while alive, his every act is worship and his every word is mantra.
About the Author:
John R. Dupuche is a priest of the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne. He is a member of the Ecumenical and Interfaith Commission of the Archdiocese and chair of its interfaith sub-committee and is involved with the Muslim Catholic Working Party. He is a member of the Australian Commission of Monastic Interfaith Dialogue and a director of the East-West Meditation Foundation. He is Chair of the Victorian Council of Churches Faith and Order Commission and an Honorary Research Associate at the Centre for Studies in Religion and Theology at Monash University. He conducts retreats and meditations in addition to his usual pastoral responsibilities.
He is particularly interested in the interface between Christianity and Kashmir Saivism.
Excerpts from Reviews:
"This work does
Provide us with the best detailed picture of the Kula world and its rituals that has been produced to date as that world reveals itself in this one chapter of the Tantraloka."
- Paul E. Muller-Ortega,Prof. Of Religion, University of Rochester.
Dupuche's work makes no doubt a substantial contribution to the study of the so-called Kashmir Saivism, and more generally to the study of Tantrism to which Kashmir Saivism belongs. The Kula tradition, as is well-known, forms one of the major components in Abhinava's synthesis of the various currents of Saiva tantra."
- Prof. Raffaele Torella,Chair of Sanskrit, Dipartimento di Studi Orientali,Universita di Roma 'La Sapienza', Rome
"Abhinavagupta's Tantraloka is one of the most important work on the spirituality, philosophy and ritual of Kashmir Saivism and a mine of Information on the Tantric traditions. So far only an Italian translation by R.Gnoli of the text without the commentary by Jayaratha has been published in 1972 and a French translation by Lillian Silburn and Andre Padoux of the first five chapters with comments and extracts from Jayaratha's Viveka (1998). No complete English translation of text and commentary has come out so far. Since Abhinavagupts's verses are very terse and often contain several levels of meaning, it is necessary to consult Jayarath's commentary for a complete understanding of the text, as far as possible."
"John R. Dupuche has undertaken a difficult and major work by selecting the most esoteric chapter 29 of the Tantraloka, containing the secret Kulayaga, for a complete translation and study
- Prof. Bettina Baumer,Institute of Religious Studies, University of Vienna
The Translation Of The Tantraloka 29And Jayaratha's Investigation
Original Tantric Texts (24)
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