Tantrasara by Abhinavagupta (Sanskrit Text With Transliteration and English Translation)

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About the Book Tantrasara is an extensive digest and recension of Tantraloka, a magnum opus by Acarya Abhinavaguptapada, The author himself created this digest to have a comprehensive study of the voluminous text, as this great and important text is not easy to absorb by everyone in a larger study material form. The complete text (10th century A.D.) is a compendium of all Tantrika rituals and philosophical essence of Tantra, drawn from the light of all pre-precepts on Indian Tantra ...

About the Book

Tantrasara is an extensive digest and recension of Tantraloka, a magnum opus by Acarya Abhinavaguptapada, The author himself created this digest to have a comprehensive study of the voluminous text, as this great and important text is not easy to absorb by everyone in a larger study material form. The complete text (10th century A.D.) is a compendium of all Tantrika rituals and philosophical essence of Tantra, drawn from the light of all pre-precepts on Indian Tantra till the time of the creator. This text consists of thirty seven chapters. It reflects on Tantra from the background of Kashmir Saivism which is known as the monistic philosophy of Saivism with the technical term Pratyabhijna. Abhinavagupta explains here in a lucid way about the ways to worship the Supreme Consciousness in order to attain this state of Absolute ecstasy and liberation in one single life of mankind. This work is before the English-speaking world for the first time in a hermeneutic way.


About the Author

Gautam Chatterjee is an aspirant of Kashmir Saivism through Consciousness studies unlike epiphenomenological terms. An oft-quoted author of various books and president of Abhinavagupta Academy, Dr. Chatterjee has a lineage of Pt. Ishvarchandra Vidyasagar with deep Sanskrit tradition and has been a close associate of Thakur Jaidev Singh. His work on Agama and Natyasastra is an extensive study material.



Great Saivite, spiritually enlightened liberated soul and spectacular connoisseur of tenth century A.D., Abhinavaguptapada's contribution in the area of Tantra is his magnum opus 'Tantraloka'. Tantra is a spiritual way to realize the intrinsic meaning of Indian wisdom encapsulated in veda by expanding and explaining the knowledge. Tantra is not separated but a traditionally practiced branch of veda itself (srutisakhavisesah). In ancient Vedic period, multiple interdisciplinary knowledge-disciplines were discovered and developed as knowledge-systems to understand practically the wisdom of veda with the character of all inclusiveness, such as etymology (nirukta), logic (nyaya), grammar (vyakarana), hermeneutics (mimamsa) etc. But still the wisdom is not yet truly revealed, completely. veda itself suggested a path to understand its meaning and semantics and way to attain light in the form of Tantra as its own branch. Tantra explained the wisdom at length in several forms from the vedic period till tenth century. The Agama literature which reveals the vedic wisdom through Tantrika way, appeared before our eyes in post- vedic period. Abhinavagupta collected and understood all Agama literature from his ancestors from Kashmir Saivism and from ancient, old available exegesis beginning with Pasupata Saivism, and gave a text form with the title' Tantraloka. This voluminous text consists of thirty seven chapters, each having numerous slokas in Sanskrit. He himself found, after completion, that it was cumbersome, not lucid and easy, to understand and grasp the essential meaning of the text at a glance, and it took a long time to go through. So he made a digest of Tantraloka in abridged form without loosing the sense of meaning with the title' Tantrasara. It’s all twenty slim chapters reveals the same in a stupendous and exuberant manner which after understanding prescribes a quintessential way to attain the light of wisdom.

In order to understand the semantics of this medieval text, we need to know some fundamentals of modern language and linguistics and aesthetics as well.

Text is always an abstract. In Indian tradition, that which is abstract is subtle. And, that which is subtle is formless, even Nada, Bindu and Kala in Tantra. Therefore, in order to have a fabulous glimpse of consciousness and abstraction, we need to put aside 'pre occupation' to have 'pre understanding'. Pre understanding is technically attached to all ancient texts which seem difficult to understand at first glance, like Vedic text. It is a technical term. In Sanskrit, it is termed as 'Paribhasa'. Pari is around, and bhasa is to speak. Therefore, paribhasa means a maxim that furnishes guidance for the correct interpretation of a work, unlike definition. This was the reason why Mimamsa came into existence to interpret comprehensively and etymologically in the Vedic period. Now it is hermeneutics in practice as to how to read and interpret an ancient exegesis.

Towards the end of Vedic period a new prose style of composition appeared in India. This style is called Sutra style and is characterised by extreme brevity of expressions. Kalpa, one of the six Vedangas, includes four types of Sutras works, namely, Srauta, Grihya, Dharma and Sulba.

This is interestingly essential. Etymologically 'history' means 'this is what happened' and 'itihasa' (iti+ha+as) means 'this is how it happens' i.e. the pattern or, the paradigm. We verbalize as we cognize. This shows the way we can taste the transcendental consciousness with this fact within us. The immanent face of Pure Consciousness is in our reach as is already available in the form of our cognitive faculty to recognize the Absolute Consciousness. Andthat is why we need hermeneutics to understand all these with clarity. To understand the very essence of any ancient text, to find our history and itihasa in accuracy, this is the time to apply this refined vision called hermeneutics.

Hermeneutics is an art of interpretation, suggests, how to read an ancient text, or exegesis. Etymologically it is derived from its Greek root 'hermes', meaning God. Hermeneutics, in Greece in 6th century B.C. were the messengers of God who used to communicate the instructions and benedictions of God among the masses. So in ancient Greece, hermeneutics were the messengers of the (Greek) Gods, the intermediary between the Gods and humanity. The task of a hermeneutic was to translate the God's wishes and commands into the language of, into the idioms of humans. Later we cultivated the language of metaphors, mnemonics, metonyms and mythologies, in one term, in meta language, i.e. a language about a language. This way, we can say that the story of hurnan civilization is actually the story of language. In Greek mythology, hermes is considered to be the inventor of language and writing (the principal tools by means of which we comprehend meaning and communicate it to the others), because the discipline of hermeneutics is concerned with uncovering and explicating the meaning of utterances.

But Since the western mind towards consciousness is dichotomous, consisting of body and mind only, it refers to the term 'hermeneutics' in the western sense of meaning, i.e. the way of reading a biblical text or an ancient exegesis from the point of view of the receptive end (which is now reception theory in European English literary criticism), but since the Indian mind is tripartite from time immemorial, consisting of body, mind and Atman, it prescribes the way to receive the inherent, mystic, seemingly incomprehensive, hidden meaning of the text, not from outside but from the text within. The way is already given within the text to decipher. The aspirant, the Yogi or the spiritual student has to find out that suggested way from within the text. Ancient Indian spiritual texts were composed in this beautiful way. Each text is composed with its own hermeneutics. One methodology cannot be applied for the other text. The practice of this special discipline has been handed over from Vedic seers and grammarians to the adequate recipients till medieval period, till the period of Abhinavagupta and onwards. Thus to understand Kashmir Saivism and his main work' Tantraloka, Abhinava prescribes his hermeneutics that we have to trace from the text within. Tantraloka refers to the practices and worships and the music of Tantra aesthetically (and Tantra only means the expansion of wisdom; tanyate vistarayate gyanam anen iti tantra, is the nirukti of tantra). The music of Tantra implies the musical abstraction of Tantra where it is suggested to Yogithat, if he listens to Vina, he attains Samadhi. In Indian context, the Sanskrit term from lexicons, for hermeneutics is Mimamsa. Purva Mimamsa suggests much wisdom. This understanding of Mimamsa dates back to early vedic period, earlier from the period of six systems of Indian philosophy. There are Mimamsa Sutras, numerous methods to decipher, to decode the text full of hymns, mantras, suktis; karikas, shlokas and samhite. Mimamsa sutra suggests scholar how to decode technical terms used in a particular ancient spiritual text, like Vedic text or mantra samhita, the portion of hymns, and also, how to recite with correct inflection, like Eka kala, Dvi kala and Chatus Kala in Natyashastra. In this school, we have also Karma Mimamsa. We find dozen of scholars from our ancient past who commented upon these Mimamsa sutras. They are Prabhakara, Kumarila, Apestambs (for Dharma sutras and syllogism), Asvalayana, Sankhayana, Hirenyakesin, Latyayana, Drahyayana, Baudhayana, Manava and Jaimini. If one is interested, one can go into the vast horizon of this discipline.

Thus, we will not interpret the text, or Stura, or a Karika from outside, but from within the text. It offers three kinds of language to understand the language of that which is abstract, these are- upside-down language, mythological language and poetical language, i.e. music. In his Astadhyayi, seer Psnini identifies four kinds of creators as drishi, proktaa, upagyaat and krita. They all need language to communicate. They need a form to interpret that which is formless.



1 Foreword 5
2 Introducing text by Abhinavagupta 19
3 Chapter I: Vijnanabheda prakasanam 29
4 Chapter II: Anupeye-prekasansm 39
5 Chapter III: Sambhavopaya-nirupanam 45
6 Chapter IV: Saktopaya-prakasanam 69
7 Chapter V: Introduction to Anavopaya 113
8 Chapter VI:Bahya vidhih prakasanam 147
9 Chapter VII: Desadhve prakasanam 187
10 Chapter VIII: Tattva-svarupa-prakasanam 207
11 Chapter IX: Tattva bhedans-prakasanam 255
12 Chapter X: Kaladhyadhva-prakasanam 301
13 Chapter XI: Saktipata-prakasanam 315
14 Chapter XII: Snanaprakasanam 353
15 Chapter XIII: Samayi-diksa-prakasanam 365
16 Chapter XIV: Putraka-diksa prakasanam 415
17 Chapter XV: Sapratyaya-diksadi prakasanam 429
18 Chapter XVI: Paroksediksa-prakasanam 439
19 Chapter XVII: Lingoddhara 453
20 Chapter XVIII: Abhiseka-prakasanam 459
21 Chapter XIX: Sraddha-diksa-prakasanam 465
22 Chapter XX: Sesa-vartana-prakasanam 475
23 Chapter XXI: Agama-pramanya prakasanam 515
24 Chapter XXII: Kulayaga-prakasanam 541
25 Bibilography 581

Sample Pages

Item Code: NAK136 Author: (Ed.) Gautam Chatterjee Cover: Paperback Edition: 2015 Publisher: Indian Mind ISBN: 8186117229 Language: Sanskrit Text With Transliteration and English Translation Size: 9.0 inch X 6.0 inch Pages: 584 Other Details: Weight of the Book: 720 gms
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