I have great pleasure in introducing to the world of scholars the Tantrasara of Abhinavagupta translated for the first time into Hindi by Pndit Hemendra Nath Chakravarty, B, A, B, Ed Nyaya-Tarka-Tirtha.
The beautiful valley of Kasmir has produced a galaxy of Saivacaryas among whom Abhinavagupta was the most erudite and lucid exponent of the Advaita Saiva Philosophy, popularly called Kasmira Saivism. He was a prolific writer who is believed to have amalgamated diverse currents of Tantricism, then prevalent in Kasmira. As many as forty-four works on Kasmira Saivism in the form of commentaries on various works, including Saiva Tantras, original works, devotional poems are ascribed to him. His magnum opus the Tantraloka aims at throwing light on the philosophy of spiritual discipline as advocated in the Saiva Tantras in the backdrop of Saiva metaphysical theory. As this work runs in 12 volumes. Abhinavagupta himself has condensed its entire contents in his prose work Tantrasara which is a veritable digest of his encyclopedic work Tantraloka. Later he wrote the Tantra vatadhanika, small work in verse, which purports to give the teachings of Saiva Tantras in a nutshell.
The present work containing twenty-two ahnikas deals with a variety of topics which have bearing on spiritual discipline. Like any other Tantra work, it gives prominence to the various modes of spiritual discipline prescribed for different classes of spiritual aspirants and other ancilliary topics such as the concept of Divine Grace, different kinds of initiatory rites, modes of Saiva worship etc. Besides this, it also discusses the abstruse philosophy of the Trika school which is relevant to the treatment of spiritual, discipline, The entire text is replete with mystic symbols and description of esoteric practices which are incomprehensible to those who are not initiated by spiritual master and there-fore, unfit to follow the path of Saiva Sadhana prescribed by Saiva Tantras.
The learned author of this book, Pandit Chakravrty had the rare fortune of studying this work as well as other important texts on Kasmir Saivism under the guidance late Mahamahopadhyaya Dr. Gopinath Kaviraj for more than a decade, deserves congratulations for translating successfully the Sanskrit text; and for deciphering in lucid terms various spiritual practices and mystic symbols for the first time. The addition of a detailed introduction in English summarising the contents of the text and clarifying ambiguous points occurring in the text has enhanced the utility of this edition, particularly to Western readers. I have no doubt that it will win admiration of all scholars and students alike of Kasmira Saivism.
In issuing the present volume, the publishers have had in view what they believed to be the needs of a considerable and increasingly important number of the readers.
The horizon of Hindi language and literature has broadened a great extent since Independence of the country and as a result its light has encompassed in its range multifarious branches of literature, yet there exist some dark corners where the light is still dim. The present work, we hope, will throw enough light on many unknown and little-known religio-philosophic ideas of the Saiva doctrine and practices prevailed in Kashmir of the age of Abhinavagupta.
Tantrasara, a condensation of the encyclopedic Tantraloka, is a work composed by Abhinavagupta himself for the use of less assiduous talents who cannot easily handle Tantraloka.
We have selected Tantrasara to publish it in original Sanskrit with Hindi Translation so that readers may find delight in relishing it in the language of their own. Tantrasara, an epitomised version of Tantraloka, consists of many knotty points which the learned author hinted at in a cryptic way that mere translation without sufficient notes will fail to unravel mystery, hence the translator has added his notes here and there for the easy grasp of the readers, We are thankful to Pt. Hemendra Nath Chakravarty who has undertaken this difficult task.
We must also thank the proprietor of the Aanada Printing press for their valuable assistance in bringing out Tantrasara for the fulfillment of the long felt need of the public.
Abhinavagupta is one of the most remarkable personalities of medieval India. He was a versatile scholar of exceptional talent. It is only from his own description, we can catch sight of the glorious glimpses of his life and erudition.
At the end of Paratrinsika and so in Tantraloka, Abhinavagupta writes that the midland (Madhyadesa, the Doab between the Ganga & the Jamuna) was the ancestral home of his forefathers. This Antarvedi, that is, the Doab had once been the home of sacred literatures, where in the noble Brahman family one Atrigupta was born. He was accomplished in all branches of learning. He was born in Atrigotra, in the family of sage Atri and was named Atrigupta. He made himself a distinguished scholar after mastering over the sea of knowledge and acquired the rare art of disseminating it to eager pupils. His erudition soon came to the notice of Lalitaditya, the victorious prince of Kashmir. After the conquest of Kanauj defeating Yasovarman, the King, felt an impetuous desire for his friendship and brought him to Pravarpura, his capital, in Kashmir, This happened sometime between 785 and 795 A.D.
A spacious house was built by the order of the king on the bank of Vitasta to afford the view of Siva’s temple for Atrigupta, and for its proper maintenance the king granted enough riches to it.
In that noble family of Atrigupta after a lapse of about one hundred and fifty years one Varahagupta, a highly religious and a devout worshipper of Siva was born. His son was Narasimhagupta, popularly known as Cukhalaka who acquired intellect and pure wisdom (Candravadatadhisana) after delving deep into the delicious flavour of all literatures. (Sarvasastra rasamajjana subhracitta).
Abbinavagupta was born of Cukhulaka. He mentions the name of his father as Cukhalaka thus; Kasmirakaccukhas lakadadhigamya janma, but at the same time be mentions him as Narasimhagupta from whom be received lessons in grammar and earned competency in entering the intricacy of words. He speaks of his father how in his youth leaving behind all the allurements of domestic life he had accepted the path of renunciation with a firm resolve and was able to obtain pure devotion to Lord Siva. His Mother was Vimalakala who left bhinavagupta bereaved while he was a mere boy (balya eva), but he says frankly that though the hands of God ( daiva ) have made a sharp blow, yet this unknown factor shaped his nature in such a way that it failed to cause any impediment in his advancement along the path as ordained by Lord. This early separation of his mother helped him a great deal in choosing his future course of life.
He says that it is a common saying of people that mother is the great friend of man. But, on the contrary, he says that her affection to her son makes the bonds of life tighter. Hence, she is considered to be the basic bond (mulabandha) of human beings. When it falls off, it seemed to him that he had attained liberation while living. Therefore, he applied himself devotedly to learn the subtleties of dialectics. Then in order to enjoy the flavour of Sahitya to its full, he being urged by his devotion to Lord and goaded by his own earnestness and love for literature, went to eminent scholars with the purpose of augmenting the delight he received from his close association with them. It is stated that he received lessons from a good number of teachers conversant in their respective branches of learning.
As mentioned above that he received lessons in grammar from his father. Vamanatha, Bhutiraja, Bhutirajatanaya, Laksmanagupta, Induraja, Bhatta Tota were his teachers in dualistic Tantras, Brahmavidya, dualistic-cum-monistic Tantra, Krama and Trika, Dhvani, Dramaturgy respectively from the above-mentioned teachers.
He pays obeisance to Bhutriraja who was considered by him as next to lord Srikantha, stating therein that he was the incarnation of Lord Siva in this mundane world. It is he who for the good of all assumed the apart form of a human being. Similarly in Tantraloka (chap. I), he has expressed deep respect to Sambhunatha, the disciple of Somananda and it is from the former he achieved purity of consciousness. He considered Sambhunatha associated with his duti Bhagavati, the partner in the Kula form of rituals, as a person who was able to bestow release to the world. It is from his grace he received the Supreme refulgent light of knowledge (bodha) by his continuous humble service to him, He frankly admits that the path of Sastra, though remained impenetrable before, has become manifest only due to the grace of Sambhunatha, the great treasure of all Sastras. After gaining properly from his lips the content of the Sastra which seemed to him (Rahasya rasa santati sundara) a wonderful unbroken flow of nectar with spiritual significance, he received it as a spiritual heritage from Sambhunatha.
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