Abhinavagupta - Masters


Abhinavagupta is famous for his voracious thirst of knowledge. In order to study he took many teachers (as many as 15, or even more!), both mystical philosophers and scholars. He approached Vaiṣṇavas, Buddhists, Śiddhānta Śaivists and the Trika scholars.

Amongst the most prominent of his teachers he enumerates four. Vāmanātha instructed him in dualistic Śaivism, Bhūtirāja in the dualist-cum-nondualistic school. Besides being the teacher of the famous Abhinavagupta, Bhūtirāja was also the father of two eminent scholars.

Lakṣmasṇagupta, a direct disciple of Somānanda, in the lineage of Trayambaka, was highly respected by Abhinavagupta and taught him all the schools of monistic thought : Krama, Trika and Pratyabhijña (except Kula).

Śambhunātha taught him the fourth school (Ardha-trayambaka). This school is in fact Kaula, and it was emanated from Trayambaka's daughter.

For Abhinavagupta, Śambhunātha was the most admired guru. Describing the greatness of his master, he compared Śambhunātha with the Sun, in his power to dispel ignorance from the heart, and, in another place, with "the Moon shining over the ocean of Trika knowledge".

Abhinavagupta received Kaula initiation through Śambhunātha's wife (acting as a dūtī or conduit). The energy of this initiation is transmitted and sublimated into the heart and finally into consciousness. Such a method is difficult but very rapid and is reserved for those who shed their mental limitations and are pure.

It was Śambhunātha who requested of him to write Tantrāloka. As guru, he had a profound influence in the structure of Tantrāloka and in the life of its creator, Abhinavagupta.

As many as twelve more of his principal teachers are enumerated by name but without details. It is believed that Abhinavagupta had more secondary teachers. Even more, during his life he had accumulated a large number of texts from which he quoted in his magnum opus, in his desire to create a synthetic, all inclusive system, where the differences of different scriptures be resolved by integration into a superior perspective.

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