The land of Kashmir besides its captivating beauty is known for a profound and life transforming Shaiva philosophy. The land of Kashmir has given birth to many great Shaiva masters like Vasugupta, Somananda, Utpaldeva, Kshemedra, Swami Ram, Swami Lakshmanjoo and many others. However there is one great philosopher-scholar who stands tall amongst them all like the jewel in the crown namely Acharya Abhinavagupta
Acharya Abhinavagupta (950-1025 AD) stands as a pivot who amalgamated and synchronized various schools of thought like Kaula, Pratyabijna, Spanda prevalent during those times into one unifying philosophy which came to be known as Trika or Kashmir Shaivism. He is also credited in solidifying Kashmir Shavism as an acclaimed philosophy through his magnum opus scholarly works like Tantraloka, Tantrasara, Parmarthsara and many other soul stirring philosophical master pieces.
Abhinavagupta’s most important work on the philosophy of art is Abhinav Bharati – a long and complex commentary on Natya Shastra of Bharat muni. This work has been one of the most important factors contributing to Abhinavagupta’s fame up until present day. His most important contribution was that to the theory of Rasa (aesthetic savour).
This year 2nd June marked the birth anniversary of the intellectual giant Acharya Abhinavagupta. The day was celebrated across the globe by ardent followers of Kashmir Shavism through various online programs whuch included lectures, debates, webinars and Face Book live events.
On this day, numerous programs were organized by two main Ashrams of Kashmir Shaiv Darshana , namely Swami Ram Trika Ashram and Ishwar Ashram Trust jointly. The celebrations started by traditional Pooja at Swami Ram Shaiv Trika Ashram Srinagar at 7 am. This was followed by AIR radio talk on Acharya Abhinavagupta at 7.10 am and Radio talk on FM Radio Sharda, Jammu by ardent Shaivite Sh Sanjay Raina. The traditional Pooja continued at Swami Ram Shaiv Trika Ashram Jammu at 9 am and this was telecasted live through Facebook for the benefit of all followers.
A series of day webinars started from 10.30 am. The first webinar was from Sanskrit College Ambala and was joined by nearly 350 people including reputed scholars and Sadhaks of Kashmir Shaiv Dashana and Tantra. The webinar was presided by noted scholar Dr Ramakant Angiras and the others who presented their papers included Dr. Beena Aggarwal, Sh. Upendra Ambardar, Dr. Surendermohan Mishra. The program was moderated by Dr Ashutosh Angiras and vote of thanks was presented by Sh. Sunil Raina Rajanaka.
The next webinar, at 12 noon was from the central University of Jammu. Dr Rajnish Shukla explained the importance of the works done by Acharya Abhinavagupta. Also a talk was organised from Hanaoi, Vietnam at Embassy of India at 1.30 pm.
This momentum continued with a webinar by Kurukshetra University at 3 pm where international scholar on Kashmir Shaivism Sarah Louise Gates, Sh Lalit Parimoo, Dr. Rajnish Mishra and Dr Surendermohan Mishra gave their presentations. The program was moderated by Sh Sunil Raina Rajanaka and vote of thanks was given by Sh Ravidutt Sharma.
IGNCA Delhi released a documentary on life of Acharya Abhinavagupta by broadcasting the same through their webinar at 5 pm. JNU organised a special webinar at 5.30 pm to commemorate the Jayanti of Acharya Abhinavagupta. The speakers included Sh Ashutosh Bhatnagar, Sh Jawahar Lal Kaul, Dr. Ramesh K Naniwal, Dr. Yogesh Sharma, Dr Hari Ram Mishra, Prof. Anita Jain, Dr. Rajnish Mishra, Dr. Rajnish Shukla and vote of thanks was given by Sh Mayank Shekhar.
The celebrations continued till late evening. The evening programme at 7 pm started with a rare video playback of Swami Lakshmanjoo Maharaj talking about the achievement of the great acharya. This was followed by the Facebook live talk by Prof M L Kukiloo (Ishwar Ashram Trust) and Bhajan rendition by Smt. Naina Saproo ji who in her melodious voice wonderfully sang the famed Bhairavstotra of Acharya Abhinavagupta.
Eminent Actor Sh Lalit Parimoo was on Facebook live at 8 pm discussing Art and Philosophy and ‘Rasas’ given by Acharya Abhinavagupta the program was organised by Dr. Mahesh Koul from Himalayan Heritage Foundation.
Late night webinar by Centre for India Studies, under State University of New York was conducted through special Webinar from New York at 10.30 pm till 1.30 am in the night. The speaker Dr Arindam Chakrabarti enthralled the audience by explaining about the genius Abhinavagupta. The program was chaired by famous Dr Nirmal Mattoo and was moderated by Sh Rakesk Kaul.
The celebration’s continued on to 3rd June when special program through facebook live was conducted under Himalayan Heritage Foundation where Sh Sanjay Raina explained the importance of Kashmir Shaivism and teachings of Abhinavagupta. He emphasised the need for practicing the same and living the life of true Shaivite in our day today life. The other speaker Dr. Dileep kaul gave talk on place consciousness and why it is connected with Kashmir and Abhinavagupta. The third speaker Sh Manan Saxena explained the importance of Kashmir Shaivism. The program was conducted by Sh Vishal Sharma and vote of thanks was proposed by Sh Sandeep Raj Koul.
The celebration’s concluded on 5th June when Kavikulaguru Kalidas University, Nagpur organised a webinar. The program had scholars including Dr Radhavallabh Tripathi, Dr Navjivan Rastogi, Prof Nanda Puri, Prof Madhusudan Penna, Dr Parag Joshi who deliberated on the works of Acharya Abhinavagupta. Dr Radhavallabh Tripathi, former vice chancellor of Rashtriya Sanskrit Sanasthan, New Delhi in his address said, “The western scholars like Max Muller had denied the presence of Aesthetics in ancient India but the commentaries of Acharya Abhinavgupta “Dhwanyaloklochana” and “Abhinav Bharati” are the documentary evidences of well advanced Aesthetics in India.” Prof Varkhedi also informed the audience that the University has passed a Resolution to celebrate Jayanti of Acharya Abhinavagupta every year.
Besides this many webinars and talks were organised by various organisations. The eminent scholars who participated in these talks include Prof. Navjivan Rastogi, Prof Ramakant Angiras, Prof. Harmohan Mishra and Prof. Moti Lal Pandit. A special photo video with musical santoor rendition was released and a short video from young kashmiri kids wishing the people on Jayanti was prepared by Sh Akhil Koul and the same was released on the day.
On this auspicious occasions the honorable Vice-President of India Sh.Venkaiah Naidu greeted the practitioners of Kashmir Shaivism and Tantra. In his message that was tweeted he said, “Remembering Acharya Abhinavagupta, a revered Guru of Kashmir Shaivism, a great philosopher and versatile genius, known for his seminal works in the field of literary crirticism, dramaturgy, music, Tantra and yoga.”
Sh Rakesh Koul from Bangalore read out the message from Lt.Governor of Jammu and Kashmir Sh. Girish Chandra Murmu released an exhaustive official message on this occasion congratulating the Kashmiri Shaiva practitioners and Sadhaks, he said, “Kashmir’s saints, scholars and spiritual Gurus have enriched this non-dual spiritual and traditional legacy for centuries and latest in the lineage of Masters like Swami Ram Ji, Swami Mahtab Kak Ji and Swami Lakshman Joo directed all their efforts during their life time towards making the basic concepts of Kashmir Shaivism comprehensible for everyone in the world.”
The tradition of celebrating the birth anniversary of Acharya Abhinavagupta in contemporary times was started by Swami Ram Shaiva Trika Ashram in Fateh Kadal, Kashmir and continued by the ardent followers of Kashmir Shavism in Jammu Ashram after forced displacement of community in 1990. The activity received a flip and the name of Acharya Abhinavagupta became a household name after the Millennium year celebrations in 2016-17.
Sri Sri Ravishankar, whose Art of Living Foundation hosted the national conference of Millennium year celebrations said true intellectuals are celebrated beyond centuries and Acharya Abhinavagupta was such amazing thinker and philosopher. Remembering that his first-ever discourses were based on Shiv Sutras, he said ‘Om Namah Shivay” is a chant that connects India from Kashmir till Rameshwaram. “Today’s program is only the conclusion of year-long celebrations, but Acharya Abhinavagupta’s message has to be taken to everyone across India and the world.”
Attended by several signatories including Union Minister for HRD, Prakash Javadekar who while addressing the gathering termed Acharya Abhinavagupta as, “greatest philosopher on earth.”