Synthesis of Indian Culture

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These are papers that were presented at the 2 conferences--international and national--on Abhinavagupta held at the Musicology Department of the Banaras Hindu University (Varanasi, India) in 1981 & 1982 respectively. The late Prof. Premlata Sharma took the initiative and received funding from the University Grants Commission (New Delhi). Sunthar was subsequently entrusted with the publication of these papers as three separate volumes on Aesthetics, Philosophy and Religion.  I have subsequently invited other scholars to submit fresh papers, and some of the original papers have already been published elsewhere. Wherever online versions are already available at other sites, I've linked to them below, and may eventually archive the originals here. In view of the growing interest, world-wide and across disciplines, in Abhinavagupta, I've also added 2 fresh areas, namely, Cognitive Sciences and World Culture.


I'm currently fleshing out this Introduction, at my own pace, from the following 1991 lecture-notes from/to Michael Witzel's seminars on Kashmir and Nepal at the Dept. of Sanskrit and Indian Studies, Harvard University.

Between Srinagar and Benares: Kashmir's Contribution towards a Synthesis of Indian Culture (1991)

Useful background reading for the sort of concerns that led me to facilitate this collective enterprise:

The Renaissance in India - by Shri Aurobindo (1918)

The National Value of Art - by Shri Aurobindo (1910)

Cognitive Sciences

Contributions that do not fit easily into any of the other categories below (aesthetics, philosophy, religion) but rather attempt to develop aspects of Abhinavagupta's epistemological framework within an emerging synthesis of the cognitive sciences: psychology (including psychoanalysis), sociology, linguistics, history and semiotics.

Lacan and dhvani - Lalita Pandit

Toward a cognitive science of poetics: Anandavardhana, Abhinavagupta, and the theory of literature - Patrick Colm Hogan

Laughter and Distress [summary]
Suddenness: Hâsa ('raw' humor) and Vismaya (Surprise) distinguished [summary]
Bisociation and Incongruity [summary]
Hâsa ('raw' humor) and Hâsya ('aesthetic' humor) as distinguished in Rasa theory [summary]



Towards an integral appreciation of Abhinava's aesthetics of Rasa - Sunthar V.


Abhinavagupta's Contribution to the Solution of some problems in Indian Musicology - Thakur Jaidev Singh

Chordophones in Abhinavabhâratî - Indrani Chakravarti

Abhinavagupta, Augustine, Time and Music - Lewis Rowell


Abhinava on Aesthetic Rapture (camatkâra)  - Navajivan Rastogi

The Role of Humor (hâsya) in Love Poetry (srngâra) - Sunthar Visuvalingam

Abhinavagupta on Phonetic Texture (Sabdaguna) - Gary Tubb

Abhinavagupta and Samuel Taylor Coleridge - Shrikrishna Mishra

Abhinavagupta and T.S. Elliott: a Comparative Study of Aesthetics - Padma Solanki

Linguistic categories and Aesthetic categories in the Dhvani theory - Marie-Claude Porcher

Vakrokti and Dhvani: Controversies about theory of Poetry in Indian Tradition - Bimal Krishna Matilal

Lalita Pandit

Some Problems in Translating from Sanskrit - Daniel H. H. Ingalls

Abhinavagupta's Integral View of Aesthetic Concepts - K. Krishnamoorthy


Bharata and the Fine Art of Mixing Structures - Mukund Lat

Abhinavagupta's approach to dharmi - Radavallabh Tripathi

Abhinavabhâratî: some Pearls from its fourth chapter (treatment of Karanas and Angahâras) - Padma Subrahmanyam

Abhinavagupta's treatment of the Monologue Play (bhâna)  - S. S. Janaki

Abhinavagupta, exegetist and connoisseur of theatrical practice: the "pseudo-play" (nâtyâyita) - Lynn Bansat-Boudon

Abhinavagupta's treatment of of the elements of the Gentle Dance (lâsyânga) - G. H. Tarlekar

Wit and Linguistic Ambiguity: Abhinava's treatment of the elements of the "riddle play" (vîthyangas) - Sunthar Visuvalingam

Abhinavagupta's aesthetics as a speculative paradigm: with a translation of "The Section on sântarasa from the Nâtyasâstra of Bharatamuni" (based on Prof. Gerow's re-edition of the text) - Edwin Gerow

Abhinava's Bisociative Conception of Humor and  the Hâsyâbhâsa of the laughing Vidûshaka - Sunthar Visuvalingam



Vidyâ and Vikalpa according to Abhinavagupta - Birgit Mayer-Konig

David Peter Lawrence

 Tantric Argument: Transfiguration of Philosophical Discourse in Pratyabhijna (1996)

 Siva's Self-Recognition and The Problem of Interpretation (1998)

 The Mythico-Ritual Syntax of Omnipotence (1998)

Navajivan Rastogi

Kamalakar Mishra


Helene Brunner Lachaux

Elizabeth Chalier-Visuvalingam

Javier Ugaz Ortiz

Abhinavagupta and transgressive sacrality: a Hindu perspective on inter-religious dialogue - Sunthar Visuvalingam

World Culture

Here are assessments of the relevance of Abhinava's thought for the emerging world culture. The contributions may not necessarily focus on Abhinavagupta, but at least make significant use of his insights.

Ethnocentrism and the very idea of literary theory - Patrick Colm Hogan

El mono gramático y el sabio alquimista: Octavio Paz y Abhinavagupta - Oscar Pujol Riembau (being translated from Spanish)