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Lakshman Joo Dignâga - Dharmakîrti  Thomas Aquinas Abhinavagupta Ibn al-'Arabi Sabbatai Sevi Rameshwar Jha
The Disciple and his Masters Bhairava-Anuttara The Master and his Disciples

svAbhinava

an exegesis à la Abhinavagupta

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"During his latter days of ecstasy Swamiji only explained selected pithy verses from the Agama sastras and Yogavasistha and sang these along with his disciples in divine rapture. These continue to be sung by devotees at Sunday satsang meetings with the wonderful Gurustuti composed early by one of Swamiji's illustrious disciple of Varanasi, Sri Rameshwar Jha, who having studied and practised Vedantic Mysticism had found great interest in the Kashmir Saiva Mysticism and had accepted Lakshmana joo as his preceptor of the Faith."

Pandit Jankinath Kaul 'Kamal',
"Swami Laxman Joo: The Sage of Ishaber"

(français, español, italiano, deutsch)

Abhinavagupta has consecrated this collaborative web-site with his own name, which has become for us a cipher for all that his life and work still embodies. This great 'pseudo-etymologist' not only took an idiosyncratic pleasure in over-loading the simplest words with multiple interlocking and even contradictory meanings, he surrendered his very individuality to the symbolic possibilities of re-construction (pace Derrida) suggested by his name. Hence, our site has trademarked his name 'Abhinava' into your very 'own' (sva-).

First of all, the prefix SV- is the initials of Sunthar Visuvalingam, who has conceived and deployed this long-overdue site that really belongs to everyone who contributes to and participates in its collaborative activities. After all, Sunthar's life-work is very much inspired by (his study of the writings of) Abhinavagupta, the great 'hidden' (-gupta!) treasure (also sva) of India that the world now claims as its own. What originally began as Ph.D. research into Abhinavagupta's Conception of Humor, soon got married to an 'anthropology' of Bhairava-incarnate so as to engender a full scale investigation into the vantage point of transgressive sacrality for deciphering first the Hindu tradition and now the other world religions. Side-by-side has developed an ongoing engagement with the larger Indian and international community grappling with the minutiae of his writings and the wider contemporary significance of his thought. This site is therefore more than a passive mirror reflecting Abhinava's thought - it's an evolving multi-faceted dialogue spanning the millennium not only between Sunthar and Abhinava, but between each one of us (sva-) and the universal promise of his ideas. Each of us will necessarily appropriate and reshape this legacy in his/her own way - to each your own (sva-!) Abhinava!

Again, the prefix SU- signifies the 'good,' the 'beautiful' and also the 'intelligent' - qualities that have converged so harmoniously and 'auspiciously' into the unifying spiritual insight (pratibh�) of Abhinavagupta. Not only is Abhinava India's greatest authority on aesthetics, but his discerning connoisseurship of the arts is informed by acute conceptual analysis and profound compassion for the welfare of the world. With the other hand, he unravels and plays upon the subtlest philosophical notions with a conversational lightness and dexterity possible only in a spirit that has imbibed their very essence. And beneath it all, he fathoms the Tantric depths of our animal nature with a purity of intention that redeems and widens his and our own humanity. More than an attempt to conserve and systematize received traditions, his commentaries 'radically re-new' (abhi-nava!) their understanding by illuminating their apparent obscurities and contradictions with fresh insights that he did not even bother to claim as his own (sva-). The highest tribute we could pay to Abhinava is to make him our contemporary, i.e., to 're-new' him in the light of our own individual and collective understanding.

Were Abhinava alive today, he would be studying at the feet of those initiated into the mysteries of every extant religious tradition, identifying himself even with those primitive Bhairavas that had never become literate enough to write down their experiences. You might have escaped a close encounter as he whizzed past, transgressing man-made speed barriers, on the auto-route to Andalusia intent on re-discovering the secrets of peaceful co-existence and cultural co-production once enjoyed by the children of Abraham. We might have caught a glimpse of him seated closest to the exit at a Harvard seminar-hall or shaking his head with amusement sauntering through the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art. We would have certainly overheard him polemicizing in the vernacular, just like the learned buffoon of the Sanskrit theater, amidst fellow bohemians in all the intellectual capitals of the world. You might have bumped into him wandering the red-light district of Paris looking around for a prospective disciple in Picasso, just before he retired back into his cavernous studio to deploy his (semblance of) humor serenely over the Internet onto a yet unexplored territory of human folly - global politics. For all we know, like Tagore's Gora, we might discover that he is no longer even an Indian! My teacher Rameshwar Jha, whose favorite banter with his soul-mate Swami Lakshman Joo was to accuse each other of imagining himself to be the latest incarnation of Abhinavagupta, always declared that his was (not a disciple- but) a guru-factory. In short, Abhinava would have recognized himself in the cross-fertilizing multi-faceted aptitudes of all of us involved in this hydra-headed collective enterprise!