[Advaita-l] Shankaracharya and Abhinavagupta

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at braincells.com
Mon Jan 4 11:47:57 CST 2010

[Was Re: [Advaita-l] Conference on that Date of Adi Sankaracharya in 
October, 2002]

On Fri, 1 Jan 2010, Satish Arigela wrote:

>> As regards the Sankara Vijaya you referred to are you sure it was 
>> written by Vidyaranya Swami himself an not by his namesake

Madhava the author of the mAdhavIya shaMkaradigvijaya is the same person 
who took sannyasa under the name vidyAraNyA.  His nephew also called 
Madhava is also a celebrated author of shastraic works so the two are 
often confused.

> and do you 
>> think the great Tantric Abhinabhagupta, referred to in that, was from 
>> Kamarupa and not from Kashmir?
> Are you sure the text says abhinava gupta? Or does it say navagupta? I 
> dont remember. abhinavagupta is a trika shaiva from kAshmIra whereas 
> navagupta, they say is a shAkta from kAmarUpa

The 15th sarga describes Shankaracharyas digvijaya.

15.158 reads:

tadanantarameSha kAmarUpAnadhigatyAbhinavopashabdaguptam |
ajayatkila shaktibhAShyakAraM sa cha bhagno manasedamAluloche ||

The next few shlokas tell how this Abhinavagupta was defeated and 
pretended to submit to Shankaracharya so the latter would not steal his 
shishyas away.

The 16th sarga describes Shankaracharyas visit to Kashmir to ascend the 

16.1 reads:

atha yadA jitavAnyatishekaro.abhinavaguptamanuttamamantrikam |
sa tu tadA.apajito yatigocharaM hatamanA.h kR^itavAnapagoraNam ||

Then the next 20+ shlokas tell rest of the story of how he cursed 
Shankaracharya with a fatal disease but PadmapAdAcharya made it rebound on 

Some observations:

1. In both places, Abhinavagupta is mentioned not Navagupta.

2. This Abhinavagupta is said to be a "mantrika" and the author of 
shaktibhashya (on the Brahmasutras?)  But the famous Abhinavagupta is a 
Shaiva as you say.  Which though similiar is not exactly the same thing as 
a Shakta.  As far as I know the only known work called Shaktibhashya is by 
a 20th century Bengali pandit called Panchanana Tarkaratna Bhattacharya. 
The famous Abhinavagupta has not as far as I know written a work by that 

3.  According to Abhinavaguptas Tantraloka, Matsyendranath the founder of 
the tantric Kaula sampradaya, came from Kamarupa.  Could there be some 
confusion between the two by someone far away in time and place (14th 
century Vijayanagara) from the historical events?  However it should be 
noted that Madhavacharya junior in his sarvadarshanasamgraha does include 
a chapter on pratyabhijna darshana so Kashmiri Shaiva thought and 
literature were not unknown in that environment.

4.  Abhinavagupta mentions several kings of Kashmir and extensive 
biographical details about his family so we can be confident of dating him 
to the late 9th-early 10th century.  If he was truly a contemporary of 
Shankaracharya, this will launch another long thread! :-)

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>

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