About the book:
Abhinavagupta, the leading figure in Kashmir Shaivism, is increasingly being recognised as one of the chief contributors to Indian thought. In his encyclopaedic work, the Tantrāloka, ‘Light on the Tantras’, he describes the various tantras of his day and places at their apex the most extreme of them, the Kula ritual, which is surpassed in his estimation only by the singe mantra of consciousness, SAUḤ.
Yet the Kula ritual proposes the use of wine and meat and intercourse with women of the lowest castes. Is Abhinava’s esteem of the Kula ritual just the shadow side of genius, an aberration best forgotten?
This work is a translation – the first into English of any chapter of the Tantrāloka – of Abhinava’s version of the Kula ritual. It also provides a translation – the first into any language – of Jayaratha’s indispensable commentary. It also shows the structure of the text, which is not a confused mass of codes and acts but is articulated as finely as an Indian temple. The translation is introduced by an exposition of the philosophical framework on which the ritual is based and is accompanied by a commentary, which explains the more obscure points. The appendices, including a full glossary and index of words, provide further information. This book is an indispensable tool for studying Abhinava’s work.
In short, the Kula ritual leads the practitioner to ever more exalted stages of the mantra finally to reach the highest level of consciousness, the experience of mantra-vyāpti, the ‘pervasion of the mantra’. The person who knows this pervasion knows that he is Bhairava. The supreme mantra of consciousness is none other than the mantra SAUḤ, the supreme goddess Parā, which expresses both the supreme reality and all manifested reality. In this way Abhinava breaks down the dualism between sacred and profane, ritual and ordinary life so that the Kula practitioner is liberated while alive, his every act is worship and his every word is mantra.
About the author
John R. Dupuche is a priest of the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne. He is a member of the Ecumenical and Interfaith Commission of the Archdiocese and chair of its Inter-faith subcommittee and is involved with the Muslim Catholic Working Party. He is a member of the Australian Commission of Monastic Interfaith Dialogue and a director of the East-West Meditation Foundation. He is chair of the Victorian Council of Churches Faith and Order Commission and an Honorary Research Associate at the Centre for Studies in Religion and Theology at Monash University. He conducts retreats and meditations in addition to his usual pastoral responsibilities.
He is particularly interested in the interface between Christianity and Kashmir Shaivism.