Gitartha Samgraha (critical Study)

by Partha Sarathi Sil | 2020 | 34,788 words

This page relates ‘Literary and Socio-cultural Value of the Gitarthasangraha’ of the study on Abhinavagupta’s Gitartha Samgraha commentary on the Bhagavad Gita: one of the core texts of Indian Philosophy. The Gitartha Sangraha is written in the light of Kashmir Shaivism and brings to Shaiva metaphysics and Yoga integrated in the Bhagavadgita. This study deals with Abhinava’s vision about the purpose of human existence and the accomplishment of salvation (i.e., self-realisation).

2. Literary and Socio-cultural Value of the Gītārthasaṅgraha

Abhinavagupta, the scholar of poetics, belonging to 10th century A.D., unfolded newer perspectives of his creation in Gītārthasaṅgraha. We find an exposure of the poetic art in his philosophical outlook and the manifestation of Philosophical thought in the poetical composition. By dint of his multifarious genius he managed to compose many valuable books. In one hand he has discussed the main tenets of the Tantra and Āgamaśāstra in the Tantraloka and Tantrasāra to unfold the ultimate truth of the universe, on the other he has unfolded the fundamental thought of the Pratyabhijñāphilosophy to establish it firmly as a branch of philosophy by writing the text Pratyabhijñā-Vimarśinī. Abhinavagupta, a true analyzer of the poetic secrets, has presented the core of the Nātyaśāstra in his treatise Abhinavabhāratī in front of the connoisseurs.Ānandavardhana has made the doctrine of “rasa vai sa”perpetual by giving importance to the rasa-dhvani and Abhinavagupta has given it a perfect form in his commentary named Locana. In the Gītārthasaṅgraha we find a conglomeration of all these concluded ideas.

Abhinavagupta was well versed in the philosophy of mimāṃsā and others. He has nicely presented much mystical truth in a simple manner by citing examples. He has stated in respect of slaughtering of animal in the jyotiṣṭoma sacrifice while discussing Karman and Akarman in the fouth chapter of the Śrimadbhagavadgītā that as killing of animals does not amount to acquire sin when it is for protection of the subjects form the attack of animals like lion etc., likewise slaughtering of animal in the jyotistoma sacrifice is also not an akarma[1]. We find here discussion regarding difficult action (duṣkarman) and non action (akarma) prescribed by the śastras. The context of vidhi and arthavāda has also been discussed[2]. One of the characteristics of Abinavagupta’s writing is that he has cited ślokas from his different own writings while explaining some mysterious truth. As for example, in the discussion about sacrifice in respect of spiritual performance, he cited an example from the Vijñānabhairava to determine the nature of yogayajña and clarified the issues in a nutshell before the readers in the Gītārthasaṅgraha[3].

He has not commented all the ślokas of that reading. In the Gītārthasaṅgraha Abhinavagupta has created an instance of describing the right to prayer to God by any person irrespective of caste, creed, colour or gender out of excessive devotion. In explaining a śloka in Ninth chapter he has mentioned about the females, Śudras and Vaiśyas. This means all the creations of the God in the world are entitled to worship the ultimate reality. He said that among human beings the females are ignored which supposes that the women kind was deprived of education at that time. He has spoken about the emancipation of the females. In this respect Abhinavagupta has vindicated the opinions of other commentators after analyzing their views. It is the view of Abhinavagupta, thou who believe that the women and other castes are not eligible for emancipation; they in fact, negate the power of the God’s grace. But the Parameśvara is always compassionate. The power of grace is always inherent in the God and it is impossible to separate that power from Him. It is due to ignorance that they give such views by mistake. They are basically greedy and acquiring by the envious vice, they went to show the division in the undivided spiritual tattva. It is however, a fact that the non-dualism has been properly established earlier by many Āgamas. So, Abhinavagupta has antagonized by way of writing his explanation of the Bhagavadgītā the falsified preaching of the opponents whose statements were intended to create divisions in caste, creed, colour and gender. He has written commentary on some of the ślokas with a view to unfolding the deeper meaning. Through the use of beautiful sentences influenced by the Vedic knowledge, can also be formed in the Gītārthasaṅgraha. Mahāmāheśvarācārya Abhinavagupta, an attempt on poetical art, who was also a topmost scholar of philosophy. With the help of his writing the Pratyabhijñā philosophy could gain a firm ground as it were.

The Gītārthasaṅgraha of Abhinavagupta has clearly mentioned that all human beings, including the females and the śudras, have the right to worship God. This shows the way to social reformation. The doctrine of non-duality primarily makes the bond of unity. The concept of equality has been reflected in Abhinavagupta’s Gītārthasaṅgraha. In the thesis we have attempted to explain this socio-cultural aspect. Attempt has also been made to judge the statements of Abhinavagupta like the showering of rains and causing fertility of the land as made by him out of similitude.How the unification of the foreceptor and the disciple belonging to the mysterious Kashmir Śaivism and the flow of knowledge of their tradition of spiritual performances extended, can be perceived from the description of the word ‘svādhyāya’ in the Gītārthasaṅgraha[4]. Here we can learn about the practical existence of the tradition of Kashmir Śaivism in the yogic practices with effusion (pūraka) and exhalation (recak). According to the doctrine of the Śaivism,, the realisation ‘Śivoham’, ‘I am Śiva’ is a correlation between my soul as ‘ātman’ and the Supreme soul. It is clearly mentioned by Abhinavagupta in the commentary of Gītārthasaṅgraha[5].Thus we have tried to analyze the explanation of Guptapāda from the standpoint of the then society and not by limiting it to the linguistic study. In this chapter, the literary and sociological study has been made to show how theory of manifestation of rasa is comparable with that of the doctrine of Śivābhibyakti.

Footnotes and references:


tathā ca vihitakarmaṇyapi madhye duṣṭaṃ karmāsti-agniṣṭoma iva paśubadhaḥ | viruddhe'pi te karmaṇi śubhamasti karma | tathāhi hiṃsraprāṇivadhe prajopatābhāvaḥ | Gītārthasaṅgraha, 4/17.


sa manmayatāmetīti vidhirevaiṣa nārthavādaḥ, Gītārthasaṅgraha, 18/67.


bhāve'tyakte niruddhā cinnaiva bhāvāntaraṃ vrajet |
tadā tanmayabhāvena vikasayatyati bhāvanā || V.B., 62,Gītārthasaṅgraha, 4/19.


śiṣyātmanā ca nayānayagrahaṇāya kecidastaṃ yāntamudīyamāne saṃveśya tadgīkāreṇāpavargadānāt ātmani śiṣyātmani ca śodhanabodhanapraveśanayojanarūpe svādhyāyayajñe svaparānandamaye pratiṣṭhitamanasaḥ | ata eva pūrakaḥ prathamamuktaḥ... svādhyāyayajñebhyo'nye jñānayajñāḥ, Gītārthasaṅgraha, 4/30.


ātmani mayi matsvarupatāṃ prāpte, ātmani iti sāmānādhikaraṇyam | Gītārthasaṅgraha, 4/35.

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