Gitartha Samgraha (critical Study)

by Partha Sarathi Sil | 2020 | 34,788 words

This page relates ‘Conclusion’ 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).

Through the study of Gītārthasaṅgraha of Abhinavagupta it is clear that this commentary text is unparalleled one. Here not only for explanation of language or words, but for modern scientific outlook of the author, it is excellent. In the seventh śloka of the third chapter he has brought of machine-human. He speaks of doing works like a machine-human devoid of mental attachment and reach to the state of the best devotee[1]. To the coming generation this may be a point of discussion in the field of research. At present time researches are going on about Robotic science. Considering this aspect, we may find here the seed of scientific thought. In his explanation he, on one hand, has established the doctrine of non-dual Kashmir Śaivism and on the other has raised the context of the doctrine of non-existence[2]. Now, what is vidyā and avidyā? Is it the different name of Pāṇḍava and Kaurava? In this respect discussion has been made in the explanation of the preparatory śloka of the Gītārthasaṅgraha. The sceptic state of human mind is suggested by it. That the victory of dharma is but the victory of truth or bliss, has been expressed in his explanation.

According to different view, it is strife between the gods and demons[3]. He did not denounce the Vedas; but said in his explanation that the activities prescribed by the Vedas, generate binding[4]. What is that which binds? The answer is the desire that binds[5]. In another place, he says, the activities done, other than the unavoidable activities, are the cause of binding[6]. In the Gītārthasaṅgraha the word ‘sthitadhī’ is substituted by the term ‘sthiradhī’. Though in all places of Kashmir readings ‘sthiradhī’ is available, here it is being discussed to highlight the views of Abhinavagupta[7]. Abhinavagupta has raised four questions while discussing the word ‘sthiradhī’ and he gave equal importance to the word and sense of this term. In course of discussion of the word ‘sthiraprajña’ he has refuted the special as well as etymological and general meaning of the said word like the word ‘pācaka[8]. In the description of Brahma-sthiti (attainment of the divine state) he has mentioned the attainment of the supreme Brahman after leaving the mortal frame and thus by answering four questions he has described the nature of the existence of Brahman[9].

Abhinavagupta has, in his commentary, emphasised on sadhana (worshipping) in respect of sādhaka (devotee). In the description of the power of divine freedom series of creation is discussed in the third chapter[10]. It is noteworthy that he has said all pervasive Brahman shines forth in Karma (act); He is creative pulsation of the divine power. As Vāsudeva is the universal spirit. He resides in every creature[11]. So, it is declared, “Vāsudevaḥ sarvam” (Everything is Lord Vāsudeva). The form of Vāsudeva gradually transforms to realize the power of self-awareness[12]. In the explanation of Abhinavagupta descent of the divine Śakti and divine grace possesses greatness. He thinks that through the service to guru (preceptor), one can get the grace of god’s power[13]. It appears that the task of accumulation of jñāna, karma and bhakti is admitted to him, but with the supremacy of knowledge (jñāna)[14]. With a view to avoiding the demerit of repetition, Abhinavagupta has avoided commentary on some ślokas in Gītārthasaṅgraha. He has mentioned that those ślokas are incoherent in respect of the topics as those are imaginary ślokas[15]. We find the description of the subtle body in embodied beings as per the Śaiva philosophy in the Gītārthasaṅgraha[16].

Abhinavagupta thinks that it is very much necessary to be initiated in Parameśvara to get rid of anger etc[17]. Abhinavagupta has showed great respect to his preceptors and acknowledged debt[18]. He did not only give advice. His commentary has revealed he had learnt from the advices of his preceptors and has proper understanding and application of the same is expressed in the commentary. In the ninth chapter also he mentioned his preceptors[19]. In some places of his commentary he has stated his difference of opinion with reasoning in regard to the opinion of other commentators[20]. In the forth chapter he referred to the context of other commentator and demonstrated the non-dual doctrine following his preceptor’s view. He opines that the Gītāśāstra, an upholder of non-dualism, has come to the conclusion with the word ‘iti’ mentioned in śloka twenty of the fifteenth chapter[21]. Of course, he has written commentaries up to the eighteenth chapter.

One notable thing is that in the Gītārthasaṅgraha Abhinavagupta has taken the name Vāsudeva in his explanation of the Gītā following the non-dualistic Kashmir Śaivism,. Or it is notable that though the Gītārthasaṅgraha is an explanation of the Gītā as per the non-dualistic Kashmir Śaivism, Abhinavagupta has chosen to accept the name Vāsudeva. In the commentary Gītārthasaṅgraha, Vasudeva is mentioned in many places as Parameśvara. Many Śaivite Ācāryas have written commentaries on the Gītā with the same meaning in consideration. It is also notable that in the Śaiva philosophy the speakers of the Āgama are Śiva, Parvati and also Vāsudeva. The concluding four verses of the Gītārthasaṅgraha, Abhinavagupta mentioned the tradition of Gurus and portrayed the beautiful combined Yāmala form of Śiva, endowed with Śakti belonging to Śaiva philosophy. From the researcher’s point of view the entire Gītārthasaṅgraha may be appropriately called a commentary work, and more appropriately can be an explanatory work. Abhinavagupta himself has termed it as an explanation of the Gītā.

The nature of Vāsudeva and Śiva is presented as inseparable in the Gītārthasaṅgraha. It needs mention that with find identical relation between Kṛṣna and Śiva in some other places in Śaiva philosophy. Professor R. Nagaswamy has shown identity between Kṛṣṇa and Bhairava in the portion (Viṣṇu worship as a trantric cult in Rudrayāmala) belonging to the composition,

“Khaṇḍariya Mahādeva temple of Khejurao–A temple of Bhairava, Śaiva school”.

He states

“the next chapter which is called -Rukṣmiṇīmilana, uniting with Rukṣmiṇī, gives a very interesting name Kṛṣṇa who is called Govinda-śambhu[22]

Abhinavagupta has always augmented his volume of composition with a view to entering into the state of Supreme consciousness of Śiva. The same thing is hinted in the Īśvarapratyabhijñāvṛttivimarśiṇī too.

pāṣāṇān prati vaktu kaḥ śṛṇuta bho yuṣmān bruve jagmāḥ
śayyotthāyamanarthamarthasaraṇe ko'yaṃ vṛthaivodyamaḥ |
saṃviddhāmāni śāṃbhave viśatha cet kālīmekaṃ lavaṃ
kiṃ kiṃ varṇanikābhirābhirabhitaḥ satyaṃ svayaṃ jñāsyatha ||[23]

Who wants to talk with stones. Listen, O you living (lit. moving) humans, I speak to you. What is this senseless chase after objects that you indulge in right from the moment you get up from your bed. If you could enter into the consciousness abode of Śiva even for a fraction of a moment you will yourself instantly know the truth. What then is the use of these colourful presentations of mine?

It can be learnt from intensive study of this works that in every existent being of this phenomenal world the universal consciousness is manifested. The Supreme Lord is pervaded throughout the universe, and at the same time He transcends it. Rasābhivyakti, as enunciated by Abhinavagupta, is as if an instance of Śivābhivyakti (manifestation of Lord Śiva). This is why his philosophical speculations contain poetic elements and the poetical discourse reflects philosophical hue. His Abhinavabhāratī is inaccessible without the knowledge of Kashmir Śaiva Philosophy. Likewise the Tantrāloka, Tantrasāra or the Gītārthasaṅgraha etc. texts which discuss philosophical concepts, cannot attract the interest of a person who is devoid of aesthetic sense.

It is evident from the writings of Abhinavagupta that he possessed extreme reverence to his Gurus. Though he differed in some cases with the opinions of his predecessors, but he did not miss to show due respect to their views while establishing those of his own oipnions and it is which has shown the path of respect to be followed by the successors. The present dissertation, I hope may come to the benefit of those researchers who want to traverse the path of research on this field after collecting more information in this regard.

Footnotes and references:


karmasu kriyamāneṣu na jñānahāniḥ—manaso'vyāpāre yantrapuruṣavatkarmaṇaḥ kriyamāṇatvāt | Gītārthasaṅgraha,3/7.


yattvanyairvyākhyātaṃ na kiṃcidapi viṣayāṇāṃ tyagagrahaṇādikaṃ na cintayet iti, tadasmabhyaṃ na rucitaṃ—śūnyavādaprasaṅgāt | Gītārthasaṅgraha, 6/26.


devāsurasṛṣṭiśca vidyāvidyāmayīti tatkathopakramaṇameva mokṣamārgopadeśanam | Gītārthasaṅgraha, Preface.


yasmāt sukhaduḥkhamohabuddhyā karmāṇi vaidikāni kriyamāṇāni bandhakāni, Gītārthasaṅgraha,2/46.


abhilāṣo hi bandhakaḥ | Gītārthasaṅgraha, 2/50.


yajñārthāt avaśyakaraṇīyāt anyāni karmāṇi bandhakāni | avaśyakartavyaṃ muktaphalasaṅgatayā kriyamāṇaṃ na phaladam | Gītārthasaṅgraha, 3/9.


sthiradhīriti śabdapadārtha ko'rthapadārthakaśca tatra sthiradhī kiṃ prayogalakṣaṇamevārthamāha āho tapasvinamapi iti dvitīyaḥ praśnaḥ |... iti caturthaḥ | Gītārthasaṅgraha, 2/53.


na cāsya pācakavadyoharūḍhitvam | Gītārthasaṅgraha, 2/60.


eṣāsau brahmasattā yasyāṃ kṣaṇamātraṃ sthitvā avasthitiṃ prāpya śarīrabhedāt paramaṃ brahmāpnoti iti praśnacatuṣṭayaṃ nirṇītamiti śivam | Gītārthasaṅgraha, 2/34.


anne ti annaṃ tāvadvīryalohitakrameṇa bhūtakāraṇam, annaṃ ca vṛṣṭidvāreṇa.., Gītārthasaṅgraha, 3/15.


ataśca sarvagataṃ brahma karmaṇi pratiṣṭhitam tanmayatvāttasya, Ibid.


‘vāsudevaḥ sarvam’ ityadipūrvābhihitopadeśacamatkārāt viśvātmakaṃ vāsudevatattvamayatnata eva bodhapadavīmavataratīti śivam | Gītārthasaṅgraha, 11/60.


tīvratarabhagavacchaktipātaṃ cirataraprasāditagurucaraṇānugrahaṃ ca vinā durlabhaḥ āveśaḥ ityabhyāsaḥ | Gītārthasaṅgraha,12/9.


ataḥ sarvamūlatvādāveśātmakaṃ jñānameva pradhānam | Gītārthasaṅgraha, 12/12.


atra kecidasaṃbaddhāḥ ślokāḥ kaplitāḥ, punaruktatvātte tyajyā eva | etadguṇātītavṛttistu mokṣāyaiva kalpate | Gītārthasaṅgraha, 14/20.


yathā vāyuḥ sarvagato viśrāntidhāma pārthivaṃ prāpya tato gandhamānīya sthanāntare tatsahita eva saṃkrāmati evaṃ jīvaḥ puryaṣṭakena saha | Gītārthasaṅgraha, 15/8.


ata eva prāpyāpyupāyaṃ pārameśvaradīkṣādi,.. yaduktaṃ “kraudhādau dṛśyabhāve hi dīkṣito'pi na muktibhāk” | Gītārthasaṅgraha, 15/11.


arkāditejastrayarūpatayā daśamādhyāyasūcitasṛṣṭisthitisaṃhāraprakaṭīkaraṇe śrīguravaḥ prāhuḥ-, Gītārthasaṅgraha,15/14.


asmadguravastu nirūpayanti anyā svātmavyatiriktā bhedavādanayena brahmasvabhāvahīnaiva kāciddevatā iti gṛhītvā tāmeva yajante | Gītārthasaṅgraha, 9/27.


brahmalokamāptānāmapi punarāvṛttirasti iti sarvairvyākhyātam | etadabhyupagame ca ‘taduparitanalokagatirmukti’ ityabhihitaṃ syāt | tacca na hṛdayaṃgamam, Gītārthasaṅgraha, 8/16.


iti śabdena śāstrasya samāptiḥ sūcitā, vākyasya paripūrṇatayā samāptatvāt | Gītārthasaṅgraha,15/20.


Abhinavagupta P-206,


Navjivan Rastogi, Abhinavagupt: Some selected excerpts, Abhinavagupt, P-128.

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