Generally, Vaishnavas follow the Pancharatra Agamas, Shaivites follow the Shaiva Agamas, and Shaktas follow the Shaiva Agamas. But long ago, there was a group of people in Kashmir who followed the Shakta Agamas but adopted Shiva as their Ishta Devata. That group evolved into what we now call Kashmir Shaivism. Because it has its roots in Shakta Agamas, it subscribes to a monistic philosophy, as opposed to philosophical Shaivite sects like Shaiva Siddhanta which are more dualistic in their philosophy.

Now the most famous Kashmiri Shaivite philosopher was Abhinavagupta, who lived in the 10th century. Similar to Ramanujacharya, Abhinavagupta had a lot of Gurus; I've seen sources that say he had 12 Gurus. So my question is, who are all the Gurus of Abhinavagupta, and what Guru Paramparas did they belong to?

So far I've found information on four Gurus of Abhinavagupta:

  1. Bhattenduraja - He was in the Parampara of Kallata Bhatta, who was a shishya of Vasugupta, the author of the Shiva Sutras, which are the defining text of Kashmiri Shaivism. Either Kallatta Bhatta or Vasugupta himself composed a work called the Spanda Karika which is the canonical commentary on the Shiva Sutras (although it's not a really a verse by verse commentary). Either way, Kallata Bhatta wrote a Vritti or commentary on the Spanda Karika. In any case, Bhattenduraja taught Abhinavagupta about poetics.

  2. Lakshmanagupta - He was the shishya of Utpaladeva, the author of the Ishwara Pratyabhijna Karika, an important work in Kashmiri Shaivism. Utpaladeva was the shishya of Somananda, the author of the Shivadrishti, which in my view is a splendid example of the narcissism of small differences; Somananda focuses on criticizing the Sphotavada school of Bhartrihari, which is the philosophical school that agrees most with Kashmiri Shaivism. Now Somananda was a shishya of Vasugupta whom I mentioned above, but that's not the only lineage he's associated with; he also claimed to be a biological descendant of Durvasa's mind-born son Tryamabaka, whom I discuss here. In any case Lakshmanagupta taught Abhinavagupta about the Pratyabhijna school of Kashmiri Shaivism.

  3. Shambhunatha - He is said to have belonged to the lineage of Durvasa's mind-born daughter Ardhatryambaka, as described on page 157 of this book. Ardhatryambaka seems similar to Durvasa's mind-born son Tryambaka whom I discuss here. I don't know anything about the lineage between Ardhatryambaka and Shambhunatha. But Shambhunatha was the one who initiated Abhinavagupta into the Kaula Tantras, and he's seems to be the one whom Abhinavagupta viewed as his main Guru.

  4. Vamananatha - According to Wikipedia, he taught Abhinavagupta about "dualistic Shaivism", which may refer to the Shaiva Siddhanta sect. But I don't know anything more about Vamananatha.

So does anyone have a complete list of Gurus of Abhinavagupta along with the Paramparas they belonged to?


1 Answer 1


Durvasa Rishi created one mind-born daughter, whom he initiated completely in the monistic way. Known as the Ardhatryambaka school of the Bhairava Tantras, this teaching manifests itself secretly from one woman to another. Kashmir Shaivism does not recognize women as inferior. In fact, Swami Lakshmanjoo tells us, “if a woman remains one-pointed in her spiritual practice, she can achieve in twelve days what would normally take one year”. There is no history of this school in kali-yuga.

Durvasa Rishi’s mind born son Tryambakanatha, also created his own mind-born son and named him Tryambakaditya, which means “the expansion of Tryambakanatha”. Tryambakaditya created his own mind-born son, and after initiating him he disappeared into the ether.

In this manner fifteen generations of Siddha’s were created by mind. When, however, the fifteenth Siddha attempted to create a mind-born son, he was not successful. It is said he was not fully introverted, as he was also given to worldly pleasures. However, after sitting in long meditation, he found in this world a girl with good qualities, and went to her father and made arrangements to marry.

They had one son named Sangamaditya who came to the valley of Kashmir. Like his father, Sangamaditya married and produced a son named Varshaditya, whom he initiated completely in the thought of the monistic Bhairava Tantras. Varshaditya married and produced a son named Arunaditya, whom he initiated fully. Arunaditya also married and created a son named Ananda, whom he initiated and who was also completely informed in all practical aspects of Shaivism. This sage Ananda was the father of Somananda, the originator of the Pratyabhijna School of Shaivism and author of the ‘Shiva Dristi’.

AbhinavaguptaUp to this time (800 C.E.), initiation into the monistic thought of the Bhairava Tantras took place from father to son only. After Somananda this initiation took place from Master to disciple. Somananda was the master of Utpaladeva. Utpaladeva was the master of Lakshmanagupta. And Lakshmanagupta was a master of the great Abhinavagupta, (950-1025 C.E.).

The Kula system was introduced in Kashmir in the beginning of the 5th century A.D. by Shri Macchandanatha. Later, in the 9th century, because its teachings had become distorted, it was reintroduced by Sumatinatha. In the line of masters that followed from Sumatinatha, Somanatha was his disciple. Shambhunatha was the disciple of Somanatha, and the great Abhinavagupta was the disciple of Shambhunatha.

enter image description here

enter image description here

  1. Narasimha Gupta (His father). Grammar.
  2. Vainanatha. Dvaitadvaita Tantras.
  3. Bhuti Rajatanaya. Daulistic Saivism
  4. Bhuti Raja. Brahma- Vidya.
  5. Laksmanagupta. Pratyabhijna.
  6. Indu Raja. Dhvani.
  7. Bhatta Tota. Dramaturgy

These were also his gurus. He was also adept in grammar and various art forms.

Other gurus whose details are not mentioned are:

  1. Srichandra

  2. Bhakti Vilasa

  3. Yogananda

  4. Chandravara

  5. Abhinanda

  6. Shivabhakti

  7. Vichitranatha

  8. Dharma

  9. Siva

  10. Vaamana

  11. Udbhata

  12. Bhutisha

  13. Bhaskara

You can know more about his works and life from this website.

  • I don't just want to know what they taught him, I want to know their Guru Paramparas. I know the Paramparas of Bhattenduraja and Lakshmanagupta, but I want to know the Guru Paramparas of the rest of them. Commented May 14, 2017 at 13:09
  • And by the way, the website you linked to left out Abhinavagupta's most important guru, Shambhunatha. Shambhunatha is the one whom Abhinavagupta considered his main guru. Commented May 14, 2017 at 13:10
  • Yeah, I know the Parampara of Somananda; I discussed it in my question. In any case, what is the Parampara of Shambhunatha? He was a Kashmiri Shaivite. Also, what specific Shaivite sects did Bhuti Rajatanaya and Vainanatha (which may be a typo for Vamanatha) belong to? Did one of them belong to the Shaiva Siddhanta sect? Commented May 14, 2017 at 13:24
  • Also, the website you linked to says "He had other Gurus also but the subjects have not been specified in their cases. From all his compositions at least 19 such preceptors can be gleaned." So I want the names of the other 12 Gurus. Commented May 14, 2017 at 13:25
  • OK, so now we at least know his Krama lineage. But I still want to know his Kaula lineage, i.e. the Parampara of Shambhunatha. And I want the Shaivite sects that his non-Kashmiri Shaivite gurus belonged to, and the names of his other 12 Gurus. Commented May 14, 2017 at 14:44

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .