An Introduction to Tantric Philosophy: The Paramarthasara of Abhinavagupta with the Commentary of Yogaraja, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

An Introduction to Tantric Philosophy

The Paramarthasara of Abhinavagupta with the Commentary of Yogaraja, 1st Edition

By Lyne Bansat-Boudon, Kamalesha Datta Tripathi


466 pages

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The Paramārthasāra, or ‘Essence of Ultimate Reality’, is a work of the Kashmirian polymath Abhinavagupta (tenth–eleventh centuries). It is a brief treatise in which the author outlines the doctrine of which he is a notable exponent, namely nondualistic Śaivism, which he designates in his works as the Trika, or ‘Triad’ of three principles: Śiva, Śakti and the embodied soul (nara).

The main interest of the Paramārthasāra is not only that it serves as an introduction to the established doctrine of a tradition, but also advances the notion of jiv̄anmukti, ‘liberation in this life’, as its core theme. Further, it does not confine itself to an exposition of the doctrine as such but at times hints at a second sense lying beneath the evident sense, namely esoteric techniques and practices that are at the heart of the philosophical discourse. Its commentator, Yogarāja (eleventh century), excels in detecting and clarifying those various levels of meaning. An Introduction to Tantric Philosophy presents, along with a critically revised Sanskrit text, the first annotated English translation of both Abhinavagupta’s Paramārthasāra and Yogarāja’s commentary.

This book will be of interest to Indologists, as well as to specialists and students of Religion, Tantric studies and Philosophy.


"Clearly, Sanskrit scholars and the growing coterie of serious students of Saivism will profit greatly from a close study of Bansat-Boudon’s notes and other supplemental materials; yet, this volume also will be of use to those with less than a professional commitment to the study of Saiva materials, as the clarity of the authors’ translations affords an easy access to the subject, even, perhaps especially, for those who do not read Sanskrit. Certainly, then, every college and university library worth its salt should own a copy, but I also imagine—and hope—the readership of this outstanding text will extend to a wider audience, beyond the confines of academia."

John Nemec, University of Virginia

Journal of the American Oriental Society 135.2, pages 343-345 (2015) 343

Table of Contents

1. Introduction 2. Translation of Paramarthasara and Commentary by Yogaraja, with notes 3. Sanskrit Text 4. Glossary

About the Authors

Lyne Bansat-Boudon is Professor in the Section des sciences religieuses at the E´cole Pratique des Hautes E´tudes (EPHE) in Paris, and an Honorary Senior Member of the Institut Universitaire de France (IUF). Her main fields of research are Sanskrit Literature and Poetics, Aesthetics and the S´aiva tradition. She published in 1992 Poétique du théâtre indien. Lectures du Nâtyaçâstra, and, in 2006, as the chief editor of the volume and a translator, Théâtre de l’Inde ancienne, Gallimard (Bibliothèque de la Pléiade).

Kamaleshadatta Tripathi is Emeritus Professor at the Benares Hindu University, India, where he was Dean of the Faculty of Sanskrit Learning and Theology and Head of the Department of Religious and Agamic Studies. For several years he also was the director of the Kâlidâsa Akademi in Ujjain. His research interests include Agamic Philosophy, Hindu Theology, Philosophy of Grammar, Sanskrit Literature, Poetics and Aesthetics.

About the Series

Routledge Studies in Tantric Traditions

Routledge Studies in Tantric Traditions is a major new monograph series which has been established to publish scholarship on south, east and southeast Asian tantric traditions. The series aims to promote the serious study of both Hindu and Buddhist tantric traditions through the publication of anthropological and textual studies and will not be limited to any one method. Indeed, the series would hope to promote the view that anthropological studies can be informed by texts and textual studies informed by anthropology. The series will therefore publish contemporary ethnographies from different regions, philological studies, philosophical studies, and historical studies of different periods which contribute to the academic endeavour to understand the role of tantric texts and their meaning in particular cultural contexts. In this way, the series will hope to establish what the continuities and divergencies are between Buddhist and Hindu tantric traditions and between different regions. The series will be a major contribution to the fields of Indology, Sinology, History of Religions, and Anthropology.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Ethnic Studies / General
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Ethnic Studies / Asian American Studies