Sri Sri Ravi Shankar launches millennium year celebrations of Acharya Abhinavagupta

J&K an integral part of India, UN has no role, says Bob Blackman

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar launched the millennium year celebrations of Acharya Abhinavagupta at a function at Vigyan Bhawan today. Union Minister of State, PMO, Dr Jitender Singh and Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju, Haryana Chief Minister Manoharlal Khattar and member of British Parliament Bob Blackman also participated in the function. Swami Parmatmanand Saraswati, convenor of the Hindu Dharm Acharya Sabha was also present on the occasion.

Jammu Kashmir Study Centre president Padamshri Jawaharlal Kaul’s book ‘Abhinavagupta and the Shiva Renaissance’ was released on the occasion.  

Prominent personalities of India including artists, litterateurs, philosophers and spiritual gurus have come together to celebrate the amazing contributions of Acharya Abhinavagupta to the Indian culture…and in fact, to the global society. Jammu Kashmir Study Centre and Art of Living Foundation, in collaboration with several other supporting organizations, are organizing millennium year celebrations of Acharya Abhinavagupta throughout India. For this purpose, a pan-India Millennium Ceremony Committee has been formed, which will be presided over by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar of the Art of Living Foundation.

Acharya Abhinavagupta from Kashmir was one of the world’s greatest philosophers and literary critics. He was also a mystic and aesthetician par excellence, who exercises strong influence on the Indian culture since last thousand years. He is to South Asia what Plato or Aristotle is to western civilization. The versatility of this genius was such that his works are even today being researched in over fifty countries worldwide.

Best known as the proponent of Kashmir Shaivism, Acharya Abhinavagupta also authored many books on tantra and theatre. His commentary on Bharat Muni’s Natyashastra forms an essential part of the Indian discourse on poetry, drama, dance and music.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr Navjivan Rastogi, former head of Department of Sanskrit and Prakrit Languages at the Lucknow University, said Acharya Abhinavagupta was an encyclopedia himself. He studied at least 250 manuscripts of ancient books and Vedas and presented them in a simplified format to the common man. His ‘Tantralok’, for example, is a complete encyclopedia on tantra, Dr Rastogi said. Dr Rastogi has himself authored many books on Acharya Abhinavagupta’s works.

A thousand years ago, Acharya Abhinavagupta was a revolutionary who created systems that were above caste, creed, sex and religion. First know yourself, only then you can know anyone else and become one with God, he taught. What is termed ‘Kashmiriyat’ – the Sufi tradition – also emanates from the teachings of Abhinavagupta, Dr Rastogi said. He has given us so much, now the question is how much can we can give him, Dr Rastogi said.

Swami Paramatmanand ji, convenor of the Hindu Dharm Acharya Sabha, said the Indian society has always been a knowledge seeker. Knowledge and education have had a place of honour in India since ancient times. Unfortunately, we have lost a lot of wisdom that our ancestors left for us. We have to revive and retrieve the ancient wisdom of our forefathers, he said. Only then can we place Bharat Mata on the top of the world again, Swami Paramatmanand ji said.

Union minister Kiren Rijiju said the world looks to India to continue to enlighten the path of the global society. “I’ve seen many influential/moneyed people across the world come to India in search of true happiness,” he said. We have given great messages to the world, but have now forgotten the path our great gurus showed to us. That is the reason of our problems today, he said.

Union minister Dr Jitender Singh said that Acharya Abhinavagupta’s teaching are such a necessity for the contemporary society that by celebrating the millennium year in his memory, we’re not doing him a favour but rather doing ourselves a favour.

In the context of Kashmir, Dr Jitender Singh said that Kashmir has recently come out of a long nightmare. After the Kashmiri Pandits were pushed out of the Valley, the people who were left behind have suffered a great loss too – which they will realize pretty soon. The value system in the Valley is taking a hit now because the youth used to imbibe values that emanated from the composite culture that is referred to as ‘Kashmiriyat’.

Bob Blackwill, member of the British Parliament, made an impassioned speech at the function. Speaking at the occasion, he said “India is the place of happiness and I’m very happy to be here today”. He thanked the million strong Indian diaspora for their immense contribution to the United Kingdom. He took the occasion to announce his support for a permanent seat for India in the United Nations.

“Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India”, he asserted. He further said that it was not for the UN to interfere in these matters and it is for India to resolve the issue related to the state. “The people (who were forced to leave Kashmir Valley) should be able to return to their homes,” he said.  “We support India’s fight against terrorism,” he stated.

Sri Sri Ravishankar ji, while addressing the 2000-odd gathering at Vigyan Bhawan, said the Indian thought has always been: Let knowledge come to us from all directions. Lord Shiva has been the connecting force throughout India since ancient times, he said. Kashmiri people came down south hundreds of years ago. The people of Coorg, in Karnataka, are originally from Kashmir, he said. “You will find Shiv temples from Kashmir to Kerala. So if anything joins the people of India from Kashmir till Kanyakumari, it is the Shaiv sidhaant (the path shown by Lord Shiva),” he said. It is sad that Acharya Abhinavagupta who made this possible finds no mention in the school books today, he said, virtually demanding that school curriculum should include the study of Acharya Abhinavagupta.

“The oriental thought was based on the principle - first you experience and then you believe. That is why science and spirituality never had a conflict in the orient,” Sri Sri Ravishankar said. One of Abhinavagupta’s writings is known as Pratyabhigya. Explaining the wonderful concept of ‘pratyabhigya’, he said the word stands for ‘identifying’ and not attaining. Knowledge has always had a very important place in the Indian society, he said.

He suggested that during the millennium celebrations, a movie must be made on Acharya Abhinavagupta so that the common man is enlightened by his teachings.  He appealed to the people at large to join the Acharya Abhinavagupta Millennium Celebrations so that his knowledge and teachings can reach every nook and corner of India.

Violence can be combated only by wisdom, and not by violence, he said. “This message must be propagated in this millennium year.”

Haryana Chief Minister Manoharlal Khattar also participated in the celebrations and promised support of his government and party in the year-long celebrations.