The Tantrāloka of Abhinavagupta: A Lecture by Professor Alexis Sanderson

In this lecture, Professor Alexis Sanderson will introduce the masterwork of Trika Śākta Śaivism, arguably the most significant and influential work in the whole Śaiva literature. Composed in Kashmir by Abhinavagupta around the end of the tenth century of the common era, the Tantrāloka presents an extraordinarily rich and coherent vision of the world of Śaiva practice that had been developing in India in various forms up to his time over the course of several centuries. Abhinavagupta draws these traditions into a synthesis that he grounds in the Śākta Śaiva system of the Trika, which he identifies as the summit and core of the entire Śaiva revelation. Professor Sanderson will outline his understanding of the essentials of this vision, locating it both within the broader history of Indian thought and religious practice and within the trajectory of Abhinavagupta’s own extraordinary intellectual journey.

All are welcome, and a reception for Professor Sanderson will follow the lecture.

Professor Sanderson is the Spalding Professor Emeritus of Eastern Religions and Ethics in the University of Oxford and an Emeritus Fellow of All Souls College in the same university. After taking a degree in Sanskrit at Oxford in 1971, he went to Kashmir and spent six years there studying the works of Abhinavagupta under the guidance of the learned Śaiva scholar and Guru Swami Lakshman Joo. Returning to Oxford at the end of that period, from 1977 to 2015 he taught Sanskrit there and trained scholars in the study of Indian religion in general and Śaivism in particular. He is widely recognized as the world's leading authority on Śaivism and the Tantric traditions.  His pioneering research and teaching over four decades has brought about a fundamental shift in the understanding of Indian religion.