The “Bodily Bearing of Being”: The Presence of Consciousness in the Hands of Abhinavagupta by Kerry Martin Skora (Hiram College)

Co-sponsored by the Departments of Philosophy and Religious Studies This presentation will introduce the topic of Tantra and, more particularly, what is known as “High Hindu Tantra,” by focusing on the thought of the Trika Śaiva creative visionary, Abhinavagupta (ca. 975-1025 C.E.) of Kashmir, renowned as Hindu Tantra’s most gifted thinker ever.   I first contextualize Abhinavagupta and introduce my work. I also introduce my methodology, which has been fruitful in making sense of “enlivenment,” or becoming liberated in one’s very own body.   I then present a more detailed interpretation of Abhinavagupta’s theoretical and ritual notion of mudrā (bodily gestures, and, more particularly, gestures of the hands), used in practices central to Tantric discipline, showing how, for Abhinavagupta, bodily gestures both arise out of Consciousness and lead one back to Consciousness.   Finally, I apply Abhinavagupta’s own thinking to his own human form as envisioned by later followers. In a sense, I am trying to answer the question, “What if Śiva (God) were one of us?”   My presentation is geared toward students and professors. It will not require any previous knowledge of Abhinavagupta, Trika Śaivism, or Śiva (although according to Abhinavagupta, you do have some!).