NIAS Public Lecture: From the Sensuous to the Super-Sensuous: An Outline of Abhinavagupta’s Aesthetics by Dr C. Rajendran, NIAS Lecture Hall, 4.00 PM

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Indian Institute of Science Campus, Bengaluru 560 012


NIAS Consciousness Studies Programme

Invites you to a Public Lecture in the


Svāsthya-rasa-bodhinī CSP Public Lecture Series




“From the Sensuous to the Super-Sensuous:

An Outline of Abhinavagupta’s Aesthetics”




Dr C. Rajendran

Former Professor & Head, Dept. of Sanskrit, Dean, Faculty of Languages

University of Calicut


Date : Thursday, 27th June, 2019

Time : 4.00 PM (Coffee/Tea: 3.30 PM)

Venue: Lecture Hall, NIAS, IISc Campus, Bengaluru 560012


Chairperson: Dr  Shankar Rajaraman, NIAS


Abstract: A salient feature of the  aesthetic thought of Abhinavagupta is its  inclusive nature addressing both  sensuous and super sensuous  levels of experience alike . It is not accidental that many key terms of Indian aesthetics like  rasa, carvaṇa, āsvāda and mādhurya are etymologically related to culinary sensations and their metaphorical avatar in aesthetics  is tell tale of  the basic sensuous orientations of Indian aesthetics. Bharata himself underlines the visual (dṛśya)and auditory (śravya) appeal  of  the play  in the myth related to  the genesis of nāṭya. The Nāṭyaśastra  further reinforces this aspect  through  the  theatrical techniques  like the spectacular costume and props as well as the musical element of the play. On the other hand, both Bhaṭṭanāyaka and Abhinavagupta  are also emphatic about the transcendental  nature of aesthetic  experience  which they  liken to the spiritual experience in tone and tenor. Both these experiences are characterized by the erasure  of ego boundaries  and the manifestation of  innate bliss within, with the main difference that while the spiritual experience leaves a lasting impression on the  person, the aesthetic experience is only transitory. A close look at  the nature of the aesthetic experience outlined by Abhinavagupta in his Abhinavabhāratī  would suggest  that it a progression from the  sensory realm to the transcendental realm  and the latter is  the consummation  of the former. In shaping his aesthetics, Abhinavagupta deftly uses the perspectives   of the  monistic Śaiva philosophy of Kashmir  which looks upon the material world as a true manifestation of the creativity of the Absolute.


About the Speaker: C. Rajendran was Professor and Head of the Dept of Sanskrit, and  Dean, Faculty of Languages at  University of Calicut. At present he is working as Visiting Professor in Sreesankaracharya University of Sanskrit, Kalady. His  noted works include Eco Aesthetic studies in Kalidasa, Excursions in Indian Aesthetics, Vyaktiviveka-A Critical Study,  Studies in Comparative Poetics, The Traditional Sanskrit Theatre of Kerala, Sign and Structure, Understanding tradition, and  Sisupalavadha of Magha (Eng. translation) He is the recipient of prestigious awards like the Ramakrishna Sanskrit Award, instituted by Canadian World Education Foundation for outstanding contributions in Teaching and Research,  Kerala Sahitya Akademi award, G.N.Pillai Endowment Award ,I.C.Chacko Endowment Award,  Keralapanini Award ,Prof. M S Menon Endowment Award, Parikshit Award,  and O.K Munshi award. He  worked as Visiting Professor at École des hautes études en sciences sociales (EHESS), Paris and Jageillonian University, Krakow, Poland.


Organised by: 
Svāsthya-rasa-bodhinī CSP Public Lecture Series, NIAS Consciousness Studies Programme
NIAS Lecture Hall