Who is Abhinavagupta?

Abhinavagupta (fl. 975-1025) is an enigmatic figure, not because he tells us so little about himself, but because he tells us so much.1 The autobiographical vignettes scattered across his texts are a natural point of departure to introduce Abhinavagupta, especially when we consider their rhetorical power. To understand the latter requires placing Abhinavagupta within the lineaments of the world in which he flourished—the prodigious religious, intellectual, and literary cultures of medieval Kashmir. This is a region of India, Abhinavagupta tells us, where “everyone is either a poet or a scholar, where even the warriors are eloquent, and urbane

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