I HAD THE PRIVILEGE yesterday to be at a workshop in Chalk Farm, held by Mark Dyczowski, a distinguished Sanskrit scholar and saadhaka who I first met at his lovely home on the banks of the Ganges at Narad Ghat in Varanasi a few years ago (photo).
Markji’s talk was called The Dawning of the 12 Kaaliis, the substance of verses 121 to 180 in the fourth chapter of Abhinavagupta’s Tantraaloka. The really good news is that he is set to bring out the first of three volumes translating the Tantraaloka later on this year. As he explained to his audience, he first started studying the Tantraaloka in 1975 and his exposition of the 12 Kaaliis was very thought provoking.
Markji said to his audience that his primary goal is the preservation of these ancient traditions – indeed, on the www.muktabodha.org web site you will find many other tantrik texts digitised by him and his assistants. Last year, we saw the publication of 14 volumes of the Manthaanabhairavatantram with translation and extended notes, published by the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts. The same organisation is supporting the publication and the text of Tantraaloka.
Verse 121, chapter four of the Tantraaloka begins with the verse, translated, “Worship (puuja) (in the highest sense) is (the process of) uniting the diverse flux of phenomena with Bhairava’s independent, stainless and infinite consciousness”. Markji supplemented his exposition of the text of Tantraaloka with the influential commentary of Jayaratha. The commentary will also be included in the translation as it arrives.
The talk was deep but supplemented by very wonderful flashes of humour and insight, and hosted by Mike Lousada. We were so pleased to meet many of our old friends there. The Tantraaloka is one of the few untranslated works of Kashmir Shaivism and its publication with commentary will bring a work of great Kaula importance to the English reading world. Tantraaloka, said Markji during the talk, is a hardcore text. S-E-X is the three lettered word that many associate with the Tantrik traditions, but as he explained in his talk, everything is a conjunction of Shiva and Shakti.
Quite wonderful! ♣