This essay addresses the question of the relationship between Aesthetics and Tantra, in the world-view and life-world of Hindu Tantric visionary Abhinavagupta (ca. 975–1025 C.E.) and his tradition. I respond to a classic work on Abhinavagupta’s understanding of aesthetic experience and religious experience by shifting the focus from ultimate experience to the life of a liberated being. I argue that Abhinavagupta’s blending of Aesthetics and Tantra naturally follows from his view of liberation, which re-integrates the body and senses into the religious life, and affirms the reality of the material world in which the liberated being is embedded. I recover the very humanness and boundedness of Abhinavagupta as an additional way of understanding liberation. I draw on hymns of praise, descriptions of ritual, thoughts on hermeneutics of Being, and complex metaphors, from Abhinavagupta’s tradition, and engage with various thinkers, including Performance Theorist Richard Schechner and neurologist James Austin, to flesh out complex metaphors depicting the relationship between consciousness and the world. I conclude by reflecting on similarities between the Trika model of Self, as interpreted by Abhinavagupta’s student Kṣemarāja, and lucid dreaming.
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