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The Secret of the Three Cities (An Introduction to Hindu Sakta Tantrism)

The Secret of the Three Cities (An Introduction to Hindu Sakta Tantrism)
Item Code: IDD830
Author: Douglas Renfrew Brooks
Publisher: Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers Pvt. Ltd.
Edition: 1999
ISBN: 8121508894
Pages: 327 (B & W Illus: 1, Figures: 10)
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details: 9.4" X 6.3"
About the Book:

The esoteric Hindu traditions of Tantrism have profoundly influenced the development of Indian thought and civilization. Emerging from elements of yoga and wisdom traditions, shamanism, alchemy, eroticism, and folklore, Tantrism began to affect brahmanical Hinduism in the ninth century. Nevertheless, Tantrism and its key historical figures have been ignored by scholars. This accessible work introduces the concepts and practices of Hindu Sakta Tantrism to all those interested in Hinduism and the comparative study of religion.

In part one, Douglas Brooks prepares the reader for the difficult tasks of interpreting an esoteric Tantric text in translation and understanding Tantric traditions in their historical contexts. In part two, he presents a case text of the Srividya cult of Sakta Tantrism. This case study culminates in an analysis and the first English translation of the seminal work, Tripura Upanisadbhasya or The Secret of the Three Cities, by the eighteenth century Tantric intellectual, Bhaskararaya.

Brooks's study addresses not only matters of definition and classification in studying religion but also complex issues involving the relationships between written and oral traditions of the theology and ritual, between esotericism and "orthodoxy", and between sacred text and the authoritative word. A major contribution to comparative religion, Brooks's original study lays the foundation for future Tantric studies.

About the Author:

Douglas Renfrew Brooks is assistant professor of religion and director of the program in Asian studies at the University of Rochester.


PART ONE Hindu Sakta Tantrism


  1. Locating the Text and Tradition
      Locating the Tripura Upanisad: Veda or Tantra?
      Vaidika Tantrics and Non-Tantric Vaidikas: Making a Distinction and Affirming Hindu Identity
      Locating Tripura Upanisad: Its Historical and Theological Roles
      Tripura Upanisad: The Commentaries of Bhaskararaya and Other Sakta Tantrics
  2. Studying the Text: Translating, Studying, and Interpreting Scripture
  3. Reading the Text
      Introducing Sakta Tantrism through a Scripture
      The Srividya School: Defining and Classifying Saktism and Tantrism
      Sakta Tantrism as Hindu Tantrism Par Excellence
      The Basic Structure and Content of Tripura Upanisad
      A Brief Review of Internal Structure and a Verse Summary
      The Thematic Study of Hindu Tantrism and Srividya
        Qualification, Initiation, and the Guru
        Srividya and Tantric Theology
        Srividya and Tantric Practice
        Ananda: Tantric Sadhana and Tantric Goals
        The srividya: Mantra as Power
        Summarizing Tantric Theology and Practice
  4. Conclusion: Present and Future Tantric Studies
PART TWO The Secret of the Three Cities

The Great Upanisad of Tripura

    Appendix: The Cakras of the Body and the Sricakra
    List of Abbreviations
    Selected Bibliography

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