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
The Great Upanisad of Tripura
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