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Tantrik Literature and Culture (Hermeneutics and Expositions)

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Item Code: NAL407
Author: Andrea Loseries
Publisher: Buddhist World Press
Language: English
Edition: 2013
ISBN: 9789380852201
Pages: 204 (45 Color Plates)
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details 10.0 inch x 7.0 inch
Weight 560 gm
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About the Book

Rabindranath Tagore, the founder of Visva-Bharati, favored learning on Buddhism through languages like Sanskrit, pali, Chinese and Tibetan. In Santiniketan the invitation of Sylvain Levi in 1921 is termed as the starting of Buddhist Studies at Visva-Bharati. Rabindranath Tagore himself was a student in the classes of Professor Levi in the early twenties of the past century, along with M.V. Shastri and P.C. Bagchi.

The Centre for Buddhist Studies, Visva-Bharati, was launched in 2007 under the Scheme of Social Epoch Making Thinkers of the University Grants commission. The activities of the Centre (CBS) are class lectures in form of certified Training programs on Buddhism as well as specialized classes on Buddhist cultures and languages of Mongolia (2010-11), Bhotia (Ladakh 2011-12, Sikkimese 2012-13, Dzongkha 2013-14), as well as Pali and Buddhist Sanskrit; Special Lectures Series (Buddhist Art and Architecture 2011-12), International Seminars with special focus on research on Prajnaparamita and medivial Tantrik Literature in the Indo-Tibetan Interface, Film Shows and exhibitions.

About the Author

Prof. (Dr.) Andrea Loseries has studied in Paris, Santiniketan, and Vienna from where she received her PH.D. in Ethnology, Tibetology and Buddhist Studies. She is an expert on comparative cultural history and Buddhist Tantrik rituals and arts. She has published over hundred articles and several monographies in German and English, has produced a number of film documentaries, was curator of several exhibition on Tibetan and contemporary art and convener of ten international conferences. Among her published works are ‘Path to Nature’s Wisdom: An ecological Dialogue between Alps & Himalayas’ (2003), ‘Tibetan Mahayoga Tantra (2007), ‘Social Significance of Buddhism in the Asian World (2008) and ‘Tibetan Art Calendar’  (Wisdom Publ. 1998-2007). At present she is senior Professor in the Department of Indo-Tibetan Studies and Director of the Centre for Buddhist Studies, Visva Bharati, Santiniketan, West Bengal.


Tantra (Skr.; ‘continuum’,  ‘connection’, ‘fabric’; Tib. rGyud) along with the Vedas, the Upanisad, the Puranas and the Bhagavad-Gita is part of the Sanatana-Dharma, the ‘eternal religion’ of Hinduism. Its central theme is divine energy (‘sakti) personified as Devi or goddess, the female divine aspect represented as the consort of Siva, taking up various manifestation, peaceful such as Laksmi, Sarasvati, Uma and Gauri, or wrathful like Kali and Durga, and their union with Siva.

It also defines unorthodox Tantrik writing and practice instructions that are only to be Known    and practiced by those persons who are willing and capable to undergo a strict spiritual discipline unless they may take serious harm.

In Hindu tradition two main Tantrik schools have emerged: the dangerous ‘Left Hand Path’  (Vamacara) involving liberal feasts, and the ‘Right Hand Path’ (Daksinacara) involving purifying rituals, spiritual discipline and absolute devotion to the Divine Mother.

Each Tantra treats five main subjects: the creation of the World, its dissolution, the adoration of the deity in its in female or male aspect, the achievement of supernatural powers, and various yogic methods for realizing union with the Highest such as Bhakti-yoga, Kundalini etc.

The Tantrik treatises are mostly composed between Siva and Sakti, aiming at awakening the cosmic power (Kundalini-Sakti) through various meditations. For the rituals five items are essential: wine (madya), meat (mamsa), fish (matsya), mystical gestures and roasted wheat (mudra) and sexual intercourse (maithuna).

In Tibetan Buddhist Traditions the term Tantra (Rgyud) IS used to define various cult and texts such as medical and astrological writings and meditations systems generally defined as Vajrayana, a system of teaching revealed by Buddha Sakyamuni in his manifestation as Dharmakaya. It is a system that is strongly that is strongly based on human experience and describes the spiritual development in the categories of base (gzhi), path (lam) and fruit (‘bras bu), the base being the practitioner who uses the path for purifying the base in order to achieve the fruit, which is the result of his practice.

The Tibetan tradition speaks of mainly four Tantra classes: Kriya-Tantra (bya ba ‘I rgyud), Carya-Tantra (spyod pa ‘I rgyud), Yoga-Tantra (rnal byor gyi rgyud) and Anuttara-Tantra (blana med pa ‘I rgyud), depending on the various levels of spiritual capacities of a practitioner. The most important Anuttara-Tantras are Guhyasamaja-Tantra, Cakrasamvara, Havajra, Kalacakra etc.

The ‘old’ Tantras of the rNying ma pa School differentiate Anuttara-Tantra into Maha-Anu-and Ati-Yoga (rDzogs chen). Basis of the rNying ma Tantrik practice system is the acceptance of the fundamental purity of mind. One of the most eminent Tantras of this tradition is Guhyagarbha-Tantra (gSang bai sNying po’i rGyud).

The main feature of these systems is the thinking in polarities involving subtle sexual symbolism for the dissolution of duality by the union of Upaya (thabs), method, as the male principle, with the female principle of wisdom prajna (shes rab).

At the time of the Indian Siddha tradition there was no rigid boundary or distinction between Hindu and Buddhist Tantrik adherents, as both introduced a body of scriptures called Tantras for which they claimed divine revelation. And it is the skillful synthesis of diverse elements of Indian culture that gave Tantrik Buddhism its vigor and viability. Tantrik Buddhists encountered their Hindu counterparts at cremation grounds at cremation ground and pilgrimage place, yogis and yoginis of mainly sakta and saivite traditions.

One of the earliest Yogini Tantras is the Hevajra Tantra, which dates from approximately the eighth century. It was found by Saroruha and commented by the Mahasiddha Kanha (or Krisnacarya) in the text called Yogaratnamala, written in the ninth century. Krisnacarya is listed among the 84 Buddhist Mahasiddhas and was a progenitor of the Kaula school of Tantra. In his Carya songs he proclaims himself to be a Kapalika Yogi. Kanha also is a revealer of the Cakrasamvari Tantra, so is Luipa, who is most probably identical with Matsyendranatha, the teacher of the famous Gorakhanatha. Therefore the influence of the 84 Mahasiddhas in the existing Hindu Tantrik schools such as the Natha Yogis, the Aughoris and Bauls, should not be underestimated.

The Tantrik tradition of Tibet survived the Buddhist Diaspora and the aftermath of King Langdarma’s reign ( 9th century) in the-according to later Tibetan Buddhist hagiographers-‘infamous’ non-monastic snags pa tradition, the ‘Mantra holders’, who-in the voice of later monastic hagiographers-were subject to evil spells and unconventional practices. This took a turn with the second spread of Buddhism in Tibet, under the auspices of the Indian Pandit Atisa Dipamkara (11th   century), who invited to West Tibet, inaugurated a movement of coming back to the of Mahayana and the ideal of Bodhisattva, meaning correct livelihood and being a good and subordinate subject to the state government. The conflation of the monastic Mahayana and the non-celibate Tantrik paradigms required explicit synthesis. In the later centuries, under the influence of the bka’ dam pa School and with the institutionalization of monasticism, supported by the adaptation of the reincarnation system (sprul sku) from the 12th  century onwards, ritual behavior pattern started to change dramatically, a movement to be continued till now in exile.

 All Tibetan Tantrik transmission lineages, alive and unbroken till date, derived from illustrious Indian Masters and Mahasiddhas, many of them were from Bengal. In contemporary Bengal itself Tantra is still practiced at the amasanas of the great pitha sites, while some aspects of Tantrik traditions were absorbed into more moderate spiritual movements, focusing on bhakti, such as Vaisnavism.

Generally in Tibetan tradition it is said, the pre-requisite for Tantra practice are a profound experience of the Void through meditative and analytical insight, a thorough renunciation of worldly attachments and deep and boundless compassion for all living beings. Thus matured one may find an impeccable master who holding the transmission of an unbroken lineage has realized the teachings and is willing to transmit gradually the complete empowerments, authorizations and individual instructions to a committed disciple with unshakeable devotion and faith. During the time of training the disciple has to prove himself by undergoing strenuous preliminaries, long solitary reclusions and repeated challenges, examinations and a personal initiation by his or her master. Of greatest value for proceeding on the path without failure are the sacred commitments (samaya)

It is said that the Path of the Secret Mantras or Vajrayana is short-one may reach enlightenment within one, at the latest within three life times only. But it is sharp as a razor blade one balances on at the peak of a glacier. One is sure to fall to death in one single moment of distraction. There are Fourteen Root Tantrik Vows, eighteen Secondary and two additional secondary Tantrik Vows to be held. Ekposing the secrets of Tantra to those who are not initiated is the seventh Root Down fall.

How and why can we discuss this profound and sacred vehicle for enlightenment bound to the oath of secrecy in an academic forum?


Introduction to the theme


Beginning of Tantrik Studies:The Works of Csoma de K"oro"s


Tantra as Persistent Counter-Culture: An Indic Play Ethic and its Global Outreach


Philosophy and Hermeneutics of Buddhist Tantra


Kundalini yoga and the Concept of Devi in Sankaracarya's Saundaryalahari




Bodhipathapradipa and its Importance in Tibetan Buddhism


The Alchemy of Vision in Tibetan Tantrik Practice


The Journey to the Goddess Tara Adoption and Adaptation of a Buddhist Goddess in


Hindu Tantrik Worship

The Viracara Tantrik Practice of Nimba-vasini


Sahajasiddhi (Lhan cig skyes grup) of 'Sri Dombi Heruka:A Hermeneutic Exposition


The History of Bon Tantra


Abhiseka and the Chinese Hevajra Tantra


Taranatha and IndianTantrikKnowledge in the 16th and 17th Centuries


The Non-apprehension ('dzin med) of Luminosity and Emptiness: A Lam 'bras View


of Sakya Tradition

Alkhana, Buryat Secret Valley of 'Sri Cakrasamvara, and its Creator Namnane Lama


Janchub Tsultim, 1825-1897)

SIMHAMUKHA: The Lion-faced Durga of the Tibetan Tantrik Pantheon


Hermeneutics of Mandala Art


Wall Paintings of Meditative Deities from the Mahayoga Tantra in an Ancient


Cave Temple in Upper Mustang




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