Tantra  -  Sex, Secrecy, Politics, and Power in the Study of Religion

Tantra - Sex, Secrecy, Politics, and Power in the Study of Religion

Product ID: 22350

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Author: Hugh B Urban
Publisher: Motilal Banarsidass
Year: 2007
Language: English
Pages: 372
ISBN/UPC (if available): 8120829328


A complex body of religious practices that spread throughout the Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain traditions; a form of spirituality that seemingly combines sexuality, sensual pleasure, and the full range of physical experience with the religious life--Tantra has held a central yet conflicted role within the Western imagination ever since the first "discovery" of Indian religions by European scholars. Always radical, always extremely Other, Tantra has proven a key factor in the imagining of India. This book offers a critical account of how the phenomenon has come to be.

Tracing the complex genealogy of Tantra as a category within the history of religions, Hugh B. Urban reveals how it has been formed through the interplay of popular and scholarly imaginations. Tantra emerges as a product of mirroring and misrepresentation at work between East and West--a dialectical category born out of the ongoing play between Western and Indian minds. Combining historical detail, textual analysis, popular cultural phenomena, and critical theory, this book shows Tantra as a shifting amalgam of fantasies, fears, and wish-fulfillment, at once native and Other, that strikes at the very heart of our constructions of the exotic Orient and the contemporary West.


List of Illustrations

Preface and Acknowledgments

List of Abbreviations

Introduction: diagnosing the “Disease” of Tantra

1. The golden Age of the Vedas and the Dark Age
Of Kali: Tantrism, Orientalism, and the Bengal
2. Sacrificing white Goats to the Goddess: Tantra
And Political Violence in Colonial India
3. India’s Darkest Heart: Tantra in the
Literary Imagination
4. Deodorized Tantra: Sex, Scandal, Secrecy, and
Censorship in the works of John Woodroffe and
Swami Vivekananda
5. Religion for the Age of Darkness: Tantra and the
History of religions in the Twentieth Century
6. The Cult of Ecstasy: Meldings of East and West
In a new Age of Tantra

Conclusion: Reimagining Tantra in Contemporary