Power of Tantra
Religion, Sexuality and the Politics of South Asian Studies
- Publisher : I.B.Taurus
- Published : 2009
- Cover : Paperback
- Pages : 256
- Size : 234 x 156mm
- Category :
- Catalogue No : 19275
- ISBN 13 : 9781845118747
- ISBN 10 : 184511874X
By the same author
A provocative and groundbreaking perspective on the true meaning of the so-called "cult of ecstasy", which particularly focuses on the ancient tantric tradition in Assam, northeast India.
In the West, the varied body of texts and traditions known as tantra has for more than two centuries had the capacity to scandalise and shock. For European colonisers, Orientalist scholars and Christian missionaries of the Victorian era, tantra was generally seen as the most degenerate and depraved example of the worst tendencies of the so-called "Indian mind": a pathological mixture of sensuality and religion that prompted the decline of modern Hinduism. Yet for most contemporary New Age and popular writers, tantra is celebrated as a much-needed affirmation of physical pleasure and sex: indeed as a cult of ecstasy to counter the perceived hypocritical prudery of many Westerners. In recent years, tantra has become the focus of a still larger cultural and political debate. In the eyes of many Hindus, much of the Western literature on tantra represents a form of neo-colonialism, which continues to portray India as an exotic, hyper-sexualised Orient.
Which, then, is the real tantra? The author shows that tantra is less about optimal sexual pleasure (or "nookie nirvana") than about harnessing the divine energy of the goddess that flows alike through the cosmos, the human body, and socio-political society. In a fresh and vital contribution to the field, he suggests the "real" meaning of tantra lies in helping us rethink not just the history of Indian religions, but also our own modern obsessions with power, sex and the invidious legacies of cultural imperialism.
"Boldly and creatively takes the arguments about tantra in an entirely new direction." Wendy Doniger.
"A major scholarly treatment of a much-misconstrued esoteric tradition...an impressive achievement." Paul B.Courtright, Prof.of Religion and Asian Studies, Emory University.