Roots of Tantra, The

SUNY Press
1
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Among the many spiritual traditions born and developed in India, Tantra has been the most difficult to define. Almost everything about it its major characteristics, its sources, its relationships to other religions, even its practices are debated among sc
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About the author

Katherine Anne Harper is Associate Professor of Art History at Loyola Marymount University and the author of The Iconography of the Saptamatrikas: Seven Hindu Goddesses of Spiritual Transformation.

Robert L. Brown is Professor of Art History at the University of California, Los Angeles and the Curator of Southeast Asian Art at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. He is the author of The Dvaravati Wheels of the Law and the Indianization of South East Asia, and editor of Ganesh: Studies of an Asian God, also published by SUNY Press, and Art from Thailand.

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Additional Information

Publisher
SUNY Press
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Published on
Feb 1, 2012
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Pages
270
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ISBN
9780791488904
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Best For
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Language
English
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Genres
Religion / Antiquities & Archaeology
Religion / Eastern
Religion / Hinduism / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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For those who wonder what relation actual Tantric practices bear to the "Tantric sex" currently being marketed so successfully in the West, David Gordon White has a simple answer: there is none. Sweeping away centuries of misunderstandings and misrepresentations, White returns to original texts, images, and ritual practices to reconstruct the history of South Asian Tantra from the medieval period to the present day.

Kiss of the Yogini focuses on what White identifies as the sole truly distinctive feature of South Asian Tantra: sexualized ritual practices, especially as expressed in the medieval Kaula rites. Such practices centered on the exchange of powerful, transformative sexual fluids between male practitioners and wild female bird and animal spirits known as Yoginis. It was only by "drinking" the sexual fluids of the Yoginis that men could enter the family of the supreme godhead and thereby obtain supernatural powers and transform themselves into gods. By focusing on sexual rituals, White resituates South Asian Tantra, in its precolonial form, at the center of religious, social, and political life, arguing that Tantra was the mainstream, and that in many ways it continues to influence contemporary Hinduism, even if reformist misunderstandings relegate it to a marginal position.

Kiss of the Yogini contains White's own translations from over a dozen Tantras that have never before been translated into any European language. It will prove to be the definitive work for persons seeking to understand Tantra and the crucial role it has played in South Asian history, society, culture, and religion.
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