Passionate Enlightenment: Women in Tantric Buddhism

Overview

The crowning cultural achievement of medieval India, Tantric Buddhism is known in the West primarily for the sexual practices of its adherents, who strive to transform erotic passion into spiritual ecstasy. Historians of religion have long held that the enlightenment thus attempted was for men only, and that women in the movement were at best marginal and subordinated and at worst degraded and exploited. Miranda Shaw argues to the contrary, presenting extensive new evidence of the outspoken and independent female...

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Overview

The crowning cultural achievement of medieval India, Tantric Buddhism is known in the West primarily for the sexual practices of its adherents, who strive to transform erotic passion into spiritual ecstasy. Historians of religion have long held that the enlightenment thus attempted was for men only, and that women in the movement were at best marginal and subordinated and at worst degraded and exploited. Miranda Shaw argues to the contrary, presenting extensive new evidence of the outspoken and independent female founders of the Tantric movement and their creative role in shaping its distinctive vision of gender relations and sacred sexuality.

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Editorial Reviews

Shambhala Sun
This book is a welcome and wonderful addition to feminist scholarship on Buddhism, a rapidly growing endeavor. . . . Miranda Shaw's discussion of passion and intimacy as a path of practice is exemplary in its demonstration that such practices can only be undertaken by equals who share the same vision, the same aspiration for enlightenment, and the same training and meditative skills.
— Rita Gross
Parabola
A feminist critique of a male (and Western) view of the Tantric tradition [and also] a balanced reassessment of a tradition too long misunderstood.
— James George
Shambhala Sun - Rita Gross
This book is a welcome and wonderful addition to feminist scholarship on Buddhism, a rapidly growing endeavor. . . . Miranda Shaw's discussion of passion and intimacy as a path of practice is exemplary in its demonstration that such practices can only be undertaken by equals who share the same vision, the same aspiration for enlightenment, and the same training and meditative skills.
Parabola - James George
A feminist critique of a male (and Western) view of the Tantric tradition [and also] a balanced reassessment of a tradition too long misunderstood.
From the Publisher
Winner of the 1994 James Henry Breasted Prize, American Historical Association

Winner of the 1994 Tricycle Prize for Excellence in Buddhist Scholarship

"This book is a welcome and wonderful addition to feminist scholarship on Buddhism, a rapidly growing endeavor. . . . Miranda Shaw's discussion of passion and intimacy as a path of practice is exemplary in its demonstration that such practices can only be undertaken by equals who share the same vision, the same aspiration for enlightenment, and the same training and meditative skills."—Rita Gross, Shambhala Sun

"A feminist critique of a male (and Western) view of the Tantric tradition [and also] a balanced reassessment of a tradition too long misunderstood."—James George, Parabola

Roy Perrett
...[A] fine book that presents a pioneering contribution to Tantric Buddhist studies....This book is a major contribution to the history of Indian Buddhism, brilliantly recapturing a lost sense of the important creative role of women in the formation of Tantra....Moreover, although the book is primarily an academic work of historical scholarship, it is extremely well-written and should be accessible to the general educated public.
Journal of Buddhist Ethics
Roy W. Perrett
...[A] fine book that presents a pioneering contribution to Tantric Buddhist studies....This book is a major contribution to the history of Indian Buddhism, brilliantly recapturing a lost sense of the important creative role of women in the formation of Tantra....Moreover, although the book is primarily an academic work of historical scholarship, it is extremely well-written and should be accessible to the general educated public.
Journal of Buddhist Ethics
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Product Details

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Acknowledgments
Guide to Transliteration
Ch. 1 Seeking the Traces of Sky-Dancers 3
Ch. 2 Tantric Buddhism in India: Religious and Historical Introduction 20
Ch. 3 Women in Tantric Theory: Powerful and Auspicious 35
Ch. 4 Women in Tantric Circles: Adepts and Experts 74
Ch. 5 Women in Tantric History: Founders and Pioneers 101
Ch. 6 Women in Tantric Relationships: Intimacy as a Path to Enlightenment 140
Ch. 7 Spontaneous Jewellike Yogini on Passion and Enlightenment 179
Ch. 8 Conclusions 195
Notes 207
Bibliography 265
Index 283
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 25, 2002

    I smiled while I read it

    It was a joy to read a book that championed the female role and the female body in a Buddhist perspective. And it was doubly so because the author had so clearly done the research and didn't just offer wishful thinking. There is much in tantra that has been sensationalized, and much of its wisdom has been overlooked. This book conveyed difficult concepts in direct and simple ways.

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