Tantra: Sex, Secrecy, Politics, and Power in the Study of Religion / Edition 1

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Overview


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.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780520236561
  • Publisher: University of California Press
  • Publication date: 10/14/2003
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 388
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.88 (d)

Meet the Author


Hugh B. Urban is Assistant Professor of Religion and Comparative Studies at Ohio State University. He is the author of The Economics of Ecstasy: Tantra, Secrecy, and Power in Colonial Bengal (2001) and Songs of Ecstasy: Tantric and Devotional Songs from Colonial Bengal (2001).
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Table of Contents


List of Illustrations
Preface and Acknowledgments
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 Renaissance
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 Discourse

Notes
Bibliography
Index

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