Indian Esoteric Buddhism: A Social History of the Tantric Movement

Indian Esoteric Buddhism: A Social History of the Tantric Movement

by Ronald Davidson

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Despite the rapid spread of Buddhism—especially the esoteric system of Tantra, one of its most popular yet most misunderstood forms—the historical origins of Buddhist thought and practice remain obscure. This groundbreaking work describes the genesis of the Tantric movement in early medieval India, where it developed as a response to, and in some ways an example of, the feudalization of Indian society. Drawing on primary documents—many translated for the first time—from Sanskrit, Prakrit, Tibetan, Bengali, and Chinese, Ronald Davidson shows how changes in medieval Indian society, including economic and patronage crises, a decline in women's participation, and the formation of large monastic orders, led to the rise of the esoteric tradition in India that became the model for Buddhist cultures in China, Tibet, and Japan.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780231501026
Publisher: Columbia University Press
Publication date: 12/18/2002
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 475
Sales rank: 1,310,548
File size: 26 MB
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About the Author

Ronald M. Davidson is professor of religious studies and director of the program in Asian studies at Fairfield University in Connecticut. He is the coauthor (with Steven D. Goodman) of Tibetan Buddhism: Reason and Revelation.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction: A Plethora of Promises
2. Early Medieval India
3. The Medieval Buddhist Experience
4. The Victory of Esoterism and the Imperial Metaphor
5. Siddhas and the Religious Landscape
6. Siddhas, Literature, and Language
7. Siddhas, Monks, and Communities
8. Conclusion: The Esoteric Conundrum
Appendix: Probable Pasupata Sites

What People are Saying About This

Matthew Kapstein

Ronald M. Davidson gives us an original and revelatory contribution to the study of Buddhism and Indian religions, one that will surely provoke animated discussion and debate.

David F. Germano

An exceptional work of stunning research, eloquence, and unusual innovativeness.

Phyllis Granoff

This extraordinary work advances our knowledge of esoteric Buddhism in India by placing it in the broader context of Indian history and culture, drawing on texts, archaeological evidence, and inscriptions. It will no doubt be required reading for all serious students of medieval Indian religion.

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Indian Esoteric Buddhism: A Social History of the Tantric Movement 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
jvalamala on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The author is evidently intelligent, learned and blessed. This work is like a very large mountain - arriving at the top you are left both out of breath and speechless.