Power of Tantra Religion, Sexuality and the Politics of South Asian Studies

ISBN-10: 184511874X

ISBN-13: 9781845118747

Edition: 2009

Authors: Hugh B. Urban

List price: $43.99
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Description:

In the West, the varied body of texts and traditions known as Tantra for more than two centuries has 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, erotic, hyper-sexualised Orient. Which, then, is the 'real' Tantra? Focusing on one of the oldest and most important Tantric traditions, based in Assam, northeast India, Hugh B Urban shows that Tantra is less about optimal sexual pleasure than about harnessing the divine power of the goddess that flows alike through the cosmos, the human body and political society. In a fresh and vital contribution to the field, the author suggests that 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.
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Book details

List price: $43.99
Copyright year: 2009
Publisher: I. B. Tauris & Company, Limited
Publication date: 11/6/2009
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 256
Size: 6.25" wide x 9.00" long x 1.00" tall
Weight: 0.946
Language: English

List of Illustrations
Acknowledgments
Introduction Tantra and the Politics of South Asian Studies
Matrix of Power: The Ś&abar;kta P&ibar;&tbdot;has and the Sacred Landscape of Tantra
Blood for the Goddess: Animal Sacrifice and Divine Menstruation
Goddess of Power: Tantra, Kingship, and Sacrifice in South Asian History
The Sacrifice of Desire: Sexual Rites and the Secret Sacrifice
What About the Woman? Gender Politics and the Interpretation of Women in Tantra
The Power of God in a Dark Valley: Reform, Colonialism, and the Decline of Tantra in South Asia
The Power of the Goddess in a Postcolonial Age: Transformations of Tantra in the twentieth and twenty-first Centuries
Conclusions Tantra and the End of Imperialism: Beyond "Deep Orientalism" and "Third-Worldism"
Notes
Select Bibliography
Index
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