Name 1 Name Class Instructor Date Tantra and Hinduism: Shared Philosophy, Common Faith There are very few reliable sources for determining when Tantra became incorporated within the various aspects of Hindu belief and practice. It is generally accepted that Tantras are not part of the ancient orthodox Vedic writings but were roughly consequent, each pervading and influencing the other…
71). The incremental nature of this process may account for the scarcity of available information on the origins of tantric Hinduism, but Fic quotes Lalan Prasad Singh in pointing out that “the incorporation of indigenous tribal fertility cults, magical practices and other beliefs and rituals” has been confirmed by various studies (Ibid). Thus, we may say with some confidence that the means by which Tantra became integrated within the three modes of Hinduism were facilitated by the medium of ritual. Sacrifice - ritual Thomas E. Donaldson refers to Hinduism as a continuum with many points of evolution; Name 2 its practices having generally led to total substitution for other, pre-Hindu religious belief systems (2002). Tantra proved to be complementary though its creed, which emphasizes the body and the individual, came under criticism from the early Vedic scholars. However, tantric worship of Hindu gods and goddesses, such as Shiva and Shakti, was facilitated through the medium of various meditative intercessors, such as incense, flowers, perfume, singing and dancing (Magee, 1989, p. 18). It is through these celebrations of the deities of the Hindu pantheon that the meditative contemplation of puja came into use, featuring the meditative contemplations of a mantra or yantra. But it is principally through the common religious medium of the gods and the Hindu mode of ritualistic worship that Tantra intermingled with Hinduism. Tantra interjected a kind of magical, proactive means for gaining control of the temporal world, which had an element of unpredictability. “Tantric ritual is about powerful and dangerous forces, which must be encountered and dealt with for the good of the community. These forces can only be manipulated by specialist priests and ritualists, and even then there is a risk that things can ‘go wrong’” (Samuel, 2008, p. 317). The presence of sexual ritual, which the early Vedic scholars reviled, has been much misunderstood as something gratuitous, even debased and degrading. As such, Tantra introduced a new and potent physical means of finding transcendence through a bodily discipline. The act of sex became “the vehicle of illumination itself; for it was in orgasm that the deity revealed itself as the transcendental core of the energies of cognition and action, the unity of light and emptiness” (Ibid). Early tantric sexual ritual included the use of semen, blood and various pigments – its goal was to generate power through the breaking of Name 3 taboo (Ibid). Wisdom – yoga There is a palpable force to the mode of wisdom, and to its achievement through the discipline of yoga. Tantric yoga’s origins, as with ritual, are obscure, though its introduction as a practice can be traded to the Upanishads. Many of the mystical pathways of inner transcendence that are so closely identified with Hinduism are the products of yoga, including asceticism, meditation and salvation through hallucination (Hopkins, 1901). The Upanishadic meaning of yoga has to do with restraint of the senses; in fact, in this early period “yoga” and “restraint” have more or less equivalent meanings (Ibid). What followed ...
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