Book: Indian Religions
Chapter: Shamanic Powers, Village Religion and Esoteric Exchange: How Far is Tantra a Specifically Indian Phenomenon?
This chapter reconstructs some of the social context of the development of ‘Tantra,’ and in particular asks how Buddhist monks and lay practitioners came to adopt ‘extreme’ versions of Saiva (Kaula) practice as central parts of their own religious practice between the 8th and 12th centuries. These ‘extreme’ elements included the presence of fierce and terrifying deities, cremation-ground symbolism and explicit sexual elements. A variety of approaches to the development of these practices is discussed.