This book is a social–scientific interpretation of the 15 centuries-old Hindu and Buddhist traditions of tantra. It is a self-reflexive study, informed by an insider’s empathy and the apprehension of an Indologist-cum-anthropologist who is also a mystic and an initiated practitioner of the cult himself.
Using his personal praxis to inform his research, the author examines three core themes tantra: a ‘holonic’ mandalic individuality that conduces to the mystical experience; a positive valorisation of pleasure and play; and cultural attitudes of gender-mutuality and complementarity as neatly encapsulated in the icon of Shiva as Ardhanariswara. This analysis —as captured by the tantric mandalas of deities in intimate union who vividly enact the three themes — leads to his compelling metathesis, that of tantra serving as a permanent counterculture within Indic civilisation.
This book should be of interest to those in anthropology, South Asian studies, religious studies, gender studies, psychology, and philosophy, as also the general reader.
1. Preface 2. Foreword by Jeffrey J Kripal 3. Introduction: Three Non-modern Indic Themes 4. The Kathmandu Valley: The Mandala as Indic Trope 5. Yoga and Indic Individuality 6. Bhoga and Disciplined Eudaemonism 7. Ardhanariswara and Indic Gender 8. Tantra and Counterculture: the Core Axiology of Indic Culture 9. Bibliography 10. Index