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Making Sense of Tantric Buddhism
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Making Sense of Tantric Buddhism
History, Semiology, and Transgression in the Indian Traditions
Creators: Christian K Wedemeyer
Publisher: Columbia University Press
Pub. date: 12/04/2012
Lib. SRP: 29.99 USD
Ret. SRP: 0.00 USD
Format: Adobe EPUB eBook
ISBN: 9780231530958
DRM Level: Adobe Content Server 4
Min. Version: Adobe Digital Editions
File size: 17031 KB
Languages:
   English
Subjects:
   Religion & Spirituality, Nonfiction
Keywords:
   Buddhism
  null
Short Description:
   Christian K. Wedemeyer’s systematic investigation into Buddhist Tantric traditions fundamentally rethinks the nature of its transgressive theories and practices and situates them firmly within larger trends in learned Indian culture. Challenging the notion that such phenomena are “marginal” or primitive, Wedemeyer demonstrates these antinomian “rituals of rebellion” were integrally related, ideologically and institutionally, both within the Buddhist mainstream and Indian culture.

Revisiting various interpretations of esoteric Buddhism from the early-nineteenth century to the present, Wedemeyer demonstrates the fallacies of attributing Tantric transgression to either the passions of lusty monks, primitive tribal rites, or slavish imitation of Indian Saiva traditions. He likewise interrogates the narratives that depict Tantrism as a degenerate form of Buddhism, as a primal religious undercurrent, or as medieval ritualism, exposing these as stock...
Full Description:
   

Making Sense of Tantric Buddhism fundamentally rethinks the nature of the transgressive theories and practices of the Buddhist Tantric traditions, challenging the notion that the Tantras were “marginal" or primitive and situating them instead—both ideologically and institutionally—within larger trends in mainstream Buddhist and Indian culture. Critically surveying prior scholarship, Wedemeyer exposes the fallacies of attributing Tantric transgression to either the passions of lusty monks, primitive tribal rites, or slavish imitation of Saiva traditions. Through comparative analysis of modern historical narratives—that depict Tantrism as a degenerate form of Buddhism, a primal religious undercurrent, or medieval ritualism—he likewise demonstrates these to be stock patterns in the European historical imagination. Through close analysis of primary sources, Wedemeyer reveals the lived world of Tantric Buddhism as largely continuous with the Indian religious mainstream and deploys contemporary methods of semiotic and structural analysis to make sense of its seemingly repellent and immoral injunctions. Innovative, semiological readings of the influential Guhyasamaja Tantra underscore the text's overriding concern with purity, pollution, and transcendent insight—issues shared by all Indic religions—and a large-scale, quantitative study of Tantric literature shows its radical antinomianism to be a highly managed ritual observance restricted to a sacerdotal elite. These insights into Tantric scripture and ritual clarify the continuities between South Asian Tantrism and broader currents in Indian religion, illustrating how thoroughly these “radical" communities were integrated into the intellectual, institutional, and social structures of South Asian Buddhism.

Creator Marketing:
  Christian K Wedemeyer     
     
Christian K. Wedemeyer is associate professor of the history of religions at the University of Chicago Divinity School and in the Department of South Asian Languages and Civilizations. He is the author of Aryadeva’s Lamp that Integrates the Practices: The Gradual Path of Vajrayana Buddhism According to the Esoteric Community Noble Tradition, and his research concerns the history and literature of Buddhism in Southern Asia and Tibet.
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