As David White explains in the Introduction to "Tantra in
Practice, " Tantra is an Asian body of beliefs and practices that
seeks to channel the divine energy that grounds the universe, in
creative and liberating ways. The subsequent chapters reflect the
wide geographical and temporal scope of Tantra by examining
thirty-six texts from China, India, Japan, Nepal, and Tibet,
ranging from the seventh century to the present day, and
representing the full range of Tantric experience--Buddhist, Hindu,
Jain, and even Islamic. Each text has been chosen and translated,
often for the first time, by an international expert in the field
who also provides detailed background material. Students of Asian
religions and general readers alike will find the book rich and
The book includes plays, transcribed interviews, poetry,
parodies, inscriptions, instructional texts, scriptures,
philosophical conjectures, dreams, and astronomical speculations,
each text illustrating one of the diverse traditions and practices
of Tantra. Thus, the nineteenth-century Indian Buddhist "Garland of
Gems, " a series of songs, warns against the illusion of appearance
by referring to bees, yogurt, and the fire of Malaya Mountain;
while fourteenth-century Chinese Buddhist manuscripts detail how to
prosper through the Seven Stars of the Northern Dipper by burning
incense, making offerings to scriptures, and chanting incantations.
In a transcribed conversation, a modern Hindu priest in Bengal
candidly explains how he serves the black Goddess Kali and feeds
temple skulls lentils, wine, or rice; a seventeenth-century
Nepalese Hindu praise-poem hammered into the golden doors to the
temple of the Goddess Taleju lists a king's faults and begs her
forgiveness and grace. An introduction accompanies each text,
identifying its period and genre, discussing the history and
influence of the work, and identifying points of particular
interest or difficulty.
The first book to bring together texts from the entire range of
Tantric phenomena, "Tantra in Practice" continues the Princeton
Readings in Religions series. The breadth of work included,
geographic areas spanned, and expert scholarship highlighting each
piece serve to expand our understanding of what it means to
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