In this Book

  • Tantra: Sex, Secrecy, Politics, and Power in the Study of Religion
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  • Hugh Urban
  • 2003
  • Published by: University of California Press
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summary
A complex body of religious practices that spread throughout the Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain traditions; a form of spirituality that seemingly combines sexuality, sensual pleasure, and the full range of physical experience with the religious life—Tantra has held a central yet conflicted role within the Western imagination ever since the first "discovery" of Indian religions by European scholars. Always radical, always extremely Other, Tantra has proven a key factor in the imagining of India. This book offers a critical account of how the phenomenon has come to be.

Tracing the complex genealogy of Tantra as a category within the history of religions, Hugh B. Urban reveals how it has been formed through the interplay of popular and scholarly imaginations. Tantra emerges as a product of mirroring and misrepresentation at work between East and West--a dialectical category born out of the ongoing play between Western and Indian minds. Combining historical detail, textual analysis, popular cultural phenomena, and critical theory, this book shows Tantra as a shifting amalgam of fantasies, fears, and wish-fulfillment, at once native and Other, that strikes at the very heart of our constructions of the exotic Orient and the contemporary West.

Table of Contents

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  1. Cover
  2. p. 1
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  1. Title Page, Copyright
  2. pp. 2-7
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  1. Contents
  2. pp. vii-9
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  1. Illustrations
  2. pp. ix-11
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  1. Preface and Acknowledgments: The Extreme Orient and the Quest for Ecstasy
  2. pp. xi-xiv
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  1. Abbreviations
  2. pp. xv-xvi
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  1. Introduction: Diagnosing the “Disease” of Tantra
  2. pp. 1-43
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  1. 1. The Golden Age of the Vedasand the Dark Age of Kàlí: Tantrism, Orientalism, and the Bengal Renaissance
  2. pp. 44-72
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  1. 2. Sacrificing White Goats to the Goddess: Tantra and Political Violence in Colonial India
  2. pp. 73-105
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  1. 3. India’s Darkest Heart: Tantra in the Literary Imagination
  2. pp. 106-133
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  1. 4. Deodorized Tantra: Sex, Scandal, Secrecy, and Censorship in the Works of John Woodroffe and Swami Vivekananda
  2. pp. 134-164
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  1. 5. Religion for the Age of Darkness: Tantra and the History of Religions in the Twentieth Century
  2. pp. 165-202
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  1. 6. The Cult of Ecstasy: Meldings of East and West in a New Age of Tantra
  2. pp. 203-263
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  1. Conclusion: Reimagining Tantra in Contemporary Discourse
  2. pp. 264-281
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  1. Notes
  2. pp. 283-335
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  1. Bibliography
  2. pp. 337-366
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  1. Index
  2. pp. 367-372
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