All Volumes (2001-2008)


Volume VI, 2007

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The tradition of Tantra, which is often without clear classification amongst scholars, does not have a single definition that thoroughly or accurately describes it. Because of the multifaceted nature of Tantric teachings, which include multiple goals and methods of practice, the task of defining Tantra is arduous at best. Without an agreed upon definition amongst scholars, Tantra can broadly be viewed as a connection to and simultaneous divergence from Vedic and Brahmanical teachings. This classification can be illustrated through an analysis of the Vedic and Tantric pantheon and rituals performed by each group’s practitioners. Additionally, an analysis of accounts by Tantric scholars and an examination of the historical movements associated with Tantric schools of thought will further support the concept of intentional and direct conflict between Tantra and traditional schools of Vedic thought. Due to the esoteric nature of Tantric instruction, it is difficult to understand and properly define, in its entirety, the tradition and the influence it has had on Indian and subsequently Asian social and religious institutions. Although not complete, the study of Tantra becomes an essential piece of the historical picture explaining the trends and influences throughout Asia from as early as the 2nd century until the present day.


2006 Neil Gray Prize Paper