Hugh B. Urban is interested in the study of secrecy in religion, particularly in relation to questions of knowledge and power. Focusing primarily on the traditions of South Asia, he is author of Tantra: Sex, Secrecy, Politics and Power in the Study of Religion (2003) and Magia Sexualis: Sex, Magic, and Liberation in Modern Western Esotericism (2006), among other books.
With degrees in Hinduism from the University of Toronto and University of Calgary, Raj interprets Sanskrit narrative texts for ethical import. He is the author of The Goddess and the King in Indian Myth and The Goddess and the Sun in Indian Myth, both published as part of Routledge’s Hindu Studies Series. Alongside his academic training, Raj apprenticed with an Indian master for twelve years as part of an oral tradition dedicated to the preservation and application of Hindu philosophy. He teaches comparative religion and mythology courses at the University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies and teaches Hinduism courses privately online. Beyond teaching and research, Raj enjoys a thriving life-consulting practice and hosts the New Books in Hindu Studies podcast.
Recent scholarship shines new light on the historical development of haṭha yoga in relation to Tantra. In this session we look at what shaped the relationship between Tantra and yoga in the medieval period. We will further examine conceptions of the yogic body, goddess worship, and the centrality of mantras and yantras to meditation, as well as the identities and practices surrounding yoginīs.
A visual guide to the history and rituals of the Kāmākhyā temple in Assam, India. The temple of the Goddess Kāmākhyā is considered one of the śakti piṭhas (seating place of the śakti) of the Goddess. Rare still and moving images show the complexities of tantric rituals to the Goddess.
In this session we attempt to understand and model hand gestures (mudrās) in tantric rituals. Rooted in older traditions, mudrās are an integral part of tantric ritual. Śākteya tantric practitioners construct a symbolic world through mudrās and in this talk we will explore how these are taught. We will also look at the use of mudrās in Indian classical dance and Hindu Temple traditions.
Tantra shapes one of the most common and visible forms of modern Hindu practice – temple worship. In this session, we will explore the tantric roots of image worship, through an exploration of the Pañcarātras, Vaiṣṇava tantric texts. We also examine the very close links between tantric ideas and devotional (bhakti) practice in the main traditions of Vaiṣṇavism.