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.
We explore the full dimensions of Tantra and consider its role in the beliefs and practices of Hinduism. Hinduism manifests in many ways, but it is possible to identify two major strands, which we can broadly define as the Vedic and the Tantric. We will establish the nature of these two expressions of Indian spirituality and consider how they relate to each other and are to be recognised in belief and practice such as Yoga and worship.
Kashmir Śaivism reveals the Tantric approach to religion as non-dualist. Śaṅkarācārya, generally viewed to be the principal exponent of non-dualism (advaita), teaches transcendence of the manifest world. But in Kashmir Śaivism we find a form of advaita that is more concerned with the notion of the world as a reality that is Śiva himself. By considering these two expressions of advaita we can identify the fundamental distinctions that exist between the Vedic and Tantric expressions of Hindu spirituality.