Tantra: Ancient to Modern – Online Day School, 28 November

OCHS Tantra Day School


In this Day School we survey the practices of Tantra and their history and philosophical background. We also take a look at what happens in real-life by learning about contemporary tantric traditions in Nepal and how Tantra has affected modern yoga practices. The study of Tantra is broad and developing rapidly and we take a look at the Radha Tantra, a fascinating text that has, till now, been little studied.


When: Sunday 28 November 2021
Where: Online Via Zoom!
11.00am–6.00pm UK Time (includes break between sessions)

Time zones don’t work for you? Enrolment gives you access to recordings of all sessions.

Enrolment fee
£75 Includes all sessions + recordings

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Sunday 28 November

Tantra: History and Tradition

It helps to understand Tantra in relation to the Hinduism of its time – the seventh to eleventh centuries. We will examine the distinction between followers of the Vedas and followers of Tantra. We will see how the tantric traditions arose partly from traditions of renunciation and partly from popular religious practices, and how they became mainstream forms of religion in medieval South and Southeast Asia. We will look at early Tantras and reactions against the tantric tradition. We will also examine Tantra’s contemporary importance.   

Tutor: Prof. Gavin Flood
11:00am–12.00 noon

How Tantra Changed Yoga

Early yogis mostly practised meditation and ascetic austerities. The influence of Tantra shifted the focus from physical transcendence to transformation. Instead of seeing the body as an obstacle, yogis could work with it. This shaped the development of non-seated postures and other dynamic ingredients of modern practice.

Tutor: Daniel Simpson

Tantra in the Kathmandu Valley

In this lecture we will encounter an example of tantric history and practice as we encounter it among the Newars of the Kathmandu Valley. The Newars combine Buddhist and Hindu practices and have a rich tantric heritage in which many rituals and practices are well preserved. We will focus on the worship of the goddess and ritual practice from both a historical and contemporary perspective.

Tutor: Gitte Poulsen

Defending the Faith: The Radha Tantra

The Radha Tantra is a late (17th century) Shakta Tantra from Bengal. In this talk, we introduce this little-known but fascinating text as an example of how the transgressive side of Tantra can take the form of apologetics. Using Vaishnava sources, the Radha Tantra completely recasts the story of Radha and Krishna in a way that for Vaishnavas could be bewildering and infuriating, but that has much to say about the religious landscape of 17th-century Bengal.

Tutor: Dr Måns Broo

Tantric Goals and Practices

In this session we will describe tantric goals and practices and try to understand what exactly is Tantra is and how does it differ from other practices. Is it characterised by the ritual divinisation of the body? Is it characterised by the use of mantras? Or visualisation? Is it characterised by transgressive practices such as ritual sex? Is it characterised by inner yoga practices involving the movement of powers in the body? Or is it all of these? We will address all these questions with reference to particular practices and texts.

Tutor: Prof. Gavin Flood


Gitte Poulsen

Gitte Poulsen

Gitte has a Masters in Religious Studies from Aarhus University, Denmark but has completed most of her studies in Varanasi, India, and as a visiting student at the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies. Gitte’s focus is on Yoga, Tantra, and Sanskrit. She is also a dedicated practitioner of āsana and prāṇāyāma. She manages the OCHS Kathmandu Office where she oversees the daily operation and focuses on Nepali and Newari language as well as Śākta traditions among the Newar community of The Kathmandu Valley.

Prof. Gavin Flood

Author of The Tantric Body, the definitive text on Tantra. Prof. Flood is Professor of Hindu Studies and Comparative Religion at Oxford University, Academic Director of the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies, Senior Research Fellow at Campion Hall, and Yap Kim Hao Visiting Professor of Comparative Religious Studies at Yale-NUS Singapore. 

Mans Broo

Måns Broo

Måns Broo is a senior lecturer in Religious Studies at Åbo Akademi University, Finland. His research interests include yoga, tantra, and Gaudiya Vaishnavism. His most recent publication is a Finnish translation of the Shandilya- and Narada-bhakti-sutra. 

Daniel Simpson

Daniel Simpson

Daniel is the author of The Truth of Yoga, an accessible guide to yoga history and philosophy. He has a Master’s degree from SOAS, University of London, and has been studying yoga in various forms since his first trip to India in the 1990s. Drawing on his previous career as a foreign correspondent, Daniel also writes articles for yoga publications and scholarly journals. His website is www.danielsimpson.info.


Enrolment fee
£75 For both days + recordings

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