Divine Feminine in Tantrik Liberation Eschatology and the Perception of Women

  • Mousumi Roy Assistant Professor in Comparative Religion Department of Philosophy & Comparative Religion Visva Bharati University Santiniketan West Bengal
Keywords: Shaktism, Tantra, Tantrik, Divine feminine, liberation

Abstract

Yoga, Bhakti and Tantra constitute the three major aspects of the Hindu worldview. While yoga represents the meditative dimension of Hinduism, bhakti represents its emotional and devotional dimension and Tantra or Tantrik techniques represent the ritual dimension of the Hindu tradition. Surprisingly though, unlike yoga and bhakti, which have attracted and is attracting, considerable attention from scholars of Hinduism, the tantra has remained somewhat neglected in the academic circles.

We can ascribe this negligence to the bad reputation that has gathered around tantra due to some of its secret practices or to its much-maligned techniques like Vamachara. It may also be that the predominantly ritualistic nature of tantra has failed to arouse the spirit of serious scrutiny by scholars who are usually more interested in the philosophical understanding of Hinduism.

But, as a matter of fact, tantra has enough philosophical discourse to offer. With its unique understanding of Reality, its relationship to the Self and with its well -developed specific terminologies, it has enough materials to contest for a separate and serious study of its own.

The aim of this paper is to explore a specific aspect of the Tantra philosophy, namely its liberation eschatology and understand the importance of the feminine aspect of divine in it.

The paper begins with a definition of tantra and proceeds to show its features and the history of its development to establish its place within the Hindu tradition. It further proceeds to explicate the liberation eschatology and the ontology of feminine embedded in it.

Finally, the paper tries to argue that the centrality of the feminine in the Tantra shapes and dictates the essence of Hindu/ Indian attitude towards women. The idea of women as Shakti and the importance of woman as mother in the Hindu society is a direct derivative of the understanding of the divine feminine as expounded in the tantra. Furthermore, the pervasive nature of the worship of Goddess or Devi in all strata of Hindu India can only be understood in the light of Tantra eschatology.

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Published
2019-06-27
Section
Articles