Tantra, Magic, and Vernacular Religions in Monsoon Asia: Texts, Practices, and Practitioners from the Margins (Routledge, 2022) explores the cross- and trans-cultural dialectic between Tantra and intersecting ‘magical’ and ‘shamanic’ practices associated with vernacular religions across Monsoon Asia. With a chronological frame going from the mediaeval Indic period up to the present, a wide geographical framework, and through the dialogue between various disciplines, it presents a coherent enquiry shedding light on practices and practitioners that have been frequently alienated in the elitist discourse of mainstream Indic religions and equally overlooked by modern scholarship.
The book addresses three desiderata in the field of Tantric Studies: it fills a gap in the historical modelling of Tantra; it extends the geographical parameters of Tantra to the vast, yet culturally interlinked, socio-geographical construct of Monsoon Asia; it explores Tantra as an interface between the Sanskritic elite and the folk, the vernacular, the magical, and the shamanic, thereby revisiting the intellectual and historically fallacious divide between cosmopolitan Sanskritic and vernacular local.
The book offers a highly innovative contribution to the field of Tantric Studies and, more generally, South and Southeast Asian religions, by breaking traditional disciplinary boundaries. Its variety of disciplinary approaches makes it attractive to both the textual/diachronic and ethnographic/synchronic dimensions. It will be of interest to specialist and non-specialist academic readers, including scholars and students of South Asian religions, mainly Hinduism and Buddhism, Tantric traditions, and Southeast Asian religions, as well as Asian and global folk religion, shamanism, and magic.
Raj Balkaran is a scholar of Sanskrit narrative texts. He teaches at the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies and at his own virtual School of Indian Wisdom. For information see rajbalkaran.com.
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