A series of eight lectures
Lectures on Tantra
Experience and tradition in Hindu tantra
Hinduism II lecture series: Yoga, bhakti, tantra (eight lectures)
An introduction to Hindu tantrism (four lectures)
This short seminar series is a thematic and historical introduction to Hindu tantric traditions. Beginning with a survey of general features such as systems of mantra, ritual, cosmology, and yoga, we will then go on to examine particular tantric traditions focused on Shiva, Vishnu, and the Goddess. The seminars will mainly explore the medieval period and examine tantrism in the context of political systems of the time, folk religion, traditions of brahmanical learning, and knowledge systems. Part of the seminars will focus on the study of particular texts and reasoning about them with an emphasis on understanding their theological concerns.
Siddhas, Munis and Yogins but no Naths: The Early History of Hathayoga
The Nath order has long been credited with being the originators of hatha-yoga and the authors of the Sanskrit texts on its practice. Text critical study of those works and research into other sources for the same period show this not to be the case: not one of the twenty Sanskrit texts that make up the corpus of early (pre-1450 CE) works on hatha-yoga was written in a Nath milieu. Furthermore, no single sect can be credited with starting hatha-yoga. On the contrary, hatha-yoga developed as a reaction against the sectarianism and exclusivity of tantra and was available to all, regardless of sectarian affiliation.
Earrings and Horns: Locating the first Naths
The Naths are ubiquitous in secondary literature on the religious culture of India during the last millennium, but they are very elusive in primary sources. This seminar will trace the development of the traits that set the Naths apart from other religious orders and try to pinpoint when they came together.
Pauṣkarāgama: The Śaivasiddhānta Doctrinal Base in its Later Developments–Two commentators, Umāpati and Jñānaprakāśa of Śālivāṭi, Jaffna
Among the available Saivagamas the Pauskaragama is a very important and interesting in many ways. The eight chapters deal with some of the fundamental doctrines of Saivasiddhanta in a thorough fashion. Its importance is also evident by the existence of two elaborate commentaries of which one is still unpublished. In my lecture I will highlight some of the salient features of this text based on those commentaries.
Ñāṉāmirtam: The first available Tamil systematisation of Śaivāgama doctrines
Saivism with its important branches such as Pasupata and the Saivasiddhanta was widely popular in many parts of India from the beginning of the first millennium of the common era. Of them, the Saivasiddhanta had many royal dynasties as its support. The basic tenets of the system were enuncitated in the canonical texts called Agama believed to have been revealed by Siva Himself. In the course of its spread to south India and especially to the Tamil country the essential teachings of the Agama-s were taught by the teachers to their disciples. In order to easily grasp those essentials one Vagisa belonging to the 12th century had composed a Tamil digest called Ñanamirtam basing on the Agamas. This is the only available first Tamil text belonging to such an early period which has been influencing the subsequent developments of Saivasiddhanta. A comparative and analytical study of this text will be a very fruitful one which would help trace the early development of Saivasiddhanta