Book Reviews - Tantra revisited
by Satish Purohit
Swami Veda Bharati's latest offering is on tantra, a subject much maligned by commentators, Indian as well as foreign, for its supposed licentiousness which appears to encourage unbridled sexual indulgence. Among Indians, Swami Dayananda Saraswati, the founder of the Arya Samaj and the author of Satyarth Prakash, comes to mind. Dayanand famously threw away some treatises on the Kundalini Yoga into the Ganga, after he discovered on dissecting a human body, that the tantric understanding of physiology did not match what his eyes revealed to him.
In the West, the universal human predilection to project one's fantasies into 'alien' cultures, continues to fuel a mega industry where Kamasutra and Tantra are used to sell sex parties, porn and scented oils.
Swami Veda Bharati, like Sri Ramakrishna, Swami Vivekananda, John Woodroffe, and David Frawley, seeks to clear the cobwebs around the subject, and present the strong monastic roots of tantra, which is strongly grounded in celibacy. Some of the greatest masters of tantra like Adi Shankaracharya, Sri Ramakrishna, Bama Khepa and Sri Ramana were celibate in the strictest sense of the term.
Swami Veda Bharati goes one step further and attempts to place Kundalini Yoga in the context of the universal religious/spiritual experience that encompasses the Christian, Islamic and Pagan traditions. The syncretic tendency makes the swami invoke Kundalini as 'Who is Allah, Yahweh and Maria" and "Who has incarnated in the body of Yeshu."
Are the comparisons and the claimed common ground the outcome of extraordinary insight, or a superficial juxtaposition of fundamentally irreconcilable categories? The reviewer is undecided.
What do you think?
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