With its roots (perhaps) in the prehistoric times, Tantra is a unique, highly complex spiritual tradition of India. Which is hard to define and still harder to be grasped by the non-initiated -- largely because of its occult and mysteriously ritualistic elements, often accompanied by equally mysterious mantras, yantras, kriyas and even sexual practices. As a religious philosophy, this esoteric cult of Shakti: the female principle, seeks to discover the source of cosmic power within the human body through intensely specialized yogic activity. And, like yoga, it transcends religious boundaries.
Introducing this non-Vedic, esoteric cult in an altogether fresh perspective, the book looks at tantra: both as a philosophy and as a spiritual tradition in its own right, and how tantrism has, in the past, been an irresistible influence not only on major Indian religions (Brahmanical Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism), but on arts as well. Dr. Mishra authenticates his findings with evidence from numerous Vaishnava, Shaiva, Shakta, Buddhist, and Jaina texts on religion, philosophy, art and iconography.
The author, who has had long, personal interactions with some of the living tantrikas, also tries to dispel certain distortions woven around Tantric religion to contextually offer an unbiased account of its evolution, cultic variations, culture, philosophy, mysticism, and cardinal concepts and tenets. Together with relevant visual material, Dr. Mishra's work will, thus, evoke as much interest in discerning readers as in the scholars of Indian religions, traditional philosophy, arts and art history.