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Tantric Rituals of Kerala Temples

Texts and Traditions by: Ajithan P.I.

This volume presents an in-depth study of a distinct temple ritual cult of Kerala, a tradition deeply rooted within the Vedic ritualistic fold and characterized by Smarta-Pauranika beliefs and customs, which still remains to be a less explored subject, and its present institutionalized structure.



ISBN: 9788124608999
Year Of Publication: 2018
Edition: 1st
Pages : xviii, 361
Language : English
Binding : Hardcover
Publisher: D.K. Printworld Pvt. Ltd.
Size: 23
Weight: 700


Kerala Tantra is a regional phenomenon, which is an offshoot or synthesis of Saiddhantika and Pancaratra tantric ritual rites. It is a tradition deeply rooted within the Vedic ritualistic fold and characterized by Smarta-Pauranika beliefs and customs.
This volume is a general, but a serious and in-depth study of distinct temple ritual cult of Kerala. Kerala Tantra still remains to be a less explored subject. There is no exclusive study on the ritual peculiarities of Kerala Tantra. This book focuses on filling that gap covering extensively the prominent characteristics of the unique ritual cult of Kerala.
The data presented in the book are based on many unpublished and less-known, but authentic manuscripts of late medieval period, and interviews with previous and current generations of tantrins and their testimonies. It covers the great traditions of Tantra, Kerala Tantra, and transmission of tantric knowledge through formal and informal methods. It also talks about the institutionalization of Tantric education, taking a cue from the context of Vedic and Sanskrit education of Kerala.


List of Tables and Figures

Part 1

1. Canons of Major Tantric Traditions and Their Divisions
The Term Tantra Defined
Importance of the Guru and the Shastra
The Canonical Divisions
The Classifications of Shaivagamas
The Canons of Bhuta, Garuda and Vama Divisions
The Structure and Content of Siddhantagamas
The Provenance and Date of Composition
The Upagamas
The Paddhati Texts
The Saiddhantika Exegetes
Later Phase of Shaiva Siddhanta
The Bhairava Tantras
The Tantras of Kashmir Shaivism
Abhinavagupta and His Works
The Classifications of Tantric Vaishnava Scriptures
The Buddhist Tantra
The Tantric Cult of Bengal
The Tantras of Jainism
2. Tantric Rituals: Their General Characteristics
The Ritual Elements
The Pancharatra Initiation
The Shakta Initiation
The Secret of Ritual

Part 2

3. General Features of Kerala Tantric Rituals
General Features of Brahmanical Traditions of Tantra
Shakta Tradition of Mussads
The Tantric Elements in the Folk Cultural Expressions
4. Previous Studies on Kerala Tantra
The Studies of Independent Scholars
The Studies of Academic Scholars
5. Tantric Ritual Manuals of Kerala
Ekadevata Pratishtha Tantras
Caturdevata Pratishtha Tantra
Saptadevata Pratishtha Tantras
Ashtadevata Pratishtha Tantras
Vividhadevata Pratishtha Tantras
6. The Disappearing and Expanding Rituals
Diksha (Initiation)
7. The Post-Tantrasamuccaya Phase of Kerala Tantra
The Structure and Content of Tantrasamuccaya
Eclectic Nature
Aim of Composition
Advantages and Disadvantages of Generalization
The Political Milieu and Inclinations of Tantrasamuccaya
Later Phase of the Tantrasamuccaya Tradition: Texts and Authors
Other Anushthanas and Their Importance
Irinjalakuda Tradition
The Post-Tantrasamuccaya Kerala Tantra Scenario

Part 3

8. Informal Transmission: Historical Context
Tradition Defined
Effective Transmission
Significance of Guru in Tantric Traditions
Kerala Tantra: A Temple-oriented Ritualistic Cult
Vedic Cult and Kerala Tantra
Cultural History of Kerala: A General Outline
Temples and the Society
Role of Acharya/Tantrin in Temples and the Society
Education System in Kerala: A Hawk’s Eye-View
Kerala Tantra: Texts on Informal Mode of Transmission
Mantropadesha Replaces Diksha
Contexts of Learning
Stages in Learning Rituals
Textual Transmission
Disadvantages of Traditional Methods
Traditional Tantrins of Scholarship and Fame
9. Formal Transmission: Brahmanical and 289 Non-Brahmanical Institutions
Emergence of Tantric Institutions in Kerala
General Index
Title Index

Meet the Author
Ajithan P.I. is a scholar in Tantra philosophy and rituals. He got his PhD for the thesis “Ritualistic Tradition of Tantra in Kerala” and degrees of MA and MPhil (in Sanskrit) from Sree Sankaracharya University of Sanskrit, Kalady, Kerala. He has to his credit half a dozen articles published in different journals. Dr Ajithan has attended numerous seminars and conferences, presenting papers. He had a short stint as Guest Lecturer, Department of Sanskrit, University of Calicut and chaired a session on Classical Literature in the 11th Prof. NVP Unithiri Endowment All Kerala Oriental Conference, 2016.
Books of Ajithan P.I.