Yoga, tantra and other forms of Asian meditation are practised in modernized forms throughout the world today, but most introductions to Hinduism or Buddhism tell only part of the story of how they developed. This book is an interpretation of the history of Indic religions up to around 1200 CE, with particular focus on the development of yogic and tantric traditions. It assesses how much we really know about this period, and asks what sense we can make of the evolution of yogic and tantric practices, which were to become such central and important features of the Indic religious scene. Its originality lies in seeking to understand these traditions in terms of the total social and religious context of South Asian society during this period, including the religious practices of the general population with their close engagement with family, gender, economic life and other pragmatic concerns.
• Explores the origins of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, yoga and tantra within an open-minded but critical perspective • Gives full weight to the grounding of the more esoteric and abstruse aspects of Indic religious life • Gives a balanced treatment of the evolution of the three major religious traditions foregrounding their common features and close connections
1. Introduction; 2. Stories and sources; Part I. Meditation and Yoga: 3. The second urbanisation of South Asia; 4. Two worlds and their interactions; 5. Religion in the early states; 6. The origins of the Buddhist and Jain orders; 7. The Brahmanical alternative; 8. Interlude: asceticism and celibacy in Indic religions; Part II. Tantra: 9. The classical synthesis; 10. Tantra and the wild goddesses; 11. Subtle bodies, longevity and internal alchemy; 12. Tantra and the state; 13. The later history of yoga and tantra; 14. Postlude.
' … a masterful book that I am very grateful to have read …' Yoga and Tantra