Tantra: Art, Science & Sexual Rituals

In Tantric thought the human body is visualized as a microcosm of the universe. It is believed that the complete drama of the universe is repeated in this very body. The whole body with its biological and psychological processes becomes an instrument – Yantra– through which the cosmic power reveals itself. According to tantric principles, all that exists in the universe must also exist in the individual body. If we can analyse one human being, we shall be able to analyse the entire universe. The purpose is to search for the whole truth within, so that one may realize one ‘s inner self, unfolding the basic reality of the universe. A Tantra text says: “He who realizes the truth of the body can then come to know the truth of the universe’.

Tantra is both an experience of life and a scientific method by which man can bring out his inherent spiritual power. Tantric rituals are the basis for many philosophies such as Shaiva, Sakta, Jaina, Vaishnava as well as Buddhist. There is evidence of Tantra existing even during the Vedic times that dates back to 3200 years. After the contact of Indian theology with western theory of sin, the sexual component of tantra has long been misunderstood, obscured by the distaste of nineteenth-century scholars and the secrecy of the initiates, moralists censure and a sense of aversion in comparison with the popular Hindu- Buddhist- Jain pantheon. Through this talk the speaker aims to demystify these notions around Tantra.

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Aditi Kumar is an Art historian, Curator and Cultural practitioner. Presently, she is teaching as an Assistant Professor at the Thapar School of Liberal Arts & Sciences. She has completed her PhD from the School of Arts & Aesthetics, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi, India. Her scholarship interrogates the role of art and culture in the formation of postcolonial nation-states and national or regional identities of the Global South. Her research focuses on the visual histories and identity politics of marginalised communities. Recently, she has been working with the Jammu & Kashmir diaspora communities settled in the UK. Apart from this, she is an ardent believer in sustainable living and practices a plant-based lifestyle.

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