Welcome!! My name is Paul Lappen. I am in my early 50s, single, and live in Connecticut USA. This blog will consist of book reviews, written by me, on a wide variety of subjects. I specialize, as much as possible, in small press and self-published books, to give them whatever tiny bit of publicity help that I can. Other than that, I am willing to review nearly any genre, except poetry, romance, elementary-school children's books and (really bloody) horror.

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Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Tantric Traditions

Tantric Traditions: Gods, Rituals and Esoteric Teachings in the Kali Yuga, Gwendolyn Taunton, Manticore Press, 2018

In the West, the word "tantra" is usually followed by the word "sex". Part of mainstream Hinduism, there is much more to tantra than just sex.

Tantra is actually loosely defined, consisting of multiple schools that worship various deities and practice different techniques. Tantra cannot be "nailed down" to a specific tradition.

The God Siva is a very important part of the social and religious life of India. Among the aspects, or portrayals, of Siva is that of Nataraja, King of the Dance. Another aspect of Siva is Sankara the Beneficent. Nataraja uses constant dancing, and Sankara uses yoga, as a route to a higher level of consciousness. Such different facets of Siva lead to the description as a God that transcends opposites and the limitations of humanity.

Devi is a Goddess with many aspects which are shown under numerous names and forms. In Hindu law, menstrual blood and menstruating women have all sorts of taboos. Touching a menstruating woman is akin to touching an outcast or a corpse. A woman who wears her hair unbound is a sign that she is menstruating.

The holy city of Kasi is not just a place of pilgrimage. The God Siva is said to be always present there. It is said that merely to die in Kasi is enough to release a person from Hinduism's cycle of death and rebirth.

This book is not Hinduism For Beginners. It is recommended for religious scholars, university students or people who otherwise know their way around the Hindu religion. For everyone else, this book can be skipped.

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