Indian Esoteric Buddhism: A Social History of the Tantric Movement

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Columbia University Press, Dec 18, 2002 - Religion - 475 pages
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Despite the rapid spread of Buddhism—especially the esoteric system of Tantra, one of its most popular yet most misunderstood forms—the historical origins of Buddhist thought and practice remain obscure. This groundbreaking work describes the genesis of the Tantric movement in early medieval India, where it developed as a response to, and in some ways an example of, the feudalization of Indian society. Drawing on primary documents—many translated for the first time—from Sanskrit, Prakrit, Tibetan, Bengali, and Chinese, Ronald Davidson shows how changes in medieval Indian society, including economic and patronage crises, a decline in women's participation, and the formation of large monastic orders, led to the rise of the esoteric tradition in India that became the model for Buddhist cultures in China, Tibet, and Japan.
 

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User Review  - jvalamala - LibraryThing

The author is evidently intelligent, learned and blessed. This work is like a very large mountain - arriving at the top you are left both out of breath and speechless. Read full review

Contents

A Plethora of Premises
1
Early Medieval India
25
3 The Medieval Buddhist Experience
75
4 The Victory of Esoterism and the Imperial Metaphor
113
5 Siddhas and the Religious Landscape
169
6 Siddhas Literature and Language
236
7 Siddhas Monks and Communities
293
The Esoteric Conundrum
336
Probable Paupata Sites
341
Glossary
345
Notes
349
Abbreviations
417
Bibliography
419
Index
465
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About the author (2002)

Ronald M. Davidson is professor of religious studies and director of the program in Asian studies at Fairfield University in Connecticut. He is the coauthor (with Steven D. Goodman) of Tibetan Buddhism: Reason and Revelation.

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