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Tantrism

TANTRISM

The name of a religious movement that spread throughout India from about the 5th century a.d. It affected not only hinduism but also buddhism and jainism. It was derived from the non-Vedic religion of the country and was connected especially with the worship of the Earth-Mother and her power (shakti ). In contrast with the earlier Vedic religion, which was ascetic and confined to the higher castes, Tantrism was based on the development of the body and its powers and was open to all castes. Its method (sādhana ) was the use of material thingsmantras (sacred words), mudrās (symbolic gestures), and manalas (symbolic designs)to acquire supernatural powers. Ha ha yoga, with its aim of obtaining complete control of the body, was one of its typical products. In some forms of Tantrism great license was practiced, and sexual union was used as a method of obtaining supernatural power.

[b. griffiths]

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