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Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Sanskrit. Sort by date Show all posts

Tantra - Tantric Civilization Of India

Tantric Civilization is a term used to describe a society that is Tantric texts and ideas became increasingly influential from the early common era through their expansion in the tenth, eleventh, and twelfth centuries, and while these traditions were largely attenuated due to Muslim polities in South Asia, their influence was felt well into the nineteenth century and later modernity.

  • We might even talk of a 'tantric civilization' blooming throughout the medieval era, prior to the establishment of the Delhi Sultanate's rule, and continuing thereafter in the South and Nepal.
  • While the notion of civilization originated with the formation of historical awareness in the West, it is a word that can be usefully applied elsewhere, and we may use it simply as a shorthand for macro-cultural forces at work.
  • While the focus is on the micro rather than the macro level of culture, when considering texts and their expression in practice, we must consider the broader historical contexts in which these texts and practices arose, as well as propose ways in which the micro-structure of tantric revelation internalization articulates with broader social and political forces.

We can consider 'civilization' to be a broader concept than 'society,' in that a civilization may contain multiple social systems and, unlike a social system, is not teleological: 

  • A civilization is not functional in the way that a society is in directly maintaining the specificity of power relations such as kinship and family dynamics.
  • A civilization, unlike 'culture,' may include a polity or structural politics that articulates with culture and social structure and is physically situated across a specific geographic region.
  • In earlier literature, there are Sanskrit equivalents for the word 'civilization,' such as Aryavarta, the homeland of the Aryans, a region to the north of the Vindhya mountains, which is contrasted to the country of 'barbarians,' mleccha) outside of this.
  • Aryavarta is the realm of karmabhumi (ritual activity), where liberation is attainable and dharma is upheld.
  • There are other words for 'civilization' that imply refinement, politeness, and sophistication, such as sabhya, which means 'to be at court' or polished and courteous, and suslla, which means 'cultured.' 
  • 'Tantric civilization' does not have a literal translation, but it does communicate the essential notion that tantric traditions have historical depth, textual semantic richness, and ideals represented in art and politics.

The Tantras and their traditions are concerned not only with individual practice leading to personal objectives of power and/or liberation, but also with larger cultural and political developments, especially temple construction and, closely linked to this, monarch legitimization.

Tantric civilization arose within the 'Sanskrit cosmopolis,' a transcultural formation centered on Sanskrit as a written, literary language of culture articulated in 'literature' (kavya) and the 'praise poem' (prasasti) found particularly in inscriptions issued from the courts of kings.

  • Imperial forms adopted into the idea that a righteous monarch is one who encourages proper language (sadhusabda) , which helped legitimize their power, but it cannot be reduced to this.
  • However, although there was the growth of vernacular languages as the preferred medium for expressing identity and ethnicity from approximately 1000 to 1500 CE, there was also the formation of a Sanskrit cosmopolis across South and Southeast Asia throughout the early years of the common period.
  • These deliberately defined themselves in reference to the Sanskritic model; one has done it in regard to Kannada, while the other has done so in connection to Malayalam literature development.
  • The development of the Tantras must be understood within this cultural-linguistic backdrop, especially given that they were written in Sanskrit at a period when regional vernaculars were forming.

This Sanskrit is not polished and highly literate in many texts, a characteristic referred to as 'divine' (aim), implying that the authors and redactors of these texts were not entirely at ease in this environment but saw it as necessary to situate these texts and traditions within the larger, 'high' literary culture of the Sanskrit cosmopolis.

  • While the great edifice of Sanskrit literature and traditions cannot be reduced to a means of articulating and legitimizing political authority in medieval India, it did express and legitimize a kingship ideology that sees polity as the expression of divine power, with that power being expressed in the construction of temples. This structure is influenced by the Tantras.
  • Despite the fact that legitimizing monarchs is not their primary purpose, they have come to be utilized in this manner.
  • The tantric writings are part of the Sanskrit cosmopolis, and as such, they must be considered alongside literature that reflects ideals contained in the 'goals of life' (purusartha), on the one hand, and the development of vernaculars, on the other.

Tantrism did have an effect on popular devotionalism (bhakti), particularly in its sexual, Vaisnava forms, and tantric civilization is seen at the village level, where tantric deities, particularly fierce goddesses and guardians, become essential for the community's existence.

Tantra is essential to understanding India's medieval cultural, religious, and political history.

  • Tantra has been the primary religious paradigm of the vast majority of the people of the Indian subcontinent for over a millennium.
  • It is against this backdrop that Indian religious civilization has developed. 
  • The body, or more particularly the divinization of the body, which is its en-textualization, is probably the core metaphor of this civilization.

You may also want to learn more about Tantra, Tantra Yoga, and related Hindu Paths, Practices and Philosophies here.

Hinduism - AGAMAS



    What Are Agamas?

    Agamas refer to sacred Hindu texts recorded in various forms collectively.

    The significance of texts of all kinds—prose and poetry, written and oral, spoken and sung (whether by a single expert or by a multitude), antique and vernacular, stable and fluid—distinguishes Hinduism, if Hinduism can be characterized as a single thing at all. 

    Here we explore the significance of texts in Hinduism, defines various textual categories, and provides links to entries that cover related topics. 

    Agamas can be Stable and Flowing, Written and Spoken. 

    Any utterance, long or short, that can be repeated in essentially the same manner on several occasions is referred to in this context as a "text." 

    There is a propensity to limit the word "text" to utterances recorded in writing, whether in handwriting, printed, or electronic form. 

    This inclination is supported by the nomenclature of mobile phones and text editing software. 

    When discussing Hindu culture, however, where certain texts exist without writing and are conveyed orally from one speaker to another, this limitation is improper. 

    Writing seems to have first arisen in India, apart from the Indus Valley script, about the middle of the last millennium BCE, but was not utilized for religious writings until much later. 

    With the exception of a few later ones, several of these—the Vedic texts—were written down during a period when there is no proof that writing existed. 

    Others, passed down within small communities, are only known to those outside those communities if they are written down or electronically stored by a third party. 

    There are texts in all of the Hindu languages that are interpreted in this broad meaning (including English and other languages of countries outside South Asia). 

    Many civilizations have incredibly stable ritual texts that must always be performed in precisely the same way—the same words in the same sequence, often even with the same vocal inflections—in order to avoid becoming insulting, ineffectual, or even catastrophic. 

    Vedic writings are one example of this. 

    Other texts may be changed by various reciters, scribes, or even the same person at different times by deleting, adding, or modifying specific words. 

    The art of the reciter may include improvised variation. 

    The Mahabharata and Ramayana, which change considerably in various regions of South Asia, are excellent examples of this. 

    Whether a text is written or spoken depends on whether it is stable or flowing. 

    While the Vedic writings have not altered despite being passed down orally for millennia prior to being recorded, there are hundreds of manuscripts and four distinct printed copies of the Mahabharata. 

    The idea that a text should be retained in tact without being recorded in writing runs counter to what literary historians and anthropologists have discovered about the nature of oral literature. 

    In societies where oral texts are fluid, significant study on oral transmission of texts has been conducted (Chadwick and Chadwick 1932–1940; Lord 1960; Ong 1982). 

    A typical orally transmitted text, like a ballad or an epic, exists as a variety of performances, each of which is somewhat improvised and not an exact replication of any prior performance. 

    This explains, for instance, the Mahabharata's several recensions and myriad modifications. 

    Some theorists (mostly from outside Indian studies) have questioned whether the Veda could have been conveyed unmodified without the use of writing, despite the fact that the oral transmission of the Veda in ancient and contemporary times is thoroughly proven (Scharfe 2002: 8–37, 240–51). 

    According to one anthropologist, the Vedic texts cannot have taken on a set shape before writing was discovered since the concept of a stable text can only exist in a community that is literate (Goody 1987). 

    He claims that the educational environment decontextualizes memory in literate societies by isolating learning from action (Goody 1987: 189). 

    In contrast, this was and is accomplished in India without the use of writing by isolating the study of the Vedas from the context of the yajna, where the texts would be used. 

    The practice of self-study (svadhyaya), in which the Veda-knower recites the texts he has learned, and the learning process are rituals in and of themselves. 

    A class of people who dedicate a major portion of their life to it must be able to do the mental labor-intensive task of oral transmission of a stable text. 

    It was accomplished by brahmans, whose standing relied on their knowledge; monks, similarly, transmitted Buddhist literature (Warder 1970: 205, 294). 

    Some of Paul Ricoeur's (1981: 147; cf. Graham 1987: 15) insights must be amended in a Hindu setting due to the potential of a stable oral text. 

    He contends that the act of writing simultaneously creates the text and distinguishes it from speech, and hence from the setting in which the words were first spoken and in which they had meaning. 

    Recontextualizing the text in the interpreter's own context is the goal of hermeneutics, according to Ricoeur. 

    However, according to the Hindu perspective, the Veda and other writings are not distinguished from speech and are texts even if they are not written. 

    The Veda is speech in and of itself; it is frequently referred to as sabda-brahman, "Brahman as sound," and is a manifestation of the original speech that was spoken at the beginning of the cosmos (om). 

    Not just the Veda, but also the Epics, Puranas, Tantras, and other works that are passed down verbally yet written down in manuscripts are subject to the rule that voice takes precedence over writing (Carpenter 1992). 

    As shown by commentary (see below), recontextualization, or giving a text a new meaning in a new context, did occur in ancient India, but it had previously happened with the Brahmanas and writings like Yaska's Nirukta, completely independently of writing. 

    Until the widespread use of printing in the nineteenth century, other literature relied either on less stable techniques of oral transmission or on perishable manuscripts, or both, whereas the Vedic texts have been maintained stable by a closely regulated methodology of oral transmission. 

    While more well-known writings like the Panchatantra are available in several manuscript and printed copies in various locales, showing the unbridled inventiveness of anonymous storytellers, many ancient Sanskrit texts have been passed down in pretty dependable manuscript form. 

    Similar fluidity may be seen in the Mahabharata, Ramayana, Puranas, and other smrti works. 

    While certain vernacular collections, like the poetry of Kabir, have a very consistent history, others don't. 

    Some academics have tried to reconstruct the original shape of such a work by contrasting the readings of various manuscripts using textual criticism techniques. 

    Others argue that these approaches are unsuitable for works that have always been available in a variety of versions reflecting regional and ideological differences. 

    Others who seek the original text via the variation versions and those who believe that these versions themselves are the appropriate subject of study continue to have disagreements (Narayana Rao 2004: 110–03). 

    Printing altered the situation in the nineteenth century by giving certain copies of previously fluid writings preference and making Vedic texts, which were previously the property of twice-born men who had received upanayana, accessible to everyone. 

    Then then, recording and broadcasting in the 20th century altered everything. 

    Specialist reciters are no longer required because to sound recordings and written volumes of mantras (Buhnemann 1988: 96). 

    The Ramayana and Mahabharata on television have prioritized certain interpretations more successfully than printed copies could (Brockington 1998: 510–13). 

    The Mahabharata, Ramayana, and Puranas have certain stories that have rather solid literary forms, but popular storytelling is still a flexible art. 

    The vrat-katha is a significant kind of religious story that is told to a group of individuals engaged in a vrata

    The traditional form of a vrata includes the telling of the narrative, which explains how the vrata was established and what benefits come from following it. 

    However, a videotape might now take the role of the storyteller (Jackson and Nesbitt 1993: 65–70). 

    Hindu thinking places a high value on speech, as seen by the care with which texts are preserved and the respect accorded to individuals who recall them, both in the Vedic textual tradition and in less formal traditions (Graham 1987: 67–77). 

    However, in non-Vedic ritual writing has a place alongside speech despite the fact that speech is given priority and that the vocal aspect is dominant both in Vedic ritual and elsewhere. 

    Both inside and outside of temples, mantras are painted; home shrines often have metal sculptures of the om symbol, and some temples have neon signs. 

    On holy diagrams, this character and others that stand in for "seed mantras" are engraved (yantras). 

    Both Valmiki's Ramayana and the whole of Tulsidas' Ramcharitmanas are engraved on the walls of contemporary temples in Varanasi and Ayodhya, respectively (Brockington 1998: 506n.). 

    In many temples, a printed copy of the Rigveda Samhita is on display; however, it is not meant to be read, but rather to be revered, much as the Sikhs revere the Adi Granth

    What exactly are "holy texts"? 

    The term "holy texts" is a useful method to distinguish between writings that obviously have a religious purpose within a given tradition and those that do not. 

    The Veda, the Dharmasastra, the poems of the Alvars and Nayan-mar, the mantras spoken or chanted in worship, bhajan songs, or books of instruction like the Siks.patr of Swami Narayana are just a few examples of texts that are discussed in this entry that are used in ritual or that convey religious ideas or precepts. 

    Even though the Pancatantra and the Kamasutra are included in this encyclopedia because of their importance to Hindu culture, we are not concerned with these writings since they are obviously not holy. 

    Although many of them include mythical content or express significant principles like karma or purity, the majority of ancient poetry and contemporary books are also unimportant to us. 

    The Mahabharata and the Ramayana, on the other hand, are the subjects of our interest since they not only include tales but also serve as a repository for religious doctrine and mantras and are dramatized and repeated during certain ceremonial occasions. 

    A priceless legacy of editions, translations, and other works has been left by the study of Hindu writings written in Sanskrit and other languages throughout the nineteenth and most of the twentieth centuries. 

    The belief that every religion had its own "Bible" or "scriptures," serving a comparable purpose to the Bible in Protestantism (in theological theory if not in observable practice), was supported and, to some measure, driven by that scholarly tradition. 

    This presumption, exemplified by Muller's Sacred Books of the East series, ignores the many ways that texts may be employed in various traditions as well as the various ways that their authority or holiness may be perceived (Timm 1992: 2). 

    Like "the holy" itself, the notion of "sacred texts" or "scripture" is imposed from outside and is not always present among participants. 

    We may interpret it as texts that are "considered, in some way, as the primary center of spoken interaction with ultimate reality" (Graham 1987: 68). 

    They can be interpreted as such because they were said by a particularly wise person, like Valmiki, or by a great number of wise people, like the Vedic rishis or a group of bhakti poets, or by a deity, like Siva; or they can be interpreted as wise because they were eternal and independent of any author, which in the Purva Mmamsa view is the assurance of the Veda's authority. 

    Some works (e.g., Bhagavadgta 18, 67-78; S vetas.vatara Upanisad 6. 22f.) make a claim to being holy by offering incentives for hearing or reciting them or banning teaching them to unauthorized individuals. 

    However, the way a text is used, not its contents, can indicate whether it is considered sacred. 

    This includes whether or not it is recited in ritual settings, whether it is treated as a source of truths or moral imperatives, and whether written or oral versions of the text are revered or protected from tampering. 

    Speaking of sacred texts implies that there is a community who holds those texts in high regard (W.C. Smith 1993: 17f.). 

    For various Hindu groups, various texts are sacred in various ways. 

    Adherence to a text may define what is, for convenience's sake, a "sect" in Hinduism (Renou 1953: 91–99). 

    The word "sect" essentially translates to "tradition" in Sanskrit; unlike in European contexts where it may denote anything that differs from a church or societal standards. 

    Even when a sampradaya's founder left no written works behind, later generations continued to produce literary works in both the vernacular and Sanskrit. 

    This was the situation with the Chaitanya-founded Vaisnava tradition, where the six Gosvamins of Vrindavana composed Bengali and Sanskrit texts that were considered canonical for the Sampradaya. 

    Even the non-hierarchical Bauls, who have no known founder, have their own fluid corpus of songs. 

    What Are Smritis And Srutis?

    Smrti and Sruti Although the term "holy texts" or "scripture" is not an indigenous one, Hindus themselves have categorized such books in a number of significant ways. 

    We may start by dividing knowledge into sruti, which means "hearing, revelation," and smrti, which means "memory, tradition." Sruti is the Veda; it is timeless and was comprehended by the ancient via extrasensory perception. 

    Even if the writers of Smrti writings were much smarter than modern humans are capable of becoming, they were still humans. 

    The word "sruti" does not relate to a fixed canon of writings since the bounds of the Veda are fluid. 

    Indeed, the phrase was not always limited to the Veda; in Manusmrti (12.95), books that are most likely Buddhist and Jain are condemned as "srutis that are outside the Veda" (Olivelle 2005: 234, 349). 

    Smrti is still not as exact. It contains the Kalpasutras, yet as they are a component of the Vedic ceremonial system, they are not typical of smrti writings. 

    The Mahabharata, the Ramayana, the Dharmasastras, the Puranas, the Agamas, and the Tantras are what are often meant by the word. 

    There may be disagreements on whether a text is authentic since none of these criteria are clearly established. 

    These works are often structured by a dialogue in which a mythological person learns something from a different figure, with the prestige of these individuals lending legitimacy to the lessons. 

    Conversations are often placed inside dialogues to provide a series of teachers and listeners, most notably in the Mahabharata. 

    As a result, their literary form places them in a setting of verbal instruction from an authoritative speaker to an attentive listener, a scenario that is repeated by a line of speakers and listeners down to the current reciter and his audience. 

    Smrti renders its listeners indirect receivers of linguistic communication from the divine, but Sruti makes audible the everlasting speech at the beginning of the cosmos. 

    The Smrti texts are publicly recited, with the reciter frequently interspersing a vernacular translation, in contrast to the Vedas, which must be protected from being heard by unauthorized people (such as non-twice-born men or women) and recited in a set ritual manner in the exact form in which they have been learned. 

    Despite the fact that printing and manuscripts have made such recitation easier, the majority of people encounter texts via voice. 

    The performance of reciting the Puranas is mostly oral, however it is carried out by a highly educated professional known as the pauranika, who not only reads the book aloud but also comments on it while referencing other works. 

    A similar performance erases the line between oral and written culture (Singer 1972: 150–55; see also Narayana Rao 2004: 103–14). 

    Since the proponents of smrti possessed in-depth knowledge of the Veda, historically, the authority of smrti is drawn from that of sruti. 

    Manu claims that the tradition (smrti) and behavior of people who know it are the second source of dharma after the Veda itself (Manusmrti 2, 6). 

    The Vedic redactor Vyasa is credited with writing the Mahabharata after compiling the Vedas (Mahabharata 1.1.52). 

    According to Mahabharata 1.1.204, "The epics (itihasa) and Puranas should be employed to reinforce the Veda, because the Veda dread an uneducated man lest he may ruin it." 

    The narrative is repeated in the Bhagavata Purana: Vyasa wrote the Mahabharata because women, sudras, and nominal brahman (those who do not fulfill the actual character of brahman by learning the Veda) could not access the Vedas (Bhagavata Purana, 1.5.25). 

    But it also adds a conclusion: Vyasa eventually wrote the Bhagavata Purana to instruct in Krishna worship because he was still unsatisfied (Bhagavata Purana 1.4. 26–31; 1.7.6–8). 

    The historical link between smrti and sruti weakens as we go from the Kalpasutras through the Dharmasastras and epics to the Puranas, Agamas, and Tantras

    The four yugas, the framework on which historical time is traditionally constructed, are used to acknowledge this historical variation in the tradition. 

    Only during the Kreta era could the Vedas be properly followed; during the Dvapara era, they were in danger of being lost, which is why Vyasa set them up. 

    The Vedas are poorly known and understood in the current Kali era, when the brahmans who should preserve them are degenerate and the status of the kshatriyas who once supported the yajna has been usurped by rebels; instead, the smrti texts, which contain the meaning of the Vedas, have taken their place. 

    The Kali era is claimed to outlaw several behaviors that are prescribed in the Vedic writings namely Kali Varjya(or kali-varjita). 

    These practices include animal sacrifice and niyoga, also known as levirate, in which a man's wife engages in sexual relations with his brother in order to produce a son for her dead husband. 

    The belief that the Bhagavata Purana, or any other specific smrti work, conveys the content of the Veda does not imply that specific sentences in one text may be connected to phrases in another. 

    Instead, it conveys the feeling that both have the absolute truth. 

    The Bhagavad Gita, which has been the subject of countless translations and commentaries since the late nineteenth century, is the smrti text that is currently printed the most widely. 

    Long before that, it served as the inspiration for numerous imitations, some of which are included in Puranas like the Ganesagta or the Devgta while the Anugta is contained within the Mahabharata itself (Gonda 1977: 271–76). 

    Although some people object to this, the Bhagavadgta is often utilized in funeral ceremonies and as a book for religious schools (Firth 1997: 84, 87). 

    Numerous smrti writings, whether they promote the worship of Siva, Visnu, or Sakti or another god, are well-known and acknowledged by devotees of other deities. 

    Many of the Puranas support this. 

    On the other hand, there are literature known as Agamas, Tantras, and Sam hitas that are particular to one or both of these deities. 

    The word "agama," which means "tradition," may be used to refer to works that provide guidance on ritual behavior and the pursuit of salvation generally, but it is particularly used to describe books that identify Siva as the ultimate god. 

    Tantra may also be used more broadly, however it is particularly employed in books on Sakti worship. 

    The Vedic Samhitas and the group of works dedicated to Visnu known as the Pancaratra Samhitas are the two principal usage of the term samhita. 

    Even while the phrases A gama, Tantra, and Samhita are often used to refer to Saivism, Saktism, and Vaisnavism, respectively, none of them are exclusive to any of these three. 

    However, the specific books they refer to are often just Saivism, Saktism, or Vaisnavism (Gonda 1977). 

    What Are Mantras, Vidhis, And Arthavada?

    The Veda is divided into mantra, vidhi, and arthavada categories according to a different categorization created in Purva Mimamsa. 

    1. A mantra is a passage of text chanted or spoken aloud during a rite. 
    2. A vidhi is a paragraph that instructs ritual practitioners on what to do and how to execute it. It is often translated as a "injunction." 
    3. Arthavada, which translates to "statement of purpose," explains why a ritual should be performed in a certain manner. 

    In practice, it refers to all Vedic texts that are neither mantras nor vidhis. 

    The Samhitas have mantras, but the Brahmanas and Aranyakas also commonly mention them. 

    The Brahmanas, Aranyakas, and Upanishads also contain vidhi and arthavada

    Although the word "mantra" is often used outside of the Vedic setting, this categorization specifically pertains to Vedic writings. 

    Non-Vedic literature may also be categorized into sections that are employed in ritual, sections that prescribe, and sections that offer motivation for ritual action. 

    The phrases vidhi and arthavada are less common writings in both Sanskrit and the local language. 

    The sruti and smrti writings mentioned above are all in Sanskrit, and many Hindus who do not speak the language are acquainted with the sound of Sanskrit due to its usage in ritual. 

    There are holy scriptures in all Indian languages. 

    Bhakti, with its focus on the relationship between the devotee and the divine, which eliminates the necessity for the brahman and his ceremonial writings in Sanskrit, encouraged the use of literature in vernacular languages. 

    However, we need not assume that the earliest vernacular texts, starting with the Tamil poems of the sixth century, were also the first bhakti texts to be made available. 

    The use of vernacular languages from the beginning in Buddhist and Jain texts suggests that Sanskrit's dominance in the religious sphere had long been contested. 

    Along with the bhakti poetry, there are many vernacular Puranas, some of which are completely independent of Sanskrit and others that have been translated or altered from it (Rocher 1986: 72–77). 

    Many regional and educational themes are addressed in vernacular versions of the Ramayana, such as Kampan's Tamil translation Iramavataram and Tulsdas's Hindi Ramcaritmanas. 

    In the Ramlla dramas, especially at Dasahra, these, especially the latter, are not only recited but also performed (Brockington 1998: 505-07; Lutgendorf 1991). 

    It is less common to dramatize the Mahabharata, but South India and Sri Lanka both stage plays centered on Draupad (Brockington 1998: 507; Hiltebeitel 1988-91; Tanaka 1991). 

    Sanskrit writings are explicitly rejected in certain bhakti traditions, as in the tale of the Marathi poet Namdev who had a cow recite the Veda (Ranade 1961: 71). 

    The concept of the fifth Veda and the notion that vernacular texts with concepts such as the Tamil Veda, as well as smrti texts with concepts like the Bhagavata Purana (see above), contain the meaning of the Veda, were both expanded. 

    On the other hand, in many lineages, the creation of vernacular literature has been followed by the development of texts in Sanskrit. 

    For instance, the Sanskrit works of Yamunacarya, Ramanuja, and others came after the Tamil songs of the Alvars. 

    The Alvars were also followed by the Bhagavata Purana, which, because it was written in Sanskrit, made emotional bhakti accessible outside of the Tamil-speaking region. 

    However, the change from the vernacular to Sanskrit was accompanied by a change from an emotional to an intellectual form of bhakti (Hardy 1983: 36–43). 

    Vernacular works must obviously be regional, although this does not preclude their translation into or imitation in neighboring languages; for example, poetry credited to Kabr are also available in Bengali, Panjabi, and Hindi. 

    Tyagaraja's (1767–1847) Telegu songs are popular in areas of South India and the diaspora but are seldom recognized outside of that region (Jackson 1991). 

    Up until the nineteenth century, when English usage started to rise steadily throughout the Hindu world, Sanskrit was the only language in which texts could be made available. 

    The English writings of non-regional, non-sectarian Hinduism pioneers like Gandhi, Radhakrishnan, and Vivekananda—a Bengali, Gujarati, and Tamil—show the significance of English in this process. 

    In the last fifty years, Hindi has surpassed English as the language spoken across all of India. 

    Some Sanskrit writings are regional or even local, while vernacular texts are by their very nature local. 

    What Are Mahatmyas And Sthala-Puranas?

    In addition to texts from locally based sampradayas, there are texts from pilgrimage sites or temples. 

    These texts include Mahatmyas ('glorifications'), which extol the local deity and the advantages of visiting it, and Sthala-Puranas ('puranas of the place, local puranas'), which tell the history of the site's sanctity and the rules for visiting it. 

    Examples of these two types that overlap may be found in vernacular and Sanskrit languages (Rocher 1986: 71f. ; Gonda 1977: 276-81). 

    The readers or listeners of vernacular texts are not always able to understand them; Sanskrit is not the only language that is used in ritual without being fully understood. 

    The language of the Tamil bhakti poetry is not current spoken Tamil, although they are nevertheless widely performed in temples. 

    Tulsıdas’ Ramcaritmanas may have owed its popularity originally to its being in language familiar to its hearers, but it continues to be repeated in its original, now archaic form, its worth consisting in its holiness rather than its accessibility. 

    Sacred Poetry And Prose. 

    Most of the works we are interested in are in verse, however numerous mantras from the Yajur veda, all of the Brahmanas, the Aranyakas, certain Upanisads, and the Kalpasutras are in prose (interesting as the earliest instances of prose in any Indian language). 

    Also written in prose are the non-Vedic sutras. 

    There are a few portions in the Mahabharata and Puranas that are written in prose. 

    Sanskrit literature, especially technical works like the Sam. 

    hyakarikas, the founding book of the Sam. 

    khya philosophy, was and remains heavily verse-based. 

    The sloka, a stanza of thirty-two syllables split into four halves, is by far the most popular poetry form. 

    Unlike the other meters employed in the complex literature known as kavya, it is adaptable and simple to utilize (see below). 

    Slokas have been written by countless anonymous authors of the Puranas and other texts, in addition to well-known poets, and are used even for quite unpoetic subjects were cited in prose works of religion that inspired debate, such as:

    1. Swami Narayan's Vacanamrta ('Immortality in words') in Gujarati, 
    2. Dayananda Saraswati's Satyartha Prakasa ('Light of truth') in Hindi, 
    3. or Vivekananda's writings in English. 

    What is Kavya?

    Even though kavya can be in prose, the term is occasionally translated as "poetry." It takes a significant amount of literary training to compose and appreciate this particular genre of Sanskrit literature. 

    It contains a variety of literary genres, such as verse epics, dramas, and one-verse epigrams. 

    Even today, despite the fact that few people are sufficiently educated to appreciate it, it is still being developed under the patronage of kings. 

    The Buddha-charita (also known as the "Life of the Buddha"), written by Asvaghosa in the first or second century CE, and inscriptions from the second century CE forward are the earliest instances that have survived. 

    Although textual scholars consider the Ramayana's only passages in which it claims to be the original kavya to be late and that it lacks the stylistic elaboration typical of kavya, it is still hailed as the genre's founding work (Brockington 1998: 23, 361). 

    Kavya, in contrast to smrti and other works, rigorously adheres to the grammatical rules established by Panini and other grammarians and makes use of sophisticated meters and aesthetic embellishments that are outlined in literary guides. 

    A thorough understanding of mythology as well as other disciplines is required to fully comprehend kavya, even though it generally does not come within the category of holy literature. 

    Kavya works frequently start with a prayer or deity's invocation. 

    Some, like Kalidasa's Kumarasam Bhava on the birth of Skanda, are based on mythological stories, while others, like his play Sakuntala, use epic tales. 

    The Gtagovinda and the Karnandana ('Delight of the ears'), poems from the Radhavallabh Sampradaya, which was formed by the poet's father, Hita Harivamsa, and focused on Krishna's beloved, Radha, are two instances of kavya compositions that are devotional throughout (Gonda 1977: 25–29; Entwistle 1987: 168). 

    The Kuncitan ghri-stava, written by Umapati Sivacarya in the year 1300 CE and translated as "Hymn of praise to [Nataraja's] curved foot," is one particularly intriguing example. 

    Each of its 313 verses concludes with a refrain that alludes to Siva's foot being raised in the dance and does so by way of a clever and moving fusing of mythological, theological, and philosophical ideas (D. Smith 1996). 

    What Is a Stotra?

    The stotra, a hymn of adoration to a deity, is a common type of religious text that is written in both Sanskrit and vernacular (Gonda 1977: 232–70). 

    In contrast to sloka or the meters used in kavya, many stotras use rhyme and a metre with a strong recurrent beat, and they frequently contain a refrain. 

    Many stotras are credited to Sankara (Mahadevan 1980; Hirst 2005: 24f.). 

    The Gtagovinda contains stotras, which are songs. 

    Another example is the poem Bande Mataram by Bankim Chandra Chatterjee, which was originally written to honor Bengal as a mother goddess but was later changed to refer to India. 

    Its grammar is so straightforward that anyone who knows Bengali or Hindi can understand most of the poem (Lipner 2005). 

    The nama-stotra is one kind of stotra, and it consists mostly of a list of names, epithets, and descriptions of a specific god (Gonda 1977: 268–70; Gonda 1970: 67–76). 

    An early example is the Sata-rudrya ('[hymn] of a thousand Rudras'), which is still chanted in Siva temples and is part of the Black Yajur veda (Vajasaney Samhita 4, 5). 

    The prayers are interspersed with numerous names and epithets that invoke Rudra (Gonda 1970: 70f.; Gonda 1977: 241; translated Keith 1914: 353-62). 

    Other Sanskrit prose was utilized in theological works such as Ramanuja’s Vedartha-samgraha (‘Compendium of the meaning of the Veda’), and for the huge library of comments detailed below. 

    It was used for literary works such as the Pancatantra, theater, and other literary works that did not fall under the rubric of holy writings. 

    Except for letters and other related documents, little little prose was produced in the common languages until the nineteenth century. 

    The bhakti poems are in verse, though some, like the Marathi abhangs and the Kannad vacans, have a more flexible verse structure. 

    Since 1816, Rammohan Roy and his Hindu and Christian adversaries have contributed prose works in Bengali and English to religious debates that had hitherto only been held in Sanskrit. 

    In his earliest work, Roy noted that many people had trouble reading Bengali prose and offered some brief tips on how to do so (Killingley 1982: 12; Das 1966: 131f.). 

    Newspapers, books, and other advances encouraged the use of prose in the vernacular languages during the nineteenth century. 

    These well-known instances are the Lalita-sahasra-nama ('Thousand names of the luscious [Goddess]') in the Brahmanada Purana and the Visnu-sahasra-nama ('Thousand names of Visnu'; Raghavan 1958: 421-36). 

    What Is The Purpose And Place Of Commentary In Sacred Texts?

    Hindu writings are meant to be analyzed and discussed. 

    Some comments, sometimes referred to as t.ka, just clarify challenging terms; the term for a more thorough commentary is bhasya. 

    Some comments, such as Saya's on Vedic literature, Sankara's on the Upanisads, or the countless commentators on the Manusmrti or Manavadharmasastra, explain every word in the original text on the grounds that nothing is without intent. 

    Some texts, like the Brahmasutras and the Bhagavadgta, have been discussed numerous times from various and frequently conflicting perspectives; one of the commentator's tasks is to disprove competing interpretations. 

    A commentary, particularly one on a sutra, may be a text of original authorship in and of itself, with subsequent commentary by members of the same school of thought elaborating on the first commentary's meaning in light of newer developments within the school. 

    Although it has been argued that the presence of substantial commentaries indicates a text's theological significance, a text that is religiously inspiring but not theologically significant may draw little to no attention (Clooney 2003: 461). 

    In addition to Sanskrit commentaries, vernacular commentaries exist. 

    Tamil commentaries on Tamil texts are one such example (Hardy 1983: 244f.). 

    Oral commentaries on the Puranas have also been mentioned.

    ~Kiran Atma

    You may also want to read more about Hinduism here.

    Be sure to check out my writings on religion here.

    References And Further reading: 

    • J. A. B. van Buitenen, trans., Yamana’s Agamapramanyam or Treatise on the Validity of Pancaratra (Madras: Ramanuja Research Society, 1971).
    • Bruno Dagens, Architecture in the Ajitagama and the Rauravagama: A Study of Two South Indian Texts (New Delhi: Sitaram Institute of Scientific Research, 1984).
    • Mark Dyczkowski, The Canon of the Saivagama and the Kubjika Tantras of the Western Kaula Tradition (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1988).
    • Kamalakar Mishra, Kashmir Saivism: The Central Philosophy of Tantrism (Portland, Ore.: Rudra Press, 1993).
    • S. K. Ramachandra Rao, Agama-Kosa: Agama Encyclopedia (Bangalore: Kapatharu Research Academy, 1994).

    Hinduism And Hindu Theology - What Does Alamkara Mean?

    Alamkara is a Sanskrit word that means "ornamentation." 

    • A phrase for the more than one hundred different kinds of figures of speech in Sanskrit poetry. 
    • Metaphor, simile, contrast, exaggeration, alliteration, and puns are only a few of the terms employed in English poetics. 
    • These figures of speech were further divided into more precise kinds by the Sanskrit literati, such as a simile expressing surprise, a simile expressing uncertainty, and poetic mistake, which is the opposite of a metaphor (“that's not the moon, but her face...”). 

    • Other styles are specific to Indian poetry, such as respective enumeration, a prolonged comparison in which one line names many referents and subsequent lines explain their characteristics, always in the same sequence as the initial line. 
    • Denial is a style of Indian poetry in which the speaker's actual purpose is conveyed via denial, but with enough hint to reveal the true meaning. 
    • Alamkara was used in all types of Sanskrit poetry, both religious and nonreligious, and many of these forms were incorporated into subsequent devotional poetry in Indian vernacular languages. 

    See Daniel H. H. Ingalls, Sanskrit Poetry, 1968, for more information on Sanskrit poetics.

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    Hinduism - What Is Ashtadhyayi?

    The “Eight Sections” or  Ashtadhyayi - The Sanskrit grammarian Panini (about 4th century B.C.E.) wrote this book, which is named for the eight parts it includes. 

    • The Ashtadhyayi was written by Panini as a descriptive account of current Sanskrit, but it was subsequently converted into a prescriptive standard for the language. 
    • Each of the Ashtadhyayi's eight parts is made up of a number of short aphorisms (sutras) that relate to a particular aspect of Sanskrit grammar and are typically just a few words long. 
    • Each sutra in a section builds on the sutras before it, providing the basis and context for comprehending the sutras that follow. 

    Panini started with the most basic linguistic characteristics of Sanskrit before moving on to more particular ones, as shown by this sequential description. 

    • Panini was able to give a comprehensive description of the Sanskrit language in as little time as possible using this technique, and the text's condensed shape made it easier to memorize. 
    • The Ashtadhyayi's terseness of language, like that of other sutra texts, necessitates a commentary, since the sutras are so short and pithy that they are simply enigmatic to the uninitiated. 
    • The Mahabhashya, authored by the grammarian Patanjali in the second century B.C.E., is the most renowned commentary of the Ashtadhyayi.

    You may also want to read more about Hinduism here.

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    Origins of Tantra - Where Does Tantra Come From?


    The Origins and Presentation of Tantra. 

    From the time of its initial appearance in the West till now, the word tantra has been marred by major misconceptions. Tantric writings were found by missionaries in India in 1799, and the term was first used in the English language. These were not works by Buddhists. In reality, the existence of Buddhism was not widely understood in the West at the time. 

    The term tantra was then only known as the title of these writings, the contents of which were completely different from what people anticipated in philosophy and religion texts. 

    The missionaries were mostly taken aback by the fact that other people held religious and philosophical beliefs so unlike to their own. 

    To them, tantra meant nothing more than these extended treatises; yet, because the subject matter dealt with in these treatises was so odd from their perspective, the name began to acquire a strange meaning, which has not been confirmed by careful analysis of the texts. 

    Unfortunately, as in so many other cases, once a false perception is created, it takes a near-superhuman effort to dig out and correct all of the incorrect notions and strange implications that have grown up around it. 

    In a technical sense, I'll try to explain what the term tantra truly implies. First and foremost, the tantra of the Hinduist school must be distinguished from the tantra of the Buddhist school. 

    These two faiths, both indigenous to India, used the same language, Sanskrit, for a long time. However, each tradition had its own set of rules regarding how its terminology should be used. 

    What one tradition meant by a phrase was not always the same as what another tradition meant by it. 

    When Buddhist studies first began in the West, which was just a few decades ago, the initial investigators concluded that because Buddhists used the same Sanskrit phrases as Hindus, they meant the same thing. This was the first in a series of erroneous assumptions they reached. Let us try to grasp tantra as it evolved in the Buddhist tradition. 

    The Sanskrit term prabandha has been used in close relation with the term tantra since the beginning. Prabandha is a Sanskrit word that signifies "continuity." 

    This is a state of being that is divided into two parts: we must begin someplace and then go in a certain direction (and perhaps arrive at a goal). Tantra was presented in this manner. It refers to a current human condition that develops from the question of how we will behave. 

    Tantra also considers how we will be in terms of relationships, acknowledging that man is constantly connected to something or someone. Tantra handles the topic of being in a variety of ways, resulting in several presentations. The first method is known as Kriyatantra. 

    The emphasis of the Kriyatantra is on how a person acts. Kriya is a Sanskrit word that meaning "activity." Here, action is viewed as a metaphor and dealt with in a ritualistic manner. The concept of ritual does not have to be a mystery to us. 

    When a guy approaches a lady, he removes his hat, which is an example of ritual. 

    It's a structured gesture of some sort. It's also a method of approaching a human connection. 

    The Kriyatantra places a strong focus on relationships, which is reflected in this type of codified gesture. In this scenario, the focus is broad and encompasses many elements of the relationship. 

    The Kriyatantra takes a unique perspective to human relationships in that it focuses on the simplest and most basic phases. 

    A child's bond with his parents is the first type of relationship. There's a sense of power at work here. Someone needs to inform the youngster what he or she should and should not do. 

    When this relationship position is translated into a theological framework, the concept of man being subject to a transcendental entity emerges. 

    This is likely the most widely held belief, and it is also the Kriyatantra's structure. In this case, the practitioner seeks to earn favor with the person with whom he has a relationship. 

    This, together with the Kriyatantra's strong ceremonial focus, are two of the Kriyatantra's key qualities. Purification is also emphasized in this tantra. Several ablutions are included in the ceremony. Some of them are entirely symbolic in nature, and the sensation of cleanliness associated with them may appear overdone. However, we must keep in mind that in an emotional situation like this, the feeling of being clean might become incredibly significant. When someone says, "Now before you eat, wash your hands," it has a lot deeper meaning than when someone says, "Now before you eat, wash your hands." 

    Another hallmark of Kriyatantra is its emphasis on purity. 

    But man isn't satisfied with being instructed what to do. He is also a thinking entity who will inquire. And this is where the Caryatantra, a different approach to tantra, comes in. Tantra relates to a relationship scenario once again. 

    However, the focus has shifted in this case. We are no longer merely concerned with adhering to certain established norms of relationships, but also, to some measure, with comprehending their ramifications. 

    This indicates the beginning of a period of self-questioning. 

    • Why are we acting in this manner? 
    • Why do we act in such a certain way? 

    We do not dismiss our actions at this moment, but we do inquire about their importance. And we do so by thinking about it more. We strive to understand it, which might be a form of meditation. A balance between cognition and action begins to emerge at this point. 

    This shift from simple acceptance of authority to a more complex connection with the person with whom we are dealing correlates to a shift in the nature of our connection with the person with whom we are dealing. 

    It is no longer possible for a master to command his slave or servant what to do. There is now a greater sense of closeness, camaraderie, and equality of position. 

    The first is still eager to learn, but the second has realized he is in the same boat as the first. It is a friendship connection, and friendship can only exist if the other person is accepted for who he or she is. 

    Friendship is difficult when you are in a position of servitude. 

    However, friendship can progress beyond this first level of closeness. Friendship frequently necessitates our attempting to learn more about the relationship. 

    What is it about this relationship that makes us want to nurture it? 

    This process of inquiry leads to the creation of further understanding. The focus has switched once more. We enter the Yogatantra through this new component of the complete circumstance of how we are together. 

    The term "yoga" has a lot of different connotations. 

    It signifies "to harness" in Buddhist context. It is connected to the English term yoke etymologically. It is bringing everything we have to bear in order to achieve deeper information. As a result, the circumstance, or tantra, in which this is the focus is known as the Yogatantra. 

    There is a level of cooperation here that is superior than that between two buddies. However, there is still opportunity for improvement because we still see others as being slightly different from ourselves. This is where the Mahayogatantra, the fourth division, comes in. Maha literally means "great," however it is used here not so much to signify "great" as opposed to "little," but rather to convey the idea that nothing could be better. It's used in the strictest meaning. 

    In its approach to the issue of interaction, the Mahayogatantra shares this feeling of absoluteness. 

    We no longer make distinctions; we are just who we are, spontaneous and uninhibited. The question of whether the other is a friend or not is no longer relevant. There is perfect unification; we are all one. 

    As a result, there is a transition in the tantras, starting at the level of a child's relationship with its parents and progressing to full adulthood. 

    Thus, when we use the term tantra, we are referring not only to a specific event, but also to a process of growth and inner development that occurs when we attempt to comprehend what exists. This process continues until we arrive at a suitable evaluation of experience, a suitable method of perceiving. 

    There is a dialectical link between action, how we act, and the knowledge we have gained. The more we know about someone, the more we learn about them, the more receptive we become to them. We learn to see what he need and cease imposing our ideas about what he should require. We start to be able to assist that person in finding his own path. This brings us to tantra's practical meaning. 

    Tantra, as a method of inner evolution, allows us to see more clearly, allowing us to become true people rather than merely amorphous creatures. 

    Tantra, on the other hand, goes much further. It goes beyond the concept of development or growth. Within the tradition, there are additional phases and subdivisions that deal with the fact that life continues even after we have learnt to correctly connect to our issues. The premise is that spiritual practice is a never-ending process. 

    We begin someplace, progress or develop, and eventually arrive at a certain destination solely from the perspective of discursive cognition. It's not as if once you've reached enlightenment, the process is over and everything is done. 

    Rather, because we continue to live, we must restart our lives on a regular basis. Nonetheless, we have discovered a method, a means of communicating, a certain continuity, through the previous stages. Tantra's primary meaning is the continuation of a manner of connection. In some ways, this is a really basic point. However, we discover that there isn't much more difficult than this type of simplicity in general.

    You may also want to read more about Tantra Yoga here.