Tantric Elements Embedded in a Purāṇic Context: the Example of the Māhātmyakhaṇḍa of the Tripurārahasya (HT21)

Location: OCHS YouTube Channel
Speaker: Dr Silvia Schwarz Linder
Date: March 10, 2021
Time: 2.00-3.00

Śākta Traditions Online Lecture Series: Contributions to a growing field of Śākta Studies. Lecture IV

Abstract: The Tripurārahasya (TR) is a Sanskrit work of South Indian origin, probably composed around the 15th-16th century CE, and associated with the Śākta tradition of Tripurā, later known as Śrīvidyā. This lecture focuses on some Tantric ritual elements embedded in the Purāṇic-like mythical narrative of the Māhātmyakhaṇḍa (mk), the first of the two extant sections of the work, which celebrates the deeds of Tripurā and of the goddesses who are regarded as her manifestations or shares. The topics discussed include: the initiation ceremony (dīkṣa), the mantra of Tripurā (Śrīvidyā) and the method of her worship (pūjā). A crucial component of this worship is the Śrīcakra, the yantra that is both the diagrammatic yet dynamic form of the Goddess, and the essential support for her meditation and ritual worship. In the mk of the TR the Śrīcakra is transposed into a narrative element, and becomes the centre of the abode of Tripurā in the Island of Jewels (maṇidvīpa), as well as the pattern according to which the stronghold of Lalitā is constructed. It will be shown how the maṇidvīpa and the Śrīcakra retain their Tantric character and meaning in the TR, even as they are incorporated into a mythical narrative.

Dr Silvia Schwarz Linder is Research Associate at the Institut für Indologie und Zentralasienwissenschaften of the University of Leipzig and Research Fellow at the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies, affiliated with the Śākta Traditions Programme. Her interests focus on the Tantric religious traditions of the Śrīvidyā and of the Pāñcarātra, specifically on the philosophical and theological doctrines expressed in the relevant South Indian Sanskrit textual traditions. Her publications include: The Philosophical and Theological Teachings of the Pādmasaṃhitā, Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, Wien 2014 and Goddess Traditions in India: Theological Poems and Philosophical Tales in the Tripurārahasya, Routledge Hindu Studies Series, forthcoming.