Prof. Alexis Sanderson
Prof. Gavin Flood FBA
Dr Bjarne Wernicke-Olesen
The Sākta and Śaiva tantric traditions are found in various places in India and Nepal. They form the ritual and philosophical core of many yogic and tantric traditions and movements that were exported to the rest of the world, and they have now become part and parcel of global religious history. Thus, an understanding of the Sākta and Śaiva traditions, especially as they developed in Kashmir and beyond, is crucial for an understanding of the history of Indian religions as well as an understanding of modern yoga and tantra as it is practiced today in many places around the world.
These traditions can be traced back many centuries but until recently, tantric worship in Kashmir had been understood simply as ‘Kashmir Śaivism’, the worship of the god Śiva including all deities related to him. But it is now evident that this understanding does not suffice to describe the actual practices and forms of religion found in the texts and lived by people. At the core of Śaiva worship and Śaiva philosophy, we find that Śākta worship, or worship of the Goddess, plays a prominent role. This insight means that much in our understanding of Indian religions is about to change, and the publications included in this project will contribute to rewriting the history of Indian Religions that Professor Sanderson’s work has precipitated.