Amrita Darshanam – International Centre for Spiritual Studies (ICSS) conducted a three-day workshop on “Tantric Traditions of India”, at Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, Bengaluru campus, August 2-4, 2019. Two prominent academicians in the field of tantric studies, Dr. Shaman Hatley, Associate Professor, Asian Studies and Religious Studies, University of Massachusetts Boston, USA, and Dr. Michael Slouber, Associate Professor, South Asian Studies, Department of Global Humanities and Religion, (formerly Liberal Studies) Western Washington University, USA, delivered lectures on different themes along with enriching audio-visual presentations. There was a special lecture on the Buddhist-tantra tradition by Mr. Pranshu Samdarshi (Assistant Professor, Amrita Darshanam, Bengaluru campus).
Focused on Śaiva-Śākta tantric traditions, along with the tantric forms of Buddhism and Jainism, this workshop explored various aspects such as the historical development, textual sources, ritual, philosophies and social contexts of tantric traditions that have influenced the cultural and religious landscape of India.
Scholars from different Indian universities participated in this workshop and were benefited by the learned expositions on the key concepts in the field of tantric studies. The participant-scholars who attended this workshop also actively contributed to the post-session discussions.
The workshop was inaugurated on 2 August, 2019. Workshop convener, Mr. Arjun Bharadwaj (Assistant Professor, Amrita Darshanam, Bengaluru campus), formally welcomed all the participants. The inaugural address was delivered by Prof. Rakesh S. G. (Associate Dean and Head, Amrita School of Engineering, Bengaluru campus). Dr. Shaman Hatley, as a Chief Resource Person, gave a brief overview of the workshop.
More than thirty participants from across the country attended the workshop. These participants were from diverse backgrounds including Engineering, Art History, and Sanskrit Literature, to name a few. The workshop provided a conducive environment for learning and it was an enriching experience for all the participants.
Some of the topics discussed by the speakers in this workshop are as follows:
Dr. Shaman Hatley
- Approaching the Study of India’s Tantric Traditions: Methods, Sources, and Cultural and Academic Contexts
- Tantric Śaivism: Early History
- The Bhairavatantras and Śāktatantras
- Tantric Ritual and Yoga
- Tantric Śaiva Cosmology and Philosophy
- Tantra, Art, and Material Culture
- Śaivism and Vajrayāna Buddhism
- Tantra and Haṭhayoga
Dr. Michael Slouber
- Śaktism and Traditional Medicine
- Early Śaiva Tantric Medicine
- Jaina Tantra
Mr. Pranshu Samdarshi
- Sacred Feminine in Buddhist Tantra: Text and Practice
The evening of the first day of the workshop had a Bharatanatyam performance by the students of the School of Engineering, Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, Bengaluru campus, under the guidance of Ms. Pranali Jambhale (Cultural Coordinator, Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, Bengaluru campus). Ms. Pranali also gave a solo dance recital on the theme of Ardhanarishwara. This program was followed by a performance of Sanskrit play titled "Mattavilasa Prahasana" by the students of the School of Engineering, Bengaluru, under the direction of Mr. Manish Rajan Walvekar (Assistant Professor, Amrita Darshanam, Bengaluru campus) and the coordination of Mr. Arjun Bharadwaj.
On the evening of the second day of the workshop, the participants witnessed a Śri Cakra puja, conducted by Mr. Arjun Kanagal, a practitioner in the lineage of Śri Vidyā tradition. Before performing the ritual, Mr. Arjun also elaborated upon the nuances of the philosophical and rational aspects behind the ritualistic worship of Śri Cakra.
The workshop was concluded with a valedictory session that included the distribution of certificates to participants. Some participants shared their experience on how they had been benefited by this workshop. This session was presided over by Dr. Abhijit Dandekar. The workshop report was delivered by Ms. Manjushree Hegde (Assistant Professor, Amrita Darshanam, Ettimadai Campus, Coimbatore), followed by the vote of thanks given by workshop co-convener, Mr. Manish Rajan Walvekar.