The Tantric Age: A comparison of Shaiva and Buddhist Tantra

Forum for discussion of Tibetan Buddhism. Questions specific to one school are best posted in the appropriate sub-forum.
Post Reply
User avatar
Grigoris
Former staff member
Posts: 14813
Joined: Fri May 14, 2010 9:27 pm
Location: Greece

The Tantric Age: A comparison of Shaiva and Buddhist Tantra

Post by Grigoris » Sun Aug 20, 2017 9:23 am

by Christopher Wallis
February, 2016

http://www.sutrajournal.com/the-tantric ... her-wallis
The main purpose of this paper is to gather in one place evidence that has been piling up for some years in secondary sources, but the full implications of which are not yet apparent to most scholars who are not specialists in the philological analysis of the primary sources for the study of Tantra. The main thesis of this paper is that in the medieval period, Tantric Buddhism (mantranaya, vajrayāna) and Tantric Śaivism (mantramārga) were conterminous, coeval, and co-functional. In fact, I believe the evidence supports the notion that these two were co-functional and conterminous to roughly the same degree as Śaivism was with Brahmanism (vaidika-dharma), circa the 10th century CE, thereby belying the notion that the latter two can be considered two branches of a single “Hinduism” in the period under discussion. The consequence of this is to more firmly establish the invalidity of the use of the term Hinduism as an emic signifier prior to the 11th century, though that is a corollary and not the primary purpose of the present paper.
"My religion is not deceiving myself."
Jetsun Milarepa 1052-1135 CE

"Butchers, prostitutes, those guilty of the five most heinous crimes, outcasts, the underprivileged: all are utterly the substance of existence and nothing other than total bliss."
The Supreme Source - The Kunjed Gyalpo
The Fundamental Tantra of Dzogchen Semde

fckw
Posts: 287
Joined: Mon Jan 06, 2014 11:10 am

Re: The Tantric Age: A comparison of Shaiva and Buddhist Tantra

Post by fckw » Sun Aug 20, 2017 6:42 pm

It should be obvious to everyone who studied both Buddhist and "Hindu" tantra that both of them are much closer to each other than, for example, Buddhist tantra and Therevada Buddhism. What conclusions to draw from these observations is however another question.

User avatar
odysseus
Posts: 1033
Joined: Tue Apr 17, 2012 11:50 pm
Contact:

Re: The Tantric Age: A comparison of Shaiva and Buddhist Tantra

Post by odysseus » Sun Aug 20, 2017 9:38 pm

I will not read the article yet. But my simple evaluation is that a comparison between Buddhist and Hindu Tantra is flawed. It's only the word "tantra" that they have in common. Hindu tantra comes from mystics like Sadhus, but Buddhist tantra comes straight from Lord Shakyamuni.
Let a man not seek for the respect of his peers, let him seek wisdom.

-- Dhammapada

User avatar
TharpaChodron
Posts: 213
Joined: Wed Apr 18, 2012 2:13 am
Location: Central California

Re: The Tantric Age: A comparison of Shaiva and Buddhist Tantra

Post by TharpaChodron » Sun Aug 20, 2017 10:49 pm

I started reading it, but don't have enough time to finish it. Aren't the north Indian Nathas part of this connection? I think so, but im not exactly sure?

User avatar
Mantrik
Posts: 393
Joined: Sun Apr 09, 2017 8:55 pm
Contact:

Re: The Tantric Age: A comparison of Shaiva and Buddhist Tantra

Post by Mantrik » Sun Aug 20, 2017 10:50 pm

I read it with interest and like the clear references to the confluence. :)
http://www.khyung.com

Micchāmi Dukkaḍaṃ (मिच्छामि दुक्कडम्)

fckw
Posts: 287
Joined: Mon Jan 06, 2014 11:10 am

Re: The Tantric Age: A comparison of Shaiva and Buddhist Tantra

Post by fckw » Mon Aug 21, 2017 6:46 pm

odysseus wrote:I will not read the article yet. But my simple evaluation is that a comparison between Buddhist and Hindu Tantra is flawed. It's only the word "tantra" that they have in common.
Sure. This plus Chinnamasta/Chinnamunda. And an array of other meditational deities and protectors, like Ganesh, Shiva, Tara etc. Oh, and fire ceremonies. And innumerable other things, that are actually too many to be listed here.
Hindu tantra comes from mystics like Sadhus, but Buddhist tantra comes straight from Lord Shakyamuni.
Except those tantras that don't. Oh, and by the way, Buddha was not a Buddhist, did you know?

(Seriously, you should first study the subject matter before making any claims.)

fckw
Posts: 287
Joined: Mon Jan 06, 2014 11:10 am

Re: The Tantric Age: A comparison of Shaiva and Buddhist Tantra

Post by fckw » Mon Aug 21, 2017 6:49 pm

TharpaChodron wrote:I started reading it, but don't have enough time to finish it. Aren't the north Indian Nathas part of this connection? I think so, but im not exactly sure?
It's not a "connection", it's "co-existence". There are even Hindu practitioners among the famous 84 "Buddhist" mahasiddhas. (By the way, there's also a "Hindu" version of the list with some overlap with the Buddhist version.)

User avatar
Karma Dorje
Posts: 1236
Joined: Thu Sep 01, 2011 10:35 pm

Re: The Tantric Age: A comparison of Shaiva and Buddhist Tantra

Post by Karma Dorje » Mon Aug 21, 2017 8:29 pm

odysseus wrote:I will not read the article yet. But my simple evaluation is that a comparison between Buddhist and Hindu Tantra is flawed. It's only the word "tantra" that they have in common. Hindu tantra comes from mystics like Sadhus, but Buddhist tantra comes straight from Lord Shakyamuni.
TL;DR: I haven't read the article, but somehow my faith-based opinion is more relevant than this scholar's research.
"Although my view is higher than the sky, My respect for the cause and effect of actions is as fine as grains of flour."
-Padmasambhava

User avatar
odysseus
Posts: 1033
Joined: Tue Apr 17, 2012 11:50 pm
Contact:

Re: The Tantric Age: A comparison of Shaiva and Buddhist Tantra

Post by odysseus » Tue Aug 22, 2017 5:45 pm

fckw wrote: Except those tantras that don't. Oh, and by the way, Buddha was not a Buddhist, did you know?
I heard it before. That's just a matter of English terminology. Can we say the Buddha was not a Buddhist, he teached Buddhism (Dharma). Just to not make a big point out of this again.
fckw wrote:
(Seriously, you should first study the subject matter before making any claims.)
I did not study much that thing, but what I know is that Hindu is much more different than Buddhism. The Buddha was radically different from the old Brahmanic religion. As Buddhists, we see that Buddha's teachings are not compatible with Hinduism and he teaches a totally different view.
Let a man not seek for the respect of his peers, let him seek wisdom.

-- Dhammapada

User avatar
odysseus
Posts: 1033
Joined: Tue Apr 17, 2012 11:50 pm
Contact:

Re: The Tantric Age: A comparison of Shaiva and Buddhist Tantra

Post by odysseus » Tue Aug 22, 2017 5:51 pm

Karma Dorje wrote:
odysseus wrote:I will not read the article yet. But my simple evaluation is that a comparison between Buddhist and Hindu Tantra is flawed. It's only the word "tantra" that they have in common. Hindu tantra comes from mystics like Sadhus, but Buddhist tantra comes straight from Lord Shakyamuni.
TL;DR: I haven't read the article, but somehow my faith-based opinion is more relevant than this scholar's research.
I am not sure if I am paranoid and you are pointing at me in third person, but I feel touched and must say something. Maybe my opinion seems faith-based, but these scholars who are everywhere do not impress me with their New Age attempt to unify everything. My opinion comes from uttermost conviction in Buddha and this subject is easy to tell that Hindu based "tantra" is not the same as Buddhist Vajrayana.
Let a man not seek for the respect of his peers, let him seek wisdom.

-- Dhammapada

User avatar
treehuggingoctopus
Posts: 1369
Joined: Sun Jun 05, 2011 6:26 pm
Location: Mudhole? Slimy? My home, this is.

Re: The Tantric Age: A comparison of Shaiva and Buddhist Tantra

Post by treehuggingoctopus » Tue Aug 22, 2017 6:16 pm

odysseus wrote:
Karma Dorje wrote:
odysseus wrote:I will not read the article yet. But my simple evaluation is that a comparison between Buddhist and Hindu Tantra is flawed. It's only the word "tantra" that they have in common. Hindu tantra comes from mystics like Sadhus, but Buddhist tantra comes straight from Lord Shakyamuni.
TL;DR: I haven't read the article, but somehow my faith-based opinion is more relevant than this scholar's research.
I am not sure if I am paranoid and you are pointing at me in third person, but I feel touched and must say something. Maybe my opinion seems faith-based, but these scholars who are everywhere do not impress me with their New Age attempt to unify everything. My opinion comes from uttermost conviction in Buddha and this subject is easy to tell that Hindu based "tantra" is not the same as Buddhist Vajrayana.
There is nothing in this (very interesting) article that is New Age, nor does its author attempt to "unify everything" in any way. In the world of today's religious studies you would be very hard pressed to find any perennialists at all.

Also, the very idea that there is anything like a single "religious" meta-experience at the heart of various "religions" was relocated to the unfashionable far margins of academic thought in the 1980s (thank you, Steven Katz), and it has not re-entered the academic mainstream ever since. This is likely to have been the first of the stones that killed the beast:

http://www2.trincoll.edu/~kiener/KatzS_ ... m_1978.pdf

Similarly, "New Age" has been a term of abuse in the world of academia since times immemorial. We academicians surely have our biases. But neither newageism nor perennialism is one of them.
. . . there they saw a rock! But it wasn't a rock . . .

User avatar
Grigoris
Former staff member
Posts: 14813
Joined: Fri May 14, 2010 9:27 pm
Location: Greece

Re: The Tantric Age: A comparison of Shaiva and Buddhist Tantra

Post by Grigoris » Tue Aug 22, 2017 9:51 pm

See, this is what I love about the internet, people can make completely uninformed and ignorant comments about scholarly texts and actually think their view counts for something, whereas in the good ol' days you actually had to study, find somebody willing to oversee and support your thesis and then have to go to great pains to have it published and duly ignored by all except those that actually give a shit...
"My religion is not deceiving myself."
Jetsun Milarepa 1052-1135 CE

"Butchers, prostitutes, those guilty of the five most heinous crimes, outcasts, the underprivileged: all are utterly the substance of existence and nothing other than total bliss."
The Supreme Source - The Kunjed Gyalpo
The Fundamental Tantra of Dzogchen Semde

User avatar
treehuggingoctopus
Posts: 1369
Joined: Sun Jun 05, 2011 6:26 pm
Location: Mudhole? Slimy? My home, this is.

Re: The Tantric Age: A comparison of Shaiva and Buddhist Tantra

Post by treehuggingoctopus » Wed Aug 23, 2017 8:33 am

Grigoris wrote:See, this is what I love about the internet, people can make completely uninformed and ignorant comments about scholarly texts and actually think their view counts for something, whereas in the good ol' days you actually had to study, find somebody willing to oversee and support your thesis and then have to go to great pains to have it published and duly ignored by all except those that actually give a shit...
And studying meant what today would seem a truly awful lot of work, too, plus sacrifices those brought up in the age of the Internet will never imagine.

I miss the endless hours spent in cold dusty libraries, getting lost among the never ending shelves of books, then sneezing and shivering over pages which someone scribbled all over years ago...
. . . there they saw a rock! But it wasn't a rock . . .

User avatar
Karma Dorje
Posts: 1236
Joined: Thu Sep 01, 2011 10:35 pm

Re: The Tantric Age: A comparison of Shaiva and Buddhist Tantra

Post by Karma Dorje » Wed Aug 23, 2017 12:11 pm

treehuggingoctopus wrote:
Grigoris wrote:See, this is what I love about the internet, people can make completely uninformed and ignorant comments about scholarly texts and actually think their view counts for something, whereas in the good ol' days you actually had to study, find somebody willing to oversee and support your thesis and then have to go to great pains to have it published and duly ignored by all except those that actually give a shit...
And studying meant what today would seem a truly awful lot of work, too, plus sacrifices those brought up in the age of the Internet will never imagine.

I miss the endless hours spent in cold dusty libraries, getting lost among the never ending shelves of books, then sneezing and shivering over pages which someone scribbled all over years ago...
Sorry, my sniffling cephalopod, but that doesn't sound like sacrifice. That sounds like fun. The kind a Kindle will never replace.

The itinerant life of an adjunct professor on the other hand...
"Although my view is higher than the sky, My respect for the cause and effect of actions is as fine as grains of flour."
-Padmasambhava

User avatar
treehuggingoctopus
Posts: 1369
Joined: Sun Jun 05, 2011 6:26 pm
Location: Mudhole? Slimy? My home, this is.

Re: The Tantric Age: A comparison of Shaiva and Buddhist Tantra

Post by treehuggingoctopus » Wed Aug 23, 2017 1:47 pm

It was fun, massive fun. I was serious when I said I badly miss it.

Being a professor, itinerant or otherwise, is an entirely different experience. I had better shut up before I smash a keyboard or something.
. . . there they saw a rock! But it wasn't a rock . . .

User avatar
Thomas Amundsen
Posts: 1628
Joined: Thu Feb 03, 2011 2:50 am
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Contact:

Re: The Tantric Age: A comparison of Shaiva and Buddhist Tantra

Post by Thomas Amundsen » Fri Aug 25, 2017 1:19 am

The standard response to Shaiva appropriation is that Manjushri taught those tantras to the Shaivites, correct?

tingdzin
Posts: 897
Joined: Fri Feb 15, 2013 7:19 am

Re: The Tantric Age: A comparison of Shaiva and Buddhist Tantra

Post by tingdzin » Fri Aug 25, 2017 6:43 am

I haven't had time to read the whole paper yet (if it's worth it, and if the discussion is still continuing next week,I may have more to say), but the "main thesis" in the quote by Grigoris that started the ball, to wit:
Grigoris wrote:The main thesis of this paper is that in the medieval period, Tantric Buddhism (mantranaya, vajrayāna) and Tantric Śaivism (mantramārga) were conterminous, coeval, and co-functional.
...is wrong right off the bat. Even if one accepts the dependence on certain so-called Yogini tantras were influenced by or even derived from Shaiva tantras (an assertion which is still being refined -- and bitterly contested -- by those scholars who have the most in-depth knowledge of these two subjects), the author is (to begin with) completely ignoring the whole esoteric tradition within Buddhism that had already been developing in Central and East Asia during the period in question ("medieval" is a loaded word better not used unless defined), relying on, traditionally the Mahavairocana and Vajrasekhara scriptures, but also including a lot of practices and lines that have since died out. These Vajrayana practices were not transgressive (mostly), and were in no way dependent on either the Yogini tantras or Shaiva stuff.
This tendency to equate Vajrayana Buddhism with late Indian-tantra-based Buddhism is common among narrow-minded Indic specialists, but it ignores a lot of factual information about the development of what is called Vajrayana. But even if the author had added the qualifier "in India" to the above quote, it still is biased towards those scriptures which happened to make their way into Tibet and provided the main esoteric scriptural authority for the surviving New Transmission schools in Tibet, and is thus still incomplete.

User avatar
Thomas Amundsen
Posts: 1628
Joined: Thu Feb 03, 2011 2:50 am
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Contact:

Re: The Tantric Age: A comparison of Shaiva and Buddhist Tantra

Post by Thomas Amundsen » Fri Aug 25, 2017 5:50 pm

tingdzin wrote:Even if one accepts the dependence on certain so-called Yogini tantras were influenced by or even derived from Shaiva tantras
The author is suggesting much more than mere influence or derivation. The author claims there is outright concealed appropriation. The main case he gave was for the Cakrasamvara tantra (an earlier redaction of the tantra) containing very large unmodified passages from a Shaiva tantra.
tingdzin wrote:These Vajrayana practices were not transgressive
Furthermore, the author speculates that the later Vajrayana transgressiveness is due to the Buddhists one-upping the Shaivites by using more transgressive initiations that would allegedly produce more power.

User avatar
Malcolm
Posts: 24433
Joined: Thu Nov 11, 2010 2:19 am

Re: The Tantric Age: A comparison of Shaiva and Buddhist Tantra

Post by Malcolm » Fri Aug 25, 2017 11:41 pm

tingdzin wrote:I haven't had time to read the whole paper yet (if it's worth it, and if the discussion is still continuing next week,I may have more to say), but the "main thesis" in the quote by Grigoris that started the ball, to wit:
Grigoris wrote:The main thesis of this paper is that in the medieval period, Tantric Buddhism (mantranaya, vajrayāna) and Tantric Śaivism (mantramārga) were conterminous, coeval, and co-functional.
...is wrong right off the bat.
Yup.



Even if one accepts the dependence on certain so-called Yogini tantras were influenced by or even derived from Shaiva tantras (an assertion which is still being refined -- and bitterly contested -- by those scholars who have the most in-depth knowledge of these two subjects), the author is (to begin with) completely ignoring the whole esoteric tradition within Buddhism that had already been developing in Central and East Asia during the period in question ("medieval" is a loaded word better not used unless defined), relying on, traditionally the Mahavairocana and Vajrasekhara scriptures, but also including a lot of practices and lines that have since died out. These Vajrayana practices were not transgressive (mostly), and were in no way dependent on either the Yogini tantras or Shaiva stuff.
Yup.

This tendency to equate Vajrayana Buddhism with late Indian-tantra-based Buddhism is common among narrow-minded Indic specialists, but it ignores a lot of factual information about the development of what is called Vajrayana. But even if the author had added the qualifier "in India" to the above quote, it still is biased towards those scriptures which happened to make their way into Tibet and provided the main esoteric scriptural authority for the surviving New Transmission schools in Tibet, and is thus still incomplete.
Yup.
Atikosha
Tibetan Medicine Blog
Sudarsana Mandala, Tibetan Medicine and Herbs
Buddhahood in This Life
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔


Free of hope and fear, relax.
Human life spent in
a state of great spaciousness is enjoyable.


— Kunzang Dechen Lingpa

User avatar
dzogchungpa
Posts: 5461
Joined: Sat May 28, 2011 10:50 pm

Re: The Tantric Age: A comparison of Shaiva and Buddhist Tantra

Post by dzogchungpa » Sat Aug 26, 2017 1:04 am

So, to sum up, yup.
Through Dzogchen we can really understand what God is and we don’t have to worry if there is a God or not. God always exists as our real nature, the base, for everybody. - Chögyal Namkhai Norbu

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: an_user, jmlee369, Lingpupa, Majestic-12 [Bot], Mantrik, Matylda, ned51, Powerful bliss and 61 guests