Indian Esoteric Buddhism

A Social History of the Tantric Movement

Ronald M. Davidson

Columbia University Press

Indian Esoteric Buddhism

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Pub Date: December 2002

ISBN: 9780231126199

475 Pages

Format: Paperback

List Price: $38.00£30.00

Pub Date: December 2002

ISBN: 9780231126182

475 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $105.00£81.00

Pub Date: December 2002

ISBN: 9780231501026

475 Pages

Format: E-book

List Price: $37.99£30.00

Indian Esoteric Buddhism

A Social History of the Tantric Movement

Ronald M. Davidson

Columbia University Press

Despite the rapid spread of Buddhism—especially the esoteric system of Tantra, one of its most popular yet most misunderstood forms—the historical origins of Buddhist thought and practice remain obscure. This groundbreaking work describes the genesis of the Tantric movement in early medieval India, where it developed as a response to, and in some ways an example of, the feudalization of Indian society. Drawing on primary documents—many translated for the first time—from Sanskrit, Prakrit, Tibetan, Bengali, and Chinese, Ronald Davidson shows how changes in medieval Indian society, including economic and patronage crises, a decline in women's participation, and the formation of large monastic orders, led to the rise of the esoteric tradition in India that became the model for Buddhist cultures in China, Tibet, and Japan.
A truly pioneering and wide-ranging work—one much to be commended to students of all of the diverse phenomena that Davidson brings within its purview. Dan Arnold, Journal of Religion
This groundbreaking volume will find a primary place on the bookshelf of every serious scholar... This exceptional work deserves a wide audience Frederick M. Smith, Religous Studies Newsletter
This work is unmistakably a rich contribution to research in this area. Christian K. Wedemeyer, History of Religions
1. Introduction: A Plethora of Promises
2. Early Medieval India
3. The Medieval Buddhist Experience
4. The Victory of Esoterism and the Imperial Metaphor
5. Siddhas and the Religious Landscape
6. Siddhas, Literature, and Language
7. Siddhas, Monks, and Communities
8. Conclusion: The Esoteric Conundrum
Appendix: Probable Pasupata Sites

About the Author

Ronald M. Davidson is professor of religious studies and director of the program in Asian studies at Fairfield University in Connecticut. He is the coauthor (with Steven D. Goodman) of Tibetan Buddhism: Reason and Revelation.