The Nature of Syncretism in the Kālacakratantra

Vesna A. Wallace

in The Inner Kalacakratantra

Published in print September 2001 | ISBN: 9780195122114
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199834808 | DOI:
The Nature of Syncretism in the  Kālacakratantra

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The Kālacakratantra has a prominent, syncretistic character, although close examination of the tantra and its commentarial literature shows that the Kālacakra tradition has preserved a distinctively Buddhist orientation, and that its affiliation with non‐Buddhist Indian systems is in form rather than content. The syncretism of this tantric system is a self‐conscious absorption, or appropriation, of the modes of expression that are characteristic of the rival religious systems of India. This self‐conscious syncretism variously permeates several areas of the Kālacakratantra, such as its theoretical system, language, medicine, and cosmology; it is also often inextricably related to Buddhist tantric conversionary efforts. The conversionary mission of the Kālacakratantra is not the sole basis of its syncretistic character; the growing pluralism within the inner life of Indian Mahayana communities could have been another contributing factor. The different sections of the chapter look at the theoretical syncretism of the Kālacakratantra, the syncretism of Kālacakratantra practice, and the syncretism of the Kālacakratantra's language.

Keywords: Buddhism; conversionary mission; Indian Buddhism; Indian religious systems; Kālacakra tradition; Kālacakratantra; pluralism; syncretism; syncretist language; syncretist practice; theoretical syncretism

Chapter.  6382 words. 

Subjects: Buddhism

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