Tantric Literature

David Gray

in Buddhism

ISBN: 9780195393521
Published online September 2010 | | DOI:
Tantric Literature


The study of Buddhist tantric literature in the West is still in an early phase, as only a small minority of tantric literature, preserved in languages such as Sanskrit, Tibetan, Chinese, and Mongolian, has been adequately edited and translated into Western languages. However, over the past few decades there has been steady growth in such works, as well as studies of the literature. This work has gradually shed light on the history and development of tantric Buddhist traditions. This entry focuses both on the published editions and translations of tantric Buddhist literature itself, as well as important studies that have contributed to our understanding of the historical and cultural contexts that gave rise to this literature. Since the category of “tantric literature” is somewhat vague, it is defined here as the literature composed within the tantric Buddhist traditions in South Asia from the mid-7th century onward, when “Esoteric” or “tantric” Buddhism emerged as a movement self-consciously distinct from earlier Buddhist traditions. This “literature” includes the tantras themselves, their commentaries, the various praxical works associated with them, as well as other forms of literature composed by advocates of these movements, such as the song literature. It also includes similar literature composed by advocates of the tantric Buddhist traditions later established in Tibet, Central Asia, East Asia, and Southeast Asia. It does not include earlier forms of Buddhist literature that were considered canonical by tantric Buddhists, such as Mahayana sutras and śāstras.

Article.  6101 words. 

Subjects: Buddhism ; Tibetan Buddhism ; Zen Buddhism

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