Why the Tāntrika is a Hero

Rachel Fell McDermott and Jeffrey J. Kripal

in Encountering Kālī

Published by University of California Press

Published in print May 2003 | ISBN: 9780520232396
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520928176 | DOI:
Why the Tāntrika is a Hero

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Although Sigmund Freud never actually wrote about Kālī, he definitely knew more than a little about her through the work of C. D. Daly and what he playfully called the “twin-headed three-volume work” of Romain Rolland. This chapter takes up Western theory as both an arena for Kālī's descent into Western culture and a battleground for her proper representation and interpretation. Psychoanalysis is the Western hermeneutical tradition that has given the longest and most studied attention to Kālī. Interpreting the Goddess as a striking mythological embodiment of psychological patterns originating in India's child-rearing practices and Brāhmanical social values, this chapter argues that psychoanalysis can throw considerable light on such questions as why the male Tāntrika is called a “hero,” why Tantric ritual and language tend to “split” woman into a pure Mother and a sexually dangerous but attractive Lover, and why the Tantric traditions insist on their (in)famous synthesis of spiritual and sexual energies.

Keywords: Tāntrika; hero; Kālī; psychoanalysis; C. D. Daly; Sigmund Freud; Romain Rolland; Western culture; child-rearing practices; social values

Chapter.  12992 words. 

Subjects: Hinduism

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