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“Proto–Tantric” Elements in The Gandavyuha-sutra

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Although a Māhāyana sūtra, the clearly contains a number of elements that seem to presage the “tantric” phase in Indian Buddhism. In particular, the sūtra contains four components worthy of note: elaborate scenes detailing what can best be understood as , a soteriology based on absolute faith in the spiritual guides, a strong insinuation of organisational esotericism, and the hint of sexual yoga. After briefly summarising some recent scholarship on the , the author addresses each of the four “proto-tantric” components in detail. Following this, the author concludes with the suggestion that despite the inherent difficulties in developing a relative chronology of Indian Buddhist literature, close readings such as provided in this article may be useful in generating data sets, which can then be used to relate Indian Buddhist texts to each other.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: School of History, Philosophy and Classics, Massey University, New Zealand

Publication date: June 1, 2009


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