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Namdrol: Tantra and Antinomianism

From: tyagi@houseofkaos.abyss.com (mordred)
Newsgroups: alt.magick.tyagi,talk.religion.buddhism
Subject: Namdrol: Tantra and Antinomianism (Was Re: Genuine Antinomianism)
Date: 5 Apr 1995 11:21:47 -0700

[from alt.magick: anabhoga@cittaprakritprabhasvara.edu (Namdrol)]

Namo Mahakala ,
bjc8f@fermi.clas.Virginia.EDU (Bryan Jare Cuevas) says:
> antinomian practices of Hindu/Buddhist tantrism once represented
> deliberate violations of firmly established socio-religious
> conventions. 
  This theory has been largely discredited by an exmination of the texts
themselves. There is instead a borrowing of metaphors from among others,
the kapalika ascetics. On the other hand, one of the most famous of the
Caryapada's, Krishanacharya, specifically derides the non-Buddhist
kaplikas of his day for literally beleiving that wearing bone ornaments
meant they had achieved liberation. 
  This whole theory of antinomianism is a hoax. 
 The Hevajra specifically says the purpose of eating meat is to create
dependent origination so that the being (whose flesh you are eating) will
be reborn as your disicple in the future.  So your contention that these
meats are not selected for compassionate reasons is refuted. 
 
In Hindu tantra, for example, the use of
> unconventional ritual methods centered on the so-called "5
> m's" (panca-makara): wine (madya), fish (matsya), meat (mamsa),
> fermented grain (mudra), and sexual intercourse (maithuna) - the
> group of five categories is explicitly a reversal of the 5
> prohibitives of orthodox Brahmans. 

   This assumes that the the rules specific to brahmin priests are
normative to Indian culture. They are not. This assumes in fact that
brahmins are a majority in Indian culture, again this is not so. This also
assumes that the audience that the tantras were written for were brahmins,
this is extremely unlikely. 
   To make the assumption that the behavior of brahmins is normative for
Indian culture between the 2-8 centuries CE, the formative period of
tantra, is absurd. But naturally, given that most of the stuff written on
the history of tantra is written by Western educated brahmins, it is not
suprising at all that they would find the the anuttaratantras and their
Hindu equivalents 'antinomian'. Of course, any one who actually beleives
this piffle has not actually read many tantras themselves. And it begs the
issue of the lower Tantras, which were clearly earlier in composition, and
not at all 'anti-nomian', as much concerend with ritual purity, in the
case of the kriyatantra, as any brahmin preist might be. 

>The purpose of such extreme
> anti-social activities is not to make these radical methods
> normative for all of society, but to set tantric practice apart -
>  the effect is to affirm the extra-ordinary/superior character of
> the tantric soteriology (and to transcend ordinary norms). 
  There is nothing at all extreme in a ganachakra. And a strong argument
can be made, that the entire corpus of deity yoga as well as 'eroticism'
in the tantras is a direct attempt to emulate the behavior of the
kamadhatu devas through imitation. As such, I would like to point out that
the divine couple Krishna and Radha are as equally 'tantric' as say
Chakrasamvara and Vajrayogini. The difference being in etiology.
Chakrasamvara exists, like all Buddhist Anuttarayogatantra deities, to
subdue and liberate the kamadhatu and rupadhatu devas thorugh subjugation
and appropriation. 
    The very fact that these deities are invariably on lotus seats points
to the fact that these deities are spontaneously-born like devas. Much
speculation has gone into the so called erotic couples on the facades of
some Indian temples. The fact is that if one look carefully, surrounding
the entire base of these temples are lotus petals, symbolizing spontaneous
birth, Above the foundation, the heavens, below, the human realm.  As one
goes higher and higher, the erotic couples diminish and are replaced by
solitary figures. This is clear indication that the temples serve to give
the temple adherents information about thier cosmologyu, in short these
temples, built at the height of Tantric movment in India, do nothing more
then express, in sculpture, the deva realms, and what devas do in them. 
   Again you are presupposing that Indian cultural morays are equivalent
to brahmin morays. In fact, modern Indian 'brahmin' cultural morays are
influenced by two external factors. The Persian domination of India during
the Mogul period, and the the British Raj. 
   And indeed if one examines the life stories of the Buddhist siddhas,
one finds that they spend far for more time curing errant disciples of
Mahadeva of their addiction to blood sacrifice then they do engaging in
'anti-nomian' behavior. 
   Further, inso far as emulating the conduct of deities _was normative_
for certain kinds of ascetics, the idea that their soteriology was to
transcend ordinary norms is laughable. These kinds of ascetics were normal
in Indian society, and they still are to this day. 
  Certainly, as in the case of my favortie Siddha, Virupa, there was quite
a bit of outrageous carrying on, but it was hardly 'anitnomian' in the
sense that such behavior was unknown to Indian culture at the time. In
fact, quite the opposite is true. 'Antinomianism' was _expected_ of
wandering ascetics, in short, it was their job to be so. I ask you, is one
truly 'antinomian' if one is expected to be?. 
   The Buddhist tantras draw from the cultural antecedents of the
kapalikas in particular and also vedic metaphor, elaborating a method of
practice interpreting these symbols through the filter of Buddhist
doctrines. One hardly finds antinomian for instance the Hevajra tantra's
recommendation that one needs to teach one's potential consort the ten
virtuous deeds,  etc, the standard normative behaviour of a lay Buddhist.
Or for instance the the Hevajras exhortation that one should take posadha
vows, and study in turn Vaibhasika, Sautrantika, Yogachara and Madhyamika
in turn. An academic course of study for an Antinomian, based in Buddhist
pratimoksha? How laughable. 
  I have alluded to the proper understanding of the meaning of the
Buddhist tantras in particular, as we can say with a fair amount of
confidence that the tantrism as a religious movement originated in
Buddhism. Just as the symbolism of the vedic fire alter was apropriated by
the Stupa, the Buddhist tantrics appropriated the symbolisms of the
kapalikas and shaivite yogins, yogins that were by the way, extremly
popular with the Vaishyas and Sudras, then and now. Though tantrism
certainly first arose as a coherent religious movement within Buddhism,
nonetheless, even before this there are "Hindu" antecedents as well. It
would not be going to far to recognize the Upanishads, in particular the
Brihadaryanka and the Chandogya as proto-tantras. Certainly the Buddha
himself, in the Sigalakasutta, among others, adopted the Upanishadic
strategy of of interpreting vedically derived ritual metaphorically. It is
in this kind of hermenuetic that we will find and understand the real
function and meaning of the tantras, Hindu and Budhdist, as well as the
reason for their composition. 
   To maintain that the Tantras are soteriology based on offending other
people is extremely naive. Even more laughable is the idea that the
Tantras recommend a soteriology based on offending oneself!
  
>Consuming fermented
> grain, for instance, doesn't quite seem to have the same explosive
> effect here in America has it would have in orthodox Brahmanic
> pockets of India.
   Really, well, there seem to haver been an aweful lot of taverns that
existed for the Buddhist siddhas like Virupa to hang out in. So it seems
to me that perhaps drinking was a lot more popular with the average Indian
then perhaps the stuffy brahmins would have liked. 
   And again you betray your idea that these texts were composed by
brahmins for brahmins, certainly the large amount of mixed Prakrit and
dreadfully bad Sanskrit argue against that.  
   As you are in religous studies, I think you ought to re-examine your
idea that brahmin cultural values are normative for Indian civilization in
general. I recommend that you obtain _Mitra and Varuna_ by Georges
Dumezil. It is very clear that each sector of Indo-European continuum,
Warrior, Preist and Herdsman/Farmer/Merchant had their own specfic set of
normative values, and while they intersected in certain key areas, in
general, these three classes of people lived very seperate kinds of lives
within the context of a single society. Bataille's _Theory of Religion_
and _Erotism, Death and Sensuality_ is instructive in so far as it deals
with the themes of sacrifice and taboo.
ITD,
Namdrol

-- 
               "All dharmas are the appearance of mind itself" 
                    --from the Mulavajragathas of Shri Virupa

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