Hinduism and Tribal Religions

Living Edition
| Editors: Pankaj Jain, Rita Sherma, Madhu Khanna

Tantra, Overview

  • Shaman HatleyEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-024-1036-5_336-1



Religious traditions and teachings based on scriptural texts known as tantras or āgamas.


Tantra or Tantrism is an historically influential and widely misunderstood dimension of Hinduism. This is equally true of Buddhism, both in and beyond South Asia. Tantric practices flourished within Jainism as well, and even had influence in Indian Sufism. While this article concerns Hindu tantric traditions, these cannot truly be understood in isolation, for Tantra has historically transcended religious boundaries. Moreover, the rubric of “Hindu Tantra” is at least partially misleading: in the period of their greatest influence, tantric forms of Śaivism and Vaiṣṇavism were considered by the Vaidika orthodox to be heterodox (vedabāhya), like Buddhism and Jainism. And if formal acknowledgment of the Vedas, however nominal, defines the boundaries of Hinduism, early Śaiva and Vaiṣṇava tantric traditions would not...

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© Springer Nature B.V. 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Asian StudiesUniversity of Massachusetts BostonBostonUSA