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Sauthoff, Patricia Jean Prokesh (2019) Protective Rites in the Netra Tantra. PhD thesis. SOAS, University of London. DOI: https://doi.org/10.25501/SOAS.00032803

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Abstract

This thesis examines the rites of protection as laid out in the Netra Tantra and its accompanying commentary by Kṣemarāja. This text and commentary help us to understand the ontological role of the court priest, who acts to preserve and improve the health and well-being of the monarch through constant ritual observance. This also leads to a discussion of power as religious, ritual, and social experience. I first examine ritual components, such as mantra, maṇḍala, and iconography to understand how the mantrin builds and maintains the tantric world. Within the iconography of practice, the Netra Tantra, allows for and even encourages the worship of its main deity, Amṛteśa, through the worship of a host of other deities. This brings about an examination of the conflict between public and private practice, especially within the tantric sphere. To further examine this conflict, I then explore initiatory rites, during which the practitioner finds himself reborn in both body and consciousness. Further, his rebirth forces him to reconsider his social place, with his caste now supplanted by his position as an initiated member of the religious group. I engage with both ideas of the body and identity to question how the newly initiated practitioner navigates the world with this new perspective, including his involvement, real or visualized, with the transgressive ritual behaviors so often associated with tantric practice. Finally, I consider specific practices, examining the technicalities of the rights and the meaning assigned to various ritual elements within this and related texts. The rites of nīrājana and those meant to conquer death, directly involve the mantrin who performs them on behalf of the monarch. This allows for an examination of what exactly is intended in such rites and what purpose they have for both the monarch and the mantrin.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses
Supervisors Name: Ulrich Pagel
DOI (Digital Object Identifier): https://doi.org/10.25501/SOAS.00032803
Date Deposited: 13 May 2020 10:33
URI: https://eprints.soas.ac.uk/id/eprint/32803

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