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Hirmer, Monika (2022) 'The Self as Combination of Deities and Yantras: Divinisation Rituals among Contemporary Śrīvidyā Practitioners in India.' Religions, 13 (738). pp. 1-21.

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Divinisation rituals establishing oneness between practitioners and divinities are common across Tantric traditions. While scholars largely argue that divinisation occurs through meditative practices, implying a clear demarcation between contemplative samayācāra rituals and body-focused kaulācāra rituals, I suggest that samayācāra divinisation rituals entail fundamental corporeal elements; furthermore, I argue that the distinction between samayācāra and kaulācāra rituals is not obvious, but negotiated on a continuum ranging between representational and embodied corporeality. Based on extensive anthropological fieldwork in the temple-complex Śaktipur, I first illustrate divinised Śrīvidyā bodies: they are permeated by goddess Tripurasundarī in her anthropomorphic form and as a diagram, or yantra (the Śrīcakra), and by the deities Gaṇapati, Śyāmā, and Vārāhī, and their respective yantras. Thereafter, I describe yantrapūjās, which are samayācāra rituals through which practitioners divinise their bodies, outlining, particularly, their corporeal elements. I also illustrate sirījyotipūjā, which is a ritual directly transmitted by Tripurasundarī to Śaktipur’s guru and is, therefore, unique to his disciples. Foreseeing the creation of a large Śrīcakra decorated with flowers, around and at the centre of which practitioners congregate, the ritual facilitates the superimposition of the Śrīcakra, Tripurasundarī and worshippers’ bodies; including both representational and embodied elements, sirījyotipūjā occupies the fluid intersection between samayācāra and kaulācāra rituals.

Item Type: Journal Article
Keywords: Śrīvidyā; Tantra; Goddess traditions; South Asia; body; yantra; ritual practice; anthropology; divinisation
SOAS Departments & Centres: Departments and Subunits > School of History, Religions & Philosophies
Departments and Subunits > School of History, Religions & Philosophies > Department of Religions & Philosophies
ISSN: 20771444
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 15 Aug 2022 09:57
Funders: Other

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