The term Tantra refers to a pan Indian religious movement (also called Tantrism) that arose in about the 6th century AD within both Buddhism and Hinduism and to the texts (either Buddhist or Hindu) setting forth its practices and beliefs. The main emphasis of Tantrism is on the development of the devotee's dormant psychophysical powers by means of special meditations and ritual techniques. These are essentially esoteric and must be passed on personally from master to initiate. Stressing the coordination of body, speech, and mind, they include the use of symbolic gestures (mudras); the uttering of potent formulas (Mantras); the entering (through meditation) of sacred diagrams (Mandalas) and yantras; the meditator's creative visualization of and identification with specific divine forms; and the physical, iconographic, or mental use of sexual forces and symbols.
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Joseph M Kitagawa and John S Strong
B Bhattacharya, The World of Tantra (1988); N N Bhattacharya, History of the Tantric Religion (1983); S Chattopadhyaya, Reflections on the Tantras (1978); A Mookerjee and M Khanna, The Tantric Way: Art, Science, Ritual (1989).
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