Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
The Economics of EcstasyTantra, Secrecy and Power in Colonial Bengal$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Hugh B. Urban

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9780195139020

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/019513902X.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 29 July 2021



Secrecy and Symbolic Power

(p.3) Introduction
The Economics of Ecstasy

Hugh B. Urban (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

The phenomena of secrecy and esotericism remain among the most persistent and pervasive, yet poorly studied and misunderstood aspects of the history of religions. The field of South Asian studies is no exception to this trend, although it has generated a growing interest in the role of secrecy in Indian traditions, and specifically in the texts and rituals of Tantrism. However, Tantric studies have hardly made any inquiry into the real historical and social contexts in which Tantra is practised, have not looked at any of the broader comparative issues involved in the study of esoteric traditions, and have yielded little critical reflection on the historical construction of the category of Tantrism. This book aims to address these issues through the study of one specific esoteric and secret sect: that of the Kartābhajās or “Worshippers of the Master,” which spread throughout Calcutta (Bengal, India) in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and still has some living and practising representatives. The first half of this introduction provides a general background on the Kartābhajās and their importance for the scholarly imagining of Tantrism, and the study of esoteric traditions as a whole; the second half engages the larger theoretical snarls inevitably involved in the study of something that is supposed to be secret.

Keywords:   Bengal, cults, esotericism, India, Kartābhajās, religion, secrecy, sects, Tantrism

Oxford Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs , and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us .