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: 20 October 2021

Secret Bodies

Secret Bodies

Physical Disciplines and Ecstatic Techniques

(p.137) 5 Secret Bodies
The Economics of Ecstasy

Hugh B. Urban (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

The role of secrecy is looked at as a practical and ritual strategy. It is argued that the esoteric practices and ecstatic techniques of the Kartābhajās involve a key strategy of deconstructing and reconstructing the human body; their aim is to dismantle or dissolve the ordinary socialized body of the initiate, along with the conventional social hierarchy itself, and to create in its place a new, divinized (spiritualized) body, which is in turn reinscribed into an alternative social hierarchy, with its own relations of authority and power. The chapter begins with a brief discussion of the relationship between the body and the social body in mainstream Bengali culture, as well as the ritual sacraments used to inscribe the physical body into the greater Bengali social hierarchy. Next, the role of initiation and bodily practice within the Kartābhajā tradition is discussed as it serves to deconstruct the conventional socialized body, and to create in its place an alternative, liberated body. Finally, an examination is made of the attempt of the Kartābhajās to construct not simply an alternative body, but an entire alternative identity or secret self – the “supreme” or ultimate identity, which is at once freed from the bonds of labor and servitude in the exoteric social hierarchy, while at the same time it is inscribed into a new hierarchy of power within the Kartābhajā sect itself.

Keywords:   Bengal, cults, deconstruction, esotericism, identity, India, Kartābhajās, reconstruction, rituals, sacraments, secrecy, sects, self, social hierarchy, spiritualization

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 .