International Journal of Tantric Studies

Tantra FAQ

Editorial Note by Enrica Garzilli

I want to truly thank you for your magnanimous vote! As you know, this Journal has won the 3rd price for the Most Elegant resource at the Best of 1995 Social Sciences, Humanities & Asian-Pacific Studies WWW Resources which was held by the Australian National University.

When I asked you to support us, I was not clear in explaining the vote ratings -- from the highest to the lowest (7---->1) -- and this lowered the final score... mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa! I was asked by several readers of the Journal of South Asia Women Studies, of which I am the Editor-in-Chief, to clearly explain the vote ratings and procedures: even though we entered the same competition later, we have won the 1st price for the Highest Data Quality Resource, the 2nd Best Overall Resource, the 2nd Most Elegant Resource. Nevertheless...I am so proud of your feedback and our results!
Thank you again.

I would like to add a few words to a recent discussion on a very debated American decision: the Communications Decency Act of 1996. In fact, the Members of Congress have passed the Telecommunications Deregulation Bill. According to the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union),

"The new law will establish a big governement censorship regime with new speech crimes for the Internet and online communications... The Indecency standard got its start in 1978, with a Supreme Court decision called Federal Communication v. Pacifica. Pacifica radio in New York City had broadcast a satiric "Filthy Words" monologue...".

I suggest you to read the ACLU page and to click on Cyber-Liberties. Sooner or later, every country of the world will face the same problems. In the ACLU page there is also a quiz to test our knowledge of the Seven Filthy Words, and the Plaintiffs' Memorandum of Law in Support of a Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injuction.

Plaintiffs: AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION, et al.

Defendant: JANET RENO, in her official capacity as ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES

Concerned about the facially unconstitutional provisions of the Act, students from more than twenty-five of the American law leading schools have organized to protest the legislation. This is the first nationally organized protest involving U.S. law schools since the Vietnam War.

Can this law be of some specific interest to our Journal? Yes, it can: we have planned to publish a paper on Khajuraho with pictures that, as everybody knows, are rather sexually explicit. However, the pictures we will publish will be only those scholarly relevant and appropriate. Therefore, even though the cyberspace is controlled, I am not concerned about the consequences.

In one of the next issues we will also publish the Sanskrit text with a translation and introduction of a devotional poem of an anonymous Shivaite author.

Tantra FAQ: what is it?

We have a project to be realized all together. We will publish a list of Frequently Asked Questions on Tantra (Tantra FAQ) and anybody can answer and/or add more questions. The idea comes from a very learned Sanskrit amateur who prefers to remain anonymous. He is also one of the most active members of the Sanskrit mailing list and newsgroup. For more information, browse

ftp://jaguar.cs.utah.edu/private/sanskrit/sanskrit.html

Before Christmas 1995, he asked me whether I was interested in answering some questions on Tantra which occurred to him and one of his friends. He rightly noticed that there are still a lot of misunderstandings on the ethics, and the scholarly value of the study of Tantric practice -- and, I should add, a lot of insane interest on them. I think this is due to some aspect of the Tantric ritual. In a word, if I can re-interpret him, Tantrism is associated mainly with obscene and/or cruent rituals, and with miracolous mantra able to make us win.

This is why I see the necessity of a FAQ: just to clear up the air, and to give anybody the possibility both to learn and to give his/her contribution to the topic.

We need you in order to realize the FAQ.

How can you contribute to the Tantra FAQ?

You all are strongly invited to add more questions or to answer one or more of the following questions. When you answer, please give a bibliography of reference books, whenever it is possible. When answering, please refer to the number and report the full text of the question(s). You can mail the answer to me (garzilli@asiatica.org).

What about the final outcome?

Your questions and the answers or the parts of them that will be included in the Tantra FAQ will be fully quoted, with name and email address of the contributor(s). If a question has multiple contributors, I will edit and quote all of them. Then the whole file will be published in a separate issue of the IJTS which, like all the other issues, will be Copyrighted. I will be the maintainer of the FAQ; that means you can send me new questions and new answers (e.g. titles of new books and resources) and I will update the FAQ. All the names of the new contributors will be fully quoted.

At the end of the year the IJTS will be published and distributed in hard copy (ooops! I anticipated the news....) and in the issue where the FAQ is published everything will appear as in the electronic format.

After the first electronic publication in the IJTS and the Copyright registration, the FAQ will be available on our ftp and http servers. The TANTRA FAQ will be periodically posted to the relevant newsgroups and mailing lists.

In short, every contribution/contributor(s) will be fully quoted, the FAQ Copyright belongs to the IJTS, and I will be the maintainer, updating and posting the FAQ list.

We will re-publish the FAQ questions in a separate mail. The FAQ will be a real work in progress and a collaboration between me and you -- and, hopefully, the person who mailed the questions to me. I thank you in advance for your contributions!

There are many other projects regarding Sanskrit organized by a group of volunteers: if you want to give your contribution or you simply want to know what is going on, please browse

ftp://jaguar.cs.utah.edu/private/sanskrit/sanskrit.html

and especially, if you can, print the Sanskrit projects file that is available in different formats as projects.asc/.tex/.ps.

In this issue we will publish two papers.

The first paper is Tantra and Dharma Teachers From Kashmir in Nepal -- The oldest manuscript of the Krtyakalpataru by Dr. Michael Witzel. He is Wales Professor of Sanskrit at Harvard University and he is also our Managing Editor. He served for five years (1972-1977) as the Director of the Nepal-German Manuscript Preservation Project (NGMPP).

In our Computer Space we will publish the paper-review Typing Devanagari on a Standard Keyboard, by Derick Miller. He worked as a Senior Quality Assurance Engineer, testing commercial software. He left the computer industry to pursue graduate work. He was awarded a MA in Eastern Classics (Sanskrit) by St. John's in Santa Fe in 1995. We should add that, according to what Miller has written to us, he has no financial stake in the products reviewed.

As already announced, we will distribute in a separate file the Directory Email Book of the Members who have answered the form that everybody receives when he/she subscribes. The DEB form will be re-mailed and the list will be updated and re- distributed from time to time. We are not responsible for any wrong or incomplete information we publish in the DEB. The DEB will not be published on our WWW page.

You can copy the form from this page or download it from our ftp server in the IJTS directory. If you want to reply you have just to fill up the blanks and send the form back to me (garzilli@asiatica.org) or to the IJTS (ijts@asiatica.org). We will publish the info only in the way you write them. We will not be responsible for any wrong or incomplete info.

The form will read like this:

            First name(s):
            Middle name(s):
            Last name(s):
            Email address:
            Address:
            Title:
            Institution (if any):
            Teaching courses:
            Research interest:
            Current research:
        

The more answers we get the more useful the DEB will be. We hope in your collaboration! All the material published in the IJTS is Copyrighted. Please note the new Copyright note at the end of every issue.

FAQ Questions

  1. What is Tantra?
  2. What is its word origin and historical background?
  3. What are Tantric practices?
  4. How do they differ from ideal sense in present practices?
  5. What is the ultimate purpose for these practices?
  6. How is it related to Kundalini yoga or Shakti movement?
  7. What are its main concepts?
  8. Why and how is Tantra practice related to sex?
  9. Is Tantra used to gain happiness through sexual activities without loss of energy?
  10. How does the meditation and concentration part interlinked to Tantra?
  11. What are some of its misconceptions?
  12. Why is Tantra not acceptable in family surroundings?
  13. Why Tantra is considered as a taboo almost everywhere?
  14. What can be done to remove misconceptions and emphasize positive aspects?
  15. How is Holi festival linked to Tantra?
  16. How are the older (ancient) practices different from the present ones?
  17. Why does the Tantra practice give the notion of `strip and meditate?'
  18. How are Tantra, Yantra, and Mantra related to each other?
  19. Which actions do we do daily which can be classified as some form of Tantra practices?
  20. What are five `ma-kaar-s' mentioned as the pillars of Tantric practises?
  21. Why are erotic aspects more emphasized in the present day