This is the first monograph which examines the rare Buddhist and Hindu Tantric goddess, Chinnamasta, her rituals, her names and forms (namarupa) and their symbolism by comparing and contrasting her sadhanas (spiritual practices) in Hinduism and Buddhism. The entire Hindu "Chinnamastatantra" section from the Sakta Pramoda, the Buddhist "Chinnamunda Vajravarahisadhana" and the "Chinnamunda Vajravarahisadhana" and the "Trikayavajrayoginistuti" are translated for the first time into English. Since Chinnamasta is a rare goddess, her texts were not popularized or made "fashionable" according to the dictates of a particular group at a particular time. The earliest extant texts date from the ninth and tenth centuries--a time when Hindu and Buddhist Tantras were developing under common influences in the same places in India. Having such texts about Chinnamasta Chinnamunda from these centuries, one can begin to understand the mutuality of a general Tantric tradition and the exclusivity of a particular Hindu or Buddhist Tantric tradition. Hence the study, not only examines Chinnamasta, but also attempts to understand what is a Tantric tradition.
About the Author:
Elisabeth Benard researched in India under the auspices of the American Institute of Indian Studies and received her doctorate from Columbia University. Presently she is teaching Hinduism, Women in Religion, and Asian Religions at Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas.