Siva Tantra Rediscovered: Transforming the Etic Routes and Emic Roots of Indian Spirituality

Justin M. Hewitson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Śiva Tantra’s legacy of secrecy and inter-traditional assimilation has left its common spiritual origin almost indiscernible. Its roots continue to spread across “sectarian boundaries” and “spiritual” spaces (Gray in Tantric Traditions in Transmission and Translation. Oxford University Press, New York, NY, p. 1, 2016). This essay first introduces a comparative survey of Tantra’s contested historical origins and transformations. This broad appraisal of Tantra’s etic routes and emic roots reveals a picture of Śiva’s hybrid presence in India’s spiritual life. The second section examines the Aryan migration/invasion theory, Vedic religious developments, and the linguistic transformations which inform Sarkar’s account of Śiva as Tantra’s first Sadguru to teach the universal science of spiritual sādhanā “meditation” in 5500 BCE. The concluding section discusses Sarkar’s position, in light of Tantra’s roots, that the tradition is “neither a religion nor an ism” but a “fundamental spiritual science” (Ánandamúrti in Discourses on Tantra: Volume 2. Ananda Marga, Calcutta, p. 22, 1994).

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRoots, Routes and a New Awakening
Subtitle of host publicationbeyond One and Many and Alternative Planetary Futures
PublisherSpringer Singapore
Number of pages22
ISBN (Electronic)9789811571220
ISBN (Print)9789811571213
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2021


  • Buddhism
  • Emic
  • Etic
  • Hinduism
  • Indology
  • Meditation
  • Oral traditions
  • P.R. Sarkar
  • Tantra
  • Vedic
  • Śiva/Shiva Tantra


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