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Religion and Sexuality - Lecture 4

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Religion & Culture
Brent Hagerman

RE374 – Lecture 4  Recap o Michel Foucault -  repressive hypothesis : idea that sex was okay then during Victorian period, it became repressed  not necessarily repressed, people changed the style of discourse  sex should only be heterosexual, controlled, productive  state wants to know about sexual habits of its population  confession - people talk about sex, regular thing to talk about sex, discourse became more private  how he thought of power - power controls sex, power has its own intentions, different results  people who had power had intention, but it didn't have the intended result o prisons - creates more criminals, rather than stopping it  power can produce sexuality/sexualities, no one set out to do it, power's own intention  Sex, Secrecy, Politics & power in the study of Religion o colonialists and western religious studies scholars used the (so called) sexual immorality of Indians to bolster own superiority and colonial rule o Tantra  What is Tantra o Popular Culture:  bunch of sexual practices related to Hinduism  sacred or spirituality  heterosexual sex practices, makes sex life better  some "secret" to better sex, esoteric practice o Scholars:  immoral practice coming out of India o Tantra  hard to define/talk about  style of religious practice common to Hindu, Buddhist, Jain traditions based on medieval texts known as "Tantras"  associated with yogic practices of intense personal quest via unorthodox methods of meditation that culminate in moksha (freedom from rebirth)  Hindus believe in reincarnation, Buddhists believe the same until you reach enlightenment, escape Samsara (cycle of rebirth) o goal is to not be reborn  unorthodox - shortcut to escape Samsara  frowned upon by the authority, secretive, passed down from gurus  requires student to transcend traditional boundaries of purity/pollution  breaking taboos o "5 M's"  meat, fish ,aphrodisiacs, alcohol, sexual intercourse  Left Hand vs. Right Hand  Left Hand - actually break taboos  Right Hand - visualization, ritual action 1 RE374 – Lecture 4  people tend to regard anything related to sex to be associated with Tantra in India  Vedism o Tantra- Sanskrit for "to extend", means all non-Vedic rituals o Vedas - original scriptures passed on from Hinduism  oldest Sanskrit (pre-Hindu) texts written by Indo-European Aryans  Aryans - Sanskrit for upper cast member in Vedic period o migrated to Indian subcontinent, brought Vedas with them o Hinduism continues the Vedic tradition where Buddhism and Jainism are reactions against Vedic teachings o Veda era - golden era of Hinduism o Kali Yuga - dark age of Hinduism, current age  Tantra part of dark age  The Point o Tantra constructed in Vedic era, the "age of darkness" (Kali Yuga) over and against the golden age of Hinduism o Tantra equated to modern life in the Kali Yuga, Humanity has fallen (Eliade paraphrase)  The Oriental "Other" o Orientalism - a way for the west to categorize the East  overgeneralization of the orient  a power differential, showing the primitive aspect of the East, must help the "others" through colonization  serves as political propaganda to divide cultures, to show the superiority of the West o Orient constructed by west as:  timeless, sensual, erotic, exotic, fantasy, mysterious, magical o West focused on the differences  way world is viewed now is very much so influenced by European views o way to classify strangers o Edward Said - orientalists used tropes in writing to write about Eastern "others" o represented Europe's most recurring and deepest images of the "other" o Sexualized Orient:  imagined as exotic playground of exotic pleasures  exotic world for forbidden sexuality and "dark" sensibility  projecting their fears onto the "others", western perspective  Imaginary Binaries o Tantra constructed by scholars as de-evolution of Vedic Tradition  Vedic tradition more pure, Tantra more sexualized  difference between body and spirit o constructed by scholars as immoral  fascination with sex made it immoral o projection of Victorian morality on India and Indian religion  supposedly writing Indian religion, but gives better explanation about Victorian morality at the time  Self/ Other 2 RE374 – Lecture 4 o Self - civilized, rational, normal o Other - in need of civilizing, irrational, abnormal, exotic o use idea of Self to explain misogyny in men's writing  Women - passive, weaker, sensitive, emotional, sexually promiscuous  Men - stronger, intelligent, sexually restrained, loyal, reserved o dividing the world into two separate categories  Scholars inventing West/ East o the idea of the East was invented by Scholars using the tropes of the East o construct the "other" as the opposite to the West  Western binaries projected on Indian History o Aryans  wrote Vedas (Golden Age of Hinduism)  projected many good things on them  basis of European and classical Indian culture  masculine, aggressive, intellectual  linked to European history, seen as extension of "self" o Dravidians  responsible for Tantras  polluted the Aryans  weak, passive, feminine, goddess worship  Constructing Tantra o most extreme, irrational embodiment of the worst tendencies in the Indian mind o studied through Victorian sensibilities o fascination with Tantra was extension of fascination of deviance, sexuality and sex o Tantra becomes a thing because of scholars o constructed in opposition to European morality o become thought of as a thing in and of itself  sexuality became a thing
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