In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content: Glen Alexander Hayes Kiss of the Yogini: By David Gordon White. University of Chicago Press, Kiss of the Yogini is a remarkable and truly impressive feat of scholarship. This work is of major relevance to any cross-cultural understanding of the roles of sexuality in religion, culture, and history.
Kiss of the Yogini is a rich and complex effort, as White calls upon not only numerous Sanskrit texts which he translates himself but also a wide range of ethnographic, artistic, architectural, and sociological materials. He does this in a witty and engaging style, which only enhances his scholarship. Rather, he convincingly shows, these earliest Kaula clan-based Tantrics were more concerned with the propitiation of terrifying and powerful female deities known as Yoginis by the ritual exchange and consumption of sexual fluids.
Further complications resulted from the later reinterpretations of these earlier Kaula Tantric practices, especially by the great Kashmiri Hindu theologian Abhinavagupta in the eleventh century CE. Still, anyone who is interested in a sophisticated modern understanding of the myriad and often transgressive uses of human sexuality throughout history should read it.
It is well worth the effort. White provides wonderful translations of previously unstudied Sanskrit texts, many of which contain graphic passages concerning the ritual uses of sexual fluids in the propitiation of the goddesses and Yoginis. One vivid if complex passage from a late Kaula composition states: Therefore, one should fully worship the Goddess with the nectar of vulva and penis. A man—who worships the Goddess by the drinking of the virile fluid and by taking pleasure in the wife of another man, as well as with the nectar of the vulva and penis—knows no sorrow and becomes possessed of [End Page ] perfect mantras.
In fact, White documents the distinctive medieval Yogini temples, which are hypaethral in structure—open to the sky and containing up to sixty-four powerful sculptures of these beautiful and terrifying goddesses. The Yoginis had a range of characteristics, not least of which being that If you would like to authenticate using a different subscribed institution that supports Shibboleth authentication or have your own login and password to Project MUSE, click 'Authenticate'.
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