Vol. 11 (2022)
Studi e Saggi

Tantric Ritual and Conflict in Tibetan Buddhist Society. The Cult of Yamāntaka

Aleksandra Wenta
Università degli Studi di Firenze
Published December 23, 2022
Keywords
  • Buddhist warfare,
  • Ritual violence,
  • Tantric ritual,
  • Yamāntaka

Abstract

The article examines the employment of tantric ritual as a tool of conflict resolution in Tibetan Buddhist society. In particular, the analysis focuses on the cult of the tantric Buddhist deity Yamāntaka, who is often invoked in tantric ritual to resolve communal crisis or defend society against the enemies of Buddhism. Yamāntaka, whose cult in medieval times stretched from India, through the Tibetan plateau, to Mongolia, China, and Japan, is a prime example of a tantric “war-god” who has been adopted throughout the Buddhist world in the context of ritualized violence. The adoption of violent tantric ritual created fissures, especially in Tibetan Buddhist society, that led to various legal and ideological conflicts aimed at restricting its practice.

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