Cookies Policy
X

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

I accept this policy

Find out more here

Elitism and Esotericism: Strategies of Secrecy and Power in South Indian Tantra and French Freemasonry

No metrics data to plot.
The attempt to load metrics for this article has failed.
The attempt to plot a graph for these metrics has failed.
The full text of this article is not currently available.

Brill’s MyBook program is exclusively available on BrillOnline Books and Journals. Students and scholars affiliated with an institution that has purchased a Brill E-Book on the BrillOnline platform automatically have access to the MyBook option for the title(s) acquired by the Library. Brill MyBook is a print-on-demand paperback copy which is sold at a favorably uniform low price.

Access this article

+ Tax (if applicable)
Add to Favorites
You must be logged in to use this functionality

image of Numen

Despite the proliferation of interest in the subjects of secrecy and esotericism throughout popular culture, media and entertainment, these phenomena have only recently begun to be treated seriously by historians of religions. In this essay, I suggest a new way of looking at esotericism by engaging in a comparative, cross-cultural analysis, and by looking in particular at its social and political implications. Specifically, I compare two traditions — the Srīvidyā school of Indian Tantra, and the Rectified Scottish Rite of French Freemasonry — juxtaposing and analogically relating them in order to shed new light on both. Contrary to many popular conceptions, I argue that esotericism is by no means primarily a “counter-cultural” or “subversive” phenomenon; rather, it is very often an elitist phenomenon, the province of highly educated, affluent and powerful intellectuals, who wish, not to undermine existing social structures, but rather subtly to reinforce them, or else to bend and reshape them according to their own interests. This essay examines three primary strategies employed by the Tantrics and Masons: 1) the creation of a new social space or private sphere, which promises “equality” and liberation for all classes, while at the same time constructing new and more rigid hierarchies; 2) a hermeneutical strategy, which appropriates the authority of traditional scriptures, while at the same time asserting the superiority of esoteric exegesis; 3) a ritual strategy, which creates a homology between the body of the initiate, the hierarchy of the cosmos and the hierarchy of the esoteric sect, inscribing the individual into the body of the order, and inscribing the order onto the human body.

Affiliations: 1: Chicago Theological Seminary Davis Hall1164E. 58th StreetChicago, IL 60637, USA

Loading

Full text loading...

/content/journals/10.1163/1568527972629894
Loading

Data & Media loading...

http://brill.metastore.ingenta.com/content/journals/10.1163/1568527972629894
Loading

Article metrics loading...

/content/journals/10.1163/1568527972629894
1997-01-01
2016-12-04

Sign-in

Can't access your account?
  • Tools

  • Add to Favorites
  • Printable version
  • Email this page
  • Subscribe to ToC alert
  • Get permissions
  • Recommend to your library

    You must fill out fields marked with: *

    Librarian details
    Your details
    Why are you recommending this title?
    Select reason:
     
    Numen — Recommend this title to your library
  • Export citations
  • Key

  • Full access
  • Open Access
  • Partial/No accessInformation