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Negative EcstasiesGeorges Bataille and the Study of Religion$
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Jeremy Biles and Kent Brintnall

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780823265190

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823265190.001.0001

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Desire, Blood, and Power

Desire, Blood, and Power

Georges Bataille and the Study of Hindu Tantra in Northeastern India

Chapter:
(p.68) Desire, Blood, and Power
Source:
Negative Ecstasies
Author(s):

Hugh B. Urban

Publisher:
Fordham University Press
DOI:10.5422/fordham/9780823265190.003.0005

This chapter examines Hindu Tantra and goddess worship in northeastern India, by using but also critically rethinking several of Bataille’s insights into eroticism, sacrifice, and transgression. Specifically, the chapter examines the worship of the goddess Kamakhya and her temple in Assam, which is revered as one of the oldest “power centers” or seats of the goddess in South Asia and as the locus of the goddess’s sexual organ. In many ways, Bataille’s work is extremely useful for understanding the logic of transgression and the use of impurity in this tradition. At the same time, however, this example also highlights some tensions in Bataille’s work, particularly the question of female sexuality and women’s agency. In the case of Assamese Tantra, female sexuality plays a central and integral role in the larger phenomena of transgression, expenditure, and ecstatic religious experience. As such, it can be fruitfully put into dialogue with Bataille’s work for a critical “theory of religion” today.

Keywords:   Sacrifice, Transgression, Eroticism, Sexuality, Gender, Women, Tantra

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