Kamakhya, Dakinis, and the Adivasi?

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LionelChen
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Kamakhya, Dakinis, and the Adivasi?

Postby LionelChen » Thu May 09, 2013 6:28 pm

"There are so many dakinis and various kinds of demons and devils that even a person who has fully mastered the Tantras can hardly stay there."

So apparently wrote a Tibetan Tantric Buddhist around the 16th or17th century regarding a region of present-day Assam of critical importance to the Indian goddess Kamakhya. The rather cryptic phrase delivered by a guest lecturer some time back piqued my curiousity and I went off in search of just why that would be the case.....

...and landed me smack dab in the great "Where did Tantric Buddhism originate from?" debate that cycles through academic circles every so often. I've been consuming large amounts of data on the topic and in the process of trying to make sense of it all.

Would love to hear what anyone else has to say on the following matters:

1.) The Geographic Origins of Tantra?

I've always seen conflicting attempts to place the origins of Tantra (from a Hindu or Buddhist approach) out of either the Northwest near Swat/Pakistan, the South, or Bengal/Orissa.

Bengal/Orissa seems like a very strong contender at least from my understanding of things, due to the development of similar practices amongst all the non-Buddhist and heck non/attenuated versions of Brahmanism that seemed to dominate the area.

Was wondering if anyone might be able to offer up a little clarification - as to why all 3 regions would be good (or bad) candidates.

2.) Dakini Witches and the Adivasi


More of an ethnographic question, but while rooting around the religious culture of Bangladesh/Assam/et al., I've often seen the use of the word "dakini" in the context of what I guess correlates to some degree with the Western word "witch."

Many of the stories and legends I've read report social actions that pretty much fit the portrayal of dakinis as hanging around cremation grounds, ready to devour unwary travelers or bring them to enlightenment (or both). That or in the forests having a feast (like some of the Tantric literature portrays although I was always under the impression that the Tantric Buddhism was more an Urban movement).

I guess my question is has there ever been any attempt to connect/discover the ethnic identity of those who labeled as dakini in that pejorative sense?
I asked that of an Indian friend of mine who responded, “Meh.. its just the Adivasi.” Which doesn’t help much given that word denotes more of a category than a group.
Is it just a label that gets slapped on all the Dravidian groups still practicing their non-Brahmanical religious traditions at the time?
Is it all the ethnic groups who share the linguistic stem from the Munda language?

Is it the Dombi? (But then again, just who are the Dombi exactly? I’ve seen 3 different groups with no apparent ethnic ties labeled as such)


3.)And my final question – less an academic question (although I guess it could count as “field research”)

Has anyone actually visited that part of India (or Bangladesh) before? (I’m always on the other side of the country it seems).

Any further insights from your trip?

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Konchog1
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Re: Kamakhya, Dakinis, and the Adivasi?

Postby Konchog1 » Thu May 09, 2013 9:43 pm

I find Dakinis very interesting. There are both enlightened and mundane Dakinis and both tend to be cruel, sexual, and very powerful. The only difference is that enlightened Dakinis have your best interest at heart, although they tend to be caustic about it (Luipa). People like Khambala ran afoul of mundane Dakinis. Also, when the founder of the Shangpa Kagyu (I forget his name at the moment) first met Niguma, she didn't act like he expected and so he had a terrifying moment where he thought she was mundane and expected her to eat him.

Are enlightened Dakinis simply Dakinis who attained Enlightenment or something more? If it's the former, why are they so important?

Excellent post Lionel, I will be watching this thread.
Equanimity is the ground. Love is the moisture. Compassion is the seed. Bodhicitta is the result.

-Paraphrase of Khensur Rinpoche Lobsang Tsephel citing the Guhyasamaja Tantra

"All memories and thoughts are the union of emptiness and knowing, the Mind.
Without attachment, self-liberating, like a snake in a knot.
Through the qualities of meditating in that way,
Mental obscurations are purified and the dharmakaya is attained."

-Ra Lotsawa, All-pervading Melodious Drumbeats

Arnoud
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Re: Kamakhya, Dakinis, and the Adivasi?

Postby Arnoud » Thu May 09, 2013 10:35 pm

I have been to Kamakhya. It is a crazy power spot. I also saw a group of witches there walking in the streets. They acted very differently from normal Indian women. If you ever have the chance, visit. Beware for the animal sacrifices though. Not for the faint of heart and they run counter to Buddhist principles.

LionelChen
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Re: Kamakhya, Dakinis, and the Adivasi?

Postby LionelChen » Fri May 10, 2013 2:06 am


LionelChen
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Re: Kamakhya, Dakinis, and the Adivasi?

Postby LionelChen » Fri May 10, 2013 2:08 am


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Karma Dorje
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Re: Kamakhya, Dakinis, and the Adivasi?

Postby Karma Dorje » Fri May 10, 2013 2:21 am

"Although my view is higher than the sky, My respect for the cause and effect of actions is as fine as grains of flour."
-Padmasambhava

LionelChen
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Re: Kamakhya, Dakinis, and the Adivasi?

Postby LionelChen » Fri May 10, 2013 5:58 am


Arnoud
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Re: Kamakhya, Dakinis, and the Adivasi?

Postby Arnoud » Fri May 10, 2013 8:09 am


LionelChen
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Re: Kamakhya, Dakinis, and the Adivasi?

Postby LionelChen » Fri May 10, 2013 6:35 pm


Arnoud
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Re: Kamakhya, Dakinis, and the Adivasi?

Postby Arnoud » Fri May 10, 2013 6:41 pm

True that.

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Adamantine
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Re: Kamakhya, Dakinis, and the Adivasi?

Postby Adamantine » Fri May 10, 2013 7:30 pm

It sounds like a wild place. I am sure it would be just as charged, maybe more so, with out all the sacrifices. Those should have been outlawed by now in India.
Contentment is the ultimate wealth;
Detachment is the final happiness. ~Sri Saraha

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conebeckham
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Re: Kamakhya, Dakinis, and the Adivasi?

Postby conebeckham » Fri May 10, 2013 7:58 pm

They probably are outlawed.

But, you know....it's India.

:smile:


"Absolute Truth is not an object of analytical discourse or great discriminating wisdom,
It is realized through the blessing grace of the Guru and fortunate Karmic potential.
Like this, mistaken ideas of discriminating wisdom are clarified."
- (Kyabje Bokar Rinpoche, from his summary of "The Ocean of Definitive Meaning")

LionelChen
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Re: Kamakhya, Dakinis, and the Adivasi?

Postby LionelChen » Fri May 10, 2013 8:49 pm


LionelChen
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Re: Kamakhya, Dakinis, and the Adivasi?

Postby LionelChen » Fri May 10, 2013 9:05 pm

Sadly it seems my secondary questions are dead in the water though.

In terms of the Dakini/Witch/Tribal People connection - I've found a few sources insisting that the folks Clarence and others have seen over at Kamakhya are in fact some group related to the Munda language users.

--> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Munda_languages

I think the connection was based on some interpretation regarding the meaning of "dakin."

And Yet.... I find another set of people pointing at the Dombari...or the Domba...or the Dom. However you wish to call them.

---> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Domba

The argument from that end points to the preference Indian Tantrics expressed in having a Domba consort.

The literature seems to tie them to either Orissa or Swat.

Then there's Namkhai Norbu's statements about Tantra coming from Sri Lanka....... which places the "dakini" title in the hands of the Sri Lankans/Tamil nadu folk.

All very very confusing :(

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Adamantine
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Re: Kamakhya, Dakinis, and the Adivasi?

Postby Adamantine » Fri May 10, 2013 10:22 pm

Contentment is the ultimate wealth;
Detachment is the final happiness. ~Sri Saraha

LionelChen
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Re: Kamakhya, Dakinis, and the Adivasi?

Postby LionelChen » Fri May 10, 2013 11:04 pm


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Adamantine
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Re: Kamakhya, Dakinis, and the Adivasi?

Postby Adamantine » Sat May 11, 2013 2:51 am

Contentment is the ultimate wealth;
Detachment is the final happiness. ~Sri Saraha

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Karma Dorje
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Re: Kamakhya, Dakinis, and the Adivasi?

Postby Karma Dorje » Sat May 11, 2013 3:23 am

"Although my view is higher than the sky, My respect for the cause and effect of actions is as fine as grains of flour."
-Padmasambhava

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Konchog1
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Re: Kamakhya, Dakinis, and the Adivasi?

Postby Konchog1 » Sat May 11, 2013 4:38 am

Equanimity is the ground. Love is the moisture. Compassion is the seed. Bodhicitta is the result.

-Paraphrase of Khensur Rinpoche Lobsang Tsephel citing the Guhyasamaja Tantra

"All memories and thoughts are the union of emptiness and knowing, the Mind.
Without attachment, self-liberating, like a snake in a knot.
Through the qualities of meditating in that way,
Mental obscurations are purified and the dharmakaya is attained."

-Ra Lotsawa, All-pervading Melodious Drumbeats

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Adamantine
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Re: Kamakhya, Dakinis, and the Adivasi?

Postby Adamantine » Sat May 11, 2013 10:35 am

Contentment is the ultimate wealth;
Detachment is the final happiness. ~Sri Saraha


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