Tantra Illuminated by Christopher D. Wallis – Book Review

This book is a Godsend to all those thirsty souls who would like to understand the roots of Tantra and move in a direction aligned with authentic Tantra.

Christopher Wallis is a scholar using rigorous disciplined research and he has also learned Sanskrit in order to be able to study his subject material from the source. However, he is also a Tantric adept, who has spent years immersed in the nectar of Tantra practice. This rare combination makes his book shine as a jewel among the many scholarly books on Tantra.

The author has taken great pains to make this book accessible not only to academics but to anyone who has a passion for Tantra. He reveals Tantra, not only as a historical approach to life but also as a timeless path of self-development and inner mastery.

The reader is blessed to read the words of the Masters, such as Abhinanda Gupta, or Ksemaraja and a multitude of historical anecdotes regarding their life and times. What has become obscure in regards to Tantra by the differences of past cultural approaches to life, the author patiently explains in a way contemporary people can understand.

Christopher is a man of rare insight and it is wonderful that as a result of this he has included methods of Tantra meditation and ritual woven throughout the book.

I have to confess though, that I was disappointed to see no mention of Osho, who has done such a great service to humanity by bringing Tantra methodology and understanding to our contemporary world. I cannot imagine he has never heard of Osho, and so the omission glares large in the pages of his book. Perhaps he has neglected to mention Osho because he has been immersed in the Muktananda lineage through Gurumayi, and this may influence his ideas regarding Osho.

Many scholars of Tantra history throw all contemporary practitioners of Tantra into a bucket labelled ‘Neo-Tantra’ and speak about it as if it was all rubbish. Christopher is much more careful and compassionate in how he speaks about contemporary practitioners of Tantra, and yet he makes his position clear through his delicate phrasing on this hot topic.
“By making a distinction between something like ‘original’ or ‘classical Indian Tantra and what we may call ‘modern Western Neo-Tantra’, I do not intend to suggest that the latter is useless or illegitimate. It may be very helpful for some people in improving their quality of life. What I would like to challenge is the historical claim some of these teachers make that what they teach is linked in some way or in any way to the Indian tradition and the contents of these mostly unpublished Sanskrit texts”

Overall, Christopher’s book truly is illuminated and so while disagreeing with his conclusion on contemporary teachers, I am in the same time in deepest appreciation of the efforts he has made. Through his years of study and authorship, which will certainly benefit millions of seekers now and in the future, he has created a masterpiece, allowing us to breathe the rarefied air of Tantra as a lifestyle offering enlightened consciousness in everyday life.

A quote from a Tantra scripture in his book says it all;
“The single fusion of thousands of powers that can be seen in different ways is called Siva, supremely free, the upsurge of one’s own heart”.
(Mahartha –manjari scripture by Mahesvarananda)

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