The Tāntrikābhidhānakośa Project: A Hindu Tantric Dictionary

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The project

The aim of this project is to produce a Sanskrit dictionary of Hindu tantric terms which are not found in ordinary Sanskrit dictionaries or whose definition is not given according to their use in the Hindu tantric literature. Definitions of Sanskrit terms are given in three languages, in English, French, and German, while more detailed analyses of meaning and usage are written in one of these languages depending on the choice of the author.

The project was started by H. Brunner († 2005), G. Oberhammer and A. Padoux in 1993 and is principally coordinated by the Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften (Vienna), with some additional support from the Collège de France (Paris). Major participants usually meet once a year in order to discuss details of redaction and to decide on the final wording of entries. However, a large amount of work is communicated and revised through email or traditional mail throughout the year.

The first volume (a-au) of the dictionary was published in 2000, the second (k-ḍ) in 2004, the third (t-ph) in 2013. Two further volumes are planned. It has also been considered that a revised electronic version should perhaps be made after the publication of the last volume.

The introduction to the first volume briefly discusses the definition of what can be considered tantric and attempts to delimit the scope of the dictionary. The corpus considered includes only Hindu tantras composed in Sanskrit, mostly from before the 15th century, although this upper limit is being revised. The majority of the texts included have been or are being edited, but manuscripts are also referred to. Proper names of deities and names of mantras have been excluded, as they are too numerous and specific to certain schools. Alchemical, botanical and architectural terms have not been incorporated either, for even if they may occur in texts which can be categorised as tantric, they would require a separate dictionary.

Sanskrit words are given in transliteration with an indication as to whether they belong to the Śaiva or Vaiṣṇava corpus or both, followed by a short definition and a more detailed discussion on meaning and usage. References to the primary sources and the secondary literature are complemented with short citations if necessary, which are translated into the language of the article concerned.

Participants according to their field of research

On the Śaiva Siddhānta

  • Hélène Brunner† (CNRS, Cortaillod, Switzerland)
  • Dominic Goodall (École française d'Extrême-Orient, Paris)

On Bhairava tantras and tantras teaching (śaiva) goddess worship

  • Teun Goudriaan (Utrecht, until 2001)
  • Shaman Hatley (Department of Religion, Concordia University, Montreal)
  • Csaba Kiss (Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest)
  • André Padoux (CNRS, Paris)
  • Raffaele Torella (Dipartimento di Studi Orientali, Università degli Studi di Roma "La Sapienza")
  • Judit Törzsök (Université Charles-de-Gaulle - Lille 3)
  • Somadeva Vasudeva (Department of Indological Studies, Kyoto University)

On Śaiva philosophical literature

  • Isabelle Ratié (Institut für Kultur- und Geistesgeschichte Asiens, Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften, Vienna)

On Vaiṣṇava terminology

  • Gérard Colas (CNRS, Paris, until 2002)
  • Marzenna Czerniak-Drożdżowicz (Institute of Oriental Philology, Jagiellonian University, Cracow)
  • Gavin Flood (University of Wales, until 2001)
  • Gerhard Oberhammer (Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften, Vienna)
  • Sylvia Raghunathan-Stark (until 1996)
  • Marion Rastelli (Institut für Kultur- und Geistesgeschichte Asiens, Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften, Vienna)

On Nātha texts and Yoga Upaniṣads

  • Christian Bouy † (Institut de civilisation indienne, Collège de France, Paris)

On a range of tantric topics

  • Diwakar Acharya (Faculty of Letters, Kyoto University)
  • Harunaga Isaacson (Asien-Afrika-Institut, Universität Hamburg)

Request for cooperation

As the list of participants shows, our team is quite international — or at least inter-European — for such a project requires the cooperation of people with various kinds of Sanskrit background and fields of research. Therefore, we would like to express our hope that anyone who reads these pages and has comments or suggestions either concerning the volume already published or the words we plan to include shall contact us through Marion Rastelli. We would particularly appreciate the following types of comments:

  • Corrections or additions to the published volume, with textual references.
  • Suggestions on what and why we should (or should not) include in the subsequent volumes.
  • Suggestions about the corpus involved, what texts we should consider.
  • Proposals will carefully be considered with a view to include them with the author's name in the next volume. Final decisions concerning these articles shall be made at the annual meeting, as is the rule for all articles.

For a detailed discussion on what we believe this dictionary should include, see the brief statement above, or better, the introduction to the first volume. See also our List of Terms and our Sample Page. For all comments or suggested articles, please include Sanskrit textual references indicating the edition, page and possibly line number (and in case of manuscript sources, in addition to location and cataloguing data, full citations of sentences with folio and line numbers as well as an indication of the script used and the age of the ms) supporting your suggestions.

Published volumes

  • Héléne Brunner, Gerhard Oberhammer, André Padoux, ed., 2000
    Tantrikabhidhanakosa I: Dictionaire des termes techniques de la litterature hindoue tantrique - A Dictionary of Technical Terms from Hindu Tantric Literature - Wörterbuch zur Terminologie hinduistischer Tantren. (BKGA 35.) Wien: VÖAW, 2000 (order online).
  • Brunner 2000.jpg
  • Héléne Brunner, Gerhard Oberhammer, André Padoux, ed., 2004
    Tantrikabhidhanakosa II: Dictionnaire des termes techniques de la litterature hindoue tantrique. A Dictionary of Technical Terms from Hindu Tantric Literature. Wörterbuch zur Terminologie hinduistischer Tantren. (BKGA 44.) Wien: VÖAW, 2004 (order online).
  • Brunner 2004.jpg
  • Marion Rastelli, Dominic Goodall, ed., 2013
    Tantrikabhidhanakosa III, T–Ph: Dictionnaire des termes techniques de la litterature hindoue tantrique. A Dictionary of Technical Terms from Hindu Tantric Literature. Wörterbuch zur Terminologie hinduistischer Tantren. (BKGA 76.) Wien: VÖAW, 2013 (order online).
  • Bkga 76.jpg

Further documentation

Internal pages:

Languages: EN

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