chapter  4
22 Pages

Divine madness: Tantric ascetics on the cremation ground in Tarapith, Birbhum District, West Bengal


In the early 1980s I was initiated into Tantra by a guru in Calcutta, where I was making a study of Kalighat Temple, and I also worked for short periods in 1981 and 1985 among Tantric ascetics living on the cremation ground at Tarapith, a village in the Birbhum District of West Bengal. A Tantric ascetic is by defi nition expected to be mad and is often known as the ‘Mad One’ (Khepa-Ba-ba-) or the ‘Naked One’ (Lengta-Ba-ba-).1