Close up of head of Kali

Beyond sex and self: what Tantra really is

Lectures & discussions / 24 Apr 2020

Event information

24 Apr 2020


Stevenson Lecture Theatre

British Museum, Great Russell Street,

London, WC1B 3DG


  • £12
  • £10 (Members)
  • £10 (Concessions)

All ages

What is Tantra? A hedonistic guide to sex? A terrifying demonic cult? Or a revolutionary path of spiritual transformation? This panel discussion will explore these questions and more uncovering what Tantra really is.

Chaired by Dr Jessica Frazier, Lecturer in Theology and Religion at Trinity College, Oxford, panellists include celebrated Tantric scholar, Professor Madhu Khanna, and Director of the Kagyu Samye Dzong Tibetan Buddhist Centre, Lama Gelongma Zangmo. 

Guest speakers

Dr Jessica Frazier is Lecturer in Theology and Religion at Trinity College, Oxford. She has degrees in Sanskrit, Religious Studies, and Philosophy of Religion from Oxford and Cambridge and edits the Journal of Hindu Studies. She teaches Hinduism and other religious traditions at Birkbeck College, Oxford University, and other institutions around the UK. She recently published Reality, Religion, and Passion, a comparison of Western and Indian approaches to religious truth.

Madhu Khanna

Madhu Khanna (D. Phil. Oxon.) is a well-known scholar of Indic studies and has written extensively on the art of Tantra. Described by the Sunday Times as 'the respectable public face of modern Tantra', she is Tagore National Fellow at the National Museum, New Delhi. Until recently, she was the Director of the Centre for the Study of Comparative Religions and Civilizations, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi.

She has been Bina and Haridas Choudhury Distinguished Fellow (2013–14) in Asian and Comparative Studies at the California Institute of Integral Studies, San Francisco. She is the founding member and Chairperson of The Tantra Foundation, New Delhi and the Centre for Indic and Agamic Studies in Asia (CIASA), the academic wing of the Tantra Foundation. She has recently been nominated to the academic Council of Nalanda University, India.

Lama Gelongma Zangmo

Lama Gelongma Zangmo is Director of the Kagyu Samye Dzong Tibetan Buddhist Centre in Bermondsey, London. Lama Zangmo first became a practising Buddhist when she arrived at Kagyu Samye Ling in Scotland in 1977, the first Tibetan centre in the West.

After taking refuge with His Holiness the 16th Karmapa, Rangjung Rigpe Dorje she received teachings from many highly respected lamas who visited Kagyu Samye Ling, before entering a four-year closed retreat in 1984, during which time she became ordained as a Buddhist nun. After a total of eleven and a half years in retreat, Lama Zangmo's teachers recommended that she put her experience to good use by helping to run Kagyu Samye Dzong London, which was officially opened in 1998.

Since then the London Centre has flourished under Lama Zangmo's guidance and become established as one of the capital's most vibrant Buddhist centres.