Visnuism is one of the chief religions of the Hindus and the Pancaratra is the oldest surviving Visnuite sect. The influence of its tenets on later Visnuism has undoubtedly been great but has never been thoroughly explored. Despite change and corruption the ritual worship described in the old Pancaratra texts is still performed today in many of the famous temples in southern India and in some in the north. A deeper insight into the historical development of the Visnuite sects, into their ritual, occultism and building of temples and images can only be obtained from the scientific study of these ancient Pancaratra texts which formulate the relevant basic concepts. The theological and ritualistic aspects of the Pancaratra system have attracted scholars for some time past and a number of texts have been edited. Some of these publications are of a high standard and include illuminating introductions. The reason why the author has chosen to translate the text of the Laksmi Tantra is that its philosophical pronouncements incorporate many of the sectís earlier traditions. A second reason is because of its occultism, which throws light on an aspect of the Pancaratra system that is not dealt with in any other known text. However, keeping the size of this book she has refrained from discussing the interesting topic of ritualistic esoterism. Among the vast number of Pancaratra Agamic texts, the Laksmi Tantra stands out because it deals almost exclusively with Laksmi. The divine creative impulse, intelligence, potency, potentiality, power, majesty and speech. The focus of the text is on Pancaratra philosophy (including cosmogony) and the practice of yoga based on it, with its attendant Mantra Sastra. By dealing with the role of Sakti in the creation and maintenance of the world, totally rely on God`s mercy and benevolence, the Laksmi Tantra succeeds in overcoming sectarian boundaries.
Dr. Sanjukta Gupta is an authority on the early Pancaratra (Vaisnava) cult and sectarian system. She taught for almost twenty years at the University of Utrecht (Netherlands) and is now teaching in the Faculty of Oriental Studies, University of Oxford.