As far as I understand, yogini simply refers to a female yogi or a female rishi.

Who are yoginis according to Hindu scriptures?

Devdutt Pattnaik, one of the populist writers on Hinduism, in his book Indian Mythology: Tales, Symbols, and Rituals from the Heart of the Subcontinent mentions this

The yoginis of Hinduism, who are handmaidens of the Goddess and are wild erotic creatures, recall the witches' coven of the Christian mythosphere.

I am pretty sure, it does not refer to wild erotic creatures. Although, I would like to gather more information before I counter this.

Is there any truth in what Mr Pattnaik says?

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    As far as I know a Yogini is a Tapasvini, but Devdutt Pattanaik is perhaps referring to Goddess Kali's associates - Yoginis and Dakinis - out of whom I know that Dakinis are somewhat like "wild erotic creatures" – Surya May 14 '16 at 12:42
  • @Surya So, you are saying, he is confusing Yoginis with Dakinis? – Amit Saxena May 14 '16 at 12:51
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    Probably. It won't be the first time he is doing such a thing. – Surya May 14 '16 at 13:49
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    wendy doniger and her students' credibility has finished. They have applied willfull wrong use of Freudian Psychoanalysis & eroticization & deliberate mistranslation of Indic Scriptures and did gross inaccuracies. So, quoting them (Wendy and her students) is like - quoting Hitler about Jews, for evaluating Jews. I have answered to your another question here: hinduism.stackexchange.com/a/14073/7133 – user7133 Jul 13 '16 at 18:39
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    Pattnaik is gone nuts owing to his association with Doniger. – Vineet Menon Jul 14 '16 at 5:44

To answer briefly,

Devdutt Pattanaik is a student of Wendy Doniger, that makes him a recipient and a promoter of Wendy's School of Eotic Hinduism. Wendy Doniger has written a lot of books on the erotic misrepresentation of Hinduism and its symbols, Devadasis etc, so I wouldnt be surprised if Devdutt Pattaniak doesnt agree with her misrepresentation and blatant racism against Hindu Symbols and Gods and Goddesses.

Secondly Devdutt Pattanaik is an ardent follower of Wendy Doniger even when in her bad days of getting her book removed from the Indian Bookstores. I havent had seen a single criticism of Devdutt for Wendy's works. That makes him a culprit by association.

Thirdly, there is an article on his website on Tantra: http://devdutt.com/articles/indian-mythology/secret-of-tantra.html

I will give you a few excerpts of the article "Around the 6th century AD, when the first Tantras appeared, India was getting impatient with the monastic ideologies of Buddism and Jainism, which a thousand years earlier had emerged as a powerful alternative to hollow Vedic ritualism. But Buddhist detachment and Jain austerity demanded too much discipline. More and more people turned to the solitary sorcerer-sages such as siddhas who for centuries had wandered the countryside displaying the power to channel cosmic forces at will."

So basically he means that Tantra was a vedic response to Buddhism and Jainism and that the Vedic religion was hollow and had only rituals. Tantra was lucrative and easy to do since it lacked the austerities of Buddhist self discipline (another way of saying is that Hindu Brahmins made tantra easy to follow and it was good because it was infused with sex and spirituality.)

"They included blood sacrifice (mamsa), offerings of alcohol (madya) and sexual union (maithuna)A person of any caste could follow the rituals, provided he had been found suitable and initiated by a guru. The sex clearly broke all rules of civilized conduct – the sexual partner could not be one’s wife, a member of the lower castes was preferred. Some scriptures even recommended incest. And there were a few that even suggested use of a dead body. Sex did not take place in the house. It took place either in a shrine or the crematorium, often under the supervision of the guru, after various rites of purification, consumption of hallucinogenic agents and invocation of fearsome deities visualized as violent and sexual beings."

So tantra broke all rules and regulations, all austerities needed to live a Dharmic life, there was no caste barrier, incest was permitted, sex with other women and low caste women was permitted, they could consume all kinds of intoxicants and the best part is that they would be legitimized by a Guru. The next part is a masterstroke:

"Tantra is full of powerful and autonomous and fearsome goddesses such as the Mahvidyas and Yoginis who are quite unlike their docile counterparts in mainstream religions. However, the texts and rituals are always prescribed for men, not women. The sadhaka and the siddha are always men. The woman who is part of the ritual is merely an instrument, an extremely critical instrument, to achieve the goal. Like semen, menstrual blood, was believed to have magical powers. However, unlike semen, menstrual blood was not under voluntary control, making women inferior beings. The sadhaka used copulation to use the power of the menstrual blood to help him ‘reverse’ the flow of his semen"

So basically he says that the Yoginis were powerful and wild creatures but they were just objects of sexual gratification for the men who i think he has presumed to be docile creatures when compared to their female counterparts.

This following statement is another Gem of Devdutt's Vocabulary:

"Tantra seems to force every individual to acknowledge the reality of Nature that culture tries to suppress, repress, deny and reject through legal, ethical and moral systems. It forces us to confront the dark secrets we shove into our subconscious: that life is impersonal, life feeds on life, that society bridles natural impulses of sex and violence for the sake of order. Beneath the values, standards, prejudices and judgements, there is the world of infinite possibilities, and probabilities, a magical world – sexual or otherwise – that is accessible to anyone provided one is willing to risk the security and the comfort of the given."

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    If you are not familiar with Rajiv Malhotra, he has written an excellent book in response to Doniger and her children. It is called "Invading the Sacred" and is a free download here - rajivmalhotra.com/books – Swami Vishwananda Jul 15 '16 at 6:08

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