roots of Tantra Yoga go back to ancient fertility cults of India. The
history of TantraYoga, like the Kundalini school, is linked with the worship
of Shakti, the primordial female energy. The objective of Tantra Yoga
is to merge with the Ultimate by the arousal and channeling of sexual
The Tantra school equates spiritual awakening with the awakening and rising
of the kundalini power. According to Tantra, the kundalini is present
in everything, even in the smallest of particles, in the form of cosmic
energy. Only a fraction of it is operative, while an unmeasured residue
is left 'coiled up' and untapped at the 'base root'.
Tantra Yoga had been one of the potent powers for the spiritual regeneration
of the Hindus. When practised by the ignorant, unenlightened, and unqualified
persons, it has led to certain abuses; and there is no denying that some
degraded forms of Saktism have sought nothing but magic, immorality, and
occult powers. An example of the perverted expression of the truth, a
travesty of the original practices, is the theory of the five Makaras
or wine, Mamsa or flesh, Matsya or fish, Mudra or symbolical acts, and
Maithuna or coition.
The Tantras are not books of witchcraft, magic spells or mysterious formulae.
They are wonderful scriptures. All persons without the distinctions of
caste, creed, or colour may draw inspiration from them and attain spiritual
strength, wisdom, and eternal bliss. Mahanirvana and Kularnava Tantras
are the important books in Tantra Sastra. Yoga Kundalini Upanishad of
Krishna Yajurveda, Jabala Darsana, Trisikha Brahmana, and Varaha Upanishad
are useful for getting knowledge of Kundalini Shakti and the methods to
awaken it and take it to Sahasrara Chakra at the crown of the head.
The Tantra is, in some of its aspects, a secret doctrine. It is a Gupta
Vidya. You cannot learn it from the study of books. You will have to get
the knowledge and practice from the practical Tantrikas, the Tantric Acharyas
and Gurus who hold the key to it. The Tantric student must be endowed
with purity, faith, devotion and dedication, dispassion, humility, courage,
cosmic love, truthfulness, non-covetousness, and contentment to the Guru.
Absence of these qualities in the practitioner means a gross abuse of
Tantra Yoga lays special emphasis on the development of the powers latent
in the six Chakras, from Muladhara to Ajna. Kundalini Yoga actually belongs
to Tantric Sadhana, which gives a detailed description about this serpent-power
and the Chakras (plexus). Entire Tantric Sadhana aims at awakening Kundalini,
and making her unite with Lord Sadasiva, in the Sahasrara Chakra. Methods
adopted to achieve this end in Tantric Sadhana are Japa of the Name of
the Mother, prayer, and various other rituals.
Guru and Diksha (Initiation)
Yoga should be learnt from a Guru (spiritual preceptor). And this is true
all the more in the case of Tantra Yoga. It is the Guru who will recognise
the class to which the aspirant belongs and prescribe suitable Sadhana.
The Guru is none other than the Supreme Divine Mother Her self, descended
into the world in order to elevate the aspirant. As one lamp is lit at
the flame of another, so the divine Shakti consisting of Mantra is communicated
from Guru to the disciple. The disciple fasts, observes Brahmacharya,
and gets the Mantra from the Guru.
Initiation tears the veil of mystery and enables the disciple to grasp
the hidden truth behind scriptures' texts. These are generally veiled
in mystic language. You cannot understand them by self-study. Self-study
will only lead you to greater ignorance. The Guru only will give you,
by Diksha (initiation), the right perspective in which one needs to study
the scriptures and practise Yoga.
Qualifications of a Disciple
The qualifications of the disciple are purity, faith, devotion, dispassion,
truthfulness, and control of the senses. He should be intelligent and
a believer in the Vedas. He must abstain from injury to all beings. He
must be vigilant, diligent, patient, and persevering. He must be ever
do good to all. All Sadhana should be done under the personal direction
of a Guru or spiritual teacher.
Bhuta Suddhi is an important Tantric rite. It means purification of the
five elements of which the body is composed. The Sadhaka (aspirant) dissolves
the sinful body and makes a new divine body. He infuses into the body
the life of the Devi.
Nyasa is a very important and powerful Tantric rite. It is placing of
the tips of the fingers of the right hand on various parts of the body,
accompanied by Mantra.
In Kavacha the one Brahman is invoked by different names in order to protect
different parts of the body. For example, Parabrahman is thought of as
in the Sahasrara Padma in the head. The Supreme Lord is meditated upon
in the heart. Protector of the world, Vishnu is invoked to protect the
throat, so that the aspirant may utter the Mantras of his Ishta Devata.
Mudra is ritual of manual gestures. Mudra gives pleasure to the Devatas.
There are 108 Mudras. In welcoming (Avahana) the Devata an appropriate
gesture is made. In making offering (Arghya) Matsya Mudra is made. The
right hand is placed on the back of the left and the two thumbs are extended
finlike on each side of the hands. Similarly, there are Mudras for the
various acts done during the worship.
Yantra takes the place of the image. It is an object of worship. Yantra
is a diagram, drawn on paper. It is engraved on a metal sheet also. A
Yantra is appropriated to a specific Devata only. Various Yantras are
peculiar to each Devata. They are various designs according to the object
of worship. Yantra is the body of the Devata. All the Yantras have a common
edging called Bhupura. They have a quadrangular figure with four doors,
which encloses and separates the Yantra from the external world.
The Sadhaka first meditates upon the Devata or Deity and then arouses
the Devata in himself. He then communicates the Divine presence thus aroused
to the Yantra. When the Devata has been invoked into the Yantra by the
appropriate Mantra, the vital airs (Prana) of the Devata are infused therein
by the Pranapratishtha ceremony. The Devata is thereby installed in the
Yantra. The materials used or acts done in Puja are called Upachara. They
are sixteen in number, viz.,
(1) Asana (seating of the Devata);
(2) Svagata (welcoming of the Devata);
(3) Padya (water for washing the feet);
(4) Arghya (water for ablution);
(5) Achamana (water for sipping);
(6) Madhuparka (honey, ghee, milk, and curd);
(7) Snana (bath);
(8) Vastra (cloth);
(9) Abharana (jewels);
(10) Gandha (perfume);
(11) Pashpa (flowers);
(12) Dhupa (incense);
(13) Dipa (light);
(14) Naivedya (food) and Tambulam (betel);
(15) Nirajana (Arati); and
(16) Vandana (prostration and prayer).
Sadhakas are of three kinds, viz., Pasu (animalistic), Vira (valorous),
and Divya (divine).
Tantra Yoga is the saving wisdom. It is the marvellous boat, which takes
man safely to the other shore of fearlessness, immortality, freedom, and
perfection, when practised with understanding under personal guidance
of well-established Tantric Guru.