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Πέμπτη, 27 Φεβρουαρίου 2014

Shivaratri – Union of Shiva and Shakti & Maha Shivaratri In Yoga

Shivaratri – Union of Shiva and Shakti

Swami Satyananda Saraswati

There are two concepts of spiritual illumination. One is that Shakti awakens, goes up sushumna nadi and unites with Shiva in sahasrara chakra. Shiva represents the higher cosmic consciousness and Shakti represents evolution of energy. Kundalini yoga is based on this concept.

The other concept is that consciousness goes to meet Shakti, and this is Sivaratri. The concept of Sivaratri is the awakening of consciousness at the material level of existence and uniting with Shakti at a higher point in evolution. Therefore, the word used is ratri, meaning dark night. What are the night and day of consciousness? When the individual experiences existence, the objective reality all around him, that is the day of consciousness. The night of consciousness is when the consciousness is all alone and no objective experience takes place. You don’t hear, see, feel or know anything. Time, space and objectivity – three qualities of mind – fall flat. Consciousness alone remains. That is the dark night of the soul, the stage just before illumination. So Shivaratri is a symbol of the spiritual state of samadhi. But for us, Sivaratri means the state preceding samadhi, illumination.

In the story Shiva, who lived in the forest, went to marry Parvati, daughter of the Himalayas, who lived up in the snow peaks. He was the master, guru and controller of ghosts and demons, and so they were part of his marriage procession. Some had one eye in the back of their head, some had no eyes, or eyes in their belly. Some had only one ear, others had huge elephant ears or only holes for ears. Some walked on one leg, others on three.

Parvati’s family sent out a reception party to escort them to Parvati’s house, but when they caught sight of Shiva and his strange companions, they took to their heels and ran for dear life. At Parvati’s house they related what they has seen in awe and horror. “Oh, he is terrible! The son-in-law has come riding on a bull. He is naked and his body is smeared with ash. He has snakes all over him and his companions are most hideous.” Parvati’s mother was so upset. How could she accept such a horrible son-in-law? But Parvati remained calm and resolute.

The moment Lord Shiva’s procession entered the Himalayan kingdom, he and his funny companions turned into dazzling divine beings with beautiful faces, fine clothes, fragrant flowers and so on. The demons changed into lovely people. Everything was transformed in the twinkling of an eye, and so the marriage took place.

Shiva is symbolic of consciousness. For the individual, consciousness is moving higher and higher towards Shakti. It moves along with all the instincts and animal propensities, with all that we are. Even as you practise yoga, everything is still with you – fear, anger, passions, worries, anxiety – you are moving with all your companions. Your soul is also evolving, progressing, along with all your companions. But there comes a point in spiritual life when all these companions are transformed, and the same instinct becomes intuition.

During the course of spiritual evolution, you try many times and fail – you go to the church for the wedding but when you get to the door, you find that the bride is not there and you have to return home disappointed. You have inspirations, you may catch a glimpse of the higher state, but it is not complete. When the time comes and the transformation occurs, the ugly compan- ions turn into divine attendants with suits and ties! The horrifying aspects of your personality become your ornaments, your helpers.

Parvati symbolizes the higher energy; she also symbolizes the kundalini shakti in tantra. The divine union which takes place when Shiva comes to meet Shakti represents enlightenment in absolute darkness.

Swami Satyananda On Maha Shivaratri In Yoga

In this ongoing current discussion on yoga, what it is and is not, it helps to sometimes pause and hear what the true yogis, the authentic masters, who live yoga (not just practice some physical movements for an hour) have to say to help us put things in perspective. Then we can always choose what makes sense to us and leave the rest.

Today’s post is from one of the foremost yogis of India, Swami Satyananda Saraswati, on the meaning and significance of this day in yoga.

Today is Maha Shivaratri, the most important day in the tradition of yoga. Many yoga centers around the world, celebrate and acknowledge it in some way.
In a world that is so polarized and divided, perhaps reflecting our own internal conflicts, these words are a message of our shared humanity–our oneness with another.

Shivaratri, the cosmic merger of Shiva and Shakti, is celebrated on the dark moon of Magha (February /March). This union symbolizes the concept of kundalini yoga in which Shiva goes to meet Shakti. It represents the awakening of consciousness at the material level of existence and uniting with shakti at the higher point of evolution. Shiva means higher consciousness and ratri means night, referring to the ‘dark night of the soul’, the state just before illumination….
In the realm of the human psyche, the union of Shiva and Shakti is a deep-rooted archetype of the personal integration achieved when, through yoga, we come to understand the forces that constitute our personality. Within everyone is the masculine and feminine ideal, and by exploring this complementary inner nature, we can pass through to a richer mode of being….
The union of Shiva and Shakti is the primordial symbol of eternal communion with the divine. Here there is neither purity nor impurity, neither affirmation nor denial, neither form nor formlessness, but a state of superconscious being that is beyond all duality. 

Shivaratri, the cosmic merger of Shiva and Shakti, is celebrated on the dark moon of Magha. Shiva is the eternal faculty of awareness, the unchanging, unmoving spark of the divine in each of us. Shakti gives us the mind and body that are our tools for the direct perception of this divine awareness. The union of Shiva and Shakti is the primordial symbol of eternal communion with the divine. Here there is neither purity nor impurity, neither affirmation nor denial, neither form nor formlessness, but a state of superconscious being that is beyond all duality.                   
—Swami Satyananda Saraswati

Shivaratri Aradhana
Throughout the day let your thoughts rest on Parvati and Shiva, the cosmic mother and father of the universe. At dawn and dusk perform puja of the Shiva lingam by chanting the mantra Om Namah Shivaya and offering bel leaves and water.

Πέμπτη, 20 Φεβρουαρίου 2014

Kali ή Durga ή Parvati - Η Μεγάλη Μητέρα Θεά

Στην Ινδία, η Θεά της Γης λατρευόταν πριν ακόμη την 3η χιλιετία π.Χ. και πριν κατακτηθεί απο τους Ινδοευρωπαίους.

Αργότερα, επέβαλαν τον πατριαρχικό Βεδισμό. Όπως σε όλον τον κόσμο, η Μεγάλη Θεά (στην Ινδία είχαμε τις θεές προστάτιδες των ποταμών Yamuna και Ganga). Ήταν η θεά της γης. Του σταριού. Του δάσους. Των θαλασσών…
Όταν όμως κατακτήθηκαν από τους ιερείς – πολεμιστές – καλλιεργητές (το συνηθισμένο τριπλό σχήμα κατάταξης των Ινδοευρωπαίων πάνω στο οποίο βασίστηκε εν πολλοίς το σύστημα των «χρωμάτων» / «varna» ή «καστών» όπως έγιναν παγκοσμίως γνωστές από την πορτογαλική απόδοση του όρου) κατακτητές (με «ιδιοκτησία» τα χωράφια, άρχισε η εκμετάλλευση των υδάτων και όλη η φύση υπάκουε πλέον στον νόμο της κατοχής, ιδιοκτησίας, οικονομικής εκμετάλλευσης και πλουτισμού, ο άνθρωπος ένιωσε πως… «εξισώθηκε» με τη φύση και πλέον μετά από αυτή την «ύβριν» δεν υπήρχε πια ούτε η μητέρα θεά που θα σεβόταν ούτε η τροφός που θα τον τάιζε ούτε η ερωμένη με την οποία θα βρισκόταν σε μια σχέση συνεργασίας.

Ωστόσο, ήταν αδύνατο να διαγράψουν παντού οι άνθρωποι την μεγάλη θεά. Στην Ινδία, αυτή μέσα από μια σειρά θεοκρασιών έγινε η «Shakti» (η συμπαντική άχρονη ενέργεια ή «Δύναμη») που στο γήινο επίπεδο εκφραζόταν ως Θεά της Φύσης («Prakriti») ή Κυρία των Φαινομένων και των Ψευδαισθήσεων («Maya»),
ή Shodashi σε λωτό πάνω από το σώμα του Shiva με τους θεούς Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva και Rudra να στηρίζουν τον θρόνο.

Κυρίως όμως είναι η «Μητέρα» ένα πρόσωπο πολύ ισχυρό στην ινδική κοινωνία, όπου παρά το ότι οι γυναίκες δεν έχουν ακόμη χειραφετηθεί όπως στη χριστιανική Δύση, ακόμη και ανύπανδρες κοπέλες, εφόσον αυτές διαχειρίζονται ένα σπιτικό, καλούνται με σεβασμό από τους υπόλοιπους, «μητέρα».
Όταν μετά τον 6ο αιώνα π. Χ. ο Βεδισμός δέχτηκε την «επίθεση» Ζαϊνισμού και Βουδισμού, προκειμένου να «αμυνθεί», αναγκάστηκε να εγκαταλείψει την σκληρή πατριαρχική κοσμοθεώρησή του και να εγκολπωθεί τις αγροτικές θεότητες που είχαν επιζήσει της εισβολής των Ινδοευρωπαίων, δεχόμενος στο πάνθεόν του και κατά βάση ταντρικές λατρείες (δηλαδή με έμφαση στην γιόγκα, την αυτοπαρατήρηση, κ.λπ.).

Τότε, σύμφωνα με τη μυθολογία, ο θεός Shiva παράτησε τον ασκητισμό και τον συνεχή διαλογισμό και ενσαρκώθηκε μπαίνοντας ξανά στον κύκλο των γεννήσεων και των υλικών φαινομένων, ο Vishnu το ίδιο, όπως και ο δημιουργός Brahma, γοητευμένοι όλοι τους από την ύλη και την φύση που προσωποποιούνταν αρχικά στην Devi η οποία κατόπιν «αποδόθηκε» σε καθέναν από τους τρεις αντίστοιχα ως οι θέαινες Kali, Lakshmi και Saraswati. Έτσι, σχηματίσθηκαν τα τρία βασικά θεϊκά ζευγάρια ως εξής:

Brahma (θεός της δημιουργίας) και Saraswati (θεά της γνώσης)
Vishnu (θεός της διατήρησης) και Lakshmi (θεά της ευημερίας)
Shiva (θεός της καταστροφής) και Κali (θεά της δύναμης).

Η πιο χαρακτηριστική εκδήλωση της μεγάλης θεάς (Devi) ήταν στην Ινδία η Durga ή Kali ή Parvati.
Το όνομά της προέρχεται από την λέξη «kala» που σημαίνει χρόνος, καθώς θεωρείται ως «Η Κυρία του Χρόνου».

Σύμφωνα με τη μυθολογία, όταν ο κοσμική τάξη διασαλεύτηκε από τον δαίμονα Mahisha ουδείς από το πατριαρχικό πάνθεον στάθηκε ικανός να τον καταβάλει. Τότε, στο άκουσμα της φοβερής προειδοποίησης πως ολόκληρη η φύση θα τελούσε υπό τους αποτρόπαιους νόμους του Mahisha, ξεπήδησε από τους αρσενικούς θεούς η θηλυκή δύναμή τους. Η Varahi από τον Varaha, η Kumari από τον Kumara, η Narasimhi από τον Narasimha…

Ενώθηκαν σε ένα φως απ΄ όπου εμφανίστηκε η Durga. Ζήτησε και πήρε τα όπλα των θεών, τη τρίαινα και τη λάμψη του προσώπου του Shiva, τον δίσκο του Vishnu, τον κεραυνό και τη φωτιά του Indra στο 3ο μάτι της, τη λόγχη του Kumara, το τόξο του Brahma, στήθος φεγγαρόσχημο από τον σεληνιακό θεό Chandra και με τα 10 χέρια της καθένα από τα οποία κρατούσε και από ένα τρομερό όπλο, καβάλησε ένα λιοντάρι να αντιμετωπίσει τον Mahisha. Ανέβηκε στο όρος Μερού, από όπου ακτινοβολούσε την ομορφιά της. Ο Mahisha την ερωτεύτηκε και έστειλε απεσταλμένους να τη ζητήσουν για λογαριασμό του. Η Durga τους προκάλεσε σε μάχη και τους σκότωσε και ακολούθως νίκησε τον στρατό των δαιμόνων και έπινε το αίμα τους ώστε να μην πέσει στο έδαφος και τον γονιμοποιήσει και ξεπηδήσουν από αυτό και νέοι δαίμονες.

Μονομάχησε με τον Mahisha, αλλά τα όπλα των θεών δεν του έκαναν τίποτε. Έτσι, τα άφησε κατά μέρος και με το πόδι της, το οποίο περιγράφετε ως απαλό, λεπτό και όμορφο, τον άφησε αναίσθητο και στη συνέχεια τον κάρφωσε στην καρδιά με την τρίαινα.
Η ίδια θεά εμφανίστηκε και σε άλλους τοπικούς μύθους αρχικά ως Uma, κόρη του Daksha που ομολόγησε τον έρωτά της για τον ασκητή θεό Shiva. Παρά τη θέληση του πατέρα της, παράτησε ανάκτορα, πλούτη και ανέσεις για να ζήσει με τον ασκητή στα άγρια δάση και τον ακολουθούσε στα μέρη που σύχναζε, στα κρεματόρια, ανάμεσα στους νεκρούς, στα σκοτάδια και στα βουνά, ώσπου αυτός γοητευμένος από την αφοσίωση που του έδειχνε, την ερωτεύτηκε και τότε πήρε το όνομα Sati («Αληθινή»).

Σε μια μεγάλη θρησκευτική γιορτή, ο Daksha κάλεσε όλον τον κόσμο, εκτός από τον Shiva, τον οποίο θεωρούσε ανεπιθύμητο λόγω του τρόπου με τον οποίο ζούσε. Τότε, θυμωμένη η Sati, προκειμένου να διακόψει τη θυσία που ετοίμαζε ο πατέρα της έπεσε στην νεκρική πυρά.
Νευριασμένος ο Shiva, αποκεφάλισε τον Daksha κα μαζεύοντας το πτώμα της Sati άρχισε να περιπλανιέται με αυτό σε όλον τον κόσμο.

Τότε οι θεοί τον προειδοποίησαν πως ένας θεός που πέφτει σε θλίψη για μια γήινη ύπαρξη κινδυνεύει να μπει στον κύκλο της ζωής και του θανάτου. Μπροστά στον κίνδυνο να εκπέσει σε θνητό, ο Vishnu έκοψε με τον δίσκο του σε 108 κομμάτια το σώμα της Sati ώστε να μην αναγνωρίζεται και να απαγκιστρωθεί ο Shiva συναισθηματικά από την ανάμνησή της. Έτσι, ο τελευταίος ξανάγινε ασκητής, αυτή τη φορά σε μια σκοτεινή σπηλιά των Ιμαλαΐων.
Τότε ήταν που οι δαίμονες απελευθερώθηκαν και απειλούσαν ξανά την τάξη και παρουσιάστηκε μπροστά στους αθανάτους η θεά της φύσης Shakti, ως Kundalini, δηλαδή με τη μορφή ενός φιδιού και ζήτησε από τους θεούς να παρουσιαστεί στον Shiva ως Parvati και να τον γοητεύσει ώστε να του αποσπάσει όλη τη γνώση που είχε αποκτήσει διαλογιζόμενος στα Ιμαλάια και με αυτήν να αποσοβήσει τη βασιλεία του κακού.

Με τον όρο «Kundalini», οι Swamis εννοούσαν και την θηλυκή αρχή που καθένας άνθρωπος έχει μέσα του και η οποία είναι ανώτερη της αρσενικής, καθώς συμβολίζει την αγάπη και τη ζωή. Στην δε τάντρα, ο γιόγκι αναγνωρίζει την ενέργεια αυτή να διαπερνά τη σπονδυλική στήλη του, καθώς αφυπνιζόμενο το «φίδι» αρχίζει και ανεβαίνει από το κάτω μέρος τη σπονδυλικής στήλης προς το κεφάλι.

Η θεές του έρωτα και του πόθου Priti και Rati καθημερινά επισκέπτονταν μαζί με το κύριο των επιθυμιών Kama τη σπηλιά του Shiva και ενώ αυτός ήταν συνεχώς με κλειστά τα μάτια σε στάση διαλογισμού, μεταμόρφωναν τη σπηλιά σε ένα παραδεισένιο κήπο. Ο Shiva όμως δεν άνοιγε τα μάτια του για να δει τι συνέβαινε, παρά μόνο κάποια στιγμή το τρίτο του μάτι, απ΄ όπου εκπέμφθηκε φωτιά που έκαψε τον Kama.

Η Parvati πέταξε τα ρούχα της, άρχισε να νηστεύει και να ζει και αυτή ασκητικά. Τότε, η δύναμη που απέκτησε «ξύπνησε» τον Shiva, ο οποίος την δέχτηκε ως σύζυγο και έγινα οι γαμήλιες τελετές στην κορυφή του κόσμου, το όρος Kailas.
Η Parvati μεταμόρφωσε σταδιακά τον Shiva από ερημίτη σε οικογενειάρχη, μαθαίνοντάς του να χαίρεται και να ενδιαφέρεται για τον κόσμο.

Στο μεταξύ, οι δαίμονες παρέμεναν απειλητικοί και η Parvati ανέλαβε να τους πολεμήσει όπως είχε κάνει και ως Durga, αφού ο Shiva είχε πέσει σε βαθύ διαλογισμό. Έγινε η θεά Kali μαύρη σαν την νύχτα με σκοπό να σκοτώσει τον αρχηγό των δαιμόνων Raktabija. Αυτός ήταν ανίκητος καθώς οι θεοί δεν μπορούσαν να τον εξοντώσουν, διότι με κάθε του σταγόνα αίματος που άγγιζε την γη, εμφανιζόταν ένας κλώνος του. H Kali τον αντιμετώπισε όταν αυτός «πέτρωσε» απόν φόβο του μπροστά στην φοβερή της όψη και τον αποκεφάλισε (σε άλλες παραλλαγές, το σκηνικό αυτό επαναλαμβάνεται και με τον Μahisha).
Εθισμένη όμως στο αίμα και την καταστροφή, η Kali συνέχισε να καταστρέφει ό,τι έβρισκε στο πέρασμά της καλπάζοντας πάνω στο λιοντάρι της. Τότε ο Shiva πήρε τη μορφή ενός πτώματος και στάθηκε στον δρόμο της Kali. Τότε αυτή, «επανήλθε», καθώς πατώντας με το πόδι της τον Shiva συνειδητοποίησε πως παρολίγο να σκοτώσει τον ίδιο τον σύζυγό της. Κατ΄ άλλη εκδοχή, τον πάτησε για να του δώσει ζωή. Τότε, από Kali έγινε Gauri, η ακτινοβολούσα χορηγός της ζωής, της οποίας η οργή στρέφεται μόνο ενάντια στο κακό, δηλαδή στην άγνοια ενώ το περιστατικό δείχνει και το πως αλληλοσυμπληρώνονται τα δύο φύλα.

Οι νεαρές Ινδές προσεύχονται στην Gauri για ευτυχισμένο γάμο
Οι ινδουιστές λατρεύουν την Parvati με 10 κύριες όψεις της («Dasamahavidyas») οι οποίες θεωρούνται ως οι ισάριθμες θεμελιώδεις «θηλυκές» αρχές της φύσης («Dasha Maha Vidya») και οι οποίες είναι:

Kali. «Η Αιώνια Νύχτα». Η δύναμη του Χρόνου και η θεά της καταστροφής.

Tara. «Η Νύχτα της Οργής». Γενέτειρα του Σύμπαντος και της κενότητας.

Sodasi ή Tripura Sundari . «Δεκαεξάχρονη» επί λέξει, συμβολίζει της πληρότητα και τελειότητα.

Vidya Bhuvanshwari. « Νύχτα της πλήρους πραγματοποίησης». Δύναμη του υλικού κόσμου.

Bhairavi ή Tripura Bhairavi. «Η Νύχτα της Μοίρας». Κυρία των επιθυμιών και πειρασμών που οδηγούν στην καταστροφή και τον θάνατο.

Vidya Chinnamasta. «Η Νύχτα του Θάρρους». Ο αέναος κύκλος γέννησης και θανάτου και η δύναμη της θυσίας.

Dhumavati. «Η νύχτα της απογοήτευσης» Η καταστροφή με πυρά απ΄ όπου απομένει μόνο η κάπνα («dhuma»).

Vidya Bagala ή Bagalamukhi. «Η Νύχτα του ακαριαίου τέλους». Η αποτρόπαια κρανιοκέφαλη θεά της ζήλιας, της σκληρότητας και του μίσους.

Matangi. «Η Νύκτα των Ψευδαισθήσεων». Η θεά της κυριαρχίας.

Vidya Kamala ή Kamalatmika. «Η Παραδεισένια Νύχτα». Αυτοσυνειδησία και ευημερία.

Οι «σκληρές» όψεις της Kali παρομοιάζονται με την τιμωρία που επιβάλλει μια μητέρα σε όποιο παιδί της βλάψει ένα άλλο της παιδί. Η σκληρότητα έχει να κάνει με το μάθημα της αποφυγής του κακού.

Η Kali απεικονίζεται με μαύρο δέρμα, άσπρα δόντια και προτεταμένη κόκκινη γλώσσα. 

Αυτά τα 3 μέρη του σώματος και τα ισάριθμα χρώματα αντιστοιχούν σύμφωνα με την ινδουιστική φιλοσοφία στις 3 ποιότητες («gunas») της φύσης: την λευκή «ισορροπία» («sattva») την κόκκινη «δράση» («rajas») και την μαύρη «αδράνεια» («tamas»). 

Οι 3 αυτές ιδιότητες αντιστοιχούν στην χαρά, τη σοφία, την ακεραιότητα, την καθαρότητα, τη διαύγεια, την ισορροπία («sattva») τη δράση, την αποφασιστικότητα, αλλά και την οργή, την υπερηφάνεια, τον εγωισμό («rajas») και την οκνηρία, την άγνοια, την ανασφάλεια, τον φόβο («tamas»).

Αυτές όμως ερμηνεύονται και ως οι 3 όψεις της διαλεκτικής, ως δράση, αντίδραση, σύνθεση.

Εκτός από αυτά τα 3 χαρακτηριστικά, η Kali παρουσιάζεται με ξέπλεκα μαλλιά, σύμβολο της συμπαντικής αρχής της οποία κάθε τρίχα αναπαριστά και την χορδή με την οποία είναι ενωμένες όλες οι ατομικές ψυχές («jiva») με το παγκόσμιο πνεύμα.

Στις απεικονίσεις σε εικόνες και αγάλματα φορά συνήθως ένα περιδέραιο από 50 κεφάλια των δαιμόνων που έχει σκοτώσει και τα οποία συμβολίζουν τα 50 γράμματα της αλφαβήτου, κάτι που υποδηλώνει ότι από αυτήν εκδηλώνονται οι κοσμικοί ήχοι της δημιουργίας και τα γράμματα του περιδέραιου σε συνδυασμούς σχηματίζουν φθόγγους και λέξεις και έτσι η Kali είναι και η θεά της έκφρασης, αντίληψη που υπήρχε πολύ πριν οι Χριστιανοί αναφερθούν στον «Λόγο». Αυτή την έκφραση του «Λόγου» συμβολίζει η προτεταμένη γλώσσα της θεάς που στην κοινή εξήγηση (πατριαρχικής αντίληψης) για «τους πολλούς» ερμηνεύεται ως εκδήλωση της έκπληξης και ντροπής που ένιωσε όταν πάτησε πάνω στο σώμα του συζύγου της που δεν το είχε αναγνωρίσει αρχικά.
Όσο δε για το δέρμα της, παρουσιάζεται σαν να απορροφά όλα τα χρώματα, σαν την αρχή που απορροφά κάθε υλικό σώμα μετά τον θάνατό του.
Η γυμνότητά της συμβολίζει την πλήρη ελευθερία και την αυτοσυνειδησία μακριά από πλάνες και ψευδαισθήσεις («maya»).
Έχει 4 χέρια, συνήθως στα 2 αριστερά της κρατά ένα σπαθί και ντο κομμένο κεφάλι του αρχηγού των δαιμόνων και με τα 2 δεξιά σχηματίζει τα σύμβολα της τόλμης και της ευλογίας.

Σημειωτέον πως η Kali συμβόλιζε στον αγώνα της ανεξαρτησίας των Ινδών την ίδια την Ινδία και αυτή ήταν μεταφορικά ο αποδέκτης του ύμνου “Vande Mataram” (“Υποκλινόμαστε σε σένα μητέρα”) γενόμενη έτσι και σύμβολο του ινδικού εθνικισμού.

Σε γενικές γραμμές πάντως, η Kali ή Durga ή Parvati συμβολίζει την αδάμαστη Φύση και την υπακοή του ανθρώπου στους νόμους της και υπ αυτήν την έννοια η λατρεία της Μεγάλης Θεάς του Ινδουισμού!

Κυριακή, 16 Φεβρουαρίου 2014

Tantra (Agama)

Tantra (Agama)

From the teachings of Swami Sivananda Saraswati

Sanskrit literature can be classified under six orthodox headings and four secular headings. They are: (i) Shruti, (ii) Smriti, (iii) Itihasa, (iv) Purana, (v) Agama and (vi) Darshana; and (i) Subhashita, (ii) Kavya, (iii) Nataka and (iv) Alankara.
The Agamas are theological treatises and practical manuals of divine worship. They include tantras, mantras and yantras. These treatises explain the external worship of God. All seventy-seven Agamas contain teachings on (i) jnana or knowledge, (ii) yoga or concentration, (iii) kriya or action, and (iv) charya or doing. They also give elaborate details about the ontology, cosmology, liberation, devotion, meditation, philosophy of mantras, mystic diagrams, charms and spells, temple-building, image-making, domestic observances, social rules and public festivals.
The Agamas are divided into three sections: Vaishnava, Shaiva and Shakta. The Vaishnava Agamas glorify God as Vishnu. The Shaiva Agamas glorify God as Shiva and have given rise to an important school of philosophy known as Shaiva Siddhanta. The Shakta Agamas or Tantras glorify God as the Mother of the world under one of the many names of Devi. The Agamas do not derive their authority from the Vedas, but they are all vedic in spirit and character. That is the reason why they are regarded as authoritative.
The Tantra Agamas dwell on the shakti or energy aspect of God and prescribe numerous courses of ritualistic worship of the Divine Mother in various forms. They are very like the Puranas in some respects. The texts are usually in the form of dialogues between Shiva and Parvati. In some, Shiva answers the questions put by Parvati and in others Parvati answers Shiva’s questions. Mahanirvana, Kularnava, Kulasara, Prapanchasara, Tantraraja, Rudra Yamala, Bra
hma Yamala, Vishnu Yamala and Todala Tantra are the important works. The Agamas teach esoteric practices, while others bestow knowledge and freedom. Among the existing books the Mahanirvana Tantra is the most famous.
Scientists now say that everything is energy only and that energy is the physical ultimate of all forms of matter. The followers of the Shakta school of philosophy have said the same thing long ago. They further say that this energy is only the limited manifestation of the infinite supreme power or Maha Shakti. The Devi is not only the principle of creation, the principle of auspiciousness, but also the principle of divine knowledge. Maha Devi or Maheshwari or Parashakti is the supreme shakti or power of the supreme being.
In the Shakta doctrine Shiva is the supreme unchanging eternal consciousness and Shakti is his kinetic power. The universe is a manifestation of Devi’s divine glory. She is the supreme power by which the world is upheld. Shiva is omnipresent, impersonal, inactive. He is pure consciousness. Shakti is dynamic. Shiva and Shakti are one. Shakti tattwa and Shiva tattwa are inseparable. Shiva is always with Shakti.


Tantra yoga

Tantra yoga has been one of the potent powers for spiritual regeneration. When practised by unenlightened and unqualified persons, it has led to certain abuse. One example of a travesty of the original practices is the theory of the five makaras: madya or wine, mamsa or flesh, matsya or fish, mudra or symbolical acts, and maithuna or coition. Their esoteric meaning is: “Kill egoism, control flesh, drink the wine of God-intoxication, and have union with Lord Shiva.”
Tantra expands (tanoti) in great detail on the knowledge concerning tattwa (truth or Brahman) and mantra (mystic syllables). It saves (trayate). Hence it is called tantra, expansion and liberation.
The Tantras are not books of sorcery, witchcraft, magic spells and mysterious formulae. They are wonderful scriptures. Everyone 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 Shastra. Yoga Kundalini Upanishad from Krishna Yajurveda, Jabala Darshana, Trisikha Brahmana and Varaha Upanishad are useful for obtaining knowledge of kundalini shakti and the methods to awaken it and take it to sahasrara chakra at the crown of the head.
Tantra is in some aspects a secret doctrine. You cannot learn it by studying books. You will have to obtain the knowledge and practice from the practical tantrics, tantric acharyas and gurus who hold the key to it. A tantric student must be endowed with purity, faith, devotion, dedication to guru, dispassion, humility, courage, cosmic love, truthfulness, non-covetousness and contentment.
Shakti Tantra proclaims that paramatma, the supreme soul, and jivatma, the individual soul, are one. Shaktas accept the Vedas as the basic scriptures. They recognize the Shakta Tantras as texts expounding the means to attain the goal set forth in the Vedas.
Tantra yoga lays special emphasis on the development of the powers latent in the six chakras, from mooladhara to ajna. Kundalini yoga actually belongs to tantric sadhana which gives a detailed description of this serpent power and the chakras. The entire tantric sadhana aims at awakening kundalini and making her unite with Shiva in sahasrara chakra. Methods adopted to achieve this end in tantric sadhana are japa of the Mother’s name, prayer, and various rituals.


Tantra sadhana

Bhuta shuddhi is an important tantric rite. It means purification of the five tattwas or elements of the body. The 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 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. Mudras are ritual manual gestures. Mudras please the devatas. There are one hundred and eight mudras.
Yantra takes the place of the image. It is an object of worship. Yantras are peculiar to each devata. They are various designs according to the object of worship. Yantra is the body of the devata. 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 or prana of the devata are infused therein by the prana pratishtha ceremony. The devata is thereby installed in the yantra. The materials used or acts done in external worship are called upachara and number sixteen.
Every mantra has four important places in the human constitution – para, pashyanti, madhyama and vaikhari. Of these, para is the mantra in its extra superfine sound origin in mooladhara. The form of this sound is discernible only to liberated beings. Pashyanti is that form of the sound perceived by yogis only in the area around the navel. When the same mantric sound is heard in the heart, it is called madhyama. The fourth or final stage of the mantric sound becomes audible as it enters the neck and comes out of the throat and lips. Then it is called vaikhari. It is now in its gross form and can be heard by others, besides the producer of the sound.


Guru and diksha

Tantra yoga must be learnt from a guru who will recognize the class to which the aspirant belongs and prescribe suitable sadhana. The guru is none other than the Divine Mother herself, 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 disciple.
Initiation removes the veil of mystery and enables the disciple to grasp the hidden truth behind the scriptures, which are generally veiled in mystic language. They cannot be understood by self-study, which will only lead to greater ignorance. Only the guru will give you by diksha the right perspective with which to study the scriptures and practise yoga.
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 doing good to all. All sadhana should be done under the personal direction of a guru of spiritual teacher.
Tantra 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 the personal guidance of a well-established tantric guru.


Πέμπτη, 13 Φεβρουαρίου 2014


“If I had to choose a motto for myself, I would take this one — pure, dure, sûre, [Pure, hard, certain] — in other words: unalterable. I would express by this the ideal of the Strong, that which nothing brings down, nothing corrupts, nothing changes; those on whom one can count, because their life is order and fidelity, in accord with the eternal.”
Savitri Devi, Memories & Reflections of an Aryan Woman
SAVITRI DEVI's passport photo

It was in 1889 there were imponderable factors — moral and mystical forces — besides and, nay, behind them: the very forces of disintegration that had been, for over two millenniums, (that the disintegrating influence of Jewry upon the Aryan race began before the advent of Christianity. The disastrous new scale of values drawn from the misapplied other-worldly religion, and the spreading of the creed itself, were the consequences of Jewish influence, not its causes.) striving to lead the Aryan race to its doom. And it needed a more-than-political genius, nay, a more-than-human personality, to stand in the way of those.

Specially for the past hundred years, i.e., since the outbreak of the French Revolution, Europe had been sinking, more speedily than ever, under the influence of international Jewry and of its cunning agents: Free Masonry, and the various so-called “spiritual” secret bodies directly or indirectly affiliated to it. Centuries of erroneous application of Christianity — an essentially other-worldly creed — to worldly affairs, had prepared the ground for the triumph of the most dangerous superstitions: the belief in the “equal rights” of “all men” to life and “happiness”; the belief in citizenship and “culture” as distinct from and more important than race; the belief in illimited “progress” through a presumed universal receptivity to “education” and in the possibility of universal Peace and “happiness” as a result of “progress” — the wonderful discoveries of science being put to the service of “man”; the belief in the right of man to work against Nature’s spirit and purpose for his own brief pleasure or profit. One had increasingly stressed, exalted, made popular the sickly love of “man” as distinct from and opposed to all other creatures, or, to be more accurate, the love of a repulsive, standardised conception of “the average man,” “neither all good nor all bad” but weak, mediocre, — as foreign as possible to the age-old warrior-like Aryan idea of superior humanity expressed in the conception of the “hero like unto the Gods,” to use Homer’s words.

And colonialism was at its height, and Christian missionary activity also. Which means that, after having given herself up to the forces of disintegration, Europe was rapidly handing the rest of the world over to them; preparing the very last phase of the Dark Age: the state of biological chaos which is the preliminary condition of the rule of the worst and the systematic annihilation of any surviving human élite of blood and character.

Clara, was pretty: blonde, with magnificent blue eyes. Aged twenty-nine only, (she was his third wife) she was of an ardent, thoughtful and self-possessed nature; as imaginative and intuitive as her husband was unromantically pains-taking; as loving as he was dutiful; and capable of endless sustained sacrifice. She respected him deeply; he was her husband. But she loved her children — and God; God in her children. And she did not herself know how right she was, i.e., how truly the divine spirit — the divine collective Self of Aryan mankind, Whose manifestation appears now and then in the form of an extraordinary human being, — lived in the youngest baby son that she was nursing: her fourth child.

She had just given birth to him on the 20th of April, at six o’clock eighteen in the afternoon, in that large airy room on the second floor — the last on the right hand side, at the end of a narrow passage — in which she was now reclining, still feeling weak, but happy. The three windows opened on the street. Through their spotless glass-panes and white blinds warm sunshine poured in. The baby slept. The mother rested. She did not know that she had just been the instrument of a tremendous cosmic Will.

The baby Child Adolf slept; the mother rested; was grateful for the bright sunshine and the coming summer. She would be able to take the child out, now and then, when she would find time. In the meantime she prayed to the Queen of Heaven that he might live: her three first children had died, one after the other.

Thirty-five years later, the Man into whom he had grown was to write: “It appears to me to-day that Destiny has happily appointed me Braunau on the Inn as a birthplace. This little town lies indeed on the border of the two German States, the unification of which we men of the younger generation consider as our life’s work, to be carried out by all means.”

He referred to “Destiny.” Had it not been for the oddness of such a statement in a book written for millions of Europeans hardly concerned with or interested in the idea of birth and rebirth, he could have, with equal if not greater accuracy, spoken of his “own choice.” For according to the Ancient Wisdom, men of such a quality as he choose to be born, without being compelled to, and choose their birthplace.

Invisible in the blue sky above the little frontier-town, the stars formed, on the 20th. of April 1889, at six o’clock eighteen in the afternoon, a definite pattern marking the return to earth of Him Who comes back; of the divine Man “against Time” — the incarnate collective Self of superior mankind, — Who, again and again, and every time more heroically, stands alone against the ever-accelerated current of universal decay, and prepares, in hard, bloody struggle, the dawning of the following Time-cycle, even if he be, for some years or decades, apparently bound to fail.

For the newly born Babe was none other than He.

Never had circumstances been more unfavourable to His recognition, nay, to the very possibility of His taking consciousness of His mission in the garb of a predestined ruler. Not only was there, as everyone will readily agree, a long way from the child’s humble status to that which he had to attain in order to play, in the history of the West, the political part he was destined, but nothing seemed likely to prepare him for the accomplishment of his even greater task, namely that of awakening the Western Aryan Soul to its own natural wisdom. Aryan Wisdom, in its conscious, warrior-like form, in opposition to all the traditional values of Christianity, was unknown in the Western world of the time, let alone in Braunau on the Inn, — unknown, at least, to all but a few lonely thinkers such as Friedrich Nietzsche.
The heavenly Powers, however, gave the divine Child two main privileges through which he was, amazingly soon, to become aware of it; to reinvent it of his own accord; first, a pure, healthy heredity, containing the very best both of Nordic and of Keltic blood — the fiery imagination and mystical intuition of the Kelt, allied to Nordic willpower, thoroughness, efficiency and sense of justice, (and insight also); and, along with that, a passionate, limitless and fathomless love for that German Land that stretched on both sides of the Inn as well as on both sides of the Danube and beyond, and for its people, his blood-brothers: not those who are perfect specimens of higher humanity (for there are none in this Dark Age) but for those who can and will become such ones, while they have the stuff in them.

Through that love — and through it alone — he was to raise himself to the intuitive certitude of the eternal Truth upon which he was to build the National Socialist Doctrine, modern form of the perennial Religion of Life; to that certitude which separates him from even the greatest politicians and sets him straight away into the category of the warring Seers, Founders of the healthiest civilisations we know; into the category of the. Men “against Time,” whose vision grasps, beyond our sickly world, doomed to speedy destruction, the yet unthinkable following Golden Age, of which they are the prophets and will be the gods.

In spite of all, National Socialism, the modern expression of cosmic truth, would endure and conquer.

National Socialism would rise again because it is true to cosmic reality and because that which is true does not pass. Germany’s via dolorosa was indeed the way to coming glory. It had to be taken, if the privileged nation was to fulfill her mission absolutely, i.e., if she was to be the nation that died for the sake of the highest human race, which she embodied, and that would rise again to take the lead of those surviving Aryans who are — at last! — to understand her message of life and to carry it with them into the splendor of the dawning Golden Age.

The sky was blue; the Sun was hot; the joy and pride of conquest made my face beam. Stronger and stronger in my heart grew the sweet certitude of Thy invincibility. One day, —I knew not when, but, surely, thought I, “soon”—I would go back and see all Europe under Thee . . . It mattered little, then, whether I were or not, for the time being[,] on the spot.

I pictured in my mind Thy endless rows of armored tanks, rushing through woods and moors and through deserted towns along the international highways; through mud and sand, along the river banks. I pictured in my mind Thy fleeing enemies under the pouring rain—the roaring sea before them, the angry sky above them, the dark night all around them, Thy battalions behind them—nearer and nearer every second—and in their hearts, more powerful than all, the overwhelming terror of Thy name! I pictured in my mind the famous Arch of Triumph; the no less famous Avenue, pride of the conquered Capital; and under it, and along it, the unforgettable parades!

There stood and marched those who, in Ypres and elsewhere, had fought alongside Thee during the first World War; those whom within the grip of death, had sung along with Thee, the conquering Hymn of love in which echoed the call of joyful Duty: “Germany, Germany above all . . . !” There stood and marched also, like unto living Nordic gods, Thy fair and strong Young men, hope of the resurrected Reich, hope of the Western world, messengers of everlasting Aryan faith.

Moving in incredible order, there they were, the ones I had been longing forever since the decay of Aryandom—over two thousand years; the ones I had been seeking in the immortal forms of bygone Grecian gods, and the immortal characters of Aryan heroes held as gods in India to this day: the real earthly “shining ones”: my better brothers and Thy sons!

And as they went the music played, and as they went they sang the new hymn of the Strong and Free,—the Song of the young Hero, who, ten years before, had died for Thee: “Along all highways, ever soon, will our banners flutter; slavery is to last only a short time more!” And there indeed, the holy blood red flags, bearing within their midst in black on white the eternal Swastika, fluttered triumphantly above the glittering helmets, above the cadenced March, above the conquered Continent, in the warm air of June.

From the Eastern world far away, where I then stood, a cry had sprung—a cry of admiration, for thee, for those who followed Thee; for Thy young resurrected nation.

One day, a dusky youth of the Far South greeted me with amazing words, as though the Gods had chosen to express their unshakable wisdom through his mouth. “Fair Lady, believe me,” he said, “I too within my heart adore your Leader, now Lord of the West!—For He has come to overthrow the money-power in the world; for He has come in order to set up the wisdom of the Shining Ones Who conquered us in Bygone days—the Aryan Wisdom of all times; the Wisdom of the Best—against the Christian way of Life[,] in order to fulfill the words of the most holy Writ: ‘Age after age, I come . . .’; for He is God in human garb, the One Who never fails.”

Another day, a fair-skinned man in orange-colored robes—a man of those who look beyond the Realm of Time—sat by my side and told me: “Your Continent has now within its midst another Incarnation of the great World-Sustaining-One. No longer weep over its long decay! But follow Him, and you shall win, in the long run. The struggle of today is but another phase of the perennial Struggle. And He is Light and Life come down to earth again to lead the Aryan World once more along the glorious Way!”

And in the glaring homage of the village youth, echo of popular insight[,] as well as in that of the serene ascetic, I heard the world proclaim in space and time, that Thou was right, and foreign men on foreign shores, age after age, in speeches yet unknown, exalt Thy wisdom and Thy might.

And I was happy, even though so far away. And I too sang the conquering Song, with my right arm outstretched, while the Wise One, the truest of our true Allies, now bound to me through solemn mystic ties, stood by my side and smiled, as though his eyes could see, beyond six thousand miles of land and sea, the Parade of Thy trusted Bodyguard along the conquered Avenue, the rush of Thy glittering planes across the sky.

Aryan race waits her Avatar again like Adolfo an Avatar of the Hindu god Vishnu, the sustainer of order.
Savitri Devi, born Greek-French Maximiani Portas (1905-1982). She was also one of the founding members of the World Union of National Socialists & Missionary of Aryan Paganism!


Κυριακή, 9 Φεβρουαρίου 2014

Tantra Shastra

An Introduction to Tantra Shastra

Swami Satyananda Saraswati

Lecture given at the International Yoga Assembly, Bihar School of Yoga, October 1967, originally printed in YOGA, Vol. 7, No. 10, 1969

Tantra shastra is a secret and most powerful science in the Indian occult tradition. It is a science which Indians have practised for centuries and still do. Although this science was subject to suppression from time to time due to various misunderstandings and allegations, it still lives due to its original operation and method of discovery of the psychic realms.
Tantra shastra as a whole is the system which deals with the techniques, mediums and applications concerning the individual power and knowledge which is said to be at the depth of human consciousness. Usually it is thought that only a sannyasin, a recluse, a celibate brahmachari or a total renunciate can be in possession of psychic powers, that an ordinary householder has no access to those powers which belong to the deeper planes of consciousness. However, tantra shastra proclaims boldly that neither food nor character, social nor marital status, stand in the way of developing such super powers.
While one section of Indian thought propagated the exclusive cult of renunciation in order to develop powers of higher consciousness, the other section believed that the normal progression of life did not present any hindrance. This section gradually evolved into tantra marga while the first developed into the cult of yoga.
In tantra shastra one will find every practice integrated and adjusted with the attitude and behaviour of the average person who is compelled and advised to follow the natural steps of life. Therefore, wine, meat, marital relations, grain and fish are accepted in the general constitution of the shastra. Much misunderstood, this constitution of tantra shastra clarifies that this does not present any obstacle in the awakening of shakti, rather it helps.
In bhakti shastra also the normal progression of life and the demands of nature are not at all denied, rather they are combined and adjusted with life. If one looks at tantra shastra in this light, one finds a happy combination of occult techniques and devotional attitudes. As such it is absolutely necessary that along with esoteric rituals and ceremonies, the practitioner should also surrender to shakti, the divine power.

Worship of shakti

The presiding deity of tantra shastra is Devi, the so-called feminine deity to whom all mantras, mudras and other elements of worship are devotionally dedicated. The act of bathing, dressing, sitting for worship, offering various ingredients, sacrificing animals, cohabiting with husband or wife or companion, accepting the offered foodstuffs and many other acts are performed in the spirit of total dedication and devotion. The sixty-four tantras are thus designated to suit the various temperaments of individuals walking, faltering and advancing on the different levels of human evolution.
The purpose of all tantric systems is one, and that is to evolve and express the mother aspect which is probably the nucleus and centre of total consciousness in living beings, the central sphere of individual awareness which is shakti or energy. Tantra shastra does not confuse this with the so-called maternal instinct, nor does it develop an emotional mother complex. The term ‘matri’ symbolizes the greatest power in man; it does not symbolize the mother in the ordinary sense.
Tantrics are worshippers of shakti even in the case of those who worship Shiva or Vishnu. What is shakti? Shakti is the great process lying almost restless at the deepest sphere of individual consciousness which is capable of creation, progression and destruction. It is that powerful awareness which is lying dormant at present.
Where is shakti? It is in all. It is the left half of shiva. Shiva is consciousness; shakti is energy. Shiva is the tongue; shakti is the power of speech. Shiva and shakti live together, but shiva cannot materialize and become active without the active co-operation of shakti. Therefore, shakti is the subject matter of tantra shastra, whether shakti tantra or shaiva tantra. Although shakti is depicted by a feminine frame, termed as a goddess, described as a beautiful lady, the tantras unanimously declare that shakti is the all-pervading and all-embracing existence in a saint and in a sinner, in a man and in a woman, in a believer and in a nonbeliever.

Tantric sadhana

Tantra shastra has an elaborate and definite scheme of manifesting this transcendental existence in every individual by mantras, yantras, devata, kriyas and mudras, including those most abused five ingredients of tantra. Those elaborate and definite schemes of tantra are employed to develop the deeper individual awareness on the outer plane so that supra-physical faculties can be brought into action. Mantras are meant to create systematic vibrations, yantras are meant to consolidate the energy and other kriyas are to awaken the psychic centres in man.
Tantric sadhana consists of many ways to awaken the kundalini. It is a very powerful method and therefore there is always a possibility of misuse of those powers. The other methods are very tedious, strenuous, time-consuming and far-fetched; there is practically no possibility of misusing powers arising from methods other than tantra. Man does not have the patience to wait that long for the desired awakening, so most aspirants leave their practices half way.
Since tantra sadhana is direct, immediate, convenient, unrigid and palatable, the practitioner achieves instantaneous success in it. Therefore, tantra is a living science in India, not at all obsolete, never dead. There are centres of initiation for serious-minded aspirants where tantric practices are taught. It is practised in absolute secrecy by various groups under the guidance of their own tradition.

Defining the tantras

The word tantra is a combination of two processes, ‘tanoti’ and ‘trayati’, meaning expansion and liberation. The root ‘tan’ stands for the word tanoti and the root ‘tra’ stands for the word trayati. The word tanoti means to stretch, to extend, to elaborate, to expand. The word trayati means to liberate, to free, to separate. So it is clear that tantra is a process of expansion and finally absolute freedom in the highest existence.
Many of the tantras are purely vedic in origin. You can conveniently put them into two progressive categories of shruti (revealed scriptures) and smriti (transmitted by memory). Tantras that have their existence in shruti and follow the vedic tradition implicitly are shrauta tantras. Those tantras having all respect for shruti but which adjust with the ever-shifting social concepts are known as smarta tantras.
The shrauta tantras, that is to say the vedic tantras, were replete with an absolute sense of purity and orthodoxy. As a result, there developed a tradition of moral restraints such as ahimsa or non-violence and the like. However, those who were used to performing animal sacrifices and other such older customs did not agree with orthodox purity or ahimsa. Thus the vedic tantras were naturally divided in the course of time into two groups: one followed the path of ahimsa, the other followed the tradition of animal sacrifices, drinking wine and the like. However, in those days they did not use the word tantra; they used the word yajna. Later, these natural divisions of vedic tantra developed into two main orthodox currents, namely shakta tantra, worshipping Shakti, and shaiva tantra, worshipping Shiva.

Shaktas and Shaivas

Shaivas lived an austere life, which was not enjoined in the original vedic tantra, and they also refrained from sacrifices, wine etc., which was accepted by popular traditions of shaktas. Shaktas continued their system around the concept of shakti, lived a life of comfort and luxury like the vedic worshippers, and pursued the path of sacrifices, wine etc. Due to the pressure of repeated criticism, it became necessary for the followers of shakta tantra to evolve a spiritual philosophy to prove the propriety and effectiveness of their system. Thus the main stream of tantra was divided into three groups.
1. The refined vedic worship which is widely practised even today in the form of yajnas, rudri and other karmakanda rituals.
2. The shaiva tantra which systematically developed around the central concept of Lord Shiva with austerity as its backbone, yoga as its creed, renunciation as its policy and samadhi as its summum bonum. Worshippers of this cult can be seen among all sections of Hindus. There are twelve main centres and many temples where shaiva tantra is practised as a daily ceremony.
3. The shakta tantra which was a kind of original vedic tantra later developed into a classical system of shakti worship. However, they did not discontinue the primitive tradition of sacrifices, wine, fish, honey, marital or extramarital cohabitation, and occult mantras. There are sixty-four main centres or shakti peeths besides numerous temples where shakti tantra is practised in daily as well as occasional ceremonies. There are also sixty-four tantric texts belonging to this stream.

Right and left tantra

It is this tantric tradition which again divides into left tantra and right tantra, or vama tantra and dakshina tantra. Why and how did this division take place? One cannot belong purely to one creed; one is always influenced by the next door neighbour’s thoughts. Some shaktas also realized the glory, purity, nobility and grace of the shaiva system, whose highlights were austerity, purity, yoga and samadhi. As a result they worshipped shakti with the spirit of shaivism and refrained from meat, etc. They became practitioners of right hand tantra. Other shaktas continued their usual practices and were known as the leftist or vama path.
There were those shaivas who were influenced by the behaviour of the shaktas. They felt it was meaningless to perform austerities and yoga practices when the gain was easily obtainable through animal sacrifices, etc. So they combined Devi worship into their system because they found in it the fulfilment of emotion and ambitions. Worshippers of Shiva were not supposed to practise animal sacrifices, etc., but they accepted it and followed the traditions of shakta tantra side by side with the traditions of shaiva tantra.

Reinterpretation of tantric philosophy

This development was spontaneous, though subjected to organization in the course of time. Different creeds were organized but the central purpose remained the same – the awakening of something in man which was unknown but not unheard of. It is true that there might have been people who joined the creed without any spiritual purpose, but such people were very few. Most people in India joined these different traditions with the definite purpose of awakening the sleeping power and harnessing it for a higher purpose.
From time to time each and every system underwent changes and adjustments with reference to the ceremonies and the original elements of worship. While the reference to animal sacrifice etc. was literally accepted in older traditions, in later traditions it came to mean a process of sacrificing the animal in man. Thus came the reinterpretation of tantric philosophy.
Here wine did not mean anything except the amrit or nectar which is produced internally through certain esoteric methods. Again maithuna did not mean cohabitation as is generally understood. It meant an act or a state of union between the individual and the collective consciousness, jivatman and paramatman. Thus the whole picture changed.
Further, mantra did not mean vedic mantras, audible pronouncements. Mantra came to be understood as a process of contemplation on an esoteric sound in order to break through the fetters of the lower consciousness. The root man means a process of contemplation, and tra means freedom, liberation, elimination, release and the like. So, mantra came to mean a process of chanting certain syllables in a particular way in order to bring about the fusion of empirical existence with transcendental existence.
Thus the entire philosophy of tantra undergoes a process of sublimation. Although you will not find any change in the mantra “I offer this animal” that is recited, the attitude becomes sacrificing the animal instinct in human awareness. Lord Shiva becomes Pashupati or ‘master of the animals’. While the worshipper chants the mantra of sacrifice, he becomes aware of the possibility of mastering the animal instinct.
How to kill that animal and how to transcend the lower awareness? It is possible that one can soar high in spiritual life without suppressing the natural life one has developed through the course of evolution. Here tantric sadhana becomes a true life boat. It does not ask anyone to deny the natural demands of life. You have to spiritualize them and thus exhaust the samskaras. If you cannot give up your old habit of drinking, it does not matter. You continue it as an ingredient of your tantric worship.

A non-ethical system

People in general are intellectually ethical. This is a condition in every part of the world. The intellect is clouded by the socialized ethics of the world. At the same time everyone is violating this philosophy. A large percentage of the world population is always indulging in what it considers to be unethical and immoral. Consequently, everyone without exception is suffering from self-imagined agonies. This is where psychological and psychosomatic diseases have their origin.
Tantra advises us not to consider these acts as immoral and unethical, but to accept them and spiritualize them. When you know that everybody is leading a particular kind of life, indulging in wine, women, meat-eating, etc., what is the use of asking them to renounce everything for fear of hell or for the sake of heaven? It is sure that neither fear of hell nor craving for heaven can make one renounce the pleasures of life. Rather it creates conflicts and psychological cobwebs in man’s personality.
The point is how one should utilize these and other natural expressions of individual consciousness for higher awakening. Tantra shastra has definite methods, techniques and rules for practising the fivefold items, unknown to many mystic traditions in the annals of ancient and modern history. The professional teachers of ethics and morality, the self-styled preachers and devotees of ahimsa will never accept this view of tantra. But it has been proved absolutely that everyone, whatever their weaknesses, has equal opportunities to develop the spiritual power within. Such a person will march through tantric sadhana and sooner or later find himself on the path of yoga. This is what everybody wants.

Elements of tantra

There is a great similarity between tantra shastra and yoga shastra. In both you will find references to asanas, pranayamas, mudras, bandhas, chakras, nadis, dharana, dhyana, kriya yoga, kundalini yoga, hatha yoga, mantra yoga, jnana yoga, etc. The practices of khechari, shambhavi, vajroli, uddiyana and the like are an integral part of tantra shastra. In the sixty-four tantras there are hundreds of such methods meant for highly developed as well as undeveloped individuals. Each tantra can be said to have been created to suit a limited number of temperaments.
There are written tantras as well as unwritten tantras. Written tantras number sixty-four, but unwritten tantras are unnumbered. They are an oral tradition and are only taught to those disciples in whom the guru finds great understanding and a few more simple qualifications. Even today there are such teachers in India who are well versed in this oral system of tantra and who continue to pass on this great knowledge through their disciples. This traditional oral system is more powerful, portable and easily available, but it is not an easy task to discover the teachers of this tantric system.

Methods of worship

Tantric worship is a kind of ritual in which various aspects of reality are accepted. It is the general belief that worship of those deities creates great receptivity and awakening in the psychic world of man and thereby the worshipper receives abundant blessings.
The science of mantras is so precise and scientific that it creates an awakening in the psychic fields. Therefore, mantra shastra is the foundation of tantra shastra. The various provinces that are lying in the inner space of man are always in tune with those vibrations, which a powerful mantra is capable of creating. Therefore, a mantra which belongs to the tantric tradition is a very powerful tool. It may or may not have any intelligent meaning, but it is capable of piercing through the various states of psychic consciousness.
The method of worship in tantra is not only devotional; it is scientific and preplanned so that the worshipper has to remain conscious of each ritual at every step. As such he cannot perform the worship mechanically. The process of guiding the awareness is fully defined and he must remain aware of what he is doing. He has to employ mantras, mudras, bhavana and kriyas during the practice. Therefore, the method of worship brings about a fineness in the state of individual awareness.
Tantric worship does not begin in the temple nor does it end there. It begins the moment you rise up from your bed and every action thereafter is guided by the rules of tantra. During the process of worship, every item of tantric ritual brings the awareness into active operation. At the end of the worship the aspirant meditates on Shiva and Shakti.
Tantric meditation is absolutely guided and therefore it gives the sadhaka a greater facility to overcome the problems of the mind. He does not have to think of the next step and naturally the intellect is made to retire. This is a very important event in spiritual life. The guru and tantric methods alone can help one to come out of this intellectual strangulation.
The entire programming of meditation helps the aspirant to practise for long hours. When you meditate on a particular deity, you need a program for the individual awareness to follow without any intellectual processes being involved. Again, yantras and mantras are so designed that they are able to create an image and excite the movement of consciousness in the psychic fields. These elements of tantra guide the awareness into different planes of consciousness.

Tantric guru

A lot has been said about the necessity of a guru in the path of yoga. In tantric sadhana the guru is the first and most indispensable element. Selection of the guru is the foremost item in tantric sadhana. The female guru is considered to be very powerful. Wherever there is a custom of traditional tantric initiation, the mother becomes the initiating guru. This custom is popular in certain parts of Bihar where the mother becomes the guru of the tradition. For the fulfilment of any tantric worship, initiation from a female guru or bhairavi is sought. Initiation by bhairava is very powerful.
However, the selection of a guru for tantric initiation is really a difficult job for the simple reason that such gurus do not make themselves known at all. Therefore, initiation into tantra depends on the guru, while the disciple has only to prepare himself. When the guru feels that the disciple is ready, then he initiates him into the tantric tradition. As such, the problem of finding a proper guru for tantric sadhana should not arise at all. When the disciple is ready, the guru will be shown.
The tantric guru may be a sannyasin or a householder, but what is wanted is that he is proficient in his art and does not use the power for evil purposes. Although a householder guru can have the authority to impart the knowledge, yet it should not mean that one can become a guru just because he is a householder. Since the householder is accepted as a responsible member of society and has a great understanding of the average person, he is also allowed to act as a guru provided he knows the science.
In India, brahmins who know this art and give initiation live the life of an average householder. However, one must remember that the married life of a Hindu brahmin, and still more that of a spiritually-minded Hindu brahmin, is glorious, disciplined and self-controlled. There is a great difference in ideals, outlooks, practices and results in the lives of a Hindu householder and an average western householder.
Even if such a guru has two wives, it does not matter. The shastras sanction such marriages in extraordinary cases when the question of progeny is involved. However, such a guru devotes himself fully to the practices of tantra sadhana while he has disciples to take care of his material needs.

Sadhana in the burial ground

Sometimes a very ugly picture is painted of a tantric sitting naked in a burial ground with human skulls and drunken women. In fact, tantra is far from this. Witchcraft also should not be mistaken for tantra, although the practitioner of tantra may develop certain powers. Since the cemetery and burial grounds, lonely forests and midnight hours are good for silent and uninterrupted meditation, tantra shastra advises such places. When the mind is given an atmosphere, then the mental tendencies become much quieter.
In deeper states of meditation when the conscious mind loses its grip over the autonomic system, inherent fear springs up and there is an explosion of psychic contents in the form of symbols from the collective unconsciousness. Even as situations in life are able to stimulate the lower psyche in individuals, likewise the solitude, quiet and mysterious atmosphere of the burial ground is able to develop the mystic and occult contents of one’s deeper personality.
There is no better place in the world for meditation than the burial ground, where the mind as a whole develops awareness of fleeting life, meaningless efforts, death and many more valuable realizations. Sometimes the aspirant used wine in order to eliminate the first phase of fear. However, this sadhana is a ceremony to stimulate the mind and brain to dive deep into one’s own self. When you practise tantric worship in the burial ground, you have to practise the whole initiation in that heightened mental state for hours together and try to disassociate the psyche from matter in different phases of awareness.
When the consciousness of the aspirant dives deep into various layers of individual consciousness, it has to overcome fears, forms, images and schizophrenia and finally establish itself in a state of tranquillity. When the tremendous collective unconscious becomes manifest, the ego is separated from matter and the thing is seen face to face as a reality.

Cohabitation versus brahmacharya

Cohabitation, whether marital or extramarital, is not an essential part of tantra. You can practise tantra with your wife if you have one, with another companion, or without anyone if you are a brahmachari. For Hindus, marriage is a dharma as much as brahmacharya is a great accomplishment. While a married householder fulfils a great dharma, a brahmachari attains the higher state of existence.
Marital union is not unholy, yet it pricks the conscience. How then can one practise tantra when both acts are to be performed at night? How can one overcome the feeling of guilt and nervousness due to excitement. The practitioner of tantra will have to spiritualize the marital act and make it an item of tantric worship, so that he remains free from the emotional concomitants of the act.
Wise people included the marital act in the scheme of tantra in order to avoid the guilt complex, the animal nervousness, the psychological after-effects, the forgetfulness of spiritual purpose, and finally to establish a deeper bond of union between husband and wife in the psychological, social and spiritual fields. That is why maithuna is not outside but inside the scheme of tantra. It should not be considered as unspiritual since it opens certain portions of the posterior pituitary gland and removes toxins stored up in the sexual organs and elsewhere.
The practices of tantra are done at different periods: at night, in the early morning, at home, in the burial ground, in the company of husband or wife, with other companions, or alone. It all depends on the evolution of the practitioner. While the beginner may be asked to perform the worship at night with his wife, later on he and his wife may have to do the practice individually and live a life of spontaneous brahmacharya.
Brahmacharya is not renounced by tantra, rather it is enjoined, but not straight away. It comes in stages. When one is established in spontaneous brahmacharya, then one is allowed to practise or worship in the burial ground or any other such place. After that one is allowed to practise in the morning hours when there is absolute steadiness in the atmosphere as well as in the mind.
Tantric worship in the burial ground is also enjoined for women, but it is not a collective worship in the company of husband or wife; one has to practise individually. Morning worship of tantra is enjoined for husband and wife, but they have to practise individually. Only the preliminary worship for husband and wife, guru and disciple, male and female is enjoined for both and must be practised together.
So, a tantric is not a wild looking man with a bottle in one hand and a woman in the other, with a hideous face, dirty appearance, deep red clothes, bloodshot eyes and a terrifying personality. Those who have this image in their minds are ignorant of the truth. A real tantric is a saintly personality, a yogi who is practising yoga in a different way for the development of that spiritual power which is hidden by layers of ego. Tantra is a much easier way, a path most people can walk upon. The tantric system has come to be misused and abused, and therefore misinformed people have developed vague and false images of the tantric, and impostors are exploiting their self-styled definition of tantra.

A natural process of self-realization

If I could tell you the details of tantric worship, the definition of deities, the science of mantra, the psychic capacity of the bija mantra and its use, the methods of meditation, the place, time and companions of worship, then you would at once understand that tantric sadhana is so powerful that not only the vagrant mind can be brought under control, but the higher elements of consciousness can also be subjugated.

Shiva and shakti have individual as well as collective existence. They are the supreme awareness in every being. A complete manifestation of shiva and shakti is termed samadhi by yogis, whereas vaishnavas call it Vishnu darshan. Shiva is unqualified awareness in every being and shakti is matter holding and manifesting the said awareness. Shakti directs the three gunas so that the individual awareness can function.
Shakti is maya, illusion, and avidya, ignorance, also. When the worshipper is propitiating shakti, he is actually progressing through the path of pratyahara, the withdrawal of sense awareness. The process of cessation of the modifications of the individual consciousness is complete when the awareness of shakti is revealed. The state of higher consciousness is easily obtainable by the process of shakti worship.
Vedanta is a sublime philosophy but it is purely Intellectual.
The practices of jnana yoga are negative, pessimistic, egoistic and purely mental.
Raja yoga is a complete system but it makes a lot of demands on the individual to the extent that it produces numerous introverts, neurotics and inhibited personalities. Although it is an incomparable path in other ways, it lacks understanding of the average person.
Bhakti yoga is the easiest path, but the problem is that it has no systematic blueprint for inner evolution and it is full of impossible concepts of ethics, morality, purity, orthodoxy and incorrigible arrogance.
Tantra, on the other hand, is a smooth way for everyone, and does not lay down a list of don’ts. It has practices for every individual at different points of evolution. Whether you are a vegetarian or a non-vegetarian, a brahmachari or married, high born or low born, selfish or unselfish, a seeker of moksha or siddhis, it is tantra shastra which gives you a way for yourself. Even sannyasins can practise tantra sadhana and develop higher powers and utilize them for the good of mankind. Mahanirvana Tantra is the tantra for sannyasins, brahmacharis and hermits.
All those who have not succeeded in their sadhana even though years have elapsed should accept the tantric way of realization. In Kali yuga, when minds are no longer pure, habits have degenerated, passions have burst out, faith in God is just a habit and life has become completely material, it is tantra that is the way for spiritual aspiring souls of both east and west.


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