Most People are unclear about what Tantra really is and what it can do for you. Probably the most common view is that Tantra has some connection with Oriental religion, with uninhibited sex, and with the lovemaking positions and techniques outlined in the Kama Sutra, Hinduism’s oldest sex manual. To some, Tantra is a free-love cult, a survival of the psychedelic sixties; to others, it’s New Age spiritual sex therapy. See also: Sex Therapy
None of these views of Tantra are wrong outright, but none really explain what Tantra actually is. So what is Tantra? What does it mean? And, most important of all, what is its relevance to us today?
The roots of the word are Sanskrit:
Tan – thread, web, stretch, spread or expand, and
Tra – tool or instrument.
Tantra – tool for expansion or a weaving.
The word Tantra is Sanskrit, the sacred language of Hinduism and the most ancient language of the World. It derives from the root word tan, which translates as “to extend, expand, spread, continue, spin out, weave; to put forth, show, or manifest.” Like the universe we inhabit, Tantra is continually expanding, spreading, and manifesting itself like a “cosmic weave,” made up of different energies. We are part of this weave, as are our forefathers and foremothers, all life, and every type of energy and matter. This includes thoughts, actions, and all physical matter. Through Tantric practice one can experience an expansion of consciousness and recognize the interconnectedness of the web of existence.
Some Definitions of Tantra:
Because Tantra is a mystical subject, it is nearly impossible to define. Even eminent scholars have had a hard time explaining what Tantra actually is. The different explanations of Tantra indicate its multifaceted nature. Tantra is a spiritual science, which means it is also mystical, in its interconnectedness, the holistic wisdom link between ourselves and the universe we inhabit.
By embracing Tantra, we become more “real,” more “complete.” How? By recognizing and stimulating our inherent sensual spirituality, we discover parts of ourselves that have remained asleep or have been repressed. With Tantra, an energy is released that is evolutionary and “upwardly motivated.” We can learn to use this energy for pleasure, for achieving our worldly goals, and for aiding our spiritual evolution.
Familiarity with Tantra can help a person to enjoy life to the fullest. It can help do away with guilt or fear, break down self imposed or limiting cultural boundaries, and guide us in our search for solutions. Tantra teaches us to become familiar with our mystical nature, and when we do so, our boundaries expand. We enter into new domains of awareness. We become empowered, more fulfilled, and more perfect.
Traditional dictionary definitions of Tantra are revealing. A Sanskrit word, Tantra is sometimes translated as “leading principle, essential part, model, system, framework, doctrine, rule, theory, scientific work,” also as “order, chief part, rule, authority, science, mystic works, magical formulas, means, expedient, stratagem, medicine.” Finally, a Tantra is sometimes defined as “a type of mystical teaching set out mostly in the form of dialogs between a cosmic couple. intimate insightful dialogs, between God and Goddess, Shiva and Shakti, the male and female Tantric adepts, were at times written down and became known as Tantras. Naturally, these dialogs, being intimate, included sexual secrets as well as many other fascinating
Tantra has been well tested over thousands of years, not in worldly laboratories but in the laboratories of the human body, by Yogi scientists and Tibetan Lamas who were not driven by commerce but by the earnest desire for spiritual knowledge and liberation. Their observations and insights have been passed down to us.
The sacred Hindu and Buddhist scriptures known as Tantras provide detailed instructions on a wide range of topics, including spiritual knowledge, technology, and science. Their content is often paradoxical. In Tantra, science and mysticism go hand in hand, as do sensuality and asceticism. Just as advanced scientific treatises are difficult for the layperson to comprehend, so traditional Tantras require adequate preparation before they can be properly understood.
At the same time, Tantra can refer to any of a number of sacred texts in the Hindu, Jain and Tibetan Buddhist traditions. Many of these texts contain detailed guidelines for spiritual practice. From this perspective, Tantra is a vast body of spiritual and physical knowledge, encompassing an array of practices, including all forms of yoga. These practices are aimed at expan- ding consciousness and liberating oneself “through life and not through escape, using the body as an instrument.”
In Tantra, the energies of the body are used as the fuel for spiritual develop- ment.
In the West, Tantra is often called the “Yoga of Sex.” While there is a kernel of truth in this phrase, the popular press has created a misleading impression that Tantra is about having better orgasms or about becoming a better lover. Since Tantric practices are designed to expand consciousness, they can expand a person’s capacity to give, receive and experience pleasure, not only in the sexual realm but in all areas of life, provided that person is willing to do the work.
Many contemporary Tantra teachers emphasize very powerful techniques for enhancing sexual pleasure and intimacy, while some traditional teachers discourage students from exploring sexual Tantra at all.
Frequently Asked Questions on Tantra:
What is Tantra?
The spiritual art of love…of connecting spirit with form. It is experiencing love through through the beauty of the earth and all existence. It is about acceptance, rather than deniel. It also embraces compassion…about truth within unconditional love…
What are its elements? Is Tantra a yoga?
Some call it Tantra Yoga. If we see yoga as union, then I agree. Others say Tantra is not a part of Yoga, which most people see as Hatha Yoga anyway, but rather an entire lifestyle. Many in the yoga community consider Tantra “something they would rather not deal with,” so to speak. So, in that sense it is not about yoga as practiced in America, unless that yoga teacher also embraces the openess an sensual nature of Tantra.
Is Tantra a religion, or a movement within religion(s), or is it entirely separate from religion?
Tantra is not a religion. It is a spiritual path. When religion enters, then barriers are drawn. However, some call Tantra a religion, although there is no organized body of thought or practitioners as such. Tantra cannot be encapsulated into a religion or dogma.
What is the exact relationship between Tantra and sexuality?
In Tantra, sexuality is total and filled with bliss. However, Tantra is not about sex. Sex practiced or performed in Tantra is what is taught by most teachers of this spiritual lifestyle. By some Yogins sexual ignition energy is used as a tool to raise the Kundalini, or the participants bioenergy. Some practitioners simply use this energy as a tool. At some point Tantrikas experience a bliss-filled state that can be identified as asexuality. Perhaps because of general sexual suppression by cultures and religions, ancient carvings in Nepal and India depicting unbridled sexual sharing create indelible labels. Some Tantrikas do not engage in sex at all.
Is Tantra an attitude, a belief, or a practice?
No belief. It is an attitude and there are practices, in sex, and many other areas of life that can be used as tools. Many of these include contemporary conscious psychotherapeutic methods, as well as Eastern philosophy and techniques, such as pranyama, yantra, mantra, etc., as well as simply applying expanded consciousness to one’s existence.
Are there common elements in its practice, if it has any? If so, how do these relate to any common attitudes or beliefs? When you say you “practice” Tantra, what do you do exactly?
Tantra is a lifestyle of letting-go, feeling a oneness with everything. If we were to relate Tantra to life in general, we would say there is much more lay-back living, more enjoyment of our sensual nature, a sexual freedom which follows a lifestyle of let go as well. Practicing Tantra is to walk our talk…to visualize others as Divine… to meditate, get and give and receive massages ..and to say YES! more often…to seek for the purest, highest quality of life, yet to accept whatever we have…and to feel our Divine nature…God…Goddess.
Where and when did Tantra start, if it had an origin?
While there are many opinions, there is no real beginning as such. See articles and books, particularly the Hindu vedas, and the spiritual philosophy of Tilopa and Milaropa. However, it is now known that using sexual-heart energy of the Kundalini for transcendence and connecting with God or Divinity was known by many cultures throughout the world. There are references to it in both the new and old testament’s of the Bible, in the Koran, the Bhagavagita and countless other spiritual texts.
Are there certain types of cultures where it arises?
Interesting question. Tantra seems to arise and gain interest when we have gone too far with our material world. More of the lay-back, natural cultures like the Cherokees and Polynesians follow a similar lifestyle. Some pagan traditions also do. Whenever civilization has filled its members with fear, Tantra becomes popular. It is something we all experience at one time or another in our lives. Now, in Russia, Tantra has become very popular.
Are there historical or fictional people associated with its origins?
You can see glimpses of Tantra in Krishna’s playfulness with the dakinis, and Jesus, no doubt, was also a Tantrika based upon his words of love and his association with Mary of Magdalene and Veronica of Nazareth. Tilopa, Naropa and Milaropa also were the so-called original messengers of Classical Tantra. However, even with the writings of Sir Richard Burton, much has been lost to antiquity
Is there an ‘ideal’ Tantra, regardless of how it manifests today? If so, what is this like?
Returning to the Biblical Garden of Eden, or a vision of Nirvana or Heaven. A community of people filled with unconditional love, bliss, a joy of life, tenderness and acceptance of all. Enjoying the good life, so to speak, unaddicted yet experiencing with totality and enlightened, of course [chuckle].
Is there an objective or ideal focus of a Tantrika? If so, what is it?
Not really. Maybe enjoying God’s existence at every moment and allowing enlightenment to occur in the process. Becoming aware…awake. Follow a form of mantra or yantra meditation, eat a proper vegetarian diet, be gentle and find love within you at each moment. The lifestyle itself is the gift and path….
What are the essentials of ‘Tantric philosophy’ if there is such a thing?
Same as above.
How does this relate to other Eastern or Western philosophies?
Most philosophies and religions have a dogmatic point-of-view of existence. Eastern and Western philosophies are tied up in dogma. Tantra is about dropping dogma, and simply being in bliss. This is difficult to talk about since all talk is the beginning of a philosophy. Philo from the Greek language means “life” and “sophy” from sophic represents study. In Tantra life in its totality is beyond study… It is experience.
Are there certain sects of religious traditions which consider themselves or are considered by others to be ‘Tantric’?
Yes, many. Yogi Bhajan of the 3HO organization (adapted from the Sikh tradition) considers his path “white” Tantra. Pagan traditions call it Tantrik practice, Tibetan Buddhists follow a Tantra path (commonly called yellow Tantra), and aspects of Voodoo and Santamaria use similar practices as in black Tantra, and the worship of Kali, the destroyer. This is only a sampling. There are many texts available on Classical Tantra in new age book shops and select libraries. Swami Virato follows the path of red Tantra…for the passion of flesh and spirit.
Are there Western forms of Tantra or rough equivalents?
Not really. Perhaps what is being taught by most teachers today could be called Western forms. Quodoshka was a similar form practiced by Native Americans (Cherokee).
Can Tantra be found in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Taoism? If so, in what forms and characters?
Yes. Read the various texts. Some say Tantra predates all of them.
Why do people get excited and mention sex when they hear the word Tantra?
Because sex sells, and most Tantra teachers accent this portion of the Tantric lifestyle in their courses, workshops and seminars. However, Tantra is much more than sex.
What inhibits Tantra, what stimulates it, and what kinds of people are more likely to practice it?
Fear and a closed mind inhibit living the Tantric life, while dance, other movement, meditation and pranyama (various breathing techniques) stimulate it. People who are adventurous and open are more likely to connect to a Tantric lifestyle.
Is it possible for Tantra to die out?
Tantra in the eyes of Great Recent Tantric – Dr. Narayan Dutt Shrimali:
A hypothesis and the principles derived out of it make the rock bottom of any systemised knowledge. When the same principle is ascertained as law, it is rendered the form of pure science. Now it is clear that science is the knowledge brought under general principles through minute analysis and experimentation.
Tantra is an eminent science having thousands of principles. In fact, it is the system of our life and a science of practice and practical knowledge. Through Tantra, we can attain superb powers by attracting and deriving the divine faculties pervading the entire cosmos. The aspirant of Tantra makes his internal capacity sharp and intensely forceful just like a magnet. This science is the process of activating the various dormant vital glands and Chakras of the astral form, present inside the human body. It makes us aware of the truth that a person can get liberation from his own subjugation, can achieve immense power and even with the physical body present, can free himself from his body and expand his faculties infinitely.
Each and every element of the nature is associated with the other. Every action has a definite basis and for that action, there also exists an equal and opposite reaction. This uninterrupted succession of atomic process is going on in our atmosphere. Formation of water vapours, rain from the clouds due to attraction between positively and negatively charged atoms, storms, tempest and earthquakes, all are interrelated to each other.
Tantra is the process of intensification of our peculiar inner potentialities so that we can command this atomic arrangement which in other words is known as ‘Siddhi’. The flow of energy is going on ceaselessly in the environment and when your own inner energy becomes capable of influencing the external ones, nothing will remain impossible for you and this is the science of Tantra in which the aspirant’s wish is first and foremost.
Fear of Tantra is baseless:
The notions of an ordinary person about Tantra are not worthy to mention as this science of power has been misused very much. Those who are quite conversant with Tantra, by awakening their internal cosmic faculties, acquire knowledge to progress ahead and by activating the internal Chakras become ultimately successful in attaining Self realisation and thereby Supreme Bliss, whereas the imperfect Tantriks focus their attention towards the leftist part which hitherto has been utilised by such Tantriks in causing pain and harm to others and in achieving sensual enjoyment. Thus they involve themselves in a wrong direction. Although they can cause damage to the common men, yet eventually such Tantriks undergo severe sufferings and their lives get highly miserable.
This is human nature that every person focuses his attention first on the bad aspect of any subject and not on the virtuous one. This attitude proves harmful to them. As I have said earlier that Tantra is a process of activating internal cosmic faculties of the invisible world and making them favourable for oneself. During this process, that vigorous energy at first affects the person who is trying to overpower it and if at that time the aspirant does not get frightened, the divine energy itself behaves like a slave and then performs all the miraculous deeds at the will of the aspirant. To explain further I am citing an illustration- If you go outside during winter without wearing woollen clothes, what will happen? The frozen particles of cold wave will fall violently upon you and you will fall sick. But in case you are totally prepared- you have a healthy physique covered with woollen clothes, cold cannot affect you in any way and you will proceed ahead without any fear. The same is the case with Tantra. If you are not afraid, have the required equipment and also a sound knowledge then Tantra is the easiest way for you to acquire the divine powers.
To emerge successful in Tantra, fearlessness as well as elevation of inner consciousness are absolutely essential because in this Sadhana, the power is to be evolved from within.
Confidentiality in Tantra:
In our ancient scriptures, there is great emphasis on the fact that the real Tantra should be kept confidential. What is the reason behind this secrecy? If this science has got usefulness, it should be popularised and propagated everywhere, every person should have its knowledge. But this is not the case. What is the reason behind it?
The real Tantra and its secrets were passed on verbally by the competent Guru to his disciples only. The disciples memorised that science and also got realisation of ‘Siddhi’ but the Guru got his disciples to promise that this knowledge would be granted to only those who really deserved it. So they had this relevant argument behind their secrecy. As I have written above that every action has equal and opposite reaction. For example if you disturb anyone – tease a dog, bull or snake, it will certainly attack you. You should have strength to fight them and ultimately bring them under your control. The same is true for Tantra. If a suspicious, weak and fearful person starts Tantra Sadhna, he on experiencing some distress or crisis, generally leaves it midway and thus puts himself in danger due to reversible reaction of the Sadhna because at that moment the inner energy of the aspirant is feeble and so is easily overpowered by the external forces. This is the reason why only a competent Guru is capable to impart the knowledge of Tantra. A Guru minutely and completely analyses the disciple and on getting assured that his disciple would never misuse that power, he starts teaching Tantra Sadhna. Immediately after getting success, the aspirant becomes very much energetic and his vigorous activities must be utilised for public welfare as well as for Self Realisation and not for causing harm to others.
Due to the afore mentioned reasons, the methods of Tantra Sadhnas have been written incompletely, or in symbols and one, who performs Sadhna according to what is written in scriptures can never be successful as the complete knowledge can be attained only through the guidance of a Guru.
How Tantra became a taboo? What then happened in between that has made Tantra a taboo today ?
Perusal of the past reveals that after Gorakhnath pseudo gurus like Bhayanand started the misuse of Tantra and thus got introduced vile practices like meat eating, sex and money spinning into the system. These false Tantriks not just used these rather expounded that without them success is impossible in field of Tantra. These unconscientious one’s even stooped so low as to resort to drinking, rape and swindling.
It was then but natural for the common man to keep distance from such practicers who were unfortunately more in number than real masters of Tantra. Soon society began to shun Tantra and a belief was generated that Tantra itself is a vile practice and has no useful applications in life.
But the problem was not with Tantra rather with the charlatans who used Tantra as an excuse to give vent to their beastly cravings. In fact Tantra is a science that can instill totality in life. A question may arise that when there are Mantras to procure divine blessings why do we need Tantra?
Wise and capable persons do not come to their conclusions in a moment, but only after a careful analysis of any thing. When the left wing of Tantra got predominant and those, who were keen to do these leftist Sadhnas for their petty and selfish ends, did not get success, they turned into big critics of Tantra and only those persons created misconceptions about Tantra.
Apart from this, the British education and Moghal’s culture had an attack on the fundamental elements of Indian society i.e. religious rites, Mantra, Tantra etc. They were aware of the fact that this great science of Vedas, Upnishads and Mantras was responsible for the highly elevated Indian culture, so they thought that if they circulated misconceptions against this science, the Indian people would spontaneously become slaves and unfortunately they succeeded in their evil mission. It should be remembered that psychological subjugation is more dangerous than physical one and this was the mental dependence which caused our deterioration from the heights of prosperity.
The objective of ‘Mantra Tantra Yantra Vigyan’ is to present the proper and complete knowledge of these occult sciences in simplest form before the people so that they themselves verify it and emerge successful in life through it’s use. Only then this science will flourish and we will get deliverance from mental over subjugation and will also regain our self respect and an exalted spiritual stature.
The Real Benefits of Tantra:
Tantra is basically the source of energy and if you master this science, you can easily conquer your materialistic obstacles, other persons can be influenced by you and their activities can be channelised according to your own will. The harmful effects of planets, influences of an evil eye and evil spirits can be removed. It is also helpful as a remedy of mental tension, unbearable pain and other physical and psychological ailments. The scope of Tantra is very wide including Vashikaran, Maran, Ucchattan, Hypnotism, Divine Vision etc., which in many ways are beneficial in modern life.
In fact, Tantra leads to the path of self surrender and it pertains to all the aspects of physical and parapsychological life. Life, a divine gift bestowed upon by the Almighty can be fully purposeful by regenerating one’s inner creative faculties and giving ‘Karma’, a predominant role in our lives and this is the genesis of life’s purposefulness and success.
“One who fears Tantra cannot be a human; and a Sadhak he never can be. In the times of Guru Gorakhnath Tantra was a much respected science popular in all stratas of society for it has in it solutions to all problems of life.
Actually Mantra is a prayer, it is a request put to the concerned deity to help one. But it is not necessary that the deity shall be moved by one’s plea. On the other hand if one uses Tantra one could compel the divine power to help. Tantra in fact is a guarantee that the concerned deity shall without fail have to shower its blessings.
A prayer may fail to touch the heart of the deity but Tantra forces it to grant the desired boon. The Sadhanas in Tantra and Mantra methods might appear similar yet Tantra is a thousand fold more powerful and unfailing.
Tantra gains all the more significance in the present times when every person has no spare time on hands. One cannot be expected to devote several hours each day to long Sadhana procedures. Today every one wishes for instant success and Tantra sure can bring it ; for Tantra means performing a Sadhana by a special meticulous procedure. Nothing is left to chance and all aspects are taken care of, so that success is sure and instant.
Still if due to human weakness some imperfection creeps into the Sadhana or Mantra chanting there are no negative results as is often (wrongly) believed by most people. Only result shall be that the desired wish shall not be fulfilled, but then one could try again.
Tantra is a jewel of the Sadhana world that can solve quickly and effectively all problems of human life like poverty, misery, unhappy married life, being childless, jobless, failure in business or health and so on. To resort to Tantra means adopting a sure way to success.” – Dr. Srimali