Tantra is known as the most mysterious, intense and sensual practice arising from Indian Continent, the land with plentiful, lavish and deep rooted spiritual principles. A practice that just cannot be ignored as it presents the magic, excitement and bizarreness that a modern mind is probably seeking. The word Tantra rings many bells in the mind and one thing is for sure for anybody who aspires to walk the path, that this is a secret and should not be discussed about. The reason for this basic fear arises from a question that was posed to me to many a times “You learning Tantra???, who is misguiding you?” It is a suggestion that there is something gravely wrong in the understanding about Tantra.
Tantra is the only practice that is guided by an all accepting principle. There is no thought, desire or practice that should be rejected. It is offering success on worldly and spiritual level to an exceptional degree. In India, Tantra is often seen as black magic, a practice done to control energies of person, place or situation especially for material gain. A Tantrick is not a person with a pleasant personality but, carries dark energies. In west, mostly Tantra is regarded as a practice that leads to self-realization through elaborate sexual practices. But behind this allure, Tantra is a practice that has its roots deep in profound spiritual teachings related to Yoga and Vedas. Tantra is a very vast science that has something to offer for everyone. Before embarking on the journey on Tantra, one should learn to discriminate between what is real and what is just a created fascination. Someone who has not walked the path usually has one of the two or both the misconception etched in mind one it is some form of occult practice and other that it is a spiritual practice with sexual orientation.
Tantra and occult practices.
“I want to marry this boy Ma, I have my whole faith on you, please help me get this boy” a girl said to me who recently approached with heart strong desire and faith that a Tantrika can change the positions of all stars for her and they will be together the next day. The question is does Tantra carry within it the wisdom for controlling and challenging the universal principles. Yes it does!
Practices like Istambhan (Paralyzing), Mohan (Attracting), Uchchatan (disturbing mental equilibrium), Vashikaran (Enslaving), Akarshan (attracting someone at a distant place), Jrambhan (changing behavior of someone), Vidweshan (creating opposition between two people), Maran (Killing), Pushti (increasing wealth) all are very much a part of Tantra. But they are not the core essence of Tantra. Many Tantricks do claim of power and siddhis that can turn the events in our favour. Such practices are not just about mantra siddhi but also need understanding and knowledge of gems, yantras, havans and even astrology. Although there are also few Tantricks who claim to have control over some yakshinis through whom they can outwit outer limitations and create favourable results.
Although all of this is a part of Tantra, but it does not comprehend all the aspects of Tantric tradition. This skewed image of Tantra further skews the image of Tantric Gurus, and thus they too feel wary in completely accepting Tantra as a spiritual path. Even a genuine Tantric Guru is seen as a magician and people do believe that he can grant all the wishes even if no such thing is ever professed by the guru. Every one wishes to make their life better and more comfortable and going to a Tantric Guru seems as an easy deal, as all the work has to be done by the guru and one can just sit back, relax and wait for the results. As easy it seems to be, it is not even near to the whole truth. To gain a Siddhi or power to control certain universal energies it takes years of Sadhana. A person who enters into this realm eventually after hours of mantra jap and Sadhana, realizes the real cause of suffering and starts walking towards the real journey of liberation. This does not mean that Siddhis do not come, they do come, but their use is then done perspicaciously.
In today’s time there is lot of attraction towards gurus who can grant boons and many politicians and celebrities are in a search to employ tantrics who can help them win elections or destroy their enemies. A famous singer had once approached us, to get help in winning a court case regarding property issues with her brother-in-law. It is not a stray case, we many times get requests where people ask us to change their situations and promise to work on self-growth once it is done, or may even promise a hefty amount in its lee. The best we can do, is give a genuine practice and ask the person to do it with faith and wait for the grace of Gurumandala and Divine Goddess to fall upon them.
Labelling Tantra as black magic or any color of magic is a grave mistake one can do. Nevertheless, Tantra is a good tool for helping people, but not on a superficial level, but on a level where a person starts recognizing his/her true potential and starts the journey towards self. When approached with right intention Tantra gives you much more then fulfillment of your desires. The distinct awareness that is developed with Tantric practices helps you to gain your supreme goal of self-realization by being conscious and present in your very situations.
Tantra and Sex
In east, Tantra means magic and in west it means sex. There is sudden outburst of teachers proclaiming to be Tantrics who teach special sexual practices, sexual rituals and even sexual postures that are prerogative for ascension of Kundalini Shakti. Now again we ask the question are such sexually inclined practices part of Tantra? And the answer is again Yes!
Sex is an aspect of Tantra and if we understand more they are also a part of Hindu thought that is well represented by a hindu scripture based on sexual love that is “Kama Sutra”. But sexual practices are neither an essential part of Tantric studies nor are they mentioned in every Tantric text. Tantra is path that converts every ordinary daily activity like eating, sleeping and breathing into a sacred action, and in the same light sex has also seen as an activity that when entered into with awareness transforms the primal forces of life into higher forces of consciousness. The idea of sex being an integral part of Tantra arises from the study of Panch Makaras or five M’s as known in west. The Panch Makara are Madhya (Wine), Mansa (Meat), Matsya (Fish), Maithuna (sexual intercourse) and Mudra (parched grains). Maithuna is considered as an important aspect, which we can also understand by the following shloka:
मैथुनं परमतत्त्वं सृष्टि स्थित्यन्तकारणं |
मैथुनात् जायते सिद्धिब्रह्म्ज्ञानं सुदुर्लभम् ||
The shloka means: Maithun is the root of creation, preservation and destruction. It is regarded as a great principle in scriptures. It achieves all ends and confers the most difficult knowledge of Brahma. But in this particular shloka, Maithuna is referring to recitation of various attributes of God. There are various meanings attributed to PanchMakaras, some have a symbolic meaning to them and some have taken them literally. Various yogic practices like pranayama, khechri mudra and practice of maun (Silence) is also regarded as PanchMakara is some scriptures.
In Mahanirvana Tantra, there is direct reference to Panch Makara which reflects in following shlokas.
अष्टैश्वर्यं परं मोक्षं मधपानेन शैलजे ।
मांसभक्षणमात्रेण साक्षान्नारायणो भवेत्॥
मत्स्यभक्षणमात्रेण कालीप्रत्यक्षतामियात् ।
सुद्रासेवनमात्रेण भूसुरो विष्णुरापधृक् ॥
मैथुनेन माहायोगी मम तुल्यो न संशयः ॥
By drinking wine one acquires eight lordly powers and great emancipation. By taking meat one sees Narayana himself. By taking fish one sees Kali herself. By practicing Mudra one becomes like Vishnu in form. By Maithuna one becomes like me (Shiva). There is no doubt about it.
So, Tantra is a complex tradition with many facets. All these popular conceptions about Tantra only represent a small part of the vast wisdom and deep spiritual practices presented by Tantra. To learn Tantra and to walk on this path it is important to come out of this narrow understanding and embrace the broader scope that Tantra truly gifts to the modern man.