Saturday, 24 November 2012

What is Tantra? a simple explanation

Mansi carefully placed her offerings of flower, fruits and sweets on the altar of the Kali temple. Her guru invoked the devi. Once the chanting of mantras was over, Mansi contemplated in meditative silence. In the angry face of Kali, she saw a compassionate mother, ready to hold her hand and walk her through the ups and downs of sadhana. Through her puja, Mansi was able to experience a sublime state of consciousness, and she could find answers to all her questions. With this ritual, she was initiated into tantra, the practice of invoking the Divine Feminine, to experience the para prakriti or the supreme soul of Brahmn.

Tantric texts say that goddess is energy, the force behind Creation. Everything in the universe is an interplay of different cosmic energies. To Vedanta the world is maya, an illusion. Tantra goes a step further to say that yes, the world is God’s play, but it is necessary, so that God can experience His own nature — that the world is real and is an expression of the Lord’s will. Shakti is a way to know the Supreme Being, because she is the reflection of ultimate reality.

Sadashiva says in the Mahanirvan Tantra, “From thee has sprung the entire universe. Whatever there is in this world, of things which have and are without motion, from mahat or intelligence to an atom, owes its origin and are dependent on thee.” The Divine Feminine is the soul of the universe, reflecting ultimate reality. She is gross and subtle, manifest and unmanifest. The goddess changes forms; she becomes Durga, slayer of Mahishasura, she is Mahakali, representing raised kundalini with Shiva lying under her feet. As Tarini, she is the shakti that helps you cross the sea of samsara. As Bhuvneshwari she is the queen of myriad worlds. Mahanirvan Tantra says that it’s through invoking the goddess that a sadhaka can be united with Brahmn. 

Left And Right 
Tantra includes both right and left paths. The right-hand path is that of sublime devotion and surrender to Shakti. The left-hand path defies convention and mixes physical with spiritual.  Some practitioners use tantra rituals for controlling someone with the help of mantras — vashikaran, ucchatan or making life difficult for someone at a particular place, maran or trying to harm someone and mohan or forcing someone to become obsessive. These are common rituals used usually to unsettle rivals or obtain favourable judgements in a court case. Says tantra practitioner Yogi Ashwini: “Most people use these practices to solicit mundane benefits — whereas tantra in its positive connotation is meant to gain siddhis or certain powers to transcend and experience eternal bliss.”

“Tantra means a network of energy. Manipulating energy fields can affect the manifestation of that energy in someone’s life. Some principles of tantra are similar to the theory of probability and possibility,” says writer and tantra practitioner Niladri Moitra. Swami Samarpanananda of the Ramakrishna Mission says, “Ignorance of the general public and abuse by irresponsible practitioners of Vamachara or the left-hand path has made the whole science of tantra suspect.” Further, words like bali (sacrifice) scare people away. If tantra is the path a sadhaka chooses for himself, he has to remember that using the practice to gain material, mundane benefits or to harm others won’t get him anywhere.

Transcend The Mundane
Most of tantra practices have hidden meanings and profound spiritual nuances. For instance, in panch makar sadhana, “Madya means intoxication through awakening of the higher senses and doesn’t just denote getting drunk on wine. Similarly, matasya symbolises ida, pingla and sushumna as they crisscross each other at several points in the body, thereby forming a fish-like pattern. Maithuna refers to the merging of male and female energies. In this process, one partner has to sit atop another so that sexual energy can be harnessed. The concept of bali, too, is different in tantra, meaning to sacrifice something that is your very own. Mudras represent various forces of nature,” says Yogi Ashwini who points out that tantra practices raise the kundalini and ought to be used only for self-protection. Worshipping the Divine Feminine not only energises the sadhaka, it makes him more aware of himself. Through the various rituals, the sadhaka finds control over the self and transcends the mundane to experience bliss. Tantra is not about denial, it doesn’t divide things and practices into pure or impure. The Mahanirvan Tantra explains, “When Brahmn gyan has been acquired, there is no distinction between pure or impure. For to him who knows that Brahmn is in all things and eternal then what is there that can be impure.”

Shakti is there in everything, from the flame of the lamp to the rays of the sun. Energy is everywhere, in different forms, always moving, creating and energising objects in the universe; a sure sign that we, too, should keep moving, doing our duties well and sharing our joy with others on the path.

Source: She Is Everywhere

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