Here are some insights, reflections and quotes I have been collecting about CLASSICAL TANTRA and related topics.
There is no specific logical order for these various points, just sharing them spontaneously as they came through.
If you have any reflection, question or correction to what I share here feel free to message me.
TANTRA IS A LIVING SYSTEM
This means that it is actively practiced today and that it is constantly evolving.
TANTRA MEANS "TEACHING", "SYSTEM" OR "DOCTRINE"
This is the translation of the word itself. You have many translations for this word of course but most converge to this idea of a set of teachings. Other translations for the word tantra are "Theory", "Method", "Model" or "Technique".
The root "Tan" means weaving.
TANTRA REFERS TO ESOTERIC TRADITIONS OF BUDDHISM AND HINDUISM
Esoteric systems are schools of thoughts wisdom and practices that develop in parallel to orthodox religious systems.
The opposite of esoteric is exoteric which means developed for the masses.
In that sense esoteric schools or systems are targeted to a few, often secretive or hidden teachings that specialise in specific inner aspects of religious and spiritual systems.
Examples of esoteric schools in the west are Hermeticism, Gnosticism, Kabbalah, Theosophy, Occultism, etc.
The term Esoteric comes from the ancient greek adjective esôterikós which means "Belonging to an inner circle".
WHY DO I USE THE WORD "TANTRA" FOR MY TEACHINGS?
Because of the Himalayan source that inspires this system. It is in the Himalyas both Tibetan and Indian that a vast part of my insights emerged. One of the core sources of my teachings is MAHAVATAR BABAJI.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN YOGA AND TANTRA?
For me, these two systems greatly merge. They are parallel spiritual streams that often reflect similar practices, beliefs and philosophies.
In my experience, the core difference between yoga and tantra is that yoga is focused more uniquely on light and love.
I feel that tantra embraces human shadow aspects ajd develops sysyems to integrate these shadow aspects in our spiritual evolution.
When I am back at the source in high Himalayan valleys, I feel the spirit of TANTRA and YOGA fully merging as one source.
It is only when looking at manifested forms and systems that I would use more one word or the other.
VITAL TANTRA = LIFE MASTERY SYSTEM
This is how I translate what I teach "Life force or energy mastery system", "Complete pathway or system of life mastery", "Complete life optimization system".
RAJAYA TANTRA is the other word I use. I translate it as "THE TEACHINGS OF THE VICTORIOUS FIRE". Fire referring to energy or life force.
TANTRAS ARE SCRIPTURES
The tantras are series of sacred texts that have been written by teachers, gurus, poets.
They are parallel to other sacred scriptures like SUTRAS, VEDAS or AGAMAS.
FOR ME, TANTRA IS AN INTELLIGENT FORMLESS ENERGY REALITY
This is how I experience tantra! In high remote Himalayan valleys, lost in glaciers and sacred caves. I feel a formless source, sphere of unlimited potential, a spirit, divine energy that actively connects with humankind.
These caves feel like broadcasting stations where indights are revealed with tremendous clarity.
This means that most of my teachings come from self sourced insights under the inspiration of this tantric source and the guidance of invisoble gurus like MAHAVATAR BABAJI who sponsor this connection.
Only a small fraction of my teachings might be sourced in ancient classical texts.
To understand this dyanamic think about what inspired the classical tantric texts...
Masters received visions, initiations and wrote down their insights in the form of ancient classical tantric texts.
Who or what inspired these texts?
Obviously, before these scriptures became classical, they were first new revelations to a public that progressively adopted them as truth and sacred.
The tantric texts themselves are a reflection of a reality that is way vaster than the recorded texts.
If you paint an ocean landscape on a canvas, you know that what you capture on this painting is a tiny fraction of the ocean.
But the experience of the ocean is way vaster than that!
By diving directly into the ocean you will have a multi dimensional mystical experience that is infinitely vaster than by just looking at a painting.
You need the painting if you can't access the ocean!
Once you are by the sea and can jump straight into the blissful waves, the painting becomes obsolete, a simple reflection of a reality that is much vaster.
I experience tantra in similar ways.
The multidimensional mystical experiences that reveal themselves through Sadhanas (spiritual practices) can go way deeper than the study of ancient scrpitures.
This doesn't mean that scriptures don't matter! Of course they do!
They are a record, a bit like a picture of a loved one you keep by your side.
The experience of a loved one is way deeper than a pictural memory.
But that picture can help you track back these love sensations and the energetic connection with that person.
For scholars, studying and analyzing sacred scriptures is one of their access to the divine.
Other mystics with access the divine through rituals!
Others will enter profound states of meditative transe!
And others will access the divine by creating devotional music or feeding the poor.
Each one of these tantric pathways is valid!
They all play a significant role is sustaining and activating this system.
VEDAS - 1700-500 BC
Finalized around 150 BCE with Patanjali. So in relation to modern era the VEDAS are around 2000 to 4000 years old.
DVAITA = DUALISTIC / ADVAITA = NON DUALISTIC
ADVAITA VEDANTA is a specific form of vedic philosophy that focuses on the non dual aspects of life
WHAT IS THE CONNECTION BETWEEN KHAJURAHO AND TANTRA?
Most Khajuraho temples were built 950-1050 AD.
The Khajuraho temples belong to the Hindu and Jain traditions.
A big part of the tantric texts were written 600-1000 AD. I'll look deeper into the timing for tantric texts in another paragraph.
But for now we can see that Khajuraho and Tantra coexist time wise.
They might have flourished in different areas of India but the possibility of Khajuraho being greatly influenced by the tantric tradition is high of course.
To really understand if we can call these temples tantric, we must first understand the relationship between Tantra and Hinduism.
It's something I'm still exploring right now.
I definitely must look deeper into this question as I don't have all the info available to answer it right now.
TANTRA AND KAMA SUTRA CONNECTION
Tantric scriptures have a more spiritual connotation. They are religious or mystical in essence with connection to Gods, Goddesses, Rituals, etc.
Kama sutra can be seen as a life style inspired manual. The spiritual dimension is less present and can can be seen as a manual for successful coupling.
In today's world, the Kama Sutra could be seen as a manual on relationships, sexual or seduction advice
WHAT IS THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN TANTRA AND THE MAIN HINDU LINEAGES
The Hindu traditions include SHAIVISM, VAISHNAVISM, SHAKTISM and SMARTISM.
My understanding is that KASHMIR SHAIVISM is of course a form of SHAIVISM.
TIBETAN TANTRA IS A BUDDHIST EXPRESSION OF TANTRA
Tantra is not limited to Hinduism of course. It spreads and overlaps into the Buddhist tradition in Tibet.
This means that the tantric system is vaster than its Hindu expression.
The same happens to Yoga.
Yoga is present in both the Hindu and Tibetan Buddhism traditions.
CLASSICAL TANTRA IS PRESENT IS SHAIVISM, VAISHNAVISM, SHAKTISM AND TIBETAN BUDDHISM TANTRA
These are the main traditional streams that contain expression of classical tantra
MANTRA MARGA AND ADI MARGA ARE THE TWO MAIN SECTS OF SHAIVISM
KASHMIR SHAIVISM = TRIKA SHAIVISM
Orginated around 850 CE.
Based on various texts like TANTRALOKA from Abhinavagupta or Malinivijayottara Tantra.
Here are some examples of practices and instructions within the Trika tradition:
"The Yogin who has mastered posture and the mind, controlled the vital energy, subdued the senses, conquered sleep, overcome anger and agitation and who is free from deceit, should practise Yoga in a quiet, pleasant cave or earthen hut free from all obstructions."
"Regarding mantra, different Saiva tantras and texts teach different mantras and bija (seed) mantras. These mantras are generally intoned (uccara) at different positions in the body along the central channel (such as at the heart, throat, forehead, etc). The Diksottara tantra for example, teaches the intonation of the 'haṃsá' mantra, beginning in the heart region. Some texts teach "a lineal ascent through the heart, the throat, the palate, and the forehead, culminating with the transcendence of sonic experience as the 'Limit of Resonance' [nadanta] in the cranium is pierced." Other texts have the mantric energy follow the breath through the nose outside the body."
This is what following the Trika of Kashmir Shaivism path can look like.
Subtradition of Shaivism. Mainly expressed in the south and merged with the Tamil Shaiva movement.
Siddha = Perfection
Around 600-900 CE
TANTRALOKA = LIGHT ON TANTRA
Masterwork of Abhinavagupta who was the most revered Kashmir Shaivism master on Tantra
Collection of scriptures describing cosmology, philosophy, practices, etc.
VIGYAN BHAIRAV TANTRA
Key tantra text of the Trika school (Kashmir Shaivism).
Discourse between Bhairava and his consort Bhairavi.
112 Tantric meditation methods.
Teaches breath awareness, concentration, mantras, visualisations, awareness through each of the senses.
Methods to merge human consciousness with divine consciousness.
IS SACRED SEXUALITY PART OF CLASSICAL TANTRA?
Here is what I know...
EROTIC SCUPLTURES ARE OFTEN PRESENT IN HINDU TEMPLES INCLUDING KHAJURAHO
Can these temples be called tantric? Well I'm sure that some of them contain key tantric elements like the giant Shiva Lingam present in Khajuraho.
It's essential to understand though that the erotic sculptures of Khajuraho represent only 10% of the art covering the temples.
The rest of the scultures represents other aspects of life, divinities, etc.
So the erotic scenesare simply depicting life scenes a little as a record depicting what life looked like in those days.
THE KAMA SUTRA AND MANY OTHER SCRIPTURES ACTIVELY TEACH THE ART OF SEX AND SEDUCTION
I would not call the Kama Sutra a tantric text though. It was written around 400 BCE - 300 CE.
Precise date is not known but theses texts might originally inspired by some verses in the Vedas and predate the beginning of the tantric period which starts around 500 CE.
TIBETAN BUDDHISM TANTRA TEACHES AT LEAST SOME SEXUAL TANTRIC PRACTICES
I've seen and heard that many lamas and rimpoches have an active tantric sex life and might use sex as an initiation path.
Again, this is not mainstream in Tibetan Buddhism but part of the more secret or esoteric aspects of Tibetan Tantra.
SEXUAL TEACHINGS ARE NOT REALLY PRESENT IN KASHMIR SHAIVISM
That's what I heard from various sources but I haven't gone and studied directly from this source.
IMPACT OF THE EMERGENCE OF ISLAM AROUND 1200 CE
It is possible that the muslim invasion and occupation that took place in India from 1200-1800 CE massively impacted the perception of sex in the Indian subcontinent.
It is possible that during that period, sexual freedom or opennes was condemned and existing hindu traditions naturally started withdrawing the sexual aspects by fear of retaliation.
This could explain how a sexually free culture might have progressively shifted to a way more sexually conservative expression of modern India.
WHY IS TANTRA SO SEXUALIZED IN THE WEST?
Sexual energy and its sacredness have been suppressed in the west for at least the last 2000 years.
There is a natural need on this planet for sexual renewal and healthy, mature, sacred expression of sexuality.
The reason why I believe this is the path that Neo Tantra took is because there is a craving for it deep inside in the Western World.
A high proportion of sexual expression all over the world is highly disfunctional, taboo, packed with shadows, abuse, frustration and distortions.
Think about porn, sex trafficking, sexual traumas, suppression, layers of shame and guilt, dysfunctional and abusive relationships, sexual deprivation and much more.
I believe that the reason tantric sex emerged is because it is highly needed.
We need new understanding and expression of our sacred sexual nature.
The world wanted to emerge from this sexual shadow land and activate new codes around sexuality.
For me the spirit of tantra is a living intelligent energy reality.
I believe that the spirit of tantra manifests and develops where it is needed the most.
You can see this sexual focus as a compassionate intention from the tantric spirit to help and heal this aspect of humankind that has been highly distorted and traumatized.
I don't think that the sexual focus of Neo Tantra is a mistake. I believe the reason why it took that form is because this is what is needed.
Tantric sex is not the end of the story!
It is often the beginning of an exploration for those who seek awakening.
It is an access gateway.
If you join a yoga studio on a beach in California, your intention might simply be to get fit.
As you move deeper into Asanas, practice some Pranayama or sing a mantra, you might start connecting with this sacred essence of Yoga.
Getting fit is an access point that might potentially take you to a sacred temple in a remote valley of the Himalayas to have the most powerful mystical awakening of your life.
Similarly, the sexual aspects of Neo Tantra might lead you to optimize your being and wake up states of profound mystical presence.
Again, sacred sex in that case can be an access point.
In my energy reality, the sexualization of tantra makes total sense.
DISTORTION OF THE TANTRIC PATH?
Yesss! Of course that happens.
Many of the western conscious sexuality teachings that use the word Tantra have little to no connection to the Tantric tradition.
Tantra can be just a buzzword that some teachers might use to gather attention.
Someone who has never been exposed to classical tantra might think that what they access in a shallow Neo Tantra context is all there is.
That can be confusing and especially frustrating for those who try to transmit the essence and depth of orginal tantra.
I get it! I hear you!
I trust that everything is in profound alignement.
Those who offer value, deep experiences, connection with essence, attract crowds and impact deeply, survive the tests of trials and time.
Those who stay in the shallow side of Neo Tantra eventually get filtered out by the public.
This has been my experience.
I fully trust and feel that the spirit of tantra can't be diluted, betrayed or destroyed!
It is alive, awake, fully present in the realms of pure essence!
By the way, the same concerns apply to the westernization and commercialisation of yoga.
Again I fully trust and believe that both of these streams follow a natural path of evolution and growth.
I believe the world is a better place and that millions of individuals feel more awake and empowered because of the spread of yoga and tantra all over the world.
I don't experience it as a mistake! I experience it a natural expansion that needs to happen.
4000 YEARS OF HINDU HISTORY
It's essential to understand that we are talking about 4000 years of religious history with thousands of scriptures, temples, cultural waves and trends.
New branches and lineages continuously emerging in a part of the world that is really vast. Stretching from the Tamil south to the Tibetan plains amd then to the West to the borders of ancient Persia and East to the limits of the Indian peninsula.
There were probably dozens of spiritual trends coexisting at any given time.
The Vedic times dominating the 2000 - 500 BCE Era.
Tantric teachings emerging 600-1000 CE.
After that we enter into an era under strong influence of the muslim tradition.
Consider that the recorded history in the form of scriptures, temples or oral transmission, represents only a small fraction of what existed at any given time.
We only get a few historical snapshots and try to rebuild 4000 years of evolution from that.
Of course reality, variations and subtleties of any tradition must have been more frequent and refined than anything we can fully comprehend.
Imagine for instance if someone was trying to summarize the last 20 years of human history in a 20 min documentary.
We would only catch the main lines and miss most of the subtleties.
My point is this:
When it comes to history, we only catch the big lines and we don't know what we don't know.
The same applies to TANTRA.
This tradition has been alive for around 1500 years, so it must have branched out and evolved in so many ways, often shifting direction, spirit and focus following the temporary trends of teachers and rulers at any given time.
Within and besides the main stream tantric lineages you could probably identify hundreds of sub stream sects defining their own priorities and interpretations of any given scripture.
So be prepared to imagine a lot of variation within the tantric tradition.
Even within the Neo Tantra movement today, you can already identify dozens of variations and interpretations that make it challenging to summarize this movement to just one set of simple practices and beliefs.
And this applies to just to a short 50 years of western tantra history.
Tattva is a Sanskrit word meaning 'thatness', 'principle', 'reality' or 'truth'. According to various Indian schools of philosophy, a tattva is an element or aspect of reality. In some traditions, they are conceived as an aspect of deity. Although the number of tattvas varies depending on the philosophical school, together they are thought to form the basis of all our experience. The Samkhya philosophy uses a system of 25 tattvas, while Shaivism recognises 36 tattvas. In Buddhism, the equivalent is the list of dhammas which constitute reality
Each religious or spiritual system will have a different set ot Tattvas. In many systems the Tattvas are simply the elements like Fire, Water, Air, Earth, Spirit.
Here is an example of how Tattvas are defined in Kashmir Shaivism:
In Kashmir Shaivite philosophy, the tattvas are inclusive of consciousness as well as material existence.
The 36 tattvas of Shaivism are divided into three groups:
Shuddha tattvas - The first five tattvas are known as the shuddha or 'pure' tattvas. They are also known as the tattvas of universal experience.
Shuddha-ashuddha tattvas - The next seven tattvas (6–12) are known as the shuddha-ashuddha or 'pure-impure' tattvas. They are the tattvas of limited individual experience.
Ashuddha tattvas - The last twenty-four tattvas (13–36) are known as the ashuddha or 'impure' tattvas. The first of these is prakriti and they include the tattvas of mental operation, sensible experience, and materiality.
Yab-yum (Tibetan literally, "father-mother") is a common symbol in the Buddhist art of India, Bhutan, Nepal, and Tibet. It represents the primordial union of wisdom and compassion, depicted as a male deity in union with his female consort. The male figure represents compassion and skillful means, while the female partner represents insight. In yab-yum the female is seated on the male’s lap. There is a rare presentation of a similar figure but reversed, with the male sitting on the female’s lap, called yum-yab
The symbolism is associated with Anuttarayoga tantra and, while there are various interpretations of the symbolism in twilight language, the male figure is usually linked to compassion (karuṇā) and skillful means (upāya-kauśalya), while the female partner is linked to "wisdom" (prajñā).
In Shaivism he is a fierce manifestation of Shiva associated with annihilation
TANTRA - PATH OF LIFE MASTERY
The idea of tantra as a complete system of life optimization emerged in my field way before it got confirmed through classical definitions.
As human beings we define systems to take us to presence, awakening, optimization, creating a flow of inspiration that brings us to wake up and align to truth.
Here is how classical definitions describe this principle:
The 5th-century BC scholar Pāṇini in his Sutra 1.4.54–55 of Sanskrit grammar, cryptically explains tantra through the example of "Sva-tantra" (Sanskrit: स्वतन्त्र), which he states means "independent" or a person who is his own "warp, cloth, weaver, promoter, karta (actor)". Patanjali in his Mahābhāṣya quotes and accepts Panini's definition, then discusses or mentions it at a greater length, in 18 instances, stating that its metaphorical definition of "warp (weaving), extended cloth" is relevant to many contexts. The word tantra, states Patanjali, means "principal, main".
He uses the same example of svatantra as a composite word of "sva" (self) and tantra, then stating "svatantra" means "one who is self-dependent, one who is his own master, the principal thing for whom is himself", thereby interpreting the definition of tantra. Patanjali also offers a semantic definition of Tantra, stating that it is structural rules, standard procedures, centralized guide or knowledge in any field that applies to many elements.
The core idea that emerges for me in these definitions is "One who is his own master" which is what keep vibrating truth since the beginning in my path of tantric exploration.
ARRIVAL OF TANTRA TO THE WEST
A couple of westerners connected with the tantric traditions amd brought them back to the US around the 1900.
They are vastly responsible for the western over association of tantra and sex.
They created an energy of sensationalism around tantra that was greatly disconnected from the original classical tantruc teachings
If you want to understand where the over sexualized western expression of tantra came from, this is where it probably started.
I have huge respect and admiration for Osho.
In my reality, he is one of the core teachers that opened actualized pathways of tantra not just in the west but for the whole planet.
I don't know if his classical lineage is strong.
He redefined tantric spirituality in practical and actualized forms that managed to open new pathways within the collective of human consciousness.
Prophetic teachings like these don't necessarily acknowledge a lineage! They redefine practices and spiritual systems in their own way.
Because of the way his teachings "feel", I would definitely call them tantric.
This is definitely not classical tantra.
I would call them "Modern" or "Nava" Tantra.
Nava = New
I'm convinced that practices promoted by Osho like dynamic meditations, chakra breathing, energetic or emotional release have been present within the field of classical tantra.
These techniqyes might not have been practiced exactly in the same way in classical tantra of course.
The inspiration that guides our bodies to shake or scream to release trapped emotions are part of innate human instincts.
This is where it all starts.
Tantric teachings are truth downloads that masters access and bring back into the world.
So many of influential Neo Tantra teachers today have been directly or indirectly inspired by Osho's teachings.
Vāmācāra (Sanskrit: वामाचार ) is a Sanskrit term meaning "left-handed attainment" and is synonymous with "Left-Hand Path" or "Left-path" (Sanskrit: Vāmamārga). It is used to describe a particular mode of worship or sadhana (spiritual practice) that is not only "heterodox" (Sanskrit: nāstika) to standard Vedic injunction, but extreme in comparison to the status quo.
The term "tantrism" is a 19th-century European invention not present in any Asian language. "Tantrism" is a Western term and notion, not a category that is used by the so-called "Tantrists" themselves. The term was introduced by 19th-century Indologists, with limited knowledge of India and in whose view Tantrism was a particular, unusual and minority practice in contrast to Indian traditions they believed to be mainstream.
The earliest date for the Tantra texts related to Tantric practices is AD 600, though most of them were probably composed after the 8th century onwards. By the 10th century an extensive corpus existed. Regionally, the tantric texts were mostly composed during this period in Kashmir and Nepal. They were also called agamas in Shaivism, samhita or Pancaratra in Vaishnavism, and as tantras in Shaktism.
The Buddhists developed their own corpus of Tantras, which became the textual basis of Vajrayana.
In Jainism, secondary texts suggest a substantial Tantra corpus based on the Surya tradition developed in the western regions of India, but complete manuscripts of these have not survived into the modern era.
Among the Hindus, those belonging to the Vedic orthodox traditions rejected the Tantra texts, the Tantric followers incorporated the Vedic ideas within their own systems considering the Tantras as the higher, refined understanding of older ideas.
Some considered the Tantra texts to be superior to the Vedas, while others considered them complementary.
Here are some of the practices connected with the tantric tradition:
Dakshina - Donation or gift to one's teacher
Mudras - Hand gestures
Mantras - Reciting syllables, words, and phrases
Singing of hymns of praise (stava)
Yantras - symbolic diagrams of forces at work in the universe
Visualization of deities and Identification with deities
Puja - Worship ritual
Prāyaścitta - Expiation ritual performed if a puja has been performed wrongly
Nyasa - Involves touching various parts of the body while chanting specific portions of a mantra. This imposition of mantras upon the body is considered as the assigning or locating of divinity inside one's own body
Ritual purification - Of idols, of one's body, etc.
Yatra - Pilgrimage, processions
Vrata - Vows, sometimes to do ascetic practices like fasting
Ganachakra - Ritual feast during which a sacramental meal is offered
Ritual Music and Dance
Maithuna - Ritual sexual union (with an actual physical consort).
GURU DISCIPLE TRANSMISSIONS
This is probably one area where NEO TANTRA differs from CLASSICAL TANTRA.
I believe that most Neo Tantra teachers do work with Gurus directly or indirectly but the discipline around initiations and transmissions is probably not respected the way it used to be.
We can either see that as a mistake or as the natural evolution of the transmission flow that naturally happens in modern tantra.
The CLASSICAL TANTRA schools might of course see this frequent gap of lineage transmission as a dilution of the sacred teachings.
In my opinion and experience this could simply be the way the tantric spirit naturally evolves and over grows the tantric containers of the past.
Personally, I don't see it as a mistake.
I believe that the spirit of tantra is intelligent and can't be betrayed.
If some teaching is not in alignement with the authenticity of the tantric source, I believe the source naturally disconnects or stops sponsoring that teaching.
This is what I felt over 30 years of teaching.
I am being watched, tested, guided and inspired by sources that are precise and way vaster than myself.
I feel the spirit of tantra that inspires my steps together with visible or invisible masters like MAHAVATAR BABAJI are watching and guiding me.
Over the last 35 years, I visited the Himalayas multiple times, sang devotional songs at the feet of Mt Kailash, freezing in the snow, bathed in the source of the Ganges, isolated myself in caves, engaged in weeks of deep Sadhanas, constantly optimized my being to match my highest potential and so much more.
I have been in constant spiritual training from the moment I bought my first yogic scriptures from master Aurobindo or visited the Ganden monastery at 20 years young in the heart of Tibet.
I received initiations from living masters.
I sat in Dhyana with Saddhus in their caves.
I watched the sunrise over Nilakantha.
Some of the valleys I visited or the lakes I plunged into are living Guru Fields.
If I track back my lineages and initiations, some of them go back to the Buddhist tradition, some are sufi, some are tantric, some are theosophic, some were direct transmissions from living teachers and masters, others were the result of a profound energetic awakening in a sacred forest of Europe or visiting an ancient temple in the warm sands of Egypt.
They are all initiations.
My lineage is TRUTH.
My lineage is the convergence of influences coming from various traditions.
A big fraction of that is tantric and yogic.
The reason I am diving deeper into that is to make you understand that initiations and transmissions of teachings happen in many different ways.
In my own path many initiations were received by physically sitting at the feet of a master.
But direct transmissions from source happen all the time.
The fact that a master, teacher or teachings aren't connected to an existing lineage doesn't mean that this teaching is not valid.
It might not be valid for a specific tradition but might be valid within a sphere that outgrows existing containers.
Major tradition in Hinduism that focuses on the female aspects of divinity.
Within that system, Shakti is the ultimate essence.
Shaktism has various branches depending on what Goddess is being worshipped.
All these various expressions of divine feminine connect to one single unique feminine source.
KALIKULA - FAMILY OF KALI
KALIKULA is a form of Shaktism that positions Kali as the central Goddess.
SHADOWS OF TANTRA WITHIN THE HINDU TRADITION
Tantra is often criticized or and subject to speculations within the Hindu tradition.
Here are some examples of the way Tantra is perceived:
The Tantras are the Bible of Shaktism, identifying all Force with the female principle in nature and teaching an undue adoration of the wives of Shiva and Vishnu to the neglect of their male counterparts.
It is certain that a vast number of the inhabitants of India are guided in their daily life by Tantrik teaching, and are in bondage to the gross superstitions inculcated in these writings.
And indeed it can scarcely be doubted that Shaktism is Hinduism arrived at its worst and most corrupt stage of development."
In this case the author targets Shaktism or the worship of female deities.
Here is some more on that:
The tantra practices are secretive, subject to speculations and criticism. Scholars variously attribute such criticism to ignorance, misunderstanding or sectarian bias on the part of some observers, as well as unscrupulous practices by some Shaktas.
These are some of the reasons many Hindus question the relevance and historicity of Tantra to their tradition.
I had very specific personal experiences around that.
For instance one day when visiting one of my Saddhu friends in a remote cave, I asked him about Tantra. The simple mention of this word brought sudden silence. He didn't look at me, didn't answer, just moved on with what he was doing.
This was 20 years ago and I precisely remember this interaction.
I don't know if his silence meant secrecy, as "I can't talk about this" or "You are not ready for this" or if he was simply afraid of invoking dangerous spirits.
Whatever his silence meant, I definitely felt some deep mystery to it.
HOW MANY HINDUS ARE SHAIVITES, SHAKTITES OR VAISHNAVITES?
The llimits between these different traditions are blurry.
Deities and practices overlap.
Here is what some experts say on the topic:
There is no census data available on demographic history or trends for Shaktism or other traditions within Hinduism. Estimates vary on the relative number of adherents in Shaktism compared to other traditions of Hinduism. According to a 2010 estimate by Johnson and Grim, the Shaktism tradition is the smaller group with about 30 million or 3.2% of Hindus.
In contrast, Galvin Flood states that Shaivism and Shaktism traditions are difficult to separate, as many Shaiva Hindus revere the Goddess Shakti regularly.
The denominations of Hinduism, states Julius Lipner, are unlike those found in major religions of the world, because Hindu denominations are fuzzy with individuals revering Gods and Goddesses henotheistically, with many Shaiva and Vaishnava adherents recognizing Sri (Lakshmi), Parvati, Saraswati and other aspects of the Goddess Devi.
Similarly, Shakta Hindus revere Shiva and Goddesses such as Parvati (such as Durga, Radha, Sita and others) and Saraswati important in Shaiva and Vaishnava traditions.
SHAKTISM IN BUDDHISM
Saktism is strongly present in Buddhism as well
There has been a significant sharing of ideas, ritual grammar and concepts between Tantric Buddhism (Vajrayana tradition) found in Nepal and Tibet and the Tantric Shakta tradition of Hinduism. Both movements cherish female deities, view the female creativity as the power behind the universe, and the feminine as the ontological primary. According to Miranda Shaw, "the confluence of Buddhism and Shaktism is such that Tantric Buddhism could properly be called Shakta Buddhism".
The Buddhist Aurangabad Caves about 100 kilometers from the Ajanta Caves, dated to the 6th to 7th-century CE, show Buddhist Matrikas (mother Goddesses of Shaktism) next to the Buddha. Other Goddesses in these caves include Durga. The Goddess iconography in these Buddhist caves is close, but not identical to the Hindu Shakta tradition. The "seven Goddess mothers" are found in other Buddhist caves and literature, such as their discussion in the Buddhist text Manjusrimulakalpa and Vairocanabhisambodhi
The Devi Mahatmya or Devi Mahatmyam (Sanskrit: devīmāhātmyam, देवीमाहात्म्यम्), or "Glory of the Goddess") is a Hindu religious text describing the Goddess as the supreme power and creator of the universe. It is part of the Markandeya Purana, and estimated to have been composed in Sanskrit between 400-600 CE
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