Tantra, is a religious philosophy, a sacred science of knowing the infinite in and through the finite- the limited world of form, it deals primarily with spiritual practices and ritual forms of worship, which aim at liberation from ignorance and rebirth. The scope of Tantra is vast, covering every aspect of man's life from early morning to late at night, and from birth to death. It intends to make life more harmonious and blissful in every action and situation, and is for everyone from housewife to sannyasin. It teaches full knowledge and utilisation of the world around us in an attempt to 'tune-in' with higher consciousness. It teaches knowledge and experience of the macrocosm through the microcosm, of the unlimited by means of the limited, of supreme consciousness through individual consciousness.
The word 'tantra' is made up of two words, 'tanoti' and 'trayati'. 'Tanoti' means 'to expand, stretch or extend', and 'trayati' means 'to liberate or free'. Through Tantra, which encompasses all aspects of life, we can use the world as a stepping stone to go 'beyond' and discover our divine nature. Thus the objective universe is utilised as a launching pad into the eternal. So Tantra means expanding one's awareness, extending the frontiers of the mind beyond the mind in an effort to attain spiritual knowledge and liberation.
Tantra is a compendium of many systems encompassing the entire span of human life and activity. It deals with the body, emotions, psyche, mind and spirit, with human work, play, thought, devotion, and interaction at all levels.
Tantra is a practical system - 'sadhana, shastra', a practice-orientated scripture, and its purposes is to impart spiritual illumination to each and every individual by any means suitable. The philosophical concepts of Tantra reach the loftiest heights in this effort to express the inexpressible, to make comprehensible that which cannot be grasped by the ordinary consciousness. Yet it has not lost touch with practical application. It comprises a vast number of practices to suit all personality types, combined with the highest concepts realised by the tantric sages in deep meditation, throughout the ages. As a science it does not ask the practitioner to accept anything at face value. Validity must be proved through personal experience. This is the tantric essence.
Tantra is a universal system. Though there may be local differences, the basic premise is the same, that for the sake of understanding, worship and spiritual sadhana, existence is divided into two principles: manifest and unmanifest or Shakti and Shiva. This concept of Shiva (Consciousness) and Shakti (Cosmic Mother) does not depend on time, place and race, but is deeply ingrained in man's collective psyche.
Tantra has carried this symbology and tradition from time immemorial to the present day as an expression of the deeper realisation of man.
The "Varahi Tantra'' classifies the main subjects of Tantra as:
- the creation and destruction of the universe (shristi and pralaya),
- worship of deities (devi or deva puja),
- classification of beings,
- astronomy and astrology,
- different levels of awareness (lokas),
- nadis and chakras,
- laws and duties in society,
- sacramental rites (samskaras),
- consecration of the forms of deities,
- yantra and mandala,
- consecration of houses and wells etc.,
- description of shrines,
- yoga maya sadhana (magic),
- medicine of many types, including ayurveda, and science.
Tantra also included alchemy, the art of living a fruitful and blissful life, and the use of sexual energy as a means to unfold higher awareness.
Practical Tantra is summed up by three main aspects:
- tantra (meaning the rules, principles, and the actual system)
- mantra (the vehicle of consciousness) and
- mandala or yantra (the form of consciousness).
Within these three is included everything in the material universe. In fact, everything around us, including ourselves, is composed of mantra and yantra.
TANTRA AND HUMAN EVOLUTION
Pravritti and Nivritti Marg In Tantra Scientifically, evolution is defined as the process where more refined life forms grow and develop out of the less refined, that is to say, more advanced life forms arise out of lower forms; the gross producing the subtle. This is the theory of scientific evolution as propounded by Darwin. However, Tantra has a completely different concept of evolution. Tantra regards the refinement of life forms as being merely the pattern of the manifested world. It is the blueprint or design, but not the source of life as we know it. The true meaning of evolution revealed to the sages thousands of years before Darwin, is the process of Shakti arising or evolving out of Shiva, of the material evolving from the immaterial.....