History of Tantra
Tantra is the oldest branch of Indian spirituality. The texts and practices of tantra date back to 5th– 9th century AD. Tantra means to attain spiritual eminence. It also represents the way to spread the light of knowledge through scriptures describing practical aspects of Veda. It is also the vital part of Vedic civilization, developed from robust parts of Vedas.
The word “tantra” comes from two words “Tattva” and “mantra”. “Tattva” means the science of cosmic principles, and “mantra” refers to the science of spiritual vibrations and sounds.
People practicing tantras are called “Tantrics.” “Lord Shiva” and “Goddess Shakti” are the principal deities in Tantra worships. Animal sacrifice or “Bali” has great significance in tantric practices. “Atharva Veda” is the most significant of tantric scriptures.
Ancient Indian scriptures are of two types. They are “Agama” which is revelation and “Nigama” are traditions. Tantra comes under Agama and is known as “srutishakhavisesah.”
Agamas are also cited to Shiva Tantras and are ritualistic in ritualistic in nature. They are 18 in number. Dakshina, Vama, and Madhyama are three noticeable tantric traditions. The three “gunas” or qualities “Sattva”, “tamas” and “rajas” are the most important aspects representing three “Shaktis” or powers of Lord Shiva. Sattva portrays Dakshina tradition, which is, serves the good purpose. Vama portrayed by Tamas is the most impure. Madhyama represented by Rajas is of mixed nature.
The practice of ancient and sacred tantras is still in seen in rural parts of India. Most of the villagers have stories revolving around tantric. These might appear fictional, illogical or unscientific to the current world, but the experiences are realistic. It is practiced to heal and well-being of the villagers.
Tantra is different from many traditions. Tantra takes into consideration the person as a whole including the worldly pleasures.
Most of the spiritual paths put forth that spiritual aspirations and material desires are absolute, resulting in the manifold internal struggle. In such paths, even under religious practices, people tend towards materialistic desires.
Tantric practices have a different approach to the life.
Tantric understanding of life
Tantric practice and path saves one from the worldly sufferings. The word Tantra in spiritual aspect means, “To weave, to expand and thereupon to spread.” It states that life can be fully understood and achieve everlasting fulfillment by weaving the life fabric. It teaches on how to weave the fabric of life with all the threads following pattern designed by nature.
When a person is born, a pattern of life naturally forms around. We grow, and our lifestyles bring in many things resulting from our actions and thought process. We bring in ignorance, attachments, fears, desires and all the worldly sufferings into our life. These things tangle our l and people related to our lives and actions.
Practices of Tantra or Tantra sadhana untwine the fabrics. It makes one understand the life and helps in correct the patterns of life. Practices of tantra are inclusive, coherent and pure.
Tantric traditions of attaining knowledge and purifying the life have many practices. They are all scientific and spiritual.
- Hatha yoga
- Kundalini yoga
- Nada yoga
- Visualization of deities
- Tantric rituals
Also, it has hundreds of esoteric practices. They generate prosperity and perfect blend in spiritual and worldly aspects.