Tantra is an important system of Hindu religious philosophy, and its close affinity to the Vedas is apparent. The Tantra scriptures themselves contain references to its Vedic origin. In its subsequent development, however, Tantra shows a more pronounced influence of the Upanishads, as well as of Yoga and the Puranas. The ritualistic worship of modern Hinduism has been greatly colored by Tantra, and this fact is particularly noticeable in Bengal, Kashmir, Gujarat, and Malabar.
Reality, according to Tantra, is Chit, or Pure Consciousness, which is identical with Sat, or Pure Being, and Ananda, or Pure Bliss. Thus both Vedanta and Tantra show a general agreement about the nature of Reality, with, however, an important difference which will be presently stated. Though transcending words and thought, this Being-Consciousness-Bliss, or Satchidananda, becomes restricted through maya, and Its transcendent nature is then expressed in terms of forms and categories.
According to the Vedas, Satchidananda, or Brahman, is in Its true nature Pure Spirit; and maya, which is inherent in It, functions only on the relative plane at the time of the creation, preservation, and destruction of the universe; neither is the creation ultimately real, nor are created beings, for true knowledge reveals only an undifferentiated Consciousness. According to Tantra, on the other hand, Satchidananda is called Shiva-Shakti, the hyphenated word suggesting that Shiva, or the Absolute, and Shakti, or Its creative power, are eternally conjoined like a word and its meaning: the one cannot be thought of without the other. A conception of Pure Consciousness or Being which denies Shakti, or the power to become, is, according to Tantra, only half of the truth. Satchidananda is essentially endowed , with the power of self-evolution and self-involution. Therefore perfect experience is the experience of the whole - that is to say, of Consciousness as Being and of Consciousness as power to become. It is only in the relative world that Shiva and Shakti are thought of as separate entities. Furthermore, Tantra affirms that both the world process and the jiva, or individual soul, are real, and not merely illusory superimpositions upon Brahman. In declaring that the jiva finally becomes one with Reality, Tantra differs from Qualified Non-dualism and pure Dualism.
Maya, according to Tantra, veils Reality and polarizes It into what is conscious and what is unconscious, what is existent and what is non-existent, what is pleasant and what is unpleasant. Through polarization, the Infinite becomes finite, the Undifferentiated differentiated, the Immeasurable measured. For the same reason, non-dual Reality becomes evolved - and this becoming is real and not merely apparent as in Vedanta - into a multiplicity of correlated "centers" or entities of diverse nature, acting and reacting upon one another in various ways. Some of the centers, such as human beings, evolve the power of feeling, cognition, and will, while others lack such power, there being various degrees of power or lack of power. Some centers, again, are knowers, and some, objects of knowledge; some, enjoyers, and some objects of enjoyment. The various determining conditions which constitute and maintain a centre, for instance a jiva, also limit or restrict it, accounting for its actions and reactions. These determinants are the "fetters" (pasa) which weave the whole fabric of the jiva's phenomenal life. By them it is bound and made to act like an "animal" (pasu).
Though Reality evolves, by Its own inscrutable power, into a multiplicity of centers animate and inanimate, yet in Its true nature It always remains pure! Consciousness, Being, and Bliss. In the state of evolution, Reality does not cease to be Itself, though neither the act nor the fact of evolution is denied by Tantra.
Thus a finite centre in any position in the process of evolution never ceases to be a “point” of Pure Reality through which the Infinite opens Itself and through which It can be reached. When a jiva faces this point it is none other than Reality, and when it faces the veil of maya it is finite, conditioned, and bound by fetters. Thus in every jiva-centre there are elements of both individuality and infinitude, phenomenality and reality. One direction of the functioning of maya, called the "outgoing current," creates the jiva-centre with its fetters; a reversal of this direction, called the "return current," reveals the Infinite. Tantra (especially its disciplines prescribed in the "left-hand" path, to be explained later) shows the way to change the outgoing current into the return current, transforming what operates as a bond for the jiva into a "releaser" or "liberator." As Tantra says: "One must rise by that by which one falls"; "the very poison that kills becomes the elixir of life when used by the wise." The various impulses and desires associated with the outgoing current form, as it were, the net of the phenomenal world in which the jiva has been caught. Some of these impulses appear to be cardinal or primary knots in this net. The only question is how to transform these cardinal impulses for material enjoyment (bhoga) into spiritual experiences (yoga); how to bring about the sublimation of desires. If this can be done, what now binds will be reversed in its working, and the finite jiva will realize its identity with Infinite Reality.
The jiva, caught in the outgoing current, perceives duality and cherishes the notions of pleasure and pain, acceptance and rejection, body and soul, spirit ,and matter, and so on. But if the non-duality of Shiva-Shakti alone exists, as asserted by Tantra, all these distinctions must be relative. Thus the distinction between man and woman, the desire for each other which is one of the cardinal desires, and the physical union between them all belong to the relative plane, where a perennial conflict between the flesh and the Spirit is assumed, and where a jiva acts like an animal bound by the fetters of common convention. The distinction is a valid one and may even be valuable as long as the jiva remains on the relative plane. The observance of moral or social conventions, however desirable on that plane, does not make the jiva other than an animal. In order that the jiva may know that it is really Shiva (the Absolute), it must resolve every kind of duality and realize the fact that whatever exists and functions on the physical or moral level is Shiva-Shakti, the ever inseparable Reality and its Power. When one realizes that the whole process of creation, preservation, and destruction is but the manifestation of the lila, or sportive pleasure, of Shiva-Shakti, one does not see anything carnal or gross in the universe; for such a person everything becomes an expression of Shiva-Shakti. The special technique of the Tantric discipline is to transform the outgoing current of diversification into the return current of gradual integration, to gather separation, polarity, and even opposition into identification, harmony, and peace.
The two currents, however, do not operate singly, one excluding the other; they are concurrent, though the emphasis, which oscillates, is now laid on one and now on the other. Thus in all affirmations of duality and difference, the affirmation of non-duality and identity is immanent, and one sees unities, equalities, and similarities, and not a mere chaos of colliding particles, even when the outgoing current functions in the creation and preservation of the universe. Our ordinary " experience, too, shows system, though this system reveals to us limited and conditioned identities. In brief, though differentiation is the prevailing feature of the outgoing current, identity is either implicit in it, or conditionally visible.
Let us take the example of a man and woman. Subject to certain limits and conditions, the two in a way may be equated; the difference between them is patent but can be eliminated. Emphasis on the difference, however, constitutes the fetters of man and woman, as is seen in common experience. These fetters will disappear when their real identity and not their pragmatic equality is realized. Hence the question is how to affirm or rather reaffirm an identity which is veiled.
The method of Non-dualistic Vedanta is to negate all limiting adjuncts, which it calls unreal, until one sees nothing but Brahman, or pure and undifferentiated Consciousness, in the man and woman. In order to reach the affirmation of oneness, every vestige of duality must be rigorously discarded; in other words, Vedanta asks the aspirants to renounce the world of names and forms. But this is more easily said than done, for such renunciation can be practiced by only a few.
Tantra, whose technique is different, prescribes the discipline of sublimation. Physical man and woman, floating along the outgoing current of the cosmic process, are, no doubt, different from each other, but by means of the return current they can be sublimated into cosmic principles and realized as the one whole, that is, Shiva-Shakti. In reversing the outgoing current, the aspirant has to "bring together" the complements or poles so as to realize their identity; thus the physical union of man and woman is sublimated into the creative union of Shiva-Shakti. The left-hand path of Tantra under certain very stringent conditions prescribes to the aspirant, or sadhaka, belonging to the "heroic" type to be described later, spiritual disciplines of ritualistic readjustment with woman, and shows how to sublimate the so-called "carnal" act gradually until the experience of the supreme non-dual Shiva-Shakti with its perfect bliss is attained. The technique is to make the very same carnal desire which constitutes the strongest fetter of the animal man an "opening" or channel for the experience of Satchidananda. If the right track is followed and all the conditions are fulfilled, the aspirant succeeds in his endeavor.
The Tantric method of sublimation consists of three steps: purification, elevation, and reaffirmation of identity on the plane of Pure Consciousness. First, the aspirant must rid himself of the dross of grossness by reversing the outgoing current into the return current. According to Tantra, in the process of evolution, the pure cosmic principles (tattvas) at a certain stage cross the line and pass into impure principles, the latter constituting the realm of nature, which is like a "coiled" curve, in which the jiva is held a prisoner and where it wanders, caught in a net of natural determinism from which there is no escape unless the coiled curve can be made to uncoil itself and open a channel for its release and ascent into the realm of the pure cosmic principles. Until this is done the jiva remains afloat on the outgoing current, moves with it, and cherishes desires which are gross or carnal. Whether yielding pleasure or pain, these desires fasten the chain upon it with additional links. Its hope lies in uncoiling the coil of nature that has closed upon it.
This is called in the technical language of Tantra the "awakening" of the Kundalini, or coiled-up serpent power, by which one moves from the plane of impure principles to that of pure principles. The head of this coiled serpent is turned downward; it must be turned upward. This change of the direction of the serpent power, which after evolving the jiva remains .involved in it, is called purification. The next step is called elevation: the order in which the cosmic principles move along the outgoing current must be reversed with the starting of the return current. Ascent is to be made in the order that is the reverse to that in which the descent was made. The aspirant must raise himself from the grosser and more impure elements to the subtler and the purer ones until he attains to the realization of Shiva-Shakti. The last step is the reaffirmation in consciousness of his identity with Shiva-Shakti. This is the general framework of the method of sublimation into which can be fitted all the methods of sublimation followed by the Dualistic, Non-dualistic, and other systems of thought.
The spiritual awakening of a sadhaka is described in Tantra by means of the symbol of the awakening and rising of the Kundalini power. What is this Kundalini? Properly understood, it is not something mystical or esoteric, peculiar to Tantra, but the basis of the spiritual experiences described by all religious faiths. Every genuine spiritual experience, such as the seeing of light or a vision, or communion with the Deity, is only a manifestation of the ascent of the Kundalini. Let us try to understand the Kundalini with the help of an illustration from physical science. There are two kinds of energy in a particle of matter: potential and kinetic, the sum total of which is a constant. The kinetic energy, which is only a fraction of the total energy, is responsible for the movement or action of the particle. There exists a particular ratio between the kinetic and the total energy; when this ratio is changed by inter-molecular action, the nature of the particle changes: one element is transformed into another. According to Tantra, the Kundalini, in the form of cosmic energy, is present in everything, even in a particle of matter. Only a fraction of it, like the kinetic energy, is operative, while an un- measured residuum is left, like the potential energy, "coiled up" and untapped at the "base root." It is a vast magazine of power, of which the operative energy, like the kinetic energy of the particle, is only a fraction. In the jiva-centre, also, there are this potential energy of the Kundalini, which is the storehouse of the energy of the body (physical, subtle, and causal), and also the active energy of the Kundalini, which accounts for the action and movement of the jiva. The coiled-up Kundalini is the central pivot upon which the whole complex apparatus of the body and mind moves and turns. A specific ratio between the active and total energies of the Kundalini determines the present condition and behavior of the bodily apparatus. A change in the ratio is necessary to effect a change in its present working efficiency by transforming the grosser bodily elements into finer. A transformation, dynamization, and sublimation of the physical, mental, and vital apparatus is only possible through what is called the rousing of the Kundalini and its reorientation from "downward facing" to "upward facing." By the former the physical body has been made a "coiled curve," limited in character, restricted in functions and possibilities. By the force of the latter it breaks its fetters and transcends its limitations. This is the general principle. But there are different forms of spiritual disciplines by which this magazine of latent power can be acted upon. Faith and love act as a most powerful lever to raise the coiled-up Kundalini; so also the disciplines of raja-yoga and jnana-yoga. The repetition of the Lord's name or a holy mantra, and even music, help in this process. Tantra recognizes all this, The student of Tantra should bear in mind the psychological aspect of the process of the rise of the Kundalini, which is more of an unfoldment, expansion, and elevation of consciousness than a mechanical accession to an increased and higher power. The aim of waking the Kundalini is not the acquisition of greater power for the purpose of performing miraculous feats or the enjoyment of material pleasures; it is the realization of Satchidananda. The passage of the awakened Kundalini lies through the Sushumna, which is described as the central nerve in the nervous system. A kind of hollow canal, the Sushumna passes through the spinal column connecting the base centre (chakra) at the bottom of the spine with the centre at the cerebrum. Tantra speaks of six centers2 through which the Sushumna passes; these centers are so many spheres or planes, described in Tantra as different-colored lotuses with varying numbers of petals. In the ordinary worldly person these centers are closed, and the lotuses droop down like buds. As the Kundalini rises through the Sushumna canal and touches the centers, these buds turn upward as fully opened flowers and the aspirant obtains spiritual experiences. The goal of spiritual practice is to make the Kundalini rise from those centers which are lower and more gross to those which are higher and more conscious. During this upward journey of the Kundalini, the jiva is not quite released from the relative state till it reaches the sixth centre or plane, which is the "opening" for the experience of Reality. At this sixth centre (the two-petalled white lotus located at the junction of the eyebrows) the jiva sheds its ego and burns the seed of duality, and its higher self rises from the ashes of its lower self. It now dies physically, as it were, in order to be able to live in Pure Consciousness. The sixth centre is the key by which the power in the thousand-petalled lotus in the cerebrum, which is like the limitless ocean. is switched on to the little reservoir which is the individual self, filling the latter and making it overflow and cease to be the little reservoir. Finally the Kundalini rises to the lotus at the cerebrum and becomes united with Shiva, or the Absolute; and the aspirant realizes, in the transcendental consciousness, his union with Shiva-Shakti.
Tantra discusses the qualifications of the teacher and the student, and also the mantras or sacred words, the diagrams, deities, rituals, and mental dispositions important in the practice of its disciplines
A qualified teacher, or guru, must be a man of good birth and unsullied character. Compassionate and serene, he should be versed in the Tantric and other scriptures, repeat regularly God's holy name, and offer oblations in the sacrificial fire. Furthermore, he should possess a pleasing disposition and the power to fulfill his disciples’ wishes. The help of a guru is indispensable for a student of Tantra. Vital changes take place in him as the Kundalini ascends and the impure elements of his body and mind become pure. In the practice of spiritual disciplines, the aspirant passes through a series of crises and needs outside help. It is true that the Divine Mother, who is none other than the Kundalini itself, bestows this help in the form of grace whenever a real crisis comes, but a human medium is necessary. The guru is an adept in the Tantric practices, has experimented with its disciplines, and has verified their result for himself. The disciple does not look upon his guru as a human being, but as the embodiment of God. As the physician of the soul, the guru occupies a position of extreme responsibility, guides the disciple in difficult practices, and looks after his welfare in every respect.
Like the teacher, the disciple should come of a good family and possess a blameless character and guileless nature. Keen-minded, versed in the scriptures, and kind-hearted, he should have faith in the life after death, perform his duties toward his parents, and be free from pride of lineage, scholarship, or wealth. Furthermore, he should shun the company of non- believers and be ready to serve the teacher in all humility. The three types of aspirants will be described later.
A responsible teacher should not be in a hurry to accept a disciple, nor should an aspirant accept as his teacher a person to whom he is not attracted. The mode of initiation or instruction varies, depending upon the competence of the teacher and the qualifications of the student. An ordinary initiation is given by means of elaborate rituals. But these become secondary in the higher type of initiation, through which the disciple very soon becomes blessed with deep spiritual experiences.
Mantras playa most important part in the Tantric discipline, just as do sacrifices and hymns in the disciplines of the Vedas and the Puranas respectively. The word mantra means, literally, “that which, when reflected upon, gives liberation.” The mantra is the sound-equivalent of the deity, that is to say, Chit or Consciousness; the external image is the material form of the mantra. The sound-vibration is the very first manifestation of Chit and nearest to It. It is really intermediate between Pure Consciousness and the physical object, being neither absolutely immaterial like the former nor dense like the latter. Tantra regards vibration and illumination as two parallel manifestations of the same cosmic energy or Shakti, and teaches that as such they can both lead to the realization of Chit. It is the vibration created by utterance of the mantra that enables the aspirant to realize Chit, which otherwise eludes the grasp of even an intelligent person. Thus mantras are not mere words, but are forms of concentrated thought of exceeding potency; they are revealed to the seers in the hour of their illumination. The aspirant finds that a mantra and the deity with which it is associated are identical, the deity being the illumination embodied in the mantra. To the ignorant, the vibration created by the mantra is only a physical phenomenon, and the mantra itself nothing but a sound, but to the adept it is both illuminative and creative. Illumination is hidden in the mantra, like an oak tree in an acorn. As soon as this illumination is expressed, the mantra becomes endowed with a wonderful power and reveals the cosmic energy latent in it. Tantra believes that mantras have not been created by human brains, but are eternally existent, and that through their repetition the aspirant attains to perfection.
Mystical diagrams called "yantras" are used in the Tantric rituals. A yantra is a diagrammatic equivalent of the deity, just as a mantra is its sound-equivalent. It is not like the schematic sketch of a molecule, used by the chemist, but is a true representation, as revealed to the adept, of the basic power which evolves and maintains an object of worship. When the yantra is given real potency, the deity is there. In the Tantric ritual the yantra is the real object of worship, the image being its more tangible representation. There is a fundamental relationship between the mantra and the yantra.
The image of the deity through which one communes with Ultimate Reality is also an embodiment of Consciousness and not just a figure of wood or stone. If the worship is properly performed, then the image, the mantra, the yantra, and the various other accessories of worship all become changed into forms and expressions of Consciousness, as in the Christian communion the wine and bread turn into the blood and flesh of Christ.
To the uninitiated, the mantras and the yantras employed in Tantric worship may appear as meaningless jargon and magical diagrams. The same is true, as far as the uninformed are concerned, of all the cumbrous formulas, equations, and notations used by the chemist and the physicist. For example, E = mc2 makes no more sense to the ignorant than a mantra, for instance “Om” or “Hring”. Yet the formula of Einstein has been the means of releasing the energy, of unbelievable potency, locked in the atom. The same is true of the mystical formulas used in Tantra; they are really shorthand statements of certain basic experiences. The same faithful exactitude in the ritual is demanded of the student of Tantra, and the same degree of proficiency in the understanding of mantras and yantras, as is required of the student in the physical sciences. A popular version of the Kundalini or other principles of Tantra may be given, just as one may be given of the Relativity Theory or the Quantum Mechanics; but the actual proofs lie, in the one case as in the other, in delicate experiments which are unfortunately beyond the reach and comprehension of the average individual. Tantra claims that mantras are efficacious, that the diagrams used in the worship are potent, that the deities, or devatis, are conscious entities, that supernatural powers are attained, and that the earnest aspirant experiences the rise of the Kundalini through the different spinal centers and finally realizes his identity with Satchidananda.
Let us briefly consider a Tantric ritual as observed in the worship. The aim of Tantra is to guide aspirants to realize both the supreme end of liberation and the secondary ends of wealth, sense-pleasure, and righteousness, according to their inner evolution and desires. It therefore lays down an endless variety of rituals suited to different times, places, and individual competencies. Usually a Tantric ritual consists in the assigning of the different parts of the body to different deities, the purifying of the elements of the body, breath-control, meditation, imparting of life to the image, and mental and physical worship. These are all calculated to transform the worshipper, the worshipped, the accessories, and the act of worship into consciousness, which they all are in essence. As the culmination of the ritual, the aspirant realizes his oneness with all. Harmony on the physical and mental planes is necessary for success in worship; this is created in the gross physical elements by means of prescribed postures, in the vital breaths by means of breath-control, in the cerebrum by the correct utterance of mantras, and in the mental states by meditation. Ablution (snana) purifies the physical body. and this purification is followed by an inner satisfaction (tarpana). By means of appropriate meditative rituals the gross, subtle, and causal bodies are freed of their respective taints (bhutasuddhi). The purpose of meditation (dhyana) is to enable the worshipper to feel his oneness with the deity. This meditation on oneness, the central feature of the Tantric worship, is quite different from that of dualistic religions, which maintain a distinction between the deity and its devotee. "Only by becoming divine can one worship the divine." The last. part of the ritual consists of a sacrifice (homa) in which the devotee completely surrenders himself to the deity, merges in him, and loses his identity in him. At this stage there is no more distinction between the worshipper and the worshipped, the finite and the infinite, the individual and the Absolute.
It is claimed that Tantra is a kind of experimental science and that the realization promised by it is an experimentally verified fact. Theories and speculations are tentative only; the motto of Tantra is: "Live by what you can actually prove and verify." Nothing need be accepted on the basis of such a statement as "Thus saith the Lord." But initially it is required of the sadhaka, as in all the sciences, to follow the guidance of a teacher who has tried the experiment before him and seen the result for himself.
Several paths have been prescribed by Tantra for the awakening of the Kundalini; one of these is called the Vamachara or "left-hand" path, which, partly on account of ignorance of the principles involved and partly on account of its abuse by irresponsible persons, has made the whole science of Tantra suspect. The ritual of this path is, like other genuine spiritual practices, based upon the principle of the "return current," which seeks to reverse the process that creates the bonds of the animal man. The five ingredients used by followers of this path are cereals, fish, meat, wine, and sexual union. These, however, have different connotations for different classes of aspirants. The underlying principle of Vamachara is to emphasize the fact that a man makes progress in spiritual life not by cowardly and falsely shunning that which makes him fall, but by seizing upon it and sublimating it so as to make it a means of liberation. For a certain type of aspirant, called "heroic," the actual drinking of wine and practice of sexual union are prescribed, and the teacher carefully points out that the joy and stimulation arising from these are to be utilized for the uplift of the mind from the physical plane. For instance, the aspirant is asked to offer wine at first to the deity and then to par- take of it as a sacramental offering. The same is the case with cereals, .fish, and meat. The pleasure resulting from their enjoyment is gradually sublimated. Sexual union, the disciple is taught, is something sacred, whose purpose is the creation of new life, and it should therefore not be resorted to in an irresponsible manner. Tantra never countenances sexual excess or irregularity for the purpose of the gratification of carnal desire. To break chastity, it says, is to lose or shorten life. Furthermore, sexual union has a deeper spiritual significance in that it reveals behind duality a unity which is present in all phenomenal experiences. Even on the physical plane, a couple becomes united in joy, but the unity of Shiva-Shakti and the bliss derived from it are experienced only by liberated souls. Woman, associated with the Tantric practices in order to help man in his path of renunciation, is an object of veneration to all schools of Tantra. She is regarded as the embodiment of Shakti, or the power that projects and pervades the universe. To insult a woman is a grievous sin. The aspirant learns from the teacher how to use the aforesaid five "ingredients" for his spiritual awakening. By the power of the mantra, the rituals, meditation, prayer, sincerity, and the grace of the guru and the Divine Mother, the disciple gradually acquires a nature by which everything he does in his ordinary life becomes an act of worship, and he develops an understanding which makes him realize what Sankaracharya meant when he wrote in one of his hymns to the primordial Shakti: "0 Lady Supreme, may all the functions of my mind be Thy remembrance, may all my words be Thy praise; may all my acts be an obeisance to Thee!"
Tantra divides sadhakas, or spiritual aspirants, into three groups according to their mental disposition: animal, heroic, and divine. The man with animal disposition (pasu) moves along the outgoing current and earns merit and demerit from his worldly activities. He has not yet raised himself above the common round of convention, nor has he cut the three knots of "hate, fear, and shame." Swayed by his passions, he is a slave of six hostile impulses: lust, greed, pride, anger, delusion, and envy. He is not allowed even to touch the five ingredients of the left-hand ritual.
The student competent for the hazardous ritual with the five ingredients already described is called a hero (vira). He has the inner strength to "play with fire" and to burn his worldly bonds with it. Established in complete self-control, he does not forget himself even in the most trying and tempting circumstances. He is a man of fearless disposition, inspiring terror in those who cherish animal propensities. Pure in motive, gentle in speech, strong in body, resourceful, courageous, intelligent, adventurous, and humble, he cherishes only what is good.
The sadhaka of divine (divya) disposition has risen above all the bonds of desire and has no desire left to sublimate. One of the Tantric scriptures describes such an aspirant as sparing in speech, beloved of all, introspective, steady, sagacious, and solicitous about others' welfare. He never swerves from the path of truth and -can do no evil. Good in every way, he is regarded as the embodiment of Shiva. In his worship he does not need physical aids for rousing his spiritual emotions; the meditative mood is spontaneous with him. He is always in ecstasy, enjoying "inner woman and wine." For the five ingredients used by a hero he substitutes consciousness (chit), bliss (ananda), and exaltation (bhava).
Tantra claims that its disciplines have a universal application; it admits the validity of the rituals of the Vedas, the discrimination and renunciation of the Upanishads, the purifying disciplines of raja-yoga, and the passionate love for the Deity described in the Puranas. It exhorts the sadhaka to exercise will and self-effort, practice self-surrender, and long for divine grace. Tantra promises its devotees not only enjoyment of worldly happiness, but also liberation, and acknowledges that the power of the Kundalini can be aroused -by the sincere pursuit of the spiritual disciplines recommended by all the great religions of the world.
* This exposition is based mainly on an article published under the title of “Tantra as a Way of Realization” by Pramathanath Mukhopadhyaya in “The Cultural Heritage of India”, Sri Ramakrishna Centenary Committee, Belur Math, Calcutta, 1937.
2 See Glossary under Kundalini.
Maya – A term of Vedanta philosophy denoting ignorance obscuring the vision of God. The Cosmic Illusion on account of which the One appears as many, the Absolute as the relative. It is also used to denote attachment.
Jiva – The embodied soul; a living being; an ordinary man.
Lila – the Divine Play; the Relative. The creation is often explained by the Vaishnavas as the Lila of God. A conception that introduces elements of spontaneity and freedom into the universe. As a philosophical term, the Lila (the Relative), is the correlative of the Nitya (the Absolute).
Sadhaka – An aspirant devoted to the practice of spiritual discipline.
Kundalini – The spiritual energy lying dormant in all individuals. According to Tantra, there are six centers in the body, designated as Muladhara, Svadhistana, Manipura, Anahata, Visuddha and Ajna. (See also Chakra Tantra).
Deva (devatis) (Lit., Shining One) - A God.
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