Evolution of Tantra
Last month, Sri Sri Ravishankar has been reported to have made statement that Self-Claimed Swami Nityananda, violated the rules of tantra for misusing it for fulfilling his pleasure. Further he is quoted as saying: “Only a house holder is entitled for tantric sex. Claiming to be a monk and using so many people for one’s pleasure is unpardonable, He should have had one partner and announced himself as a tantric guru. It has caused damage to the faith of people in the institution and traumatised many.”
Sri Sri Ravishankar is very right when he says that, Nityanand has violated the use of tantra. Because, the sexual rites are advised only for Vira (People in whom rajas dominates) and it is completely forbidden for Pashus, people in whom tamas dominates and are attached to sexual pleasures. Further, it is true that, Lata Sadhanas (sexual rites) should be practiced with one partner, may be a wife who has the same temperament and competency as him or with a Bhairavi, whom a sadhak can take as Guru as she is well versed with tantrika practices and can teach him. On this matter Mahakalasamhita, a tantrika text
clearly says “As is the competency of the sadhak (male practitioner) so also that of the sadhika (female practitioner). Only by this is success achieved and not in any other way, even in ten million years”. This clearly establishes that, one cannot have multiple partners and call it as spiritual sadhana.
George Feuerstein, in his book Tantra: The Path of Ecstasy present’s the ground reality in a nutshell, when he writes: “At one end of the Tantric spectrum we have highly unorthodox practices such as black magic that go against the moral grain of Hindu society (and that of most societies). At the other end we have Tantric masters who decry all doctrines and all rituals and instead applaud the ideal of perfect spontaneity (sahaj). Most schools fall between these two poles; they are typically highly ritualistic but infused with the recognition that liberation springs from wisdom, which is innate and therefore cannot be produced by any external means.”
Position of tantra with respect to Veda
It is interesting to note that, contrary to the general view that tantra is opposed to Vedas; Tantra’s place themselves on same platform as the Vedas. Tantras call themselves as “Agama” (Revealed) similar to Vedas (Sruti=Heard/Revealed). Further, tantras are called as “Sruti-shakha-vishesha”, a special branch of Vedas. Some tantras like Matsyasukta mahatantra and Ghandarva tantra even go to the extent of stating that a practitioner of tantra must be well-versed in Vedas and should be ever attached to Brahman.
This view is held by both older and newer tantric texts. “Nishvasatattva samhita”, one of the very old tantrika texts available, mentions that tantras are the culmination of esoteric knowledge of Vedanta and Samkhya. This appears to be true because, tantrika system aims at achieving the Spiritual emancipation about which Vedanta and Samkhya speaks about. Pingalamata, another old tantric text says that, tantras are Agama with characteristics of Chandas (that is Vedas).
Among the tantrika texts of recent origin, we find various descriptions about the relationship of tantras and Vedas. Some texts mention mantras and mahavakya’s from Vedas (like Prapanchasara Tantra) and some explicitly mention that tantras are part of Vedas (like Meru Tantra). Kularnava tantra says that Kuladharma is based on Vedas. The same claim is repeated by Niruttara Tantra which calls tantras as fifth Veda and Kulachara the fifth ashrama.
Further, it can be seen that in philosophy and in religious attitude tantras and Vedas are fundamentally same. The goal of both Vedas and tantras seems to be same, viz Moksha. The goal of both Vedic rituals and tantrika sadhana is invoking of gods and achieving liberation. In fact many tantrika practices trace their origin to Atharva Veda. From this point of view, the Tantras emerged out of the Vedic religion and were then developed as a distinct type of esoteric knowledge. The Vedic religion in its essence has survived through the tantras.
By Nithin Sridhar