Showing posts with label Bhakti. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bhakti. Show all posts

Hinduism - What Is Viraha?


Viraha means “separation” in classical Sanskrit poetry. Much of vernacular devotional (bhakti) poetry, has Viraha as a well-established poetic genre.

Whether the separated lovers are two human beings or devotee (bhakta) and deity, the genre focuses on describing the pain that results from the separation of lover and beloved.

Separation is thought to cause specific physical symptoms, which the poets describe in great detail—lack of appetite, insomnia, inability to attend to daily life, or think about anyone but the beloved.

Because love in union is sweetened by the presence of the beloved, whereas the former must stand alone, the type of love felt in such separation is thought to engender an even more intense love for the beloved than love in union.

~Kiran Atma

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Hinduism - Who Was Vishnuchittar?



Vishnu Periyalvar, an Alvar poet and saint, was given this appellation.

Between the seventh and tenth centuries, the Alvars were a group of twelve poet-saints living in southern India.

All of the Alvars were worshippers of the deity Vishnu, and their emphasis on emotional devotion (bhakti) to a personal god, expressed via hymns sung in Tamil, revolutionized Hindu religious life.

Kiran Atma

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Hinduism - What Is The Vinaya Patrika By Tulsidas?



Vinaya Patrika or a petition letter is a collection of 280 short poems written in the Braj Bhasha dialect by poet-saint Tulsidas (1532–1623?).

The entire work is presented as a letter of petition to Tulsidas' chosen deity, Rama, through the monkey god Hanuman, who acts as his intermediary.

The letter's main theme is a plea for deliverance from the current degenerate age's evils (kali yuga).

The first sixty-odd verses are a series of invocations to various gods, demonstrating Tulsidas' devotion's ecumenical quality.

The poem's remainder is addressed to Rama and emphasizes other themes that run throughout Tulsidas' poetry.

One of the themes is the kali yuga's corrupted nature, which makes devotion the only effective means of salvation.

Another pervasive theme is the incomparable power of God's name to rescue the devotee (bhakta).

Finally, the listeners are cautioned not to squander the gift of human birth.

Much of the poetry has an intensely personal quality to it, and it seems to reflect both the poet's despair and eventual hope for salvation.

The Vinaya Patrika is generally thought to have been written in the poet's later years, though it cannot be precisely dated, based on its general tone.

~Kiran Atma

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Hinduism - Who Are The Vellala Of Tamil Nadu?


The landlord community throughout much of traditional Tamil Nadu.

Although technically the Vellalas were of shudra status, their control over the land gave them considerable influence and prestige in the region.

The Vellala community was the source for many of the Alvars, a group of twelve poet-saints whose stress on passionate devotion (bhakti) to the god Vishnu transformed and revitalized Hindu religious life.

Most of the Alvars’ influence undoubtedly stemmed from the strength of their religious devotion, but this was undoubtedly reinforced by Vellala status as a land holding community.

~Kiran Atma

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Hinduism - Who Was Vedanta Deshika?


Vedanta Deshika(13th c.) was a writer and commentator in the Vishishthadvaita Vedanta philosophical school.

Vedanta Deshika was a follower of Ramanuja and interpreted Ramanuja as teaching that there were two sorts of liberation: 

  1. a lower one in which one was subject to no outside forces, 
  2. and a higher one in which one’s entire being was focused on the Lord, whom Ramanuja identified as the god Vishnu.

The human being is considered both identical to and different from the Lord, which means the perfect identity is never possible; God’s transcendence leads to the exaltation of devotion (bhakti) and the stress on submission to God’s grace.

~Kiran Atma

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Hinduism - What Are Devotion Modes Of Bhakti In Hindu Worship?


Devotion Modes is a term used to describe different types of devotion.

For more than a century, devotion to God (bhakti) has been the most powerful force in Hindu religion.

The shape and tone of this devotion, on the other hand, have changed greatly throughout time and location.

Rupa Goswami, who lived in the mid-sixteenth century, did the most detailed articulation of several possible kinds of devotion.

Rupa was a follower of Krishna (bhakta) and a member of the Gaudiya Vaishnava religious sect, which was created by the Bengali saint Chaitanya.

The focus on relationship in Krishna devotion is marked by imagery of mythological occurrences from Krishna's life, through which one might enter his divine universe and thereby participate in his divine "play" (lila) with the world.

Rupa identified five such modes, each of which was marked by increasing emotional intensity.

The first was the "peaceful mode" (shanta bhava), in which the devotee achieved mental serenity by realizing his or her total unity with Brahman.

Because the god was perceived impersonally and the devotee had no personal contact with God, this was seen as a lower form.

The last four modes were based on human connections, ranging from the most remote to the most personal and loving: master and servant (dasa bhava), friend and friend (sakha bhava), parent and kid (vatsalya bhava), and lover and beloved (vatsalya bhava) (madhurya bhava).

Despite the fact that all of these types of interaction with the divine were valid, the final was regarded as the highest since it elicited the most powerful feelings.

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Hinduism - Who Was Merwan Sheriar Irani Or Meher Baba?


Merwan Sheriar Irani, Or 'Meher Baba,' as he is known, was born in 1894 and died in 1969.

Born a Parsi, but influenced by Islamic mystical philosophy and Hindu devotional (bhakti) teachings, he is a modern religious figure.

Meher Baba ("Heavenly Father") claimed to be a divine avatar or "incarnation," and his followers believe him to be such.

He adopted a vow of silence in 1925 and maintained it for the remainder of his life, communicating only via gestures and an alphabet board.

Despite his quiet, he published God Speaks, a five-volume collection of his teachings.

Meher Baba, like many current Hindu missionary figures, stressed the need of devotion to one's guru or religious master in order to attain all things.

See Jean Adriel's Avatar, 1947, for further information from the perspective of a devotee (bhakta).

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Hinduism - What Is A Lila?


(“play”) In a theological con text, a phrase whose wide literal meaning suggests any kind of activity, game, or sport, but which expresses a basic premise about how God interacts with the universe.

According to this theory, the ultimate god acts in creation not out of any feeling of necessity, but just for the pure pleasure and enjoyment of making and participating in the universe.

This is especially true of the deity Vishnu, notably in his forms as Rama and Krishna.

All spiritual exchanges between God and his followers (bhakta) are conducted in this spirit of play, despite the fact that human people may not perceive the actual nature of this meeting due to their ignorance.

The devotee's final freedom (moksha) occurs when he or she acknowledges the actual nature of this meeting, since with that revelation, one's whole existence becomes a series of playful exchanges with God himself.

One of the ways that modern followers attempt to access Rama's and Krishna's celestial worlds is via dramas, which are known as lilas.

These lilas might be attended for entertainment, but they can also be seen as a very spiritual event.

When children depicting deities are dressed up and in character, they are thought to be incarnations of the gods themselves.

Viewing these lilas is a pathway for receiving God's favour and an entry-point into a privileged, celestial realm for devout believers.

See David R. Kinsley, The Sword and the Flute, 1975, for an excellent discussion of Krishna's entire life as play; John Stratton Hawley, At Play with Krishna, 1981, for a description of the Krishna lilas; and Anaradha Kapur, Actors, Pilgrims, Kings, and Gods, 1990, for a description of the Krishna lilas.

Also see Ram Lila.

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Hinduism - What Is Bhakti?

Bhakti is a Sanskrit word that means "sharing." The most often used term to describe a person's devotion to God. 

This is one of the three ancient routes to complete soul liberation (moksha), and it has been the most widely practiced religion for over a thousand years. 

  • The literal definition of the term communicates a feeling of connection. 
  • On the one hand, it alludes to a deep and passionate love between the devotee (bhakta) and the god, while on the other, it refers to different groups of people united by their shared love of God. 
  • Although early writings such as the Shvetashvatara Upanishad and the Bhagavad Gita include allusions to bhakti, the bhakti proposed here differs significantly from subsequent usages. 

Bhakti is described as a kind of yoga in which one contemplates God as part of a regulated and disciplined practice in both of these scriptures. 

  • This is in stark contrast to subsequent periods of abandonment and intense engagement. 
  • Between the sixth and ninth centuries B.C.E., the origins of this kind of bhakti emerged in the Tamil region of deep southern India. 
  • It possessed a religious "fire" rather than the "coolness" of yoga, which was a dramatic departure from previous perceptions. 
  • Tamil bhakti expressed its devotion via songs performed in vernacular languages, expressing a close connection with a personal deity, and continues to do so now. 
  • These traits have mostly remained constant throughout history. 

The use of vernacular speech was particularly important since it was the language of everyday life and reflected the egalitarianism that was one of the defining characteristics of bhakti devotion. 

  • Bhakti devotees came from all walks of life, from the upper to the lower classes; here was a chance to live a holy life based entirely on the depth and sincerity of one's devotion rather than one's birthplace. 
  • Despite their theological equality, adherents seldom attempted to reform their hierarchical society. 
  • Religious equality was intended to transcend rather than improve human civilization, according to the theory. 
  • Bhakti worship emphasized community, based on the links between devotees, in addition to equality and personal experience. 

Though each devotee was an unique (and bhakti poets did have actual personalities, as shown by the many hagiographies), they were also divided into "families" that were all linked to one another. 

  • Many of the bhakti saints belonged to identifiable groups: some were centered around a specific sacred site, such as the temple at Pandharpur in Maharashtra; others were linked as teachers and students, such as Nammalvar and his disciple Nathamuni; and still others had long-term ties, such as the Lingayat community. 
  • In every instance, these believers were well aware of those who had gone before them and their interconnections. 

Satsang, the "company of excellent people" whose influence was thought to have the capacity to change over time, was used to both create and maintain such groups. 

  • This was a kind of “sharing” that connected devotees to one another and to their instructor, and transported them to God via these two vehicles. 
  • These are basic features, although regional expressions of bhakti frequently take on a unique taste, if for no other reason than the differences in languages. 
  • Bhakti (a feminine word) is described in the Padma Purana as a lady who was born in southern India, grew up in Maharashtra, and was revived in northern India. 

Although this is a metaphor, it correctly depicts the historical spread of bhakti devotion and the changes that occurred as it went north. 

Specific periods, locations, and circumstances shape all kinds of bhakti.

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Tantra - Tantra Sculptures & Erotic Sacred Art

Both the words mukti and bhukti refer to conflicting ideals in the history of Indian civilization. 

Pleasure, especially sexual pleasure (kama), has a long history as one of the four legitimate life objectives (purusdrtha), alongside dharma, wealth (artha), and liberation (moksa). 

  • While one of the most important books of tradition, the Bhagavad-gita, is almost quiet on the topic of kama, other literatures, most notably the kamasastra, of which the Kamasutra is the most renowned work, address it methodically and thoroughly. 
  • This literature celebrates sexual pleasure and, while it may appear mechanistic in comparison to Sanskrit erotic poetry and even sexist to modern Western sensibilities, it demonstrates the importance and legitimacy of sexual desire in classical Indian civilization prior to the rise of Islam and the arrival of puritanical colonialism. 
  • Traditionally, liberation was a transcending (visvottirna) condition attained by world renouncers via asceticism and celibacy; the reversal of the body's movement outwards towards the objects of desire. 
  • Sanskrit literature is full of stories of sages who are tempted by beautiful women, typically sent by gods like Indra who are afraid of the power generated by their abstinence and austerity, illustrating the conflict between cultural ideals and the difficulties of transcending earthly concerns. 

The importance of the householder and the renouncer were emphasized by Dumont. 

  • While we may debate who is a householder and if the Brahman is closer to the renouncer than Dumont's 'man-in-the-world,' the distinction does hint to an ambiguity in Indian civilization. 
  • Part of the tantric worldview, especially in the more intellectual interpretations, is that freedom and the world affirming value of desire are not mutually exclusive, but that desire may be utilized to transcend desire. 

The distinction between desire in broader Indian civilization and tantric traditions may be observed right here. 

  • Pleasure, the consequence of desire (the word kama may imply both 'pleasure' and 'desire'), is a goal in itself for the kamasastra. 
  • In this environment, sexual pleasure serves no purpose other than to satisfy itself. 
  • In contrast to the ideal and value of dharma, which places a great emphasis on producing offspring, the goal of kama is pleasure for its own reason. 
  • Kama is barren and, in this sense, a dharma transgressor. 
  • The aim is pleasure rather than progeny. 

Although desire is often mentioned in Tantrism, it is different from tantric usage in the kamasastric meaning, however the lines between tantric and non-tantric kama have been blurred even within the tradition. 

  • Sexual desire was employed to create sexual fluids, power compounds, that were to be given to the deities of the mandala, in early tantric traditions of the extreme left. 
  • We also see the advocation of eating bodily waste products in these extreme writings, and one thinks of extreme Buddhist Tantras like the Candamaharosana-tantra, where waste products are to be swallowed as the diet 'eaten by all the Buddhas' without 'any mild distaste.' 
  • Through their transgressive usage in a ritual setting, all body products are believed to possess power. 

Kama is only later in tantric traditions that it is considered as a method of transition to the deity's state. 

  • Thus, we see a transition from appeasing fierce and erotic deities via the 'sacrifice' of sexual ingredients to the ritual practice of sexual union as the transmutation of desire, with the sensation of coition believed to mirror or recapitulate Siva and Sakti's pleasure. 
  • We also have the use of intercourse to create sexual fluids, which are subsequently contracted back into the male partner in the vajroli mudra, which is an often complex ritual. 

In each of these ways, kama differs from kama as defined by the kamasastra. 

  • The left kama is not a goal in itself in tantric traditions, but rather a means to an end; desire is utilized to transcend itself, much as a thorn may be removed by a thorn, or perfection is achieved by those things that would usually cause one to slip off the path, in the image of the Kulamava-tantra. 
  • And because of the strong connections between sensuality and mortality, Tantrism takes sexual desire even farther away from the kamasastras. 
  • Tantrism, displays a "barren eroticism." 
  • Indeed, the left's extreme antinomian behaviors cannot be seen as pleasurable; there are other times when promiscuity may occur, such as at festivals like Holi.

The difference between kama in the Tantras and kama in erotic science is conceptually obvious, with the former being teleological (the aim being power and/or liberation) and the latter being an end in itself, although there is some blurring of the line. 

  • The sexual images carved on the temple walls, renowned to gawking visitors and laughing kids, are a noteworthy aspect of medieval India's beautiful temples. 

These sculptures have been seen as epitomizing 'tantric art,' but considering that 'tantric eroticism' is a different kind of 'tantric eroticism,' do these sculptures have any connection to tantric civilization, and if so, what might it be? 

  • This is a tough issue to answer, and many theories have been proposed, including that they are protective against demonic forces, that they mirror what happens in the skies, and that they are pictures of tantric ritual activities. 
  • Erotic sculpture is a frequent element of medieval and subsequent temples, and may still be seen on temples in the South, but little survives in the North, owing to temple destruction. 
  • The sculptures, according to Fred Hardy, are designed to keep demons away from the pristine sanctuary, serving as mirrors to reflect the demons' obscenity back on themselves. 
  • This idea was originally conveyed to him by locals in the temple's surroundings. 
  • This is a very reasonable theory, given that the world was filled with supernatural forces, both good and bad, and the temple was thought to be a pure dwelling of the god. 

Indeed, the pantheons of deities that constitute the outside wall (avarana) of the primary deity's authority, especially the guardians of the directions and the guardians of the entrances, may be seen on temple façade. 

  • This atmosphere of mystical protection lends itself nicely to erotic art. 
  • However, no source supports this claim, and at least one text, the Silpa-prakasa, connects such sculptures to the kamasastra . 

Furthermore, many of these sculptures exude tremendous elegance and beauty, and one would anticipate the grotesque to serve in this capacity rather than the beautiful. 

  • White, on the other hand, has claimed that there is a link between Tantrism and sexual temple sculpture's coital couples (maithunas), pointing out that there are remains of Yogini temples strewn throughout central India where Kaula rituals were conducted in the royal palaces. 
  • White claims that the maithunas on the walls of early temples most likely represent tantric rites since they seem to follow a pattern, using the Bheraghat Yogini temple in Orissa as an example. 

Such representations survived for a brief period (White estimates little more than two hundred years), after which the maithuna motif was decontextualized from its ceremonial setting. 

  • To put it another way, erotic portrayals move from tantric sexuality representations, which indicate to the transcendence of sex as activity for its own purpose, to pictures of sex more in line with kamasastra. 
  • Whether these representations are connected to transgressive tantric practice or to kamasastra, it is unlikely that they are linked to 'fertility cults' in any manner other than a broad and generic sense. 

This was obviously the case by the time of the Silpaprakasa, a book on temple building written between the ninth and twelfth centuries in Orissa by a tantric practitioner named Ramacandra Kulacara. 

  • The construction of a temple is described in this literature as portions of the deity's body, the deity being the foundational god Mahapurusa. 
  • It's worth noting that the book explicitly connects the temple to the concept of desire and the science of erotics, the kamasastra. 
  • According to the scripture, desire (kama) is the basis of the world, from which all things are created, and via desire, everything is reabsorbed into primordial matter (mulabhuta). 
  • Creation would be an illusion without Siva and Sakti. 

There would be no life, birth, or death without the activity of desire (kamakriya).' 66 This is consistent with a prominent motif in Sanskrit literature, which places desire as the most essential purpose of existence. 

Furthermore, the text connects maithuna couples to the kamasastra, stating that there should be no portrayals of sexual union (samghama) but only depictions of love play, since the kamasastra contains many different kinds of love play. 

The reality of temple sculpture, on the other hand, contradicts this advice, since there are many instances of completely coital depictions on temple walls, including scenarios involving multiple performers.

  • The 'orgy' sceneries on the slopes of Khajuraho or Konarak are against dharma standards, but they are not at odds with kamasastra, and some texts even include instances of 'orgiastic' devotion. 
  • What's more, maithuna couples are thus explicitly connected to the kamasastra, a major change in moving eroticism to an artistic setting. 
  • Eroticism is shorn of its ferocity and connection to death found in early tantric appeasing and taboo breaking with the erotic sculptures on temple walls. 
  • The portrayal of the body on temple walls is a representation of the body in a text-based idealized sensuality; an eroticism that revels in the flesh while pointing beyond it to a heavenly transcendence. 
  • The depiction of the flesh here is divinized and textualized in a manner that goes beyond transgression or protection. 

Indeed, as other goddesses on temple facades are manifestations, such representations refer to the sexualized body as a manifestation of the deity: the temple is the deity's body and is not devoid of sexuality.

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Tantra - Tantric Temples - A Place Of Worship

While tantric deities' main and most essential forms are usually mantras rather than physical representations, there is considerable overlap between tantric and puranic literature in terms of temple-building and iconography. 

  • The temple deity is energized via the proper rituals, much as the king's flesh is divinized in the rite of anointing (as in standard temple Hinduism). 
  • There is a parallelism between the temple and the palace, and the divine body of the monarch in the palace recapitulates the divine body of the god in the temple. 
  • Temples are a major topic in tantric literature, and the Saiva Siddhanta contains a lot of information on temple building, deity placement, and temple rituals. 

The Rauravottaragama specifies octagonal (dravida), round (vesara), and square (nagara) temple styles, as well as the deities to be placed. 

  • The book recounts the installation of the primary deity, the Siva linga on its pedestal (pitha), the Goddess and her marriage to Siva, and the guards of the doors (dvdrapdla), descriptions that may also be found in other Tantras with minor variations. 
  • Temple tantrism is still practiced at temples in Tamil Nadu and, particularly, Kerala, where 'tantric Hinduism' is the norm, with certain Nambudiri families relying on the Tantrasamuccaya, a fifteenth-century book. 

Even the most extreme goddess cults, the Yoginis, were expressed in temples throughout the early medieval era. 

  • According to traditional puranic tradition, such temples may be seen as the deity's body, and the difference between tantric and non-tantric gets muddled while discussing the temple. 

  • Within the institution of that temple, for example, the great Saiva temple at Cidambaram, a center of orthodox power and learning, performed temple rites according to Saiva Siddhanta texts, but there were also non-dualist theologians such as Mahesvarananda writing against dualist interpretations of scripture. 

Along with guardians and protectors, medieval temple façade are known for their erotic sculpture, which has sparked widespread attention and is frequently linked with 'Tantrism' and 'tantric art,' particularly in the West, since it seems to blur the line between 'religion' and'sexuality.' 

Indeed, the existence of sexual art connected with Tantrism has strengthened the notion that bhukti is mukti, pleasure is freedom, and that bhoga is yoga, pleasure is the technique, in later tantric culture. 

However, in order to comprehend these pictures, we must first consider their context and the value systems in place at the time of their creation.

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Tantra Power & Polity

Tantric Power 

In the medieval era, kingship was shaped by historical circumstance and justified by textual tradition. 

The rise of feudal kingdoms and the increasing awareness of regional identity with the rise of important regional centers focused on temples and the development of region-specific styles of art and architecture characterize India's history in political terms from the early medieval period to the rise of the Delhi Sultanate. 

Kingdoms such as the Rastrakutas in the Deccan, an early form of the Rajputs known as the Gurjura-Pratiharas of Malava-Rajasthan, and the Palas of Bengal were engaged in bitter rivalry after the Gupta empire collapsed, and generally from the mid-eighth century. 

Kings and princes pursued policies of military adventurism, and an ideology of warfare developed, which shown them as divine beings, the king was the male consort of the Goddess's realm. 

During this time, Brahmans were granted land in exchange for legitimizing the new rulers and initiating a process of Sanskritization, in which local traditions and deities were absorbed into the overarching, Brahmanical paradigm. 

  • The Candella clan of the Gond tribe, for example, is responsible for the renowned Khajuraho monuments. 
  • They had significant authority and influence, and could, for example, restore their nominal Pratihara ruler, Mahipala, to his throne (c. 900). 
  • The Chalukya and Cola empires (c. 870-1280 CE) succeeded the Pallavas as the most powerful dynasty in the Deccan, but it was the Pallavas who introduced the worship of the divine monarch to Southeast Asia in the kingdom of Fu-nan, which fell to the Khmers. 
  • Indeed, Indie kingdoms flourished throughout Southeast Asia, with the Sailendras of Orissa's Indonesian empire reaching colonies as far as Bali and Java. 

An inscription from Cambodia dating from 1072 ce (Saka period 974) mentions the entrance of Tantras into the Khmer kingdom under the reign of Jayavarman II, with the continuing of writings from the left stream, which had been banned in India, in Cambodia and Java. 

These are known from the Sdok kak Thorn inscription in Cambodia. 

With the Cholas, we witness the rise of Tamil culture and the magnificent temple towns of Thanjavur (the Cola capital), Cidambaram, Darasuram, and Gangaikondacolapuram, whose Saiva temples show not just imperial strength but also a vibrant Brahmanical, Agamic civilization. 

Tantric culture, on the other hand, disappeared in Kashmir from about 1320 to 1819 ce, when the region was under nearly continuous Muslim control and the bulk of the people converted to Islam. 

The rulers of these medieval countries had a divine kingship philosophy, in which the monarch was a god or a manifestation of a deity. 

This resulted in the "feudalization of divinity," in which "the gods were seen as warriors and rulers of the world." 

  • As reflected in the word deva, which may signify both deity and monarch, the king is not simply a'secular' ruler, but a divine king, a god incarnate. 
  • The monarch, became the pinnacle of the social system associated with the sun, with the rest of society below. 
  • The queen is associated with the ground, whereas officialdom is associated with lesser gods of the sky. 
  • The commoners who lived underneath it were likewise a part of the overall system. 

The divinity of that kingship may be viewed as a problem of "reason" and "will" in the creation and re-formation of political communities in ancient India, according a "world ordering rationality." 

  • The universe was ordered by kingship, and a world without a monarch (arajaka) was chaotic. 
  • It's also important to note that the medieval Hindu kingdom was not the same as a European monarchy. 
  • Rather, it was segmentary in nature, consisting of a pyramid of nested socio-political institutions. 
  • The village was embedded inside the locality, the locality within the supralocality, and the supralocality within the kingdom, according to this structure. 
  • Lesser monarchs paid ceremonial homage to higher, more powerful rulers within this hierarchy. 
  • As a result, Tantric ideas of kingship are readily incorporated into an already established organization. 

Although the concept of divine kingship has been criticized, particularly in a postcolonial setting, it is necessary to keep it in mind in order to comprehend monarchy and its legitimization in the tantric context. 

  • The king's duties, according to dharma literature, are to protect the people, to preserve social order via the preservation of caste boundaries, and to administer justice. 
  • The monarch is also the patron of ritual, taking on the traditional vedic function of sacrificial patron (yajamana). 
  • The king, according to Manu, is the guardian of caste (varna) and dharmic phases of life (asrama). 

However, according to the new tantric view of monarchy, the king is a divine warrior whose strength is drawn from the violent and sexual warrior goddesses adored as the retinue of a deity such as Bhairava, who is worshipped at a certain degree of revelation. 

  • The king's authority was connected to the Goddess or goddesses' power, which was bestowed at coronation or via tantric initiations by specialized priests. 
  • Indeed, these monarchs sought legitimacy from literary traditions via consecration and initiation, and sought power by connection with deities and the employment of their mantras. 
  • Even in the Laws of Manu, where the monarch is seen as containing pieces of the gods, there are continuities with more ancient notions of kingship. 
  • However, throughout the medieval era, a new concept of divinity emerged, as well as an aggressive, power-hungry lordship seeking legitimacy from religion. 
  • The Goddess's erotic violence is contained inside the monarch and regulated via a scripturally and ritually legitimated governmental system. 

The 'ancient texts,' or Puranas, formally concerned with the five topics of cosmogony (sarga), the regeneration of the cosmos (pratisarga), the genealogy of populations (vamsa), the great epochs of Manu (manvantara), and the genealogy of kings, were the first to achieve this legitimacy and new concept of kingship (vamsdnucarita). 

  • The Vimudharmottara-purdn  is an important text that illustrates this. 
  • Pancaratra, or tantric Vaisnava doctrine, was represented in these scriptures. 
  • Despite the fact that the scripture is not a Tantra, but rather the pinnacle of a 'scale of writings' within the Puranic, orthodox tradition, it reflects tantric Vaisnavism's theology
  • Unlike the Puranas, few tantric writings express explicit concern for the nature of kingship. 
  • While books like the Netra-tantra may come from courtly circles, they have a direct effect on the medieval concept of monarchy.
  • As we've seen, the Tantras are concerned with daily and infrequent rituals, mantra creation, cosmology, symbol placement, and temple construction. 

Although orthodox Brahmans kept a safe distance from hazardous or defiling tantric mantras, the impact of a tantric philosophy of power is firmly entrenched in medieval notions of monarchy, and the Puranas themselves are inspired by Tantrism, Tantrism's influence on kingship stretches from India to Southeast Asia. 

The ceremonial diagram, the mandala, is at the core of the tantric concept of kingship, in which the god and his spouse are surrounded by a retinue of deities who are either emanations or belong to the same sphere, clan, or lineage. 

  • The king of the clan Kulesvara and his spouse Kulesvarl, accompanied by deities such as the eight mothers, are the traditional paradigm.
  • The monarch is the Kulesvara equivalent, and his queen, from whom he gets authority via sex, is the Kulesvari analogue. 
  • Power passes from her to the monarch, then to the clan's deities, and finally to the rest of the community. 
  • White has persuasively shown that the goddesses of clans and land are at the heart of this system, and that the development of alliances between ruling families is crucial to this concept. 

At one level, the king is identified with the high god Visnu or Siva, and thus transcends specific political alliances within the kingdom, whereas the tutelary goddesses represent ties to land and powerful ruling families, who 'ratified and energized the pragmatic religious life of the kingdom as a whole.' 

This mandalic form of monarchy can be observed in Nepal, where three gods are essential for royalty and from whom the king gets his power: the sovereign deity Visnu, the master of ascetics and of Nepal, Pasupati, and the hidden tantric goddess Taleju. 

  • Indeed, the Goddess's power is based on monarchy among the Nepalese Newars. 

The king's consecration or anointing (abhiseka) is the most significant tantric ritual associated with monarchy, and the link between royal consecration and tantric initiation. 

  • The jfayakhya-samhitd connects the anointing (abhiseka) of four classes of initiates with four types of political actors in an intriguing way.
  • The samayin, putraka, sadhaka, and acarya processes include the rituals for anointing a military commander (senapati), a prime minister (mahamantrin), a prince (yuvarclja), and a king (yuvarclja) were modeled by (raja). 

The process of anointing is explicitly linked to a political institution, with the king similar to the master (acarya); just as the master embodies the deity revealed by the text, so does the monarch reveal the god. 

  • At Viyajanagara, and an early monarch of Nepal, for example, there is historical proof that rulers were consecrated with tantric mantras, a tradition that lasted until modernity. 
  • These tantric rituals of anointing during coronation with tantric mantras fit neatly into a divine kingship worldview, and merely added another layer of literary empowerment to the puranic system. 

The institution of kingship taps and controls the tantric deities' transgression violence and sexuality. 

It is clear from a number of sources such as Jayanthabhatta's play, Agamadambara, which we have cited that this layer of further empowerment was regarded with suspicion by the orthodox in the case of Kashmir, but it is also the case that kingship was supported by wholly orthodox Brahmans who used Puranas as their core texts, but whose theology was tantric, as in the case Some tantric scriptures deal specifically with kingship. 

  • According to the Netra-tantra, the tantric instructor (acarya) must worship the eight mothers for the king's and kingdom's protection. 
  • He should draw a 'lotus' pattern for appeasement, prosperity, good luck, the protection of ladies and sons, and the protection of the monarch from other rulers. 
  • The instructor should utilize mantras for the king's health, protection from sickness, a good night's sleep, and proper digestion. 

The Isanasivagurudeva-paddhati includes some kingship content, and it is clear that its teachings are intended for both royalty and initiated Saivas. 

  • This is evident in the scriptures on wars as well as the lengthy sections on temple construction and architecture. 
  • Only kings go to battle with their armies, and although others may construct temples, it is kings who construct big, prominent temples that honor the god and therefore themselves. 

The scripture offers five birds associated with Siva's five acts and various mantric syllables in the chapter on combat defense. 

  • These birds are also linked to five phases in a king's life: 
    • childhood, 
    • youth, 
    • kingship, 
    • old age, and 
    • death, 

  • Which are linked to five activities: 
    • pleasure, 
    • sacrifice, 
    • marching to battle, 
    • governing, 
    • retirement or cessation of activity, and dying. 

  • We may predict the favorable or bad result of a fight for a certain individual by studying the omens of birds, and that person should prepare appropriately by, for example, donning armor for excellent physical protection (suguptadeha) or dividing his riches if the augury is gloomy. 

The monarch becomes the tantric Brahman's counterpart via consecration. 

  • The king's body is divinized in consecration, much as the practitioner's body becomes an indicator of a tradition-specific subjectivity, and the practitioner's body becomes an index of the broader societal body, as stated in the scriptures. 
  • The king's physique, in a manner reminiscent of medieval Europe, is a symbol of the society's overall health. 
  • In one sense, the king is the ideal householder, capable of achieving the goals of dharma in the projection of the people, artha in the pursuit of wealth and political success, and kama in the pursuit of pleasure, particularly sexual pleasure with courtesans; 
  • In another, he is similar to the Brahman in mediating transcendent power and, indeed, becoming divinized himself. 
  • The divine's violent and sensual force is absorbed by the monarch and transformed into political expansion and consolidation tactics. 
  • The king's ceremonial anointing, in which power falls upon him, is a formal empowering in which he becomes divinized. 
  • The king's body becomes divine, just as the practitioner's body becomes divine via initiation (and every day following that). 
  • The king's body gets entextualized via tradition-specific mantras as a practitioner.

You may also want to learn more about Tantra, Tantra Yoga, and related Hindu Paths, Practices and Philosophies here.