Showing posts with label tantra. Show all posts
Showing posts with label tantra. Show all posts

Hinduism - Who Was Yogi Bhajan Or Harbhajan Singh Puri?


Yogi Bhajan or Harbhajan Singh Puri, was the 'Sikh Dharma Brotherhood' founder and modern Hindu missionary.

In 1969, he arrived in the United States, leaving behind a job as a customs agent at the Delhi airport.

His first teachings were classical hatha yoga and kundalini yoga disciplines, with his followers grouped into the "Happy, Healthy, Holy Organization" (3HO).

Hatha yoga is a religious discipline (yoga) based on a sequence of body postures known as asanas.

It is commonly thought that this practice provides a variety of physical advantages, including enhanced bodily flexibility and the potential to treat chronic diseases.

Kundalini yoga is a spiritual practice whose main goal is to awaken the kundalini, the dormant spiritual power that lives in everyone's subtle body.

The kundalini is supposed to be awakened by a mix of yoga practice and ritual action, and it is said to provide further spiritual capacities and, eventually, total soul liberation (moksha).

Yogi Bhajan claims to be a master of tantra, a hidden, ritually based religious practice, but his teaching expanded in the 1970s to incorporate ancient Sikh beliefs and symbols.

The most visible of these symbols are the "five Ks," which include uncut hair (kesh), a comb (kangha), a jewelry on the right wrist (kara), shorts (kacch), and a ceremonial sword (kacch) (kirpan).

Many of Yogi Bhajan's followers adhere to Sikh symbols considerably more rigidly than most individuals born as Sikhs, yet there are two major differences between the movement and the traditional Sikh society.

One of them is its concentration on tantra, which isn't very popular with Sikhs.

The most notable distinction, however, is Yogi Bhajan's religious authority over his followers, which is considerably different from the traditional Sikh community's decentralized, essentially democratic structure.

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Hinduism - What Is Vira Or The Tantric "Hero"?


The Vira or "hero” is one of the ritual expression modes used in tantra, a secret, ritual-based religious practice.

The tantric "hero" is said to be someone who not only consumes the Five Forbidden Things (panchamakara) in their purest form, but also uses this inversion of normal moral rules to affirm the ultimate unity of all things in the universe.

Aspirants who adopt a heroic mode frequently worship a powerful but dangerous deity, with the ultimate affirmation of this unity being the affirmation of one's identity with that deity.

If one succeeds, various powers are said to be conferred, but if one fails, illness, insanity, or death are said to result.

This isn't a risk-free path, but it gets the heroes to their desired destination quickly.

~Kiran Atma

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Hinduism - What Is Vimarsha?


 (“reflection”) Vimarsha is one of the bipolar opposites used to define the essence of all reality in Hindu tantra, a secret, ritual-based religious practice, with its counterpart being illumi country (prakasha).

These two concepts are especially significant in the formation of the world, which is believed to occur when the ultimate Brahman's pure and radiant awareness (prakasha) becomes self-conscious via the reflection (vimarsha) of this original consciousness.

The absolute transforms from a single awareness into a dual divinity—the deity Shiva and his spouse Shakti—whose ongoing interaction creates the universe.

This prakasha vimarsha dyad is especially essential in Kashmiri Shaivism's Trika school.

Jaideva Singh, Pratyabhijnanahrdayam, 1982, is a good source of knowledge.

~Kiran Atma

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Hinduism - What Is Right Hand Tantra Or Dakshinachara?


Right Hand Tantra is the name for a form of tantra, which is a hidden, ritual-based religious practice.

Certain tantric ceremonies include generally banned items, such as wine and nonvegetarian food, in an attempt to integrate the universe by eradicating all conceptual dualities, including the one between holy and forbidden.

In "left hand" (vamachara) tantric ritual, these drugs are employed in their natural forms, but in "right hand" (dakshinachara) tantric ritual, they are substituted.

See dakshinachara for further information.

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Hinduism - What Is A Pashu? Who Is Considered A Pashu?


 (“beast”) The name for an unenlightened individual, who is considered to have a human body but is no better than an animal, in the philosophical system known as Shaiva Siddhanta and the secret, ritually based religious practice known as tantra.

This lack of consciousness is caused not by inborn dullness, but by the activity of maya, Shiva's power of illusion wielded as lord (pati).

The Shaiva Siddhanta school is defined by the triad of pashu, pati, and the bindings of illusion (pasha).

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Hinduism - What Is A Mudra (Intoxicants)?


Mudra is fermented or parched grain .

Fermented grain is the fourth of the "Five Forbidden Things" (panchamakara) in the secret ritual-based religious practice known as tantra.

In "left hand" (vamachara) tantric ritual, they are used in their actual forms, whereas in "right hand" (dakshinachara) tantric ritual, they are represented by symbolic substitutes.

Although fermented grain has toxicating properties, it is also said to be an aphrodisiac.

The use of intoxicants and/or sexual license is fiercely condemned in "respectable" Hindu culture.

As a result, the tantric usage of this chemical must be seen in context.

The ultimate oneness of everything that exists is one of the most widespread tantric conceptions.

To proclaim that the whole cosmos is one principle from a tantric viewpoint implies that the adept must reject all dualistic conceptions.

The "Five Forbidden Things" serve as a ritual for dismantling dualism.

In this ritual, the adept defies society norms by consuming intoxicants, eating nonvegetarian cuisine, and engaging in unlawful sexual activity in an attempt to sacralize what is generally banned.

Tantric adepts point to the ceremonial usage of banned objects as evidence that their practice entails a higher level of exclusivity (adhikara) and is therefore superior to ordinary practice.

See Arthur Avalon's (Sir John Woodroffe's) Shakti and Shakta, 1978; Swami Agehananda Bharati's The Tantric Tradition, 1977; and Douglas Renfrew Brooks' The Secret of the Three Cities, 1990, for further details.

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Hinduism - What Is A Mithuna In Hindu Architecture ?

 (“pair”) In architecture, the name for what has been described as a “loving couple.” 

A more candid characterization is that of sculptures of men and women engaged in sexual activity, either as a pair or a larger group, with the occasion al animal thrown in for variety.

The most famous examples of such sculptures are at the temples at Konarak in the state of Orissa, and at Khajuraho in the state of Madhya Pradesh.

The meaning behind such explicit sculptures has been variously interpreted.

Some people claim that they sanction carnal pleasure as a religious path, some interpret them as representing human union with the divine, and still others view them as teaching that the desire for pleasure must ultimately be transcended to attain the divine.

Any of these may be true, or the sculptures may simply reflect an affirmation of life on all its levels.

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Hinduism - What Is Maithuna?

 (“copulation”) Sexual intercourse is the fifth and final of the Five Forbidden Things (panchamakara) in the secret ritual-based religious practice known as tantra; the panchamakara are used in their actual forms in "left hand" (vamachara) tantric ritual, whereas they are represented by symbolic substitutes in "right hand" (dak shinachara) tantric ritual.

Ritualized sexual intercourse is described in Hindu tantra as a symbol of the ultimate union of the deity Shiva and his wife Shakti in many religions.

The greater tantric context must be considered when looking at ritual sexuality.

The ultimate oneness of everything that exists is one of the most widespread tantric conceptions.

To proclaim that the whole cosmos is one principle from a tantric viewpoint implies that the adept must reject all dualistic conceptions.

The "Five Banned Things" give a ceremony for breaking down dualism; in this ritual, the adept defies society conventions prohibiting intoxication, nonvegetarian cuisine, and illegal intercourse in an attempt to sacralize what is generally forbidden.

Tantric adepts point to the ceremonial usage of banned objects as evidence that their practice entails a higher level of exclusivity (adhikara), and hence is superior to ordinary practice.

In certain versions of this rite, the lady is the initiate's wife, who is revered as a manifestation of the Goddess before intercourse.

In other circumstances, this ceremonial intercourse is misconstrued as adulterous, generally with a low-status lady, in order to emphasize the social boundaries that have been crossed.

This latter technique is now uncommon, at least in southern India, according to Brooks, where it is "almost unknown." 

See Arthur Avalon's (Sir John Woodroffe's) Shakti and Shakta, 1978; Swami Agehananda Bharati's The Tantric Tradition, 1972; and Douglas Renfrew Brooks' The Secret of the Three Cities, 1990 for further details.

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Hinduism - What Is Madya? Why Is It Considered Ritually Impure? Who Is Allowed Madya?


 (“wine”) Wine is the first of the Five Forbidden Things in tantra, a secret ritual-based religious practice (panchamakara).

Because "respectable" Hindu culture forbids the intake of alcoholic drinks, its ceremonial usage in tantra must be understood in the context of tantra as a whole.

The ultimate oneness of everything that exists is one of the most fundamental tantric principles.

To proclaim that the whole cosmos is one principle from a tantric viewpoint implies that the adept must reject all dualistic conceptions.

One method to achieve this is to consume the "Five Banned Things," purposefully breaching cultural conventions prohibiting the intake of intoxicants, non-vegetarian cuisine, and illegal intercourse, and thereby making holy what is generally forbidden.

Tantric adepts point to the ceremonial usage of banned objects as evidence that their practice entails a higher level of exclusivity (adhikara) and is therefore superior to ordinary practice.

The intoxication generated by wine in its ceremonial use—which is normally in very tiny quantities—is an approximation of the ecstasy of enlightenment.

See Arthur Avalon's (Sir John Woodroffe's) Shakti and Shakta, 1978; Swami Agehananda Bharati's The Tantric Tradition, 1977; and Douglas Renfrew Brooks' The Secret of the Three Cities, 1990 for further details.

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Hinduism - How Is Alcohol Consumption Perceived In A Hindu Society? What Are Instances Of Hindu Religious Exceptions That Tolerate Alcohol?


Traditional Hindus condemn it, however opinions vary depending on the sort of booze drunk.

Drinking beer, wine, and distilled spirits ("foreign liquor") is associated with embracing "foreign" Western ideals, but drinking un-distilled, fermented beverages like "country liquor" and toddy is associated with low-class conduct.

Drinking habits tend to reflect and perpetuate unfavorable attitudes.

People who drink will typically complete the bottle in one sitting and get inebriated, thereby "proving" that there is no such thing as responsible drinking since booze is banned in polite society.

Despite widespread cultural opposition, there are a few Hindu temples where whiskey is offered to the god on a daily basis.

As prasad, the sanctified food or drink that bears the deity's benediction, the devotees also get wine.

In certain tantric religious practices, alcohol has also been integrated into religious rites.

Tantra is a hidden ritual-based religious system founded on the notion that everything exists in ultimate oneness.

To proclaim that the whole cosmos is one principle from a tantric viewpoint implies that the adept must reject all dualistic conceptions.

Consuming the "Five Forbidden Things" (panchamakara) is one method to achieve this, purposefully breaching social conventions prohibiting the intake of intoxicants, nonvegetarian cuisine, and illegal intercourse.

This is always done in a precisely specified ritual environment, with the intention of sacralizing what is not morally wrong.

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Hinduism - What Is The Path Of Left Hand Tantra?


Left Hand Tantra is a kind of Tantra that focuses on the left hand.

The ceremonies for this "left hand" type of tantra involve openly breaking taboos on nonvegetarian food, intoxicating beverages, and illegal intercourse.

See Vamachara for further information.

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Yogic Philosophy - The Yoga Of Science


Yoga And Science

Rather than the observable primary reality of existence, the goal of science is search for the truth. 

And, finally, without its translation into the domain of actual life, this search, in my opinion, remains unfinished. 

If not the world, science—that is, scientific knowledge—must undoubtedly change the scientist. 

In the abstract, knowledge is simply a titillation of the mind, a little stimulation of a part of our entire humanness. 

Knowledge must find expression in the body in order to be fulfilled. 

More than that, it must use the force of its truth to transform the body. 

And truth, not knowledge, is the source of all power. 

Manipulative power, such as political leverage or overwhelming influence, is linked with knowledge. 

Truth's intrinsic power, on the other hand, is transformational in the most profound sense. 

It has the ability to reshape a person in the light of truth. 

What is the truth? 

Shouldn't we be talking about truths? 


Truth must be unique in order to be true. 


A plurality of truths is a logical paradox. 

The practice of speaking about many truths originated from the loss of truth and its replacement with a plethora of facts. However, facts are not the same as truth. 

Only knowledge (prajna) is freeing because it bears the truth (ritambhara). 

Without conceptual blinders, truth is reality. 

To the extent that science's path is illuminated by the ideal of truth, it may lead the scientist, step by step, to the discovery of truth—not just factual truth, but the sort of truth that sees everything in context and maintains that context. 

When considering the broader context of human existence, it is necessary to examine humanity's evolutionary potential, as well as its potential spiritual destiny. 

As a result, science may serve as a stepping stone to Yoga's "evolutionary science," i.e., a spiritual discipline that allows us to realize our entire potential. 

If mastered, yoga's concentration and meditation methods reveal the mind's transcendental potential, allowing us to experience truth at the greatest level, as "ultimate Truth" (paramartha-satya). 

Recommended Reading - Unity of Nature (New York: Farrar, Strauss, Giroux, 1980), by C. F. von Weizsacker. 

East and West Spiritual Technologies, And Evolution 

Modern civilization is moving in the direction of external freedom. 

Free expression of opinion, affiliation, the ability to form personal connections on one's own terms, and the ability to follow a profession based on one's own qualities are all necessary for a productive and happy existence. 

But, in the end, outward freedom is egocentric, and interior freedom should not be overlooked as a spiritual equivalent. 

The defeat of desire, wrath, greed, attachment, pride, and laziness leads to inner liberation. 

The only way to achieve this freedom and give meaning to all forms of external freedom is for reason and love to come together in a happy marriage. 

1. Our modern technology is the result of humanity's desire for self-transcendence. 

  • Modern science and technology, on the other hand, are limited to the realm of relative liberty and happiness. 

2. The East's psychospiritual technique (i.e., Yoga) is aimed squarely at self-transcendence and inner growth. 

  • Answers to our most basic human problems require both wisdom and practical understanding of contemporary science and technology. 
  • The great Yogas of India are known for their wisdom. 

3. When we acknowledge their worth in regard to their respective areas of application, the two traditions, Eastern technology and Western scientific materialism, are complimentary. 

Reality and Reality Models 

1. The ultimate Reality is unfathomable to the human mind. 

  • As a result, adepts develop models to communicate their spiritual realizations to others. 
  • This is a crucial point: all teachings are simply expressions of the Truth, not the Truth itself. 
  • We must view them as models that may aid us in our quest to get a better understanding of life. 

2. Through the euphoric condition, it is possible to perceive things immediately, without the need of the senses (samadhi). 

3. Epistemology is the study of knowledge and the methods of cognition that are legitimate. 

  • One or more of these methods is recognized by India's different philosophical traditions. 
  • Only sensory perception is permitted by materialist schools, such as the Carvakas. 

4. The following three tools of legitimate knowledge (pramana) are recognized by several schools of lndian thought: sense perception (pratyaksha), inference (anumana), and revealed knowledge (shabda) Some of these instruments are given special attention at each school. 

  • Shabda—or apta-vacana—is the testimony of adepts who are able to give witness to the ultimate Reality via direct realization. 
  • As a result, it is often regarded as the most reliable source of spiritual information. 
  • The process of establishing a proper logical link between two things is known as inference. 
  • The process of seeing, hearing, tasting, touching, or smelling is known as perception. 

5. Ontology, or being theory, is concerned with the broad categories of being. 

  • Most schools of Yoga emphasize ontology, relying on the paradigm provided by the Samkhya tradition, which has twenty-five categories, or tattvas, the twenty-fifth of which is the Spirit (purusha). 

6. Verticalism is a kind of worldview that stresses a "Reality" above and beyond the realm of senses and intellect. 

  • Much of Indian Yoga has been influenced by a verticalist or "ascending" tendency. 
  • This has often resulted in a simultaneous retreat from the "lower" reality of the material world, as in the case of Classical Yoga. 
  • "In, up, and out" (internalization, ascension, and withdrawal/transcendence) summarizes the verticalist viewpoint. 

7. Tantra philosophy provides an alternative to the ascending/verticalist paradigm. 

  • Tantra views Nature and Spirit as inextricably linked, and strives for completeness by integrating all levels, from the coarse physical world to the profound center of Being, Spirit. 
  • The intellectual foundations of Tantra forms the basis of advancement in the physical realm. 

8. Symbolism abounds in most of the world's mystical/spiritual literature. 

  • An understanding and study of pervasive intelligence expressed in existence should be our approach to  symbolism in general and the symbolic language used in Yoga literature.

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.

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

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.