Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Tantra - 01

Tantra meaning knowledge that is spread to save, is derived from the root tan, "to spread" and the suffix tra, "to save". In a broad sense Tantra refers to a wide class of medieval religious practices and ideas and has eventually become an integral part of modern Hinduism. They contain both philosophy and practical applications of the philosophy. These practices can be divided into three main categories based on :
a. the Agamas which are mostly shaivite
b. the tantras which are mostly shAkta
c. the saMhitas which are mostly viShNuite

In a narrower sense, tantra has come to refer to those practices as applicable to worship of Female Goddess or shAkti, and in a still more narrower sense refers to some of the "obscene" practices of the vIras, who are a special category of adherents subscribing to a small sect of the entire tantra way of life. However, tantra is widely misunderstood and the 200 year British rule of India is to blame for this misconception - Christian missionaries, early Indologists and the British rulers of India, went all out in discrediting Hindusim and  tantra. So did the early Christian influenced Indians who received British style of education. So great has been the brainwashing over the last 200-300 years that tantra has now come to refer to black-magic, sex and other gory practices.

According to some tradition, Tantra is that shAstra revealed by Shiva as a specific scripture for the Kali Yuga. Some of the tantras  are believed to be as old as the classical Upanishads.

A shakti Tantra is generally in the form of a dialog between Shiva and Parvati. Shiva is a deification of the Ultimate Principle and Parvati is the active aspect of the Ultimate Principle. When Parvati asks a a question and Shiva answers, the scripture is called an Agama. When Shiva asks and Parvati answers it is known as Nigama.

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