Shakti and Shakta

From: "jagbir singh" <>
Date: Fri Jan 27, 2006 9:38 am
Subject: Shakti and Shakta

> —- In, "jagbir singh"
<adishakti_org@y...> wrote:
> >
> >
> > Dear Semira,
> >
> > Definitely and without question the Divine Message will triumph
> > over the organization itself. In future more and more people
> > will embrace its central message of evolving into the eternal
> > spirit that all religions, holy scriptures and prophets have
> > since time immemorial upheld. The Divine Message is a spiritual
> > sanctuary, a beacon of hope, joy, peace of eternal life to all
> > humans. The Shakti/Holy Spirit/Ruh/Aykaa Mayee is the Divine
> > Feminine that gives Self-realization/Birth of Spirit/Baptism of
> > Allah/Opens Dasam Dwar for humanity to enter the Sahasrara/
> > Kingdom of God/Niche of lights/Inner Sanctuary within where
> > Brahman/God Almighty/Allah/ Waheguru resides as THE LIGHT.
> > Semira, not only the current Sahaja Yoga organisation but all
> > religious organizations as well have merely been intended as
> > temporary vehicles and starting points for the Divine Message.
> >
> > jagbir
> >
> >
> > —- In, "jagbir singh"
<adishakti_org@y...> wrote:
> By the way things are moving the Adi Shakti will eventually
> triumph. All we need to do as Her bhaktas is to stand our ground
> and not yield an inch because Truth always triumphs. Years of
> silence from religious regimes is the sure sign that the Devi and
> Her Divine Message to all humanity cannot be challenged, and will
> eventually be victorious in Her battle against the evil forces.
> All we need to do is to fearlessly announce the Truth. Shanti,
> Shanti, Shanti.

Shakti and Shakta

Shakti who is in Herself pure blissful Consciousness (Cidrupini) is
also The Mother of Nature and is Nature itself born of the creative
play of Her thought. The Shakta faith, or worship of Shakti, is I
believe, in some of its essential features one of the oldest and
most wide-spread religions in the world. Though very ancient, it is
yet, in its essentials, and in the developed form in which we know
it to-day, harmonious with some of the teachings of modern
philosophy and science; not that this is necessarily a test of its
truth. It may be here noted that in the West, and in particular in
America and England, a large number of books are now being published
on "New Thought," "Will Power," "Vitalism," "Creative
Thought," "Right Thought," "Self Unfoldment," "Secret of
Achievement," "Mental Therapeutics" and the like, the principles of
which are essentially those of some forms of Shakti Sadhana both
higher and lower. There are books of disguised magic as how to
control (Vashikarana) by making them buy what they do not want, how
to secure "affection" and so forth which, not-withstanding some
hypocrisies, are in certain respects on the same level as the
Tantrik Shavara as a low class of books on magic are called. Shavara
or Candala are amongst the lowest of men. The ancient and at the
same time distinguishing character of the faith is instanced by
temple worship (the old Vaidik worship was generally in the home or
in the open by the river), the cult of images, of Linga and Yoni
(neither of which, it is said, were part of the original Vaidik
Practice), the worship of Devis and of the Magna Mater (the great
Vaidik Devata was the male Indra) and other matters of both doctrine
and practice.

Many years ago Edward Sellon, with the aid of a learned Orientalist
of the Madras Civil Service, attempted to learn its mysteries, but
for reasons, which I need not here discuss, did not view them from
the right standpoint. He, however, compared the Shaktas with the
Greek Telestica or Dynamica, the Mysteries of Dionysus "Fire born in
the cave of initiation" with the Shakti Puja, the Shakti Shodhana
with the purification shown in d'Hancarvilles' "Antique Greek
Vases"; and after referring to the frequent mention of this ritual
in the writings of the Jews and other ancient authors, concluded
that it was evident that we had still surviving in India in the
Shakta worship a very ancient, if not the most ancient, form of
Mysticism in the whole world. Whatever be the value to be given to
any particular piece of evidence, he was right in his general
conclusion. For, when we throw our minds back upon the history of
this worship we see stretching away into the remote and fading past
the figure of the Mighty Mother of Nature, most ancient among the
ancients; the Adya Shakti, the dusk Divinity, many breasted, crowned
with towers whose veil is never lifted, Isis, "the one who is all
that has been, is and will be," Kali, Hathor, Cybele, the Cowmother
Goddess Ida, Tripurasundari, the Ionic Mother, Tef the spouse of Shu
by whom He effects the birth of all things, Aphrodite, Astarte in
whose groves the Baalim were set, Babylonian Mylitta, Buddhist Tara,
the Mexican Ish, Hellenic Osia, the consecrated, the free and pure,
African Salambo who like Parvati roamed the Mountains, Roman Juno,
Egyptian Bast the flaming Mistress of Life, of Thought, of Love,
whose festival was celebrated with wanton Joy, the Assyrian Mother
Succoth Benoth, Northern Freia, Mulaprakriti, Semele, Maya, Ishtar,
Saitic Neith Mother of the Gods, eternal deepest ground of all
things, Kundali, Guhyamahabhairavi and all the rest.

And yet there are people who allege the "Tantrik" cult is modern. To
deny this is not to say that there has been or will be no change or
development in it. As man changes, so do the forms of his beliefs.
An ancient feature of this faith and one belonging to the ancient
Mysteries is the distinction which it draws between the initiate
whose Shakti is awake (Prabuddha) and the Pashu the unillumined
or "animal," and, as the Gnostics called him, "material" man. The
Natural, which is the manifestation of The Mother of Nature, and the
Spiritual or The Mother as She is in and by Herself are one, but the
initiate alone truly recognizes this unity. He knows himself in all
his natural functions as the one Consciousness whether in enjoyment
(Bhukti), or Liberation (Mukti). It is an essential principle of
Tantrik Sadhana that man in general must rise through and by means
of Nature, and not by an ascetic rejection of Her. A profoundly true
principle is here involved whatever has been said of certain
applications of it. When Orpheus transformed the old Bacchic cult,
it was the purified who in the beautiful words of Euripides "went
dancing over the hills with the daughters of Iacchos". I cannot,
however, go into this matter in this paper which is concerned with
some general subjects and the ordinary ritual. But the evidence is
not limited to mysteries of the Shakti Puja. There are features in
the ordinary outer worship which are very old and widespread, as are
also other parts of the esoteric teaching. In this connection, a
curious instance of the existence, beyond India, of Tantrik doctrine
and practice is here given. The American Indian Maya Scripture of
the Zunis called the Popul Vuh speaks of Hurakan or Lightning, that
is (I am told) Kundalishakti; of the "air tube" or "Whitecord" or
the Sushumna Nadi; of the "two-fold air tube" that is Ida and
Pingala; and of various bodily centers which are marked by animal

Perhaps the Pa—catattva Ritual followed by some of the adherents of
the Tantras is one of the main causes which have operated in some
quarters against acceptance of the authority of these Scriptures and
as such responsible for the notion that the worship is modern. On
the contrary, the usage of wine, meat, and so forth is itself very
old. There are people who talk of these rites as though they were
some entirely new and comparatively modern invention of'
the "Tantra," wholly alien to the spirit and practice of the early
times. If the subject be studied it will, I think. be found that in
this matter those worshipers who practice these rites are (except
possibly as to Maithuna) the continuators of very ancient practices
which had their counterparts in the earlier Vaidikacara, but were
subsequently abandoned. possibly under the influence of Jainism and
Buddhism. I say "counterpart," for I do not mean to suggest that in
every respect the rites were the same. In details and as regards, I
think, some objects in view, they differed. Thus we find in this
Pa—catattva Ritual a counterpart to the Vaidik usage of wine and
animal food. As regards wine, we have the partaking of Soma; meat
was offered in Mamsashtaka Shraddha; fish in the Ashtakashraddha and
Pretashraddha; and Maithuna as a recognized rite will be found in
the Vamadevya Vrata and Maravrata of universally recognized Vaidik
texts, apart from the alleged, and generally unknown, Saubhagykanda
of the Atharvaveda to which the Kalikopanishad and other "Tantrik"
Upanishads are said to belong. Possibly, however, this element of
Maithuna may be foreign and imported by Cinacara (see Ch. V). So
again, as that distinguished scholar Professor Ramendra Sundara
Trivedi has pointed out in his Vicitraprasanga, the Mudra of
Pa—catattva corresponds with the Purodasa cake of the Soma and other
Yagas. The present rule of abstinence from wine, and in some cases,
meat is due, I believe, to the original Buddhism. It is so-
called "Tantriks," who follow (in and for their ritual only) the
earlier practice. It is true that the Samhita of Ushanah says, "Wine
is not to be drunk, given or taken (Madyam apeyam adeyam agrahyam)"
but the yet greater Manu states, "There is no wrong in the eating of
meat or the drinking of wine (Na mamsabakshane dosho na madye)"
though he rightly adds, as many now do, that abstention therefrom is
productive of great fruit (Nivrittistu mahaphala). The Tantrik
practice does not allow extra-ritual or "useless" drinking

Further, it is a common error to confound two distinct things,
namely, belief and practice and the written records of it. These
latter may be comparatively recent, whilst that of which they speak
may be most ancient. When I speak of the ancient past of this faith
I am not referring merely to the writings which exist today which
are called Tantras. These are composed generally in a simple
Sanskrit by men whose object it was to be understood rather than to
show skill in literary ornament. This simplicity is a sign of age.
But at the same time it is Laukika and not Arsha Sanskrit. Moreover,
there are statements in them which (unless interpolations) fix the
limits of their age. I am not speaking of the writings themselves
but of what they say. The faith that they embody, or at least its
earlier forms, may have existed for many ages before it was reduced
to writing amongst the Kulas or family folk, who received it as
handed down by tradition (Paramparyya) just as did the Vaidik
Gotras. That such beliefs and practices, like all other things, have
had their development in course of time is also a likely hypothesis.

A vast number of Tantras have disappeared probably for ever. Of
those which survive a large number are unknown. Most of those which
are available are of fragmentary character. Even if these did appear
later than some other Shastras, this would not, on Indian
principles, affect their authority. According to such principles the
authority of a Scripture is not determined by its date; and this is
sense. Why, it is asked, should something said 1,000 years ago be on
that account only truer than what was said 100 years ago? It is held
that whilst the teaching of the Agama is ever existent, particular
Tantras are constantly being revealed and withdrawn. There is no
objection against a Tantra merely because it was revealed to-day.
When it is said that Shiva spoke the Tantras, or Brahma wrote the
celebrated Vaishnava poem called the Brahmasamhita, it is not meant
that Shiva and Brahma materialized and took a reed and wrote on
birch bark or leaf, but that the Divine Consciousness to which men
gave these and other names inspired a particular man to teach, or to
write, a particular doctrine or work touching the eternally existing
truth. This again does not mean that there was any one whispering in
his ear, but that these things arose in his consciousness. What is
done in this world is done through man. There is a profounder wisdom
than is generally acknowledged in the saying "God helps those who
help themselves". Inspiration too never ceases. But how, it may be
asked, are we to know that what is said is right and true? The
answer is "by its fruits." The authority of a Shastra is determined
by the question whether Siddhi is gained through its provisions or
not. It is not enough that "Shiva uvaca" (Shiva says) is writ in it.
The test is that of Ayurveda. A medicine is a true one if it cures.
The Indian test for everything is actual experience. It is from
Samadhi that the ultimate proof of Advaitavada is sought. How is the
existence of Kalpas known? It is said they have been remembered, as
by the Buddha who is recorded as having called to mind 91 past
Kalpas. There are arguments in favor of rebirth but that which is
tendered as real proof is both the facts of ordinary daily
experience which can, it is said, be explained only on the
hypothesis of pre-existence; as also actual recollection by self-
developed individuals of their previous lives. Modern Western
methods operate through magnetic sleep producing "regression of
memory". (See A. de Rochas Les Vies Successives and Lancelin La Uie
Posthume.) Age, however, is not wholly without its uses: because one
of the things to which men look to see in a Shastra is whether it
has been accepted or quoted in works of recognized authority. Such a
test of authenticity can, of course, only be afforded after the
lapse of considerable time. But it does not follow that a statement
is in fact without value because, owing to its having been made
recently, it is not possible to subject it to such a test. This is
the way in which this question of age and authority is looked at on
Indian principles.

A wide survey of what is called orthodox "Hinduism" today (whatever
be its origins) will disclose the following results: Vedanta in the
sense of Upanishad as its common doctrinal basis, though variously
interpreted, and a great number of differing disciplines or modes of
practice by which the Vedanta doctrines are realized in actual fact.
We must carefully distinguish these two. Thus the Vedanta
says "So'ham"; which is Hamsha. "Hakara is one wing; Sakara is the
other. When stripped of both wings She, Tara, is Kamakala."
(Tantraraja Tantra.) The Acaras set forth the means by
which "So'ham" is to be translated into actual fact for the
particular Sadhaka. Sadhana comes from the root "Sadh" which means
effort or striving or accomplishment. Effort for and towards what?
The answer for those who desire it is liberation from every form in
the hierarchy of forms, which exist as such, because consciousness
has so limited itself as to obscure the Reality which it is, and
which "So'ham" or "Shivo'ham" affirms. And why should man liberate
himself from material forms? Because it is said, that way only
lasting happiness lies: though a passing, yet fruitful bliss may be
had here by those who identify themselves with active Brahman
(Shakti). It is the actual experience of this declaration
of 'So'ham" which in its fundamental aspect is Veda: knowledge (Vid)
or actual Spiritual Experience, for in the monistic sense to truly
know anything is to be that thing. This Veda or experience is not to
be had sitting down thinking vaguely on the Great Ether and doing
nothing. Man must transform himself, that is, act in order to know.
Therefore, the watchword of the Tantras is Kriya or action.

The next question is what Kriya should be adopted towards this end
of J—ana. "Tanyate, vistaryate j—anam anena iti Tantram." According
to this derivation of the word Tantra from the root "Tan" "to
spread," it is defined as the Shastra, by which knowledge (J—ana) is
spread. Mark the word J—ana. The end of the practical methods which
these Shastras employ is to spread Vedantic J—ana. It is here we
find that variety which is so puzzling to those who have not gone to
the root of the religious life of India. The end is substantially
one. The means to that end necessarily vary according to knowledge,
capacity, and temperament. But here again we may analyze the means
into two main divisions, namely, Vaidik and Tantrik, to which may be
added a third or the mixed (Mishra). The one body of Hinduism
reveals as it were, a double framework represented by the Vaidik and
Tantrik Acaras, which have in certain instances been mingled.

The word "Tantra" by itself simply means as I have already
said "treatise" and not necessarily a religious scripture. When it
has the latter significance, it may mean the Scripture of several
divisions of worshipers who vary in doctrine and practice. Thus
there are Tantras of Salvias, Vaishnavas, and Shaktas and of various
sub-divisions of these. So amongst the Salvias there are the Salvias
of the Shaiva Siddhanta, the Advaita Shaiva of the Kashmir School,
Pashupatas and a multitude of other sects which have their Tantras.
If "Tantric" be used as meaning an adherent of the Tantra Shastra,
then the word, in any particular case, is without definite meaning.
A man to whom the application is given may be a worshiper of any of
the Five Devatas (Surya, Ganesha, Vishnu, Shiva, Shakti) and of any
of the various Sampradayas worshipping that Devata with varying
doctrine and practice. The term is a confusing one, though common
practice compels its use. So far as I know, those who are
named, "Tantrics" do not themselves generally use this term but call
themselves Shaktas, Salvias and the like, of whatever Sampradaya
they happen to be.

Again Tantra is the name of only one class of Scripture followed
by "Tantrics". There are others, namely, Nigamas, Agamas, Yamalas,
Damaras, Uddishas, Kakshaputas and so forth. None of these names are
used to describe the adherents of these Shastras except, so far as I
am aware, Agama in the use of the term Agamavadin, and Agamanta in
the descriptive name of Agamanta Shaiva. I give later a list of
these Scriptures as contained in the various Agamas. If we summarize
them shortly under the term Tantra Shastra, or preferably Agama,
then we have four main classes of Indian Scripture, namely, Veda
(Samhita, Brahmana, Upanishad), Agama or Tantra Shastra, Purana,
Smriti. Of these Shastras the authority of the Agama or Tantra
Shastra has been denied in modern times. This view may be shown to
be erroneous by reference to Shastras of admitted authority. It is
spoken of as the Fifth Veda. Kulluka Bhatta, the celebrated
commentator on Manu, says: "Shruti is twofold, Vaidik and Tantrik
(Vaidiki tantriki caiva dvividha srutih lurtita)". This refers to
the Mantra portion of the Agamas. In the Great Vaishnava Shastra,
the Srimad Bhagavata, Bhagavan says: "My worship is of the three
kinds—Vaidik, Tantrik and Mixed (Mishra)" and that, in
Kaliyuga, "Keshava is to be worshipped according to the injunction
of Tantra." The Devibhagavata speaks of the Tantra Shastra as a
Vedanga. It is cited as authority in the Ashtavimshati Tattva of
Raghunandana who prescribes for the worship of Durga as before him
had done Shridatta, Harinatha, Vidyadhara and many others. Some of
these and other references are given in Mahamahopadhyaya
Yadaveshvara Tarkaratna's Tantrer Pracinatva in the Sahitpa Samhita
of Aswin 1317. The Tarapradipa and other Tantrik works say that in
the Kali-yuga the Tantrika and not the Vaidika Dharma is to be
followed. This objection about the late character and therefore
unauthoritativeness of the Tantra Shastras generally (I do not speak
of any particular form of it) has been taken by Indians from their
European Gurus.

According to the Shakta Scriptures, Veda in its wide sense does not
only mean Rig, Yajus, Sama, Atharva as now published but comprises
these together with the generally unknown and unpublished Uttara
Kanda of the Atharva Veda, called Saubhagya, with the Upanishads
attached to this. Sayana's Commentary is written on the Purva Kanda.
These are said (though I have not yet verified she fact) to be 64 in
number. Some of these, such as Advaitabhava, Kaula, Kalika, Tripura,
Tara, Aruna Upanishads and Bahvricopanishad, Bhavanopanishad, I have
published as the XI volume of Tantrik "texts. Aruna means "She who
is red". Redness ( (Lauhityam) is Vimarsha. (See Vol. XI, Tantrik
Texts. Ed. A. Avalon.) I may also here refer my reader to the
Kaulacarya Satyananda's Commentary on the great Isha Upanishad.
Included also in "Veda" (according to the same view) are the
Nigamas, Agamas, Yamalas and Tantras. From these all other Shastras
which explain the meaning (Artha) of Veda such as Purana and Smriti,
also Itihasa and so forth are derived. All these Shastras constitute
what is called a "Many millioned" (Shatakoti) Samhita which are
developed, the one from the other as it were an unfolding series. In
the Tantrik Sangraha called Sarvollasa by the Sarvavidyasiddha
Sarvanandanatha the latter cites authority (Narayani Tantra) to show
that from Nigama came Agama. Here I pause to note that the Sammohana
says that Kerala Sampradaya is Dakshina and follows Veda
(Vedamargastha), whilst Gauda (to which Sarvanandanatha belonged) is
Vama and follows Nigama. Hence apparently the pre-eminence given to
Nigama. He then says from Agama came Yamala, from Yamala the four
Vedas, from Vedas the Puranas, from Puranas Smriti, and from Smriti
all other Shastras. There are, he says, five Nigamas and 64 Agamas.
Four Yamalas are mentioned, which are said to give the gross form
(Sthularupa). As some may be surprised to learn that the four Vedas
came from the Yamalas (i.e. were Antargata of the Yamalas) which
literally means what is uniting or comprehensive, I subjoin the
Sanskrit verse from Narayani Tantra.

Brahmayamalasambhutam samaveda-matam shive

Rudrayamalasamjata rigvedo paramo mahan

Vishnuyamalasambhuto yajurvedah kuleshvari

Shaktiyamalasambhutam atharva paramam mahat.

Some Tantras are called by opposing sects Vedavirud-dhani (opposed
to Veda), which of course those who accept them deny, just as the
Commentary of the Nityashodashikarnava speaks of the Pa—caratrin as
Vedabhrashta. That some sects were originally Avaidika is probable,
but in process of time various amalgamations of scriptural
authority, belief and practice took place.

Whether we accept or not this theory, according to which the Agamas
and kindred Shastras are given authority with the four Vedas we have
to accept the facts. What are these?

As I have said, on examination the one body of Hinduism reveals as
it were a double framework. I am now looking at the matter from an
outside point of view which is not that of the Shakta worshiper. We
find on the one hand the four Vedas with their Samhitas, Brahmanas,
and Upanishads and on the other what has been called the "Fifth
Veda," that is Nigama, Agama and kindred Shastras and certain
especially "Tantrik" Upanishads attached to the Saubhagya Kanda of
the Atharvaveda. There are Vaidik and Tantrik Kalpa Sutras and
Suktas such as the Tantrika Devi and Matsya Suktas. As a counterpart
of the Brahma-sutras, we have the Shakti Sutras of Agastya. Then
there is both Vaidik and "Tantrik" ritual such as (he ten Vaidik
Samskaras and the Tantrik Samskaras, such as Abhisheka; Vaidik and
Tantrik initiation (Upanayana and Diksha); Vaidik and Tantrik
Gayatri; the Vaidik Om, the so-called "Tantrik" Bijas such as Hring;
Vaidika. Guru and Deshika Guru and so forth. This dualism may be
found carried into other matters as well, such as medicine, law,
writing. So, whilst the Vaidik Ayurveda employed generally vegetable
drugs, the "Tantriks" used metallic substances. A counterpart of the
Vaidika Dharmapatni was the Shaiva wife; that is, she who is given
by desire (Kama). I have already pointed out the counterparts of the
Pa—catattva in the Vedas. Some allege a special form of Tantrik
script at any rate in Gauda Desha and so forth.

What is the meaning of all this? It is not at present possible to
give a certain answer. The subject has been so neglected and is so
little known. Before tendering any conclusions with any certainty of
their correctness, we must examine the Tantrik Texts which time has
spared. It will be readily perceived, however, that if there be such
a double frame as I suggest, it indicates that there were originally
two sources of religion one of which (possibly in some respects the
older) incorporated parts of, and in time largely superseded the
other. And this is what the "Tantriks" impliedly allege in their
views as to the relation of the four Vedas and Agamas. If they are
not both of authority, why should such reverence be given to the
Deshika Gurus and to Tantrik Diksha?

Probably, there were many Avaidika cults, not without a deep and
ancient wisdom of their own, that is, cults outside the Vaidik
religion (Vedabahya) which in the course of time adopted certain
Vaidik rites such as Homa: the Vaidikas, in their own turn, taking
up some of the Avaidika practices. It may be that some Brahmanas
joined these so-called Anarya Sampradayas just as we find to-day
Brahmanas officiating for low castes and being called by their name.
At length the Shastras of the two cults were given at least equal
authority. The Vaidik practice then largely disappeared, surviving
chiefly both in the Smarta rites of to-day and as embedded in the
ritual of the Agamas. These are speculations to which I do not
definitely commit myself. They are merely suggestions which may be
worth consideration when search is made for the origin of the
Agamas. If they be correct, then in this, as in other cases, the
beliefs and practices of the Soil have been upheld until to-day
against the incoming cults of those "Aryas" who followed the Vaidik
rites and who in their turn influenced the various religious
communities without the Vaidik fold.

The Smartas of to-day represent what is generally called the Srauta
side, though in these rites there are mingled many Pauranic
ingredients. The Arya Samaja is another present-day representative
of the old Vaidika Acara, mingled as it seems to me with a
modernism, which is puritan and otherwise. The other, or Tantrik
side, is represented by the general body of present-day Hinduism,
and in particular by the various sectarian divisions of Salvias,
Shaktas, Vaishnavas and so forth which go to its making.

Each sect of worshipers has its own Tantras. In a previous chapter
I have shortly referred to the Tantras of the Shaivasiddhanta, of
the Pa—caratra Agama, and of the Northern Saivaism of which the
Malinivijapa Tantra sets the type. The old fivefold division of
worshipers was, according to the Pa—copasana, Saura, Ganapatya,
Vaishnava, Shaiva, and Shakta whose Mula Devatas were Surya,
Ganapati, Vishnu, Shiva and Shakti respectively. At the present time
the three-fold division, Vaishnava, Shaiva, Shakta, is of more
practical importance, as the other two survive only to a limited
extent to-day. In parts of Western India the worship of Ganesha is
still popular and I believe some Sauras or traces of Sauras here and
there exist, especially in Sind.

Six Amnayas are mentioned in the Tantras. (Shadamnayah). These are
the six Faces of Shiva, looking East (Purvamnaya), South
(Dakshinamnaya), West (Pashcim amnaya), North (Uttaramnaya), Upper
(Urddhvamnaya), Lower and concealed (Adhamnaya). The six Amnayas are
thus so called according to the order of their origin. They are thus
described in the Devyagama cited in the Tantrarahasya (see also,
with some variation probably due to corrupt text, Patala II of
Samayacara Tantra): "(1) The face in the East (that is in front) is
of pearl-like luster with three eyes and crowned by the crescent
moon. By this face I (Shiva) revealed (the Devis) Shri
Bhuvaneshvari, Triputa, Lalita, Padma, Shulini, Sarasvati, Tvarita,
Nitya, Vajraprastarim, Annapurna, Mahalakshmi, Lakshmi, Vagvadini
with all their rites and Mantras. (2) The Southern face is of a
yellow color with three eyes. By this face I revealed
Prasadasadashiva, Mahaprasadamantra, Dakshinamurti, Vatuka,
Ma—jughosha, Bhairava, Mritasanjivanividya, Mrityunjaya with their
rites and Mantras. (3) The face in the West (that is at the back) is
of the color of a freshly formed cloud. By this face I revealed
Gopala, Krishna, Narayana, Vasudeva, Nrishimha, Vamana, Varaha,
Ramacandra, Vishnu, Harihara, Ganesha, Agni, Yama, Surya, Vidhu
(Candra) and other planets, Garuda, Dikpalas, Hanuman and other
Suras, their rites and Mantras. (4) The face in the North is blue in
color and with three eyes. By this face, I revealed the Devis,
Dakshinakalika, Mahakali, Guhyakah, Smashanakalika, Bhadrakali,
Ekajata, Ugratara, Taritni, Katyayani, Chhinnamasta, Nilasarasvati,
Durga, Jayadurga, Navadurga, Vashuli, Dhumavati, Vishalakshi, Gauri,
Bagalamukhi, Pratyangira, Matangi, Mahishamardini, their rites and
Mantras. (5) The Upper face is white. By this face I revealed
Shrimattripurasundari, Tripureshi, Bhairavi, Tripurabhairavi,
Smashanabhairavi, Bhuvaneshibhairavi, Shatkutabhairavi,
Annapurnabhairavi, Pa—cami, Shodashi, Malini, Valavala, with their
rites and Mantras. (6) The sixth face (Below) is lustrous of many
colors and concealed. It is by this mouth that I spoke of
Devatasthana, Asana, Yantra, Mala, Naivedya, Balidana, Sadhana,
Purashcarana, Mantrasiddhi. It is called "Ishanamnaya." The
Samayacara Tantra (Ch. 2) says that whilst the first four Amnayas
are for the Caturvarga or Dharma, Artha, Kama, Moksha, the upper
(Urddhvamnaya) and lower (Adhamnaya) are for liberation only. The
Sammohana Tantra (Ch. V) first explains Purvamnaya, Dakshinamnaya,
Pashcimamnaya, Uttaramnaya, Urdhvamnaya according to what is called
Deshaparyyaya. I am informed that no Puja of Adhamnaya is generally
done but that Shadanvaya Shambhavas, very high Sadhakas, at the door
of Liberation do Nyasa with this sixth concealed Face. It is said
that Patala Amnaya is Sam-bhogayoga. The Nishkala aspect in
Shaktikrama is for Purva, Tripura; for Dakshina, Saura, Ganapatya
and Vaishnava; for Pashcima, Raudra, Bhairava; for Uttara, Ugra,
Apattarini. In Shaivakarma the same aspect is for the first,
Sampatprada and Mahesha; for the second, Aghora, Kalika and
Vaishnava darshana; for the third, Raudra, Bhairava, Shaiva; for the
fourth, Kubera, Bhairava, Saudrashaka; and for Urddhvamnaya,
Ardhanarisha and Pranava. Niruttara Tantra says that the first two
Amnayas contain rites for the Pashu Sadhaka (see as to the meaning
of this and the other classes of Sadhakas, the Chapter on
Pa—catattva ritual Purvamnayoditam karma Pashavam kathitam priye,
and so with the next). The third or Pashcimamnaya is a combination
of Pashu and Vira (Pashcimamnayajam karma Pashu-virasamashritam).
Uttaramnaya is for Vira and Divya (Uttaramnayajam karma divpa-
virashritam priye). The upper Amnaya is for the Divya
(Urdhvamnayoditam karma divyabhavashritam priye). It adds that even
the Divya does Sadhana in the cremation ground in Virabhava (that
is, heroic frame: of mind and disposition) but he does such worship
without Virasana. The Sammohana also gives a classification of
Tantras according to the Amnayas as also special classifications,
such as the Tantras of the six Amnayas according to Vatukamnaya. As
only one Text of the Sammohana is available whilst I write, it is
not possible to speak with certainty of accuracy as regards all
these details.

Each of these divisions of worshipers have their own Tantras, as
also had the Jainas and Bauddhas. Different sects had their own
particular subdivisions and Tantras of which there are various
classifications according to Krantas, Deshaparyaya, Kalaparyaya and
so forth.

The Sammohana Tantra mentions 22 different Agamas including Cinagama
(a Shakta form), Pashupata (a Shaiva form), Pa—caratra (a Vaishnava
form), Kapalika, Bhairava, Aghora, Jaina, Bauddha; each of which is
said there to contain a certain number of Tantras and Upatantras.

According to the Sammohana Tantra, the Tantras according to
Kalaparyaya are the 64 Shakta Tantras, with 327 Upatantras, 8
Yamalas, 4 Damaras, 2 Kalpalatas and several Samhitas, Cudamanis
(100) Arnavas, Puranas, Upavedas, Kakshaputas, Vimarshini and
Cintamanis. The Shaiva class contains 32 Tantras with its own
Yamalas, Damaras and so forth. The Vaishnava class contains 75
Tantras with the same, including Kalpas and other Shastras. The
Saura class has Tantras with its own Yamalas, Uddishas and other
works. And the Ganapatya class contains 30 Tantras with Upatantras,
Kalpas and other Shastras, including one Damara and one Yamala. The
Bauddha class contains Kalpadrumas, Kamadhenus, Suktas, Kramas,
Ambaras, Puranas and other Shastras.

According to the Kularnava and J—anadipa Tantras there are seven
Acaras of which the first four, Veda, Vaishnava, Shaiva and Dakshina
belong to Pashvacara; then comes Vama, followed by Siddhanta, in
which gradual approach is made to Kaulacara the reputed highest.
Elsewhere six and nine Acaras are spoken of and different kinds of
Bhavas, Sabhava, Vibhava and Dehabhava and so forth which are
referred to in Bhavacudamani.

An account of the Acaras is given in the Haratattvadidhiti [pp. 339-
342. See in particular Vishvasara Tantra (Ch. 24) and Nitya Tantra
and Pranatoshini. The first is the best account].

Vedacara is the lowest and Kaulacara the highest. (Kularnava Tantra
II). Their characteristics are given in the 24th Patala of
Vishvasara Tantra. The first four belong to Pashvacara (see Chapter
on Shakta Sadhana) and the last three are for Vira and Divya
Sadhakas. Summarizing the points of the Vishvasara: a Sadhaka in
Vedacara should carry out the prescriptions of the Veda, should not
cohabit with his wife except in the period following the courses. He
should not eat fish and meat on the Parva days. He should not
worship the Deva at night. In Vaishnavacara he follows injunctions
(Niyama) of Vedacara. He must give up eating of flesh (Nitya Tantra
says he must not kill animals), avoid sexual intercourse and even
the talk of it. This doubtless means a negation of the Vira ritual.
He should worship Vishnu. This Acara is distinguished from the last
by the great endurance of Tapas and the contemplation of the Supreme
everywhere. In Shaivacara, Vedacara is prescribed with this
difference that there must be no slaughter of animals and meditation
is on Shiva. Dakshinacara is said to have been practiced by Rishi
Dakshinamurti and is therefore so called. This Acara is preparatory
for the Vira and Divya Bhavas. Meditation is on the Supreme Ishvari
after taking Vijaya (Hemp). Japa of Mantra is done at night. Siddhi
is attained by using a rosary of human bone (Mahshankha) at certain
places including a Shaktipitha. Vamacara is approved for Viras and
Divyas. One should be continent (Brahmacari) at day and worship with
the Pa—catattva at night. ("Pa—catattvakramenaiva ratrau devim
prapujayet"). The statement of Nitya (Pa—catattvanukalpena ratrau
deving prapujayet) is, if correctly reported, I think incorrect.
This is Vira Sadhana and the Vira should generally only use
substitutes when the real Tattvas cannot be found. Cakra worship is
done. Siddhi is destroyed by revelation thereof; therefore the Vama
path is hidden. The Siddhantacari is superior to the last by his
knowledge "hidden in the Vedas, Shastras and Puranas like fire in
wood, by his freedom from fear of the Pashu, by his adherence to the
truth, and by his open performance of the Pa—catattva ritual. Open
and frank, he cares not what is said." He offers the Pancatattvas
openly. Then follows a notable passage. "Just as it is not blameable
to drink openly in the Sautramani Yaj—a (Vaidik rite), so in
Siddhantacara wine is drunk openly. As it is not blameable to kill
horses in the Ashvamedha Yaj—a (Vaidik rite), so no offense is
committed in killing animals in this Dharma." Nitya Tantra says that
an article, be it pure or impure, becomes pure by purification.
Holding a cup made of human skull, and wearing the Rudraksha, the
Siddhantacari moves on earth in the form of Bhairava Himself. The
knowledge of the last Acara, that of the Kaula, makes one Shiva.
Just as the footprint of every animal disappears in that of the
elephant, so every Dharma is lost in the greatness of Kuladharma.
Here there are no injunctions or prohibitions, no restriction as to
time or place, in fact no rule at all. A Kaula is himself Guru and
Sadashiva and none are superior to him. Kaulas are of three classes,
inferior (the ordinary or Prakrita Kaula), who is ever engaged in
ritual such as Japa, Homa, Puja, follows Viracara (with Pa—catattva)
and strives to attain the highland of knowledge; middling is the
Kaula who does Sadhana with Pa—catattva, is deeply immersed in
meditation (Dhyana) and Samadhi; superior, the Kaula who "Oh
Mistress of the Kaulas sees the imperishable, and all-pervading Self
in all things and all things in the Self." He is a good Kaula who
makes no distinction between mud and sandalpaste, gold and straw, a
home and the cremation ground. He is a superior Kaula who meditates
on the Self with the self, who has equal regard for all, who is full
of contentment, forgiveness and compassion. Nitya Tantra (Patala
III) says that Kaulas move about in various shapes, now as an
ordinary man of the world adhering to social rules (Shishta), at
other times as one who has fallen therefrom (Bhrashta). At other
times, he seems to be as weird and unearthly as a ghost (Bhuta).
Kaulacara is, it says, the essence which is obtained from the ocean
of Veda and Agama after churning it with the staff' of knowledge.

In a modern account of the Acaras (see Sanatana— sadhana-Tattva or
Tantra-rahashya by Saccidananda Svami) it is said that some speak of
Aghoracara and Yogacara as two further divisions between the last
but one and last. However this may be, the Aghoras of to-day are a
separate sect who, it is alleged, have degenerated into mere eaters
of corpses, though Aghora is said to only mean one who is liberated
from the terrible (Ghora ) Samsara. In Yogacara was learnt the upper
heights of Sadhana and the mysteries of Yoga such as the movements
of the Vayu in the bodily microcosm (Kshudravrahmanda), the
regulation of which controls the inclinations and propensities
(Vritti), Yogacara is entered by Yoga-diksha and achievement in
Ashtangayoga qualifies for Kaulacara. Whether there were such
further divisions I cannot at present say. I prefer for the time
being to follow the Kularnava. The Svami's account of these is as
follows: Vedacara which consists in the daily practice of the Vaidik
rites (with, I may add, some Tantrik observances) is the gross body
(Sthula-deha) which comprises within it all the other Acaras, which
are as it were its subtle body (Sukshma-deha) of various degrees.
The worship is largely of an external character, the object of which
is to strengthen Dharma. This is the path of action (Kriyamarga).
This and some other observations may be a modern reading of the old
facts but are on the whole, I think, justified. The second stage of
Vaishnavacara is the path of devotion (Bhaktimarga) and the aim is
union of devotion with faith previously acquired. The worshiper
passes from blind faith to an understanding of the supreme
protecting Energy of the Brahman, towards which his devotion goes
forth. With an increasing determination to uphold Dharma and to
destroy Adharma, the Sadhaka passes into the third stage or
Shaivacara which the author cited calls the militant (Kshattriya)
stage, wherein to love and mercy are added strenuous striving and
the cultivation of power. There is union of faith, devotion, and
inward determination (Antarlaksha). Entrance is here made upon the
path of knowledge (J—anamarga). Following this is the fourth stage
or Dakshinacara, which originally and in Tantra Shastra does not
mean "right-hand worship" but according to the author cited is the
Acara "favorable" to the accomplishment of the higher Sadhana of
which Dakshina-Kalika is Devi. (The Vishvasara already cited derives
the word from Dakshinamurthi muni, but Dakshina in either case has
the same meaning. Daksinakali is a Devi of Uttaramnaya and approach
is here made to Vira rituals.) This stage commences when the
worshiper can make Dhyana and Dharana of the threefold Shakti of
the Brahman (Iccha, Kriya, J—ana) and understands the mutual
connection of the three and of their expression as the Gunas, and
until he receives the rite of initiation called Purnabhisheka. At
this stage the Sadhaka is Shakta and qualified for the worship of
the threefold Shakti of Brahman (Brahma, Vishnu, Maheshvara). He
worships the Adya-Shakti as Dakshina-Kalika in whom are united the
three Shaktis. The aim of this stage is the union of faith,
devotion, and determination with a knowledge of the threefold
energies. (Passage is thus made from the Deva-aspect to the Deva-
whole.) Up to this stage the Sadhaka has followed Pravritti Marga,
or the outgoing path, the path of worldly enjoyment, albeit curbed
by Dharma. The Sadhaka now, upon the exhaustion of the forces of the
outward current, makes entry on the path of return (Nivritti-Marga).
As this change is one of primary importance, some have divided the
Acaras into the two broad divisions of Dakshinacara (including the
first four) and Vamacara (including the last three). Strictly,
however, the first three can only be thus included in the sense that
they are preparatory to Dakshinacara proper and are all in the
Pravritti Marga and are not Vamacara. It is thus said that men are
born into Dakshinacara but are received by initiation into Vamacara.
As Dakshinacara does not mean "right-hand worship" so Vamacara does
not mean, as is vulgarly supposed, "left-hand worship". "Left-hand"
in English has a bad sense and it is not sense to suppose that the
Shastra, which prescribes this Acara, itself gives it a bad name.
Vama is variously interpreted. Some say it is the worship in which
woman (Vama) enters, that is Lata-sadhana. Vama, this author says,
means "adverse" that is the stage adverse to the Pravritti, which
governs in varying degrees the previous Acaras. For, entry is here
made on the Nivritti path of return to the Source of outgoing. (In
this Acara also there is worship of the Vama Devi.) In Vamacara the
Sadhaka commences to directly destroy Pravritti and, with the help
of the Guru, to cultivate Nivritti. The help of the Guru throughout
is necessary. It is comparatively easy to lay down rules for the
Pravritti Marga but nothing can be achieved in Vama-cara without the
Guru's help. Some of the disciplines are admittedly dangerous and,
if entered upon without authority and discretion, will probably lead
to abuse. The method of the Guru at this stage is to use the forces
of Pravritti in such a way as to render them self-destructive. The
passions which bind (notably the fundamental instincts for food,
drink, and sexual satisfaction) may be it is said so employed as to
act as forces whereby the particular life, of which they are the
strongest physical manifestation, is raised to the universal life.
Passion which has hitherto run downward and outwards (often to
waste) is directed inwards and upwards and transformed to power. But
it is not only the lower physical desires of eating, drinking, and
sexual intercourse which must be subjugated. The Sadhaka must at
this stage commence (the process continues until the fruit of
Kaulacara is obtained) to cut off all the eight bonds (Pasha) which
have made him a Pashu, for up to and including Dakshinacara is Pashu
worship. These Pasha, bonds or "afflictions", are variously
enumerated but the more numerous classifications are merely
elaborations of the smaller divisions. Thus, according to the Devi-
Bhagavata, Moha is ignorance or bewilderment, and Mahamoha is the
desire for worldly pleasure which flows from it. The Kularnava
Tantra mentions eight primary bonds, Daya (that is pity as the
feeling which binds as opposed to divine compassion or Karuna), Moha
(ignorance), Lajja (shame, which does not mean that a man is to be a
shameless sinner but weak worldly shame of being looked down upon,
of infringing conventions and so forth), Family (Kula, which ceases
to be a tie), Shila (here usage, convention) and Varna (caste; for
the enlightened is beyond all its distinctions). When, to take the
Svami's example, Shri Krishna stole the clothes of the bathing Gopis
or milkmaids and cowherds and made them approach Him naked, He
removed the artificial coverings which are imposed on man in the
Samsara. The Gopis were eight, as are the Bonds, and the errors by
which the Jiva is misled are the clothes which Krishna stole. Freed
of these the Jiva is liberated from all bonds arising from his
desires, family and society. Formerly it was sufficient to live in
worldly fashion according to the morality governing life in the
world. Now the Sadhaka must go further and transcend the world, or
rather seek to do so. He rises by those things which are commonly
the cause of fall. When he has completely achieved his purpose and
liberated himself from all bonds, he reaches the stage of Shiva
(Shivatva). It is the aim of the Nivritti Sadhana to liberate man
from the bonds which bind him to the Samsara, and to qualify the
Vira Sadhaka, through Rajasika Upasana (see Chapter on Pa—catattva)
of the highest grades of Sadhana in which the Sattvika Guna
predominates. He is then Divya or divine. To the truly Sattvik,
there is neither attachment, fear nor disgust (Ghrina). What is thus
commenced in Vamacara, is gradually completed by the rituals of
Siddhantacara and Kaulacara. In the last three Acaras the Sadhaka
becomes more and more freed from the darkness of Samsara and is
attached to nothing, hates nothing, is ashamed of nothing (really
shameful acts being ex hypothesi below his acquired stage), and has
freed himself of the artificial bonds of family, caste, and society.
He becomes an Avadhuta, that is, one who has "washed off" everything
and has relinquished the world. Of these, as stated later, there are
several classes. For him there is no rule of time or place. He
becomes, like Shiva himself, a dweller in the cremation ground
(Smashana). He attains Brahmaj—ana or the Gnosis in perfect form. On
receiving Mahapurnadiksha, he performs his own funeral rites and is
dead to the Samsara. Seated alone in some quiet place, he remains in
constant Samadhi (ecstasy), and attains it in its highest or
Nirvikalpa form. The Great Mother, the Supreme Prakriti, Mahashakti
dwells in his heart which is now the inner cremation ground wherein
all passions have been burnt away. He becomes a Paramahamsa who is
liberated whilst yet living (Jivanmukta).

From the above it will be seen that the Acaras are not various sects
in the European sense, but stages in a continuous process through
which the Sadhaka must pass before he reaches the supreme state of
the highest Kaula (for the Kaulas are of differing degrees). Passing
from the gross outer body of Vedacara, he learns its innermost core
of doctrine, not expressed but latent in it. These stages need not
be and are not ordinarily passed through by each Jiva in the course
of a single life. On the contrary they are as a rule traversed in
the course of a multitude of births, in which case the weaving of
the spiritual garment is recommenced where, in a previous birth, it
was dropped on death. In one life the Sadhaka may commence at any
stage. If he is a true Kaula now it is because in previous births he
has by Sadhana in the preliminary stages won his entrance into it.
Knowledge of Shakti is, as the Niruttara Tantra says, acquired after
many births; and according to the Mahanirvana Tantra it is by merit
acquired in previous births that the mind is inclined to Kaulacara.

Kauladharma is in no wise sectarian but on the contrary claims to be
the head of all sects. It is said "at heart a Shakta, outwardly a.
Shaiva, in gatherings a Vaishnava (who are wont to gather together
for worship in praise of Hari) in thus many a guise the Kaulas
wander on earth."

Antah-shaktah bahih-shaivah sabhayam vaishnava matah

Nana-rupadharah Kaulah vicaranti mahitale.

The saying has been said to be an expression of this claim which is
I think involved in it. It does however also I think indicate
secrecy, and adaptability to sectarian form, of him who has pierced
to the core of that which all sects in varying, though partial, ways
present. A Kaula is one who has passed through these and other
stages, which have as their own inmost doctrine (whether these
worshipers know it or not) that of Kaulacara. It is indifferent
what the Kaula's apparent sect may be. The form is nothing and
everything. It is nothing in the sense that it has no power to
narrow the Kaula's inner life. It is everything in the sense that
knowledge may infuse its apparent limitations with an universal
meaning. A man may thus live in all sects, without their form being
ever to him a bond.

In Vaidik times there were four Ashramas, that is, states and stages
in the life of the Arya, namely (in their order) that of the chaste
student (Brahmacarya), secular life as a married house-holder
(Grihastha), the life of the forest recluse with his wife in
retirement from the world (Vanaprastha), lastly that of the beggar
(Bhikshu or Avadhuta), wholly detached from the world, spending his
time in meditation on the Supreme Brahman in preparation for shortly
coming death. All these four were for the Brahmana caste, the first
three for the Kshattriya, the first two for the Vaishya and for the
Shudra the second only (Yogayaj—avalkpa, Ch. I). As neither the
conditions of life nor the character, capacity and powers of the
people of this age allow of the first and third Ashrama, the
Mahanirvana Tantra states (VIII. 8) that in the Kali age there are
only two Ashramas, namely, the second and last, and these are open
to all castes indiscriminately (ib. 12). The same Tantra (XIV. 141
et seq.) speaks of four classes of Kulayogis or Avadhutas namely the
Shaivavadhuta and Brahmavadhuta, which are of two kinds, imperfect
(Apurna) and perfect (Purna). The first three have enjoyment and
practice Yoga. The fourth or Paramahamsa should be absolutely chaste
and should not touch metal. He is beyond all household duties and
caste, and ritual, such as the offering of food and drink to Devata.
The Bhairavadamara classes the Avadhuta into (a) Kulavadhuta, (b)
Shaivavadhuta, (c) Brahmavadhuta, (d) Hamsavadhuta. Some speak of
three divisions of each of the classes Shaivavadhuta and
Brahmavadhuta (see pp. 32-33 of Introduction to Tantra Shastra). The
Shaivavadhutas are not, either, from a Western or Shastric
standpoint, as high as the Brahmavadhuta. The lowest of the last
class can have intercourse only with the own wife (Shvakiya Shakti
as opposed to the Shaiva Shakti); the middling has ordinarily
nothing to do with any Shakti, and the highest must under no
circumstance touch a woman or metal, nor does he practice any rites
or keep any observances.

The main divisions here are Vedacara, Dakshinacara and Vamacara.
Vedacara is not Vaidikacara, that is, in the Srauta sense, for the
Srauta Vaidikacara appears to be outside this sevenfold Tantrik
division of which Vedacara is the Tantrik counterpart. For it is
Tantrik Upasana with Vaidik rites and mantras, with (I have been
told) Agni as Devata. As a speculation we may suggest that this
Acara was for those not Adhikari for what is called the Srauta
Vaidikacara. The second and third belong and lead up to the
completed Dakshinacara. This is Pashvacara. Vama-cara commences the
other mode of worship, leading up to the completed Kaula, the
Kaulavadhuta, Avadhuta, and Divya. Here, with the attainment of
Brahmaj—ana, we reach the region which is beyond all Acaras which is
known as Sveccacara. All that those belonging to this state do or
touch is pure. In and after Vamacara there is eating and drinking
in, and as part of, worship and Maithuna. After the Pashu there is
the Vira and then the Divya. Pashu is the starting point, Vira is on
the way and Divya is the goal. Each of the sects has a Dakshina and
Vama division. It is commonly thought that this is peculiar to
Shaktas: but this is not so. Thus there are Vama, Ganapatyas and
Vaishnavas and so forth. Again Vamacara is itself divided again into
a right and left side. In the former wine is taken in a cup of stone
or other substance, and worship is with the Svakiya-Shakti or
Sadhaka's own wife; in the latter and more advanced stage drinking
is done from a skull and worship may be with Parastri, that is, some
other Shakti. In the case however of some sects which belong to the
Vama-cara division, whilst there is meat and wine, there is, I am
told, no Shakti for the members are chaste (Brahmacari). So far as I
can ascertain these sects which are mentioned later seem to belong
to the Shaiva as opposed to the Shakta group.

The Tantrik Samgraha called Shaktanandatarangini by Brahmananda
Svami says (Ch. 2) that Agama is both Sadagama and Asadagama and
that the former alone is Agama according to the primary meaning of
the word (Sadagama eva agamashabdasya mukhyatvat). He then says that
Shiva in the Agama Samhita condemns the Asadagama saying "Oh
Deveshi, men in the Kali age are generally of a Rajasik and Tamasik
disposition and being addicted to forbidden ways deceive many
others. Oh Sureshvari, those who in disregard of their Varnashrama
Dharma offer to us flesh, blood and wine become Bhutas, Pretas, and
Brahmarakshasas," that is, various forms of evil spirits. This
prohibits such worship as is opposed to Varnashramadharma. It is
said, however, by the Vamacaris, who take consecrated wine and flesh
as a Yaj—a, not to cover their case.

It is not uncommonly thought that Vamacara is that Acara into which
Vama or woman enters. This is true only to a, certain extent: that
is, it is a true definition of those Sadhakas who do worship with
Shakti according to Vamacara rites. But it seems to be incorrect, in
so far as there are, I am told, worshipers of the Vamacara division
who are chaste (Brahmacari). Vamacara means literally "left" way,
not "left-handed" in the English sense which means what is bad. As
the name is given to these Sadhakas by themselves it is not likely
that they would adopt a title which condemns them. What they mean is
that this Acara is the opposite of Dakshinacara. Philosophically it
is more monistic. It is said that even in the highest Siddhi of a
Dakshinacari "there is always some One above him"; but the fruit of
Vamacara and its subsequent and highest stages is that the
Sadhaka "becomes the Emperor Himself". The Bhava differs, and the
power of its method compared with Dakshinacara is said to be that
between milk and wine.

Moreover it is to be noted that the Devi whom they worship is on the
left of Shiva. In Vamacara we find Kapalikas, Kalamukhas,
Pashupatas, Bhandikeras, Digambaras, Aghoras, followers of Cinacara
and Kaulas generally who are initiated. In some cases, as in that of
the advanced division of Kaulas, worship is with all five Tattvas
(Pa—catattvas). In some cases there is Brahmacarya as in the case of
Aghora and Pashupata, though these drink wine and eat flesh food.
Some Vamacaris, I am informed, never cease to be chaste
(Brahmacari), such as Oghada Sadhus worshipers of Batuka Bhairava,
Kanthadhari and followers of Gorakshanatha, Sitanatha and
Matsyendranatha. In Nilakrama there is no Maithuna. In some sects
there are differing practices. Thus, I am told, amongst the
Kalamukhas, the Kalaviras only worship Kumaris up to the age of
nine, whereas the Kamamohanas worship with adult Shaktis.

Some advanced members of this (in its general sense) Vamacara
division do not, I am informed, even take wine and meat. It is said
that the great Vamacari Sadhaka Raja Krishnacandra of Nadia, Upasaka
of the Chinnamasta Murti, did not take wine. Such and similar
Sadhakas have passed beyond the preliminary stage of Vamacara, and
indeed (in its special sense) Vamacara itself. They may be Brahma
Kaulas. As regards Sadhakas generally it is well to remember what
the Mahakala Samhita, the great Shastra of the Madhyastha Kaulas,
says in the 11th Ullasa called Sharira-yoga-kathanam: "Some Kaulas
there are who seek the good of this world (Aihikarthadhritatmanah).
So also the Vaidikas enjoy what is here (Aihikartham kamayante: as
do, I may interpose, the vast bulk of present humanity) and are not
seekers of liberation (Amrite ratim na kurvanti). Only by
Nishkamasadhana is liberation attained."

The Pa—catattva are either real (Pratyaksha. "Idealizing" statements
to the contrary are, when not due to ignorance, false),
substitutional (Anukalpa) or esoteric (Divyatattva). As regards the
second, even a vegetarian would not object to "meat" which is in
fact ginger, nor the abstainer to "wine" which is coconut water in a
bell-metal vessel. As for the Esoteric Tattva they are not material
articles or practices, but the symbols for Yogic processes. Again
some notions and practices are more moderate and others extreme. The
account given in the Mahanirvana of the Bhairavi and Tattva Cakras
may be compared with some more unrestrained practice; and the former
again may be contrasted with a modern Cakra described in the 13th
Chapter of the Life of Bejoy Krishna Gosvami by Jagad-bandhu Maitra.
There a Tantrika Siddha formed a Cakra at which the Gosvami was
present. The latter says that all who were there, felt as if the
Shakti was their own Mother who had borne them, and the Devatas whom
the Cakreshvara invoked appeared in the circle to accept the
offerings. Whether this is accepted as a fact or not, it is obvious
that it was intended to describe a Cakra of a different kind from
that of which we have more commonly heard. There are some practices
which are not correctly understood; there are some principles which
the bulk of men will not understand; for to so understand there must
be besides knowledge that undefinable Bhava, the possession of which
carries with it the explanation which no words can give. I have
dealt with this subject in the Chapter on the Pa—catattva. There are
expressions which do not bear their surface meaning. Gomamhsa-
bhakshana is not "beef-eating" but putting the tongue in the root of
the throat. What some translate as "Ravishing the widow" refers not
to a woman but to a process in Kundalini Yoga and so forth. Lastly
and this is important: a distinction is seldom, if ever, made
between Shastric principles and actual practice, nor is count taken
of the conditions properly governing the worship and its abuse. It
is easy to understand that if Hinduism has in general degenerated,
there has been a fall here. It is, however, a mistake to suppose
that the sole object of these rites is enjoyment. It is not
necessary to be a "Tantrik" for that. The moral of all this is, that
it is better to know the facts than to make erroneous
generalizations. There are said to be three Krantas or geographical
divisions of India, of which roughly speaking the North-Eastern
portion is Vishnukranta, the North-Western Rathakranta and the
remaining and Southern portion is Ashvakranta. According to the
Shaktamarigala and Mahasiddhisara Tantras, Vishnukranta (which
includes Bengal) extends from the Vindhya range to Chattala or
Chittagong. From Vindhya to Tibet and China is Rathakranta. There is
then some difference between these two Tantras as to the position of
Ashvakranta. According to the first this last Kranta extends from
the Vindhya to the sea which perhaps includes the rest of India.
According to the Mahasiddhisara Tantra it extends from the Karatoya
River to a point which cannot be identified with certainty in the
text cited, but which may be Java. To each of these 64 Tantras have
been assigned. One of the questions awaiting solution is whether the
Tantras of these three geographical divisions are marked by both
doctrinal and ritual peculiarities and if so what they are. This
subject has been referred to in the first part of the Principles of
Tantra wherein a list of Tantras is given.

In the Shakta division there are four Sampradayas, namely, Kerala,
Kashmira, Gauda and Vilasa, in each of which there is both outer and
inner worship. The Sammohana Tantra gives these four Sampradayas,
also the number of Tantras, not only in the first three Sampradayas,
but in Cina and Dravida. I have been informed that out of 56 Deshas
(which included besides Hunas, places outside India, such as Cina,
Mahacina, Bhota, Simhala), 18 follow Gauda extending from Nepala to
Kalinga and 19 follow Kerala extending from Vindhyacala to the
Southern Sea, the remaining countries forming part of the Kashmira
Desha; and that in each Sampradaya there are Paddhatis such as
Shuddha, Gupta, Ugra. There is variance in Devatas and Rituals some
of which are explained in the Tarasukta and Shaktisamgama Tantra.

There are also various Matas such as Kadi Mata, called Viradanuttara
of which the Devata is Kali (see Introduction to Tantraraja Tantra,
A Short Analysis); Hadi Mata called Hamsaraja of which
Tripurasundari is Devata and Kahadi Mata the combination of the two
of which Tara is Devata that is Nilasarasvati. Certain Deshas are
called Kadi, Hadi, Kahadi Deshas and each Mata has several Amnayas.
It is said that the Hamsatara Mahavidya is the Sovereign Lady of
Yoga whom Jainas call Padmavati, Shaktas Shakti, Bauddhas Tara, Cina
Sadhakas Mihogra, and Kaulas Cakreshvari. The Kadis call her Kali,
the Hadis Shrisundari and the Kadi-Hadis Hamsah. Volumes VIII and
XII of "Tantrik Texts" contain that portion of the Tantraraja which
belongs to Kadi Mata and in the English Introduction, mentioned
above, I have dealt with this subject.

Gauda Sampradaya considers Kadi the highest Mata, whilst Kashmira
and Kerala worship Tripura and Tara. Possibly there may have been
originally Deshas which were the exclusive seats of specific schools
of Tantra, but later and at present, so far as they exist, this
cannot be said. In each of the Deshas different Sampradayas may be
found, though doubtless at particular places, as in Bengal,
particular sects may be predominant.

In my opinion it is not yet possible to present, with both accuracy
and completeness, the doctrine and practice of any particular
Tantrik School, and to indicate wherein it differs from other
Schools. It is not possible at present to say fully and precisely
who the original Shaktas were, the nature of their sub-divisions and
of their relation to, or distinction from, some of the Shaiva group.
Thus the Kaulas are generally in Bengal included in the Brahmaj—ani
Shakta group but the Sammohana in one passage already cited mentions
Kaula and Shakta separately. Possibly it is there meant to
distinguish ordinary Shaktas from the special group called Kaula
Shaktas. In Kashmir some Kaulas, I believe, call themselves Shaivas.
For an answer to these and other questions we must await a further
examination of the texts. At present I am doing clearing of mud
(Pankoddhara) from the tank, not in the expectation that I can
wholly clear away the mud and weeds, but with a desire to make a
beginning which others may complete.

He who has not understood Tantra Shastra has not understood
what "Hinduism" is as it exists to-day. The subject is an important
part of Indian culture and therefore worth study by the duly
qualified. What I have said should be sufficient to warn the
ignorant from making rash generalizations. At present we can say
that he who worships the Mantra and Yantra of Shakti is a Shakta,
and that there were several Sampradayas of these worshipers. What
we can, and should first do, is to study the Shakta Darshana as it
exists to-day, working back from the known to the unknown. What I am
about to describe is the Shakta faith as it exists to-day, that is
Shaktivada, not as something entirely new but as the development and
amalgamation of the various cults which were its ancestors.

Summarizing Shakta doctrine we may first affirm that it is
Advaitavada or Monism. This we might expect seeing that it
flourished in Bengal which, as the old Gauda Desha, is the Guru both
of Advaitavada and of Tantra Shastra. From Gauda came
Gaudapadacarya, Madhusudana Sarasvati, author of the great
Advaitasiddhi, Ramacandratirthabharati, Citsukhacarya and others.
There seems to me to be a strong disposition in the Brahmaparayana
Bengali temperament towards Advaitavada. For all Advaitins the
Shakta Agama and Advaita Shaivagama must be the highest form of
worship. A detailed account of the Advaita teachings of the Shaktas
is a matter of great complexity and of a highly esoteric character,
beyond the scope of this paper. I may here note that the Shakta
Tantras speak of 94 Tattvas made up of 10, 12 and 16 Kalas of Fire,
Sun and Moon constituting the Kamakala respectively; and 19 of
Sadashiva, 6 of Ishvara, 10 each of Rudra, Vishnu and Brahma. The 51
Kalas or Matrikas which are the Sukshmarupa of the 51 letters
(Varna) are a portion of these 94. These are the 51 coils of Kundali
from Bindu to Shrimatrikotpatti-Sundari mentioned in my Garland of
Letters or Studies on the Mantra Shastra. These are all worshipped
in the wine jar by those Shaktas who take wine. The Shastras also
set out the 36 Tattvas which are common to Shaktas and Salvias; the
five Kalas which are Samanya to the Tattvas, namely, Nivritti,
Pratishtha, Vidya, Shanta, Shantyatita, and the Shadadhva, namely,
Varna, Pada, and Mantra, Kala, Tattva, Bhuvana, which represent the
Artha aspect and the Shabda aspect respectively. (See Garland of

To pass to more popular matters, a beautiful and tender concept of
the Shaktas is The Motherhood of God, that is, God as Shakti or the
Power which produces, maintains and withdraws the universe. This is
the thought of a worshiper. Though the Sammohana Tantra gives high
place to Shamkara as conqueror of Buddhism (speaking of him as a
manifestation of Shiva and identifying his four disciples and
himself with the five Mahapretas), the Agamas as Shastras of worship
do not teach Mayavada as set forth according to Shamkara's
transcendental method. Maya to the Shakta worshiper is not an
unconscious something, not real, not unreal, not real-unreal, which
is associated with Brahman in its Ishvara aspect, though it is not
Brahman. Brahman is never associated with anything but Itself. Maya
to the Shakta is Shakti veiling Herself as Consciousness, but which,
as being Shakti, is Consciousness. To the Shakta all that he sees is
The Mother. All is Consciousness. This is the standpoint of Sadhana.
The Advaitins of Shamkara's School claim that their doctrine is
given from the standpoint of Siddhi. I will not argue this question
here. When Siddhi is obtained there will be no argument. Until that
event Man is, it is admitted, subject to Maya and must think and act
according to the forms which it imposes on him. It is more important
after all to realize in fact the universal presence of the Divine
Consciousness, than to attempt to explain it in philosophical terms.

The Divine Mother first appears in and as Her worshiper's earthly
mother, then as his wife; thirdly as Kalika, She reveals Herself in
old age, disease and death. It is She who manifests, and not without
a purpose, in the vast outpouring of Samhara Shakti which was
witnessed in the great world-conflict of our time. The terrible
beauty of such forms is not understood. And so we get the recent
utterance of a Missionary Professor at Madras who being moved to
horror at the sight of (I think) the Camundamurti called the Devi
a "She-Devil". Lastly She takes to Herself the dead body in the
fierce tongues of flame which light the funeral pyre.

The Monist is naturally unsectarian and so the Shakta faith, as held
by those who understand it, is free from a narrow sectarian spirit.

Nextly it, like the other Agamas, makes provision for all castes and
both sexes. Whatever be the true doctrine of the Vaidikas, their
practice is in fact marked by exclusiveness. Thus they exclude women
and Shudras. It is easy to understand why the so-called Anarya
Sampradayas did not do so. A glorious feature of the Shakta faith is
the honor which it pays to woman. And this is natural for those who
worship the Great Mother, whose representative (Vigraha) all earthly
women are. Striyo devah striyah pranah. "Women are Devas; women are
life itself," as an old Hymn in the Sarvollasa has it. It is because
Woman is a Vigraha of the Amba Devi, Her likeness in flesh and
blood, that the Shakta Tantras enjoin the honor and worship of women
and girls (Kumaris), and forbid all harm to them such as the Sati
rite, enjoining that not even a female animal is to be sacrificed.
With the same solicitude for women, the Mahanirvana prescribes that
even if a man speaks rudely (Durvacyam kathayan) to his wife, he
must fast for a whole day, and enjoins the education of daughters
before their marriage. The Moslem Author of the Dabistan (ii. 154.
Ed. 1843) says "The Agama favors both sexes equally. Men and women
equally compose mankind. This sect hold women in great esteem and
call them Shaktis and to ill-treat a Shakti, that is, a woman, is a
crime". The Shakta Tantras again allow of women being Guru, or
Spiritual Director, a reverence which the West has not (with rare
exceptions) yet given them. Initiation by a Mother bears eightfold
fruit. Indeed to the enlightened Shakta the whole universe is Stri
or Shakti. "Aham stri" as the Advabhavano Upanishad says. A high
worship therefore which can be offered to The Mother to-day consists
in getting rid of abuses which have neither the authority of ancient
Shastra, nor of modern social science and to honor, cherish, educate
and advance women (Shakti). Striyo devah striyah pranah. Gautamiya
Tantra says Sarvavarnadhikarashca narinam yogya eva ca; that is, the
Tantra Shastra is for all castes and for women; and the Mahanirvana
says that the low Kaula who refuses to initiate a Candala or Yavana
or a woman out of disrespect goes the downward path. No one is
excluded from anything except on the grounds of a real and not
artificial or imagined incompetency.

An American Orientalist critic, in speaking of "the worthlessness of
Tantric philosophy", said that it was "Religious Feminism run mad,"
adding "What is all this but the feminisation of orthodox Vedanta?
It is a doctrine for suffragette Monists: the dogma unsupported by
any evidence that the female principle antedates and includes the
male principle, and that this female principle is supreme Divinity."
The "worthlessness" of the Tantrik philosophy is a personal opinion
on which nothing need be said, the more particularly that
Orientalists who, with insufficient knowledge, have already
committed themselves to this view are not likely to easily abandon
it. The present criticism, however, in disclosing the grounds on
which it is based, has shown that they are without worth. Were it
not for such ignorant notions, it would be unnecessary to say that
the Shakta Sadhaka does not believe that there is a Woman
Suffragette or otherwise, in the sky, surrounded by the members of
some celestial feminist association who rules the male members of
the universe. As the Yamala says for the benefit of the
ignorant "neyam yoshit na ca puman na shando na jadah smritah". That
is, God is neither female, male, hermaphrodite nor unconscious
thing. Nor is his doctrine concerned with the theories of the
American Professor Lester Ward and others as to the alleged pre-
eminence of the female principle. We are not here dealing with
questions of science or sociology. It is a common fault of western
criticism that it gives material interpretations of Indian
Scriptures and so misunderstands it. The Shakta doctrine is
concerned with those Spiritual Principles which exist before, and
are the origin of, both men and women. Whether, in the appearance of
the animal species, the female "antedates" the male is a question
with which it is not concerned. Nor does it say that the "female
principle" is the supreme Divinity. Shiva the "male" is co-equal
with Shivé the "female," for both are one and the same. An
Orientalist might have remembered that in the Samkhya, Prakriti is
spoken of as "female," and Purusha as "male". And in Vedanta, Maya
and Devi are of the feminine gender. Shakti is not a male nor a
female "person," nor a male nor a female "principle," in the sense
in which sociology, which is concerned with gross matter, uses those
terms. Shakti is symbolically "female" because it is the productive
principle. Shiva in so far as He represents the Cit or consciousness
aspect, is actionless (Nishkriya), though the two are inseparably
associated even in creation. The Supreme is the attributeless
(Nirguna) Shiva, or the neuter Brahman which is neither "male"
nor "female". With such mistaken general views of the doctrine, it
was not likely that its more subtle aspects by way of relation to
Shamkara's Mayavada, or the Samkya Darshana should be appreciated.
The doctrine of Shakti has no more to do with "Feminism" than it has
to do with "old age pensions" or any other sociological movement of
the day. This is a good instance of those apparently "smart" and
cocksure judgments which Orientalists and others pass on things
Indian. The errors would be less ridiculous if they were on
occasions more modest as regards their claims to know and
understand. What is still more important, they would not probably in
such cases give unnecessary ground for offense.

The characteristic features of Shakta-dharma are thus its Monism;
its concept of The Motherhood of God; its un-sectarian spirit and
provisions for Shudras and women, to the latter of whom it renders
high honor, recognizing that they may be even Gurus; and lastly its
Sadhana skillfully designed to realize its teachings.

As I have pointed out on many an occasion this question of Sadhana
is of the highest importance, and has been in recent times much
overlooked. It is that which more than anything else gives value to
the Agama or Tantra Shastra. Mere talk about religion is only an
intellectual exercise. Of what use are grand phrases about Atma on
the lips of those who hate and injure one another and will not help
the poor. Religion is kindness. Religion again is a practical
activity. Mind and body must be trained. There is a spiritual as
well as a mental and physical gymnastic. According to Shakta
doctrine each man and woman contains within himself and herself a
vast latent magazine of Power or Shakti, a term which comes from the
root "Shak" to be able, to have force to do, to act. They are each
Shakti and nothing but Shakti, for the Svarupa of Shakti, that is,
Shakti as it is in itself is Consciousness, and mind and body are
Shakti. The problem then is how to raise and vivify Shakti. This is
the work of Sadhana in the Religion of Power. The Agama is a
practical philosophy, and as the Bengali friend and collaborator of
mine, Professor Pramathanatha Mukhyopadhyaya, whom I cite again, has
well put it, what the intellectual world wants to-day is the sort of
philosophy which not merely argues but experiments. This is Kriya.
The form which Sadhana takes necessarily varies according to faith,
temperament and capacity. Thus, amongst Christians, the Catholic
Church, like Hinduism, has a full and potent Sadhana in its
sacraments (Samskara), temple (Church), private worship (Puja,
Upasana) with Upacara "bell, light and incense" (Ghanta, Dipa,
Dhupa), Images or Pratima (hence it has been called idolatrous),
devotional rites such as Novenas and the like (Vrata), the
threefold "Angelus" at morn, noon and evening (Samdhya), rosary
(Japa), the wearing of Kavacas (Scapulars, Medals, Agnus Dei),
pilgrimage (Tirtha), fasting, abstinence and mortification (Tapas),
monastic renunciation (Samnyasa), meditation (Dhyana), ending in the
union of mystical theology (Samadhi) and so forth. There are other
smaller details such for instance as Shanti-abhisheka (Asperges)
into which I need not enter here. I may, however, mention the
Spiritual Director who occupies the place of the Guru; the worship
(Hyperdulia) of the Virgin-Mother which made Svami Vivekananda call
the Italian Catholics, Shaktas; and the use of wine (Madya) and
bread (corresponding to Mudra) in the Eucharist or Communion
Service. Whilst, however, the Blessed Virgin evokes devotion as warm
as that which is here paid to Devi, she is not Devi for she is not
God but a creature selected as the vehicle of His incarnation
(Avatara). In the Eucharist the bread and wine are the body and
blood of Christ appearing under the form or "accidents" of those
material substances; so also Tara is Dravamayi, that is,
the "Saviour in liquid form". (Mahanirvana Tr. xi. 105-107.) In the
Catholic Church (though the early practice was otherwise) the laity
no longer take wine but bread only, the officiating priest consuming
both. Whilst however the outward forms in this case are similar, the
inner meaning is different. Those however who contend that eating
and drinking are inconsistent with the "dignity" of worship may be
reminded of Tertullian's saying that Christ instituted His great
sacrament at a meal. These notions are those of the dualist with all
his distinctions. For the Advaitin every function and act may be
made a Yaj—a. Agape or "Love Feasts," a kind of Cakra, were held in
early times, and discontinued as orthodox practice, on account of
abuses to which they led; though they are said still to exist in
some of the smaller Christian sects of the day. There are other
points of ritual which are peculiar to the Tantra Shastra and of
which there is no counterpart in the Catholic ritual such as Nyasa
and Yantra. Mantra exists in the form of prayer and as formulae of
consecration, but otherwise the subject is conceived of differently
here. There are certain gestures (Mudra) made in the ritual, as when
consecrating, blessing, and so forth, but they are not so numerous
or prominent as they are here. I may some day more fully develop
these interesting analogies, but what I have said is for the present
sufficient to establish the numerous similarities which exist
between the Catholic and Indian Tantrik ritual. Because of these
facts the "reformed" Christian sects have charged the Catholic
Church with "Paganism". It is in fact the inheritor of very ancient
practices but is not necessarily the worse for that. The Hindu finds
his Sadhana in the Tantras of the Agama in forms which his race has
evolved. In the abstract there is no reason why his race should not
modify these forms of Sadhana or evolve new ones. But the point is
that it must have some form of Sadhana. Any system to be fruitful
must experiment to gain experience. It is because of its powerful
sacraments and disciplines that in the West the Catholic Church has
survived to this day, holding firm upon its "Rock" amid the
dissolving sects, born of what is called the "Reform". It is likely
to exist when these, as presently existing sects, will have
disappeared. All things survive by virtue of the truth in them. The
particular truth to which I here refer is that a faith cannot be
maintained by mere hymn-singing and pious addresses. For this reason
too Hinduism has survived.

This is not necessary to say that either of these will, as presently
existing forms, continue until the end of time. The so-called
Reformed or Protestant sects, whether of West or East, are when
viewed in relation to man in general, the imperfect expression of a
truth misunderstood and misapplied, namely, that the higher man
spiritually ascends, the less dependent is he on form. The mistake
which such sects make is to look at the matter from one side only,
and to suppose that all men are alike in their requirement. The
Agama is guilty of no such error. It offers form in all its fullness
and richness to those below the stage of Yoga, at which point man
reaches what the Kularnava Tantra calls the Varna and Ashrama of
Light (Jyotirvarnashrami), and gradually releases himself from all
form that he may unite his self with the Formless One. I do not know
which most to admire—the colossal affirmations of Indian
doctrine, or the wondrous variety of the differing disciplines,
which it prescribes for their realization in fact.

The Buddhists called Brahmanism Shilavrataparamarsha, that is, a
system believing in the efficacy of ritual acts. And so it is, and
so at length was Buddhism, when passing through Mahayana it ended up
with the full Tantrik Sadhana of the Vajrayana School. There are
human tendencies which cannot be suppressed. Hinduism will, however,
disappear, if and when Sadhana (whatever be its form) ceases; for
that will be the day on which it will no longer be something real,
but the mere subject of philosophical and historical talk. Apart
from its great doctrine of Shakti, the main significance of the
Shakta Tantra Shastra lies in this, that it affirms the principle of
the necessity of Sadhana and claims to afford a means available to
all of whatever caste and of either sex whereby the teachings of
Vedanta may be practically realized.

But let no one take any statement from any one, myself included,
blindly, without examining and testing it. I am only concerned to
state the facts as I know them. It is man's prerogative to think.
The Sanskrit word for "man" comes from the root man "to think".
Those who are Shaktas may be pleased at what I have said about their
faith. It must not, however, be supposed that a doctrine is
necessarily true simply because it is old. There are some hoary
errors. As for science, its conclusions shift from year to year.
Recent discoveries have so abated its pride that it has considerably
ceased to give itself those pontifical airs which formerly annoyed
some of us. Most will feel that if they are to bow to any Master it
should be to a spiritual one. A few will think that they can safely
walk alone. Philosophy again is one of the noblest of life's
pursuits, but here too we must examine to see whether what is
proposed for our acceptance is well founded. The maxim is current
that there is nothing so absurd but that it has been held by some
philosopher or another. We must each ourselves judge and choose, and
if honest, none can blame our choice. We must put all to the test.
We may here recollect the words of Shruti—"Shrotavyah, Mantavyah,
Nididhyasitavyah,"—"listen, reason and ponder"; for as Manu
says "Yastarke-nanusandhatte sa dharmam veda, netarah"— "He who by
discussion investigates, he knows Dharma and none other." Ultimately
there is experience alone which in Shakta speech is Saham— "She I


I have referred to the Vaidik and Agamic strands in Indian Dharma. I
wish to add some weighty remarks made by the well-known Vedantic
Monthly The Prabuddha Bharata (Mayavati, U. P., July 1914). They
were elicited by the publication of Arthur Avalon's Principles of
Tantra. After pointing out that a vindication of the Tantras
rebounds directly to the benefit of Hinduism as a whole, for
Tantrikism in its real sense is nothing but the Vedic religion
struggling with wonderful success to reassert itself amidst all
those new problems of religious life and discipline which historical
events and developments have thrust upon it, and after referring to
the Introduction to that work, the author of the review wrote as

"In this new publication, the most noteworthy feature of this new
Introduction he has written for the Tantra-tattva is his
appreciative presentation of the orthodox views about the antiquity
and the importance of the Tantras, and it is impossible to
overestimate the value of this presentation.

"For hitherto all theories about the origin and the importance of
the Tantras have been more or less prejudiced by a wrong bias
against Tantrikism which some of its own later sinister developments
were calculated to create. This bias has made almost every such
theory read either like a. condemnation or an apology. All
investigation being thus disqualified, the true history of
Tantrikism has not yet been written; and we find cultured people
mostly inclined either to the view that Tantrikism originally
branched off from the Buddhistic Mahayana or Vajrayana as a cult of
some corrupted and self-deluded monastics, or to the view that it
was the inevitable dowry which some barbarous non-Aryan races
brought along with them into the fold of Hinduism. According to both
these views, however, the form which this Tantrikism— either a
Buddhistic development or a barbarous importation—has
subsequently assumed in the literature of Hinduism, is its improved
edition as issuing from the crucibles of Vedic or Vedantic
transformation. But this theory of the curious co-mingling of the
Vedas and Vedanta with Buddhistic corruption or with non-Aryan
barbarity is perfectly inadequate to explain the all-pervading
influence which the Tantras exert on our present-day religious life.
Here it is not any hesitating compromise that we have got before us
to explain, but a bold organic synthesis, a legitimate restatement
of the Vedic culture for the solution of new problems and new
difficulties which signalized the dawn of a new age.

"In tracing the evolution of Hinduism, modern historians take a
blind leap from Vedic ritualism direct to Buddhism, as if to
conclude that all those newly formed communities, with which India
had been swarming all over since the close of the fateful era of the
Kurukshetra war and to which was denied the right of Vedic
sacrifices, the monopoly of the higher three-fold castes of pure
orthodox descent, were going all the time without any religious
ministrations. These Aryanized communities, we must remember, were
actually swamping the Vedic orthodoxy, which was already gradually
dwindling down to a helpless minority in all its scattered centers
of influence, and was just awaiting the final blow to be dealt by
the rise of Buddhism. Thus the growth of these new communities and
their occupation of the whole land constituted a mighty event that
had been silently taking place in India on the outskirts of the
daily shrinking orthodoxy of Vedic ritualism, long before Buddhism
appeared on the field, and this momentous event our modern
historians fail to take due notice of either it may be because of a
curious blindness of self-complacency or because of the dazzle which
the sudden triumph of Buddhism and the overwhelming mass of
historical evidences left by it create before their eyes. The
traditional Kali Yuga dates from the rise of these communities and
the Vedic religious culture of the preceding Yuga underwent a
wonderful transformation along with a wonderful attempt it made to
Aryanize these rising communities.

"History, as hitherto understood and read, speaks of the Brahmins of
the Buddhistic age—their growing alienation from the J—ana-kanda
or the Upanishadic wisdom, their impotency to save the orthodox
Vedic communities from the encroachments of the non-Vedic hordes and
races, their ever-deepening religious formalism and social
exclusiveness. But this history is silent on the marvelous feats
which the Upanishadic sects of anchorites were silently performing
on the outskirts of the strictly Vedic community with the object of
Aryanizing the new India that was rising over the ashes of the
Kurukshetra conflagration. This new India was not strictly Vedic
like the India of the bygone ages, for it could not claim the
religious ministrations of the orthodox Vedic Brahmins and could
not, therefore, perform Yaj—as like the latter. The question,
therefore, is as to how this new India became gradually Aryanized,
for Aryanization is essentially a spiritual process, consisting in
absorbing new communities of men into the fold of the Vedic
religion. The Vedic ritualism that prevailed in those days was
powerless, we have seen, to do anything for these new communities
springing up all over the country. Therefore, we are obliged to turn
to the only other factor in Vedic religion besides the Karma-kanda
for an explanation of those changes which the Vedic religion wrought
in the rising communities in order to Aryanize them. The Upanishads
represent the J—ana-kanda of the Vedic religion and if we study all
of them, we find that not only the earliest ritualism of Yaj—as was
philosophized upon the earlier Upanishads, but the foundation for a
new, and no less elaborate, ritualism was fully laid in many of the
later Upanishads. For example, we study in these Upanishads how the
philosophy of Pa—ca-upasana (five-fold worship, viz., the worship of
Shiva, Devi, Sun, Ganesha and Vishnu) was developed out of the
mystery of the Pranava ("Om"). This philosophy cannot be dismissed
as a post-Buddhistic interpolation, seeing that some features of the
same philosophy can be clearly traced even in the Brahmanas (e.g.,
the discourse about the conception of Shiva).

"Here, therefore, in some of the later Upanishads we find recorded
the attempts of the pre-Buddhistic recluses of the forest to
elaborate a post-Vedic ritualism out of the doctrine of the Pranava
and the Vedic theory of Yogic practices. Here in these Upanishads we
find how the Bija-mantras and the Shatcakra of the Tantras were
being originally developed, for on the Pranava or Udgitha had been
founded a special learning and a school of philosophy from the very
earliest ages and some of the "spinal" centers of Yogic meditation
had been dwelt upon in the earliest Upanishads and corresponding
Brahmanas. The Upakaranas of Tantrik worship, namely, such material
adjuncts as grass, leaves, water and so on, were most apparently
adopted from Vedic worship along with their appropriate
incantations. So even from the Brahmanas and the Upanishads stands
out in clear relief a system of spiritual discipline— which we
would unhesitatingly classify as Tantrik—having at its core the
Pa—ca-upasana and around it a fair round of rituals and rites
consisting of Bija-mantras and Vedic incantations, proper meditative
processes and proper manipulation of sacred adjuncts of worship
adopted from the Vedic rites. This may be regarded as the earliest
configuration which Tantrik-ism had on the eve of those silent but
mighty social upheavals through which the Aryanization of vast and
increasing multitudes of new races proceeded in pre-Buddhistic India
and which had their culmination in the eventful centuries of the
Buddhistic coup de grace.

"Now this pre-Buddhistic Tantrikism, perhaps, then recognized as the
Vedic Pa—ca-upasana, could not have contributed at all to the
creation of a new India, had it remained confined completely within
the limits of monastic sects. But like Jainism, this Pa—ca-upasana
went forth all over the country to bring ultra-Vedic communities
under its spiritual ministrations. Even if we inquire carefully into
the social conditions obtaining in the strictly Vedic ages, we find
that there was always an extended wing of the Aryanized society
where the purely Vedic Karma-kanda could not be promulgated, but
where the molding influence of Vedic ideals worked through the
development of suitable spiritual activities. It is always to the
J—ana-kanda and the monastic votaries thereof, that the Vedic
religion owed its wonderful expansiveness and its progressive self-
adaptability, and every religious development within the Vedic fold,
but outside, the ritualism of Homa sacrifices, is traceable to the
spiritual wisdom of the all renouncing forest recluses.
This 'forest' wisdom was most forcibly brought into requisition when
after the Kurukshetra a new age was dawning with the onrush and
upheaval of non-Aryan and semi-Aryan races all over India— an echo
of which may be found in that story of the Mahabharata where Arjuna
fails to use his Gandiva to save his protégés from the robbery of
the non-Aryan hordes.

"The greatest problem of the pre-Buddhistic ages was the
Aryanization of the new India that rose and surged furiously from
every side against the fast-dwindling centers of the old Vedic
orthodoxy struggling hard, but in vain, by social enactments to
guard its perilous insulation. But for those religious movements,
such as those of the Bhagavatas, Shaktas, Sauryas, Shaivas,
Ganapatyas and Jainas, that tackled this problem of Aryanization
most successfully, all that the Vedic orthodoxy stood for in the
real sense would have gradually perished without trace. These
movements, specially the five cults of Vedic worship, took up many
of the non-Aryan races and cast their life in the mold of the Vedic
spiritual ideal, minimizing in this way the gulf that existed
between them and the Vedic orthodoxy and thereby rendering possible
their gradual amalgamation. And where this task remained unfulfilled
owing to the mold proving too narrow still to fit into the sort of
life which some non-Aryan races or communities lived, there it
remained for Buddhism to solve the problem of Aryanization in due
time. But still we must remember that by the time Buddhism made its
appearance, the pre-Buddhistic phase of Tantrik worship had already
established itself in India so widely and so firmly that instead of
dislodging it by its impetuous onset—all the force of which, by
the bye, was mainly spent on the tattering orthodoxy of Vedic
ritualism—Buddhism was itself swallowed up within three or four
centuries by its perhaps least suspected opponent of this Tantrik
worship and then wonderfully transformed and ejected on the arena as
the Mahayana.

"The publication of these two volumes is an event of great interest
and importance. The religious beliefs of the modern Hindus have been
represented to English readers from various points of view, but the
peculiar mold into which they have been sought to be cast in
comparatively modern centuries has not received adequate attention.
The exponents of the religion of modern Hindus take cognizance more
of the matter and source of their beliefs than of the change of form
they have been undergoing through the many centuries. The volumes
under review, as well as other publications brought out by Arthur
Avalon, serve to carry this important question of form to such a
prominence as almost makes it obligatory for every exhaustive
exposition of Hindu doctrines in future to acknowledge and
discriminate in them the formative influences of the Tantrik
restatement. In the Tantratattva, the presentation and vindication
of the Hindu religious beliefs and practices avowedly and closely
follow the methodology of the Tantras, and the learned pundit has
fully succeeded in establishing the fact that what lies behind these
beliefs and practices is not mere prejudice or superstition but a
system of profound philosophy based on the Vedas. Every student of
modern Hinduism should acquaint himself with this, namely, its
immediate background of Tantrik philosophy and ritualism.

"The Hindu religious consciousness is like a mighty Ganges emerging
from the Himalayas of Vedic wisdom, receiving tributaries and
sending out branch streams at many points in its course. And though
the nature of the current, its color, velocity or uses may vary at
different places, the Ganges is the same Ganges whether at Hardwar,
Allahabad or Calcutta. The stream is not only one but it has also
its one main channel in spite of all the many tributaries and
branches. And the whole of the stream is sacred, though different
sects may choose special points and confluences as of special
sanctity to themselves, deriving inspiration thence for their
special sectarian developments. Now, though the rise of Tantrik
philosophy and ritualism created in former times new currents and
back-waters along the stream of Hinduism, it was essentially an
important occurrence in the main stream and channel; and instead of
producing a permanent bifurcation in that stream, it coalesced with
it, coloring and renovating, more or less, the whole tenor of the
Hindu religious consciousness. As a result, we find Tantrik thought
and sentiment equally operative in the extreme metaphysical wing of
Hinduism as well as in its lower matter-of-fact phases.

This actual permeation of Hindu religious consciousness by Tantrik
thought and sentiment should receive the fullest recognition at the
hands of every up-to-date exponent. His predecessors of former
generations might have to strengthen their advocacy of Tantrik
doctrines by joining issue with the advocates of particular phases
of Hindu religion and philosophy. But the present epoch in the
history of our religious consciousness is pre-eminently an epoch of
wonderful synthetic mood of thought and sentiment, which is
gradually pervading the Hindu religious consciousness ever since
Shri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa embodied in himself its immediate
possibilities, to find in the literature that is being so admirably
provided for English readers by Arthur Avalon an occasional tendency
to use Tantrik doctrines as weapons for combating certain phases of
Hindu belief and practice. This tendency seems to betray quite a
wrong standpoint in the study of the Tantras, their relation to
other Scriptures and their real historical significance."

Shakti and Shakta

by Arthur Avalon (Sir John Woodroffe), [1918]

Chapter 1: Indian Religion As Bharata Dharma
Chapter 2: Shakti: The World as Power

Chapter 3: What Are the Tantras and Their Significance?

Chapter 4: Tantra Shastra and Veda

Chapter 5: The Tantras and Religion of the Shaktas

Chapter 6: Shakti and Shakta

Chapter 7: Is Shakti Force?
Chapter 8: Cinacara (Vashishtha and Buddha)

Chapter 9: The Tantra Shastras in China

Chapter 10: A Tibetan Tantra

Chapter 11: Shakti in Taoism

Chapter 12: Alleged Conflict of Shastras

Chapter 13: Sarvanandanatha

Chapter 14: Cit-Shakti (The Consciousness Aspect of the Universe)

Chapter 15: Maya-Shakti (The Psycho-Physical Aspect of the Universe)

Chapter 16: Matter and Consciousness

Chapter 17: Shakti and Maya

Chapter 18: Shakta Advaitavada

Chapter 19: Creation as Explained in the Non-dualist Tantras

Chapter 20: The Indian Magna Mater

Chapter 21: Hindu Ritual

Chapter 22: Vedanta and Tantra Shastra

Chapter 23: The Psychology of Hindu Religious Ritual

Chapter 24: Shakti as Mantra (Mantramayi Shakti)

Chapter 25: Varnamala (The Garland of Letters)

Chapter 26: Shakta Sadhana (The Ordinary Ritual)

Chapter 27: The Pa—catattva (The Secret Ritual)

Chapter 28: Matam Rutra (The Right and Wrong Interpretation)

Chapter 29: Kundalini Shakta (Yoga)

Chapter 30: Conclusions



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