When people think of Tantra, one of the first things that comes to mind is the sensual aspect of it, which the western culture refers to as a technique of bodily pleasure. If you ask any random person what tantra is, they will most certainly refer to its occult erotic practises in some way or another.
Everyone appears to enjoy discussing tantra in this manner, which is extremely amusing. Because there is no such thing in the original Tantric manual, it’s just that the majority of the Western world perceives and thinks of the term “Tantra” in this sense.
Tantra, like any other religion, has its own history and customs, which some Hindu sects follow. It has a variety of esoteric activities, eroticism being only a minor part of them.
However, if you search the Internet, you will see that most articles treat tantra as if it were exclusively meant for pleasure, which it is not. So the question is, if tantra isn’t only about physical intimacy, what is it?
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What Is Tantra?
Tantra is an ancient spiritual science that can be traced back thousands of years. Initially, it was an idea that formed inside a few sects that were experimenting with different ways to attain moksha, and it spread to a subsequent number of followers as time progressed.
It’s worth noting that the name Hinduism did not exist at the time. No one in India had heard of the term, and the religion’s official name has remained Sanatana Dharma for a long time, even today. It is not a religion in the literal sense, but rather a cultural way of life that the people of the land have followed for thousands of years.
The term Tantra has always been associated with a certain cultural way of life. However, people have recently begun to associate tantra with the extreme side of occult erotic practises. Here’s a video I found on YouTube that describes Tantra and its relationship to Hinduism.
Now, the term Tantra is so broad and complex that it would be difficult for an ordinary person like myself to define it. However, one thing is clearly certain. Tantra’s ultimate goal is to reach the Paraathman (god) and free oneself from the endless cycle of rebirth.
The History Of Tantra
Tantra, as we know it, has existed since the beginning of human civilization. However, throughout Hinduism’s history, various gurus have been responsible for making and packaging the abstract wisdom of tantra accessible to ordinary people. Sada Shiva was the very first tantric guru to come to mankind and came up with the term tantra.
Don’t be misled by the term Sada Shiva. Shiva is commonly regarded as Hinduism’s destructive god. However, if you dig a little deeper, you will discover that Shiva has two parallel meanings.
The first is a metaphor for the cognitive idea of what is God? while the second is a person known as Sada Shiva In Hinduism, Sada Shiva, who lived thousands of years ago, is the main deity we worship.
The Tantra and its philosophy, like any other piece of knowledge, spread throughout the world, resulting in various lineages. Lineages such as Tibetan Buddhism, Zen Buddhism, and Taoism are prominent examples. They all follow the same Tantric concepts and rites that Hindus do. However, the tantric deities in those traditions are considerably distinct.
What Tantra Isn’t?
As previously stated, the name Tantra encompasses a very vast and sophisticated range of concepts. However, several aspects are far from what the Western world considers to be Tantra. To appreciate the concept of tantric philosophy more clearly, we must first understand what Tantra is not.
Tantra has nothing to do with black magic, sorcery, or strange activities. People connect tantra to black magic because it has a fair number of cryptic texts and scriptures that were originally meant to keep uninitiated people away. Unfortunately, it also left a void that others began to fill with their own interpretations, linking the great knowledge to some kind of sinister ritual.
Another source of misinterpretation of Tantra comes when reputed scholars make mistakes. Many authors, whether intentionally or not, took many metaphors in Tantric texts literally. More often than not, this results in Tantra being associated with abominable practices, such as sacrificial rituals, incest, and manipulations, etc.
To give you an example, when we refer to the symbolic language used in tantric texts like Ida, Pingala, and Sushumna Nadis as the Ganges, Yamuna, and Saraswati rivers, it becomes the source of many confusions.
Technique For Improving Consciousness
Tantra is a Sanskrit word in which Tan literally means – expansion and Tra means freedom. Therefore, Tantra is essentially a process by which you awaken and extend your consciousness to the point where you can obtain liberation.
Tantric practitioners believe that every living being has a certain level of consciousness, ranging from crude to subtle, and Tantra as a technique allows them to broaden their level of consciousness. So that they can attain ultimate awareness, which is required to comprehend all aspects of Maya (the cosmic illusion).
There Is Impure In Tantra
Tantrism holds that everything is created by God and that in order to reach it, you must understand everything. Nothing is impure or immoral in their eyes because everything is ultimately created by God. There is no such thing as pure and impure. Everything is created equal, and thus, using the body unconventionally for sensual pleasure falls under this philosophy.
Misrepresentation of Tantra
In Hinduism, erotic imagery is considered a sign of good fortune and protection. Therefore, such carvings on Hindu temples show the importance of sexuality and lovemaking in one’s spiritual development.
However, in the western world, tantra generally means esotaric sex practises. Despite the fact that the majority of tantric texts do not depict intercourse in that light. In various tantric texts, lovemaking has always been shown as divine and a potential avenue for spiritual growth.
According to Hindu religion, the entire universe is the result of the union of two divine energies. Therefore, symbolizing arousing imagery was not viewed negatively back then. However, people have never truly appreciated the complexities of this tremendous knowledge and have always associated it with some form of taboo.
Of course, after centuries of Islamic and Christian domination, the image of true tantrism has lost its luster. Unless you dive deep into the concepts behind it, you’d never find the real wisdom behind Tantra and its spiritual aspect.