Tantras

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Tantras ("Looms" or "Weavings") refers to numerous and varied scriptures pertaining to any of several esoteric traditions rooted in Hindu and Buddhist philosophy. The religious culture of the Tantras is essentially Hindu, and Buddhist Tantric material can be shown to have been derived from Hindu sources.[1] And although Hindu and Buddhist Tantra have many similarities from the outside, they do have some clear distinctions.[2] The rest of this article deals with Hindu Tantra. Buddhist Tantra is described in the article on Vajrayana.

Classes of Hindu Tantra[edit]

The word tantra is made up by the joining (sandhi in Sanskrit) of two Sanskrit words: tanoti (expansion) and rayati (liberation). Tantra means liberation of energy and expansion of consciousness from its gross form.[citation needed] It is a method to expand the mind and liberate the dormant potential energy, and its principles form the basis of all yogic practices. Hence, the Hindu Tantra scriptures refer to techniques for achieving a result.

The Hindu Tantras total ninety-two scriptures; of these, sixty-four[3] are purely Abheda (literally "without differentiation", or monistic), known as the Bhairava Tantras or Kashmir Śaivite Tantras, eighteen are Bhedābheda (literally "with differentiation and without differentiation" monistic or dualistic), known as the Rudra Tantras), and ten are completely Bheda (literally "differentiated" or dualistic), known as the Śiva Tantras. The latter two (Rudra Tantras and Śiva Tantras) are used by the Śaiva Siddhāntins, and thus are sometimes referred to as Shaiva Siddhanta Tantras, or Śaiva Siddhānta Āgamas.

Tantra is exploring and identifying the hidden part in human personality—the feminine qualities in men and masculine qualities in women, for example—and helps to maintain the balance: helps humans to grow in spirituality and cosmic connection (See Bairavas 64, yoginis 64, Tantras 64, dancing gestures in Bharatha Natyam 64karanas and Tatvas in our human body are 64, DNA molecules.[4])

Revelation[edit]

Hindus consider the tantras not to be a part of the divine scriptures, the Veda and are therefore smrti, imparted by Śiva (Śiva) in the form of Svacchandanath, who created each tantra as a combination of his five universal energies, or shakti: cit śakti (energy of all-consciousness), ānanda śakti (energy of all-bliss), īccha śakti (energy of all-will), jñāna śakti (energy of all-knowledge), kriya śakti (energy of all-action). The Tantrika Parampara, or 'Tantric tradition' may be considered parallel or intertwined with the Vaidika Parampara or 'Vedic tradition'. It is said that Svacchandanath illuminated the universe, beginning the Sat Yuga, or 'golden age', by revealing these tantras. Through the ages, as the mahasiddha or 'great masters' of the tantras hid themselves to escape the touch of the increasingly worldly people, these teachings were lost during the Kali Yuga or 'degenerate age'. As a part of Śiva's grace, Śiva took the form Śrikanthanatha at Mount Kailaṣ and revealed the ninety-two Hindu tantras to Durvasa and then disappeared into the Ākaśa or ether.[citation needed]

Origin[edit]

In the Nāth Tradition, legend ascribes the origin of Tantra to Dattatreya, a semi-mythological yogi and the assumed author of the Jivanmukta Gita ("Song of the liberated soul"). Matsyendranath is credited with authorship of the Kaulajñāna-nirnāya, a voluminous ninth-century tantra dealing with a host of mystical and magical subjects. This work occupies an important position in the Hindu tantric lineage, as well as in Tibetan Vajrayana Buddhism.

Function[edit]

In contradistinction to the Vaidik ritual, which is traditionally performed out-of-doors without any idols nor emblems, the Tantrik ritual is largely a matter of temples and idols. The Tantras are largely descriptions and specifications for the construction and maintenance of temple-structures together with their enclosed idols and lingas—an example of type of text is the Ajita Māhātantra.[5] Another function was the conservation as state-secrets of texts for use by royalty to maintain their authority through rituals directed to deities controlling the political affairs-of-state—an example of this is the Śārada-tilaka Tantra.[6]

Texts[edit]

Tantric texts are usually associated with a particular tradition and deity. The different types of Tantric literature are tantra, Āgama, saṃhitā, sūtra, upaniṣad, purāṇa, tīkā (commentaries), prakaraṇa, paddhati texts, stotram, kavaca, nighaṇṭu, koṣa and hagiographical literature. They are written in Sanskrit and in regional languages. The major textual Tantra traditions with some key exemplary texts is as follows:[7]

A Hindu Tantric Painting. India, Pahari, circa 1780-1800. Depicting from top to bottom: Shiva, Sakti, Vishnu on his conch with Brahma sprouting from his navel and Lakshmi, Harihara, four-headed Brahma, and the Trimurti below, painted against a gold ground forming the stylized seed syllable Ohm.
  • Śaiva – Sadaśiva (Śivagama), Vāma or Tumburu, Dakṣiṇa or Bhairava
    • Kularnava Tantra
    • Amṛteṣaṭantra or Netratantra
    • Netragyanarṇava tantra
    • Niḥśvāsatattvasaṃhitā
    • Kālottārā tantra
    • Sarvajñānottārā
    • Ṣaivāgamas
    • Raudrāgamas
    • Bhairavāgamas
    • Vāma Āgamas
    • Dakṣiṇāgamas
  • Śivaśakti traditions – Yāmala (also part of Bhairava tradition)
    • Brahma yāmala
    • Rudra yāmala
    • Skanda yāmala
    • Viṣṇu yāmala
    • Yama yāmala
    • Yāyu yāmala
    • Kubera yāmala
    • Indra yāmala
A Tantric Form of the Hindu Goddess Kali, Folio from a Book of Iconography, Nepal, 17th century
  • ŚāktaKālī traditions (Kālī, Kālī Viṣṇu, Kāmākhyā, Tārā and Others), Śrīkula tradition
    • Shakta Agamas
    • Muṇḍamālātantra
    • Toḍalatantra
    • Cāmuṇḍatantra
    • Devīyāmala
    • Mādhavakula
    • Yonigahavara,
    • Kālīkulārṇava tantra
    • Kaṇkālamālinī tantra
    • Jhaṃkārakaravīra,
    • Mahākālasaṃhitā
    • Kālī tantra
    • Kālajñāna tantra
    • Kumārī tantra
    • Toḍala tantra
    • Siddhalaharī tantra
    • Niruttārā tantra
    • Kālīvilāsa tantra
    • Utpatti tantra
    • Kāmadhenu tantra
    • Nirvāṇa tantra
    • Kāmākhyā tantra
    • Yoginī tantra
    • Tārā tantra
    • Kaula tantra
    • Matsya Sūkta / Tārā Kalpa
    • Samayā tantra
    • Vāmakeshvara tantra
    • Tantrajā tantra
  • Kula - Kulamārga and Other tantras
    • Kulārṇava tantra
    • Mahānirvāṇa tantra
    • Kulacūḍāmaṇitantra
    • Kulārṇavatantra
    • Guptasādhanatantra
    • Mātṛkābhedatantra.
  • VaiṣṇavaVaikhanasas, Pancharatra, bhakti-oriented tantras of Kṛṣṇa and Rāma
    • Pāñcarātra saṃhitā texts
    • Ahirbudhnya Saṃhitā
    • Jayākhya saṃhitā
    • Pārameśvara saṃhitā
    • Pauśkara saṃhitā
    • Pādma saṃhitā
    • Nāradīya saṃhitā
    • Haṃsaparameśvara saṃhitā
    • Vaihāyasa saṃhitā
    • Śrīkālapraā saṃhitā
    • Vaikhānasa Āgamas
    • Gautamīya tantra
    • Bṛhadbrahmasaṃhitā
    • Māheśvaratantra
    • Sātvatatantra
    • Rādhātantra
    • Agastyasaṃhitā and Dāśarathīyatantra
    • Īśānasaṃhitā and Ūrdhvāṃnāyasaṃhitā
  • Mantra-śāstra - textbooks on Mantras, metaphysics of mantric sound, related practices and rituals
    • Prapañcasāra tantra and its commentaries and Ṭīkās
    • Śāradatilaka tantra by Lakṣmaṇa Deśikendra
    • Mantramuktāvali of Paramahaṃsa Pūrṇaprakāśa
    • Mantramahodadhi of Mahīdhara
    • Mantradevaprakāśikā of Viṣṇudeva
    • Mantrakamalākara of Kamalākara Bhaṭṭa
    • Mantraratnākara of Yadunātha Cakravartin
    • Mantramahārṇava of Mādhava Rāya Vaidya
    • Tantrasāra of Kṛṣṇānanda āgamvāgiśa
  • Nibandha - handbooks on ritual worship, sadhana and puja
    • Kriyākalpataru of śaktinātha Kalyānakara
    • Kaulāvalīnirṇaya of Jñānānandagiri Paramahaṃsa
    • śāktanandataraṃgiṇī of Brahmānanda Giri
    • śāktakrama of Pūrṇānanda
    • śrītattvacintāmaṇi of Pūrṇānanda
    • āgamakalpadruma of Govinda
    • āgamakalpalatikā of Yadunātha
    • āgamatattvavilāsa of Raghunātha Tarkavāgīśa, and āgamachandrikā of Rāmakṛṣṇa
    • Tantrachintāmaṇi of Navamīsiṃha
    • Prāṇatoṣiṇī of Rāmatoṣaṇa Vidyālaṃkāra
    • Śhivarahasya
    • Śaivakalpadruma
  • Others – supernatural, chemistry, astrology, alchemy, etc.,

Translations[edit]

Most Hindu Tantras remain untranslated. One widely translated exception is the Vijñāna Bhairava Tantra, which according to Christopher Wallis, is atypical of most Tantric scriptures.[8]

Sir John Woodroffe translated the Tantra of the Great Liberation (Mahānirvāna Tantra) (1913) into English along with other Tantric texts. Other tantras which have been translated into a Western language include the Malini-vijayottara tantra, the Kirana tantra, and the Parakhya Tantra.[9]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Flood, Gavin. D. 1996. An Introduction to Hinduism. P. 158
  2. ^ Smith, Travis. Tantra in Brill's Encyclopedia of Hinduism. Brill. pp. 168–181. ISBN 978 90 04 17893 9. 
  3. ^ http://www.64tantras.com/64thantra.php
  4. ^ http://www.64tantras.com/index.php
  5. ^ Ajita_Mahatantra 1–18 Ajita_Mahatantra,_19-35 Ajita_Mahatantra,_36-66 Ajita_Mahatantra,_67-89
  6. ^ S%60arada-tilaka_Tantra,_1 S%60arada-tilaka_Tantra,_2 S%60arada-tilaka_Tantra,_3-5
  7. ^ Subhodeep Mukhopadhyay; Demystifying Tantra-III: Śaiva and Vaiṣṇava Tantras, http://indiafacts.org/demystifying-tantra-saiva-vai%E1%B9%A3%E1%B9%87ava-tantras/
  8. ^ Wallis, Christopher; Tantra Illuminated
  9. ^ Wallis, Christopher; Tantra Illuminated

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Further reading[edit]