|Sir John Woodroffe|
Sir John Woodroffe (1865-1936), studied at Oxford University, England and became a judge of the High Court of Calcutta and Professor of Law at the University of Calcutta. One day he had great difficulty concentrating on the case before him, and one of his servants informed him that a tantric sadhu had been employed by the defendant to sit outside the courthouse and chant mantras to cloud his thoughts. Outside, Woodroffe found an ash-covered sadhu chanting a Sanskrit litany. The Indian Police drove the sadhu away and Woodroffe instantly felt his mind clear, and moreover, instilled in him a desire to find out more about Tantric practices. He started on a life long journey of knowledge of Tantra and wrote some of the finest books on Tantra, including the Serpent Power.
Most spiritual traditions state that worldly pleasures are incompatible to spiritual quest. We, humans, are always swinging like a pendulum between Brahma (Divinity) and Maya (Worldly entanglements). This either/or approach sets off endless internal struggles within us, making it difficult to reconcile these integral impulses.
Tantra (tool, instrument) is an extremely potent tool to increase energy frequency. It can be acquired by anyone having access to the knowledge and willing to do the necessary sadhana. Practitioners use these for various reasons – some beneficial and some a mean to harm others. It is like using a knife – for cooking or for killing, depending on the intent of the user. The main six categories of harmful practices are to hurt, injure or kill (marana), to confuse and delude (mohana), to dominate, manipulate and subjugate (Bashikarana), to disrupt concentration (Ucchatana), to create hatred and animosity (Vidveshana) and to immobilize and render inert (Stambhana). The two major categories of beneficial practices are those leading to peace and harmony (Shanti) and those leading to health and healing (Paushtika).
Tantra uses the profound practices of yoga, pranayama, mudras, rituals, mantra, yantra, mandala, visualization of deities, alchemy, ayurveda, astrology and hundreds of esoteric techniques for opening blockages and increasing energy (some of these, I have touched upon in earlier blogs).
Tantra is divided into three major schools of learning – Samaya (sattvic or higher impulse), Mishra (rajasic or middle impulse) and Kaula (tamasic or base impulse).
The right hand path stresses on purity, ethics and self-restrain. Hence the right handed path have developed a complex system of rituals, using the principles of asceticism. Their practices of fasting or eating very little, renunciation, observing silence, observing brahmacharya (sexual continence) and staying away from sensual pleasures, are designed to subdue the primitive urges. They perform external rituals while using “pure” objects, hold puritan views and stay on the right side of the conventional morality.
And it is the left hand path, which uses tantra to drive their actions with scarce thought to conventional standards of morality, ethics and purity, whenever these standards have been found to be obstacles to gaining higher energy. Which is why tantra is much-misunderstood and reviled by the general public. They maintain that the primitive urge is intrinsic to human nature and that restraining them cripples our mind, body and senses. Their idea is to channelize these powerful sensual drives in a spiritual direction. They make no distinction between pure and impure, hold unorthodox views, strive to achieve siddhis (miraculous powers) by any means, dare to undertake practices of any kind, including forbidden ones. They employ the five “m” in select rituals – Liquor (Madya), meat (Mamsa), fish (Matsya), parched cereal (Mudra) and sexual union (Maithuna).