|Sir John Woodroffe at Konark|
Sir John Woodroffe, the Chief Justice in Mumbai High Court during the British rule, was one of the most brilliant judges. But in one particular case, he just could not think, his brain was confused and stopped working. He would try again and again and no thought would come to his mind. He adjourned the case and went outside and he saw a Tantric who was doing some practice to confuse and delude him. Catching hold of the petitioner, he found out that the Tantric had been engaged by him to sit outside in the passage and stop the working of the brains of the Judge. Woodroffe was fascinated with this tantric practice. He started on a life long journey of knowledge of Tantra and wrote some of the finest books on Tantra, including the Serpent Power.
The more I heard stories of powerful tantrics and their amazing results, especially from genuine people, the more it fascinated me. And as there is no outcome without a process, it became my obsession to understand the Tantra process. I will try and share some of the process and the philosophy over the next few blogs, including the left handed dangerous tantra and tantric sex.
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, leading to startling results. Therefore, the practitioners used 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).
Most spiritual traditions state that worldly pleasures is 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. The tantric approach to life avoids this painful dilemma by taking the entire human into account, with both approaches – religious and sensual- reconciled and resolved. One of the most profound teaching that I have been taught “Bhog ko bhogte hue, bhog ka parityag karo” (Forgo the fruits of sensual enjoyments, whilst enjoying them).
Tantra is divided into three major schools of learning – kaula (tamasic or base impulse), mishra (rajasic or middle impulse) and Samaya (sattvic or higher impulse).
Kaula (lower or basal): Mostly householders. Uses objects in external practices – rituals, recitation of scriptures, pilgrimage to holy shrines, fire offerings. Worships muladhar (base chakra). Worships kundalini in the muladhar when it is asleep. Draw or carve a yantra and worship it, by method of withdrawal. Use liquor, meat, fish, mudras and sexual union in their rituals. Aims to attain worldly enjoyment (bhoga) as well as spiritual freedom (moksha).
Mishra (mixed): Serious practitioners. Performs both external rituals and mental worship. Worships Anahata (heart chakra). Worships kundalini, while visualizing her as awake. Simply visualize yantra in their heart centre and worship it by method of maintenance. Generally does not use liquor, meat, fish, mudras and sexual union in their rituals. Aims to attain worldly enjoyment (bhoga) as well as spiritual freedom (moksha), but with emphasis on moksha.
Samaya (highest): Practitioners who have devoted their entire life to spiritual search. Performs only internal meditation. Meditates only in Sahasrara (crown chakra). Begins meditation after kundalini awakening. Views the body as a yantra and worships the body by the method of creation. Never does not use liquor, meat, fish, mudras and sexual union in their rituals. Aims only to attain moksha.
Within the kaula school of thoughts, there are two divisions – the right hand path and the left hand path.
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 are 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).
The left hand path is followed by, in my view, daring and brave risk-takers, who understand the limits of mankind and all the time, try and extend the same. The next blog will talk about these heroes.