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Introduction and Preface


THE Indian Tantras, which are numerous, constitute the Scripture (Shastra) of the Kaliyuga, and as such are the voluminous source of present and practical orthodox "Hinduism." The Tantra Shastra is, in fact, and whatever be its historical origin, a development of the Vaidika Karmakanda, promulgated to meet the needs of that age. Shiva says: "For the benefit of men of the Kali age, men bereft of energy and dependent for existence on the food they eat, the Kaula doctrine, O auspicious one! is given" (Chap. IX., verse 12). To the Tantra we must therefore look if we would understand aright both ritual, yoga, and sadhana of all kinds, as also the general principles of which these practices are but the objective expression.

Yet of all the forms of Hindu Shastra, the Tantra is that which is least known and understood, a circumstance in part due to the difficulties of its subject-matter and to the fact that the key to much of its terminology and method rest with the initiate. The present translation is, in fact, the first published in Europe of any Indian Tantra. An inaccurate version rendered in imperfect English was published in Calcutta by a Bengali editor some twelve years ago, preceded by an Introduction which displayed insufficient knowledge in respect of what it somewhat quaintly described as "the mystical and superficially technical passages" of this Tantra. A desire to attempt to do it greater justice has in part prompted its selection as the first for publication. This Tantra is, further, one which is well known and esteemed, though perhaps more highly so amongst that portion of the Indian public which favours "reformed" Hinduism than amongst some Tantrikas, to whom, as I have been told, certain of its provisions appear to display unnecessary timidity. The former admire it on account of its noble exposition of the worship of the Supreme Brahman, and in the belief that certain of its passages absolutely discountenance the orthodox ritual. Nothing can be more mistaken than such belief, even though it be the fact that "for him who has faith in the root, of what use are the branches and leaves." This anyone will discover who reads the text. It is true that, as Chap. VII., verse 94, says: "In the purified heart knowledge of Brahman grows," and Brahmajnane samutpanne krityakrityang na vidyate. But the statement assumes the attainment of Brahmajñana, and this, the Shastra says, can be attained, not by Vedantic discussions nor mere prayer, after the manner of Protestant systems of Christian worship; but by the Sadhana which is its main subject-matter. I have referred to Protestant systems, for the Catholic Church possesses an elaborate ritual and a sadhana of its own which is in many points strikingly analogous to the Hindu system. The section of Tantrikas to whom I have referred are, I believe, also in error. For the design of this Tantra appears to be, whilst conserving commonly-recognized Tantrik principles, to secure that, as has sometimes proved to be the case, they are not abused. Parvvati says (Chap. I., verse 67): "I fear, 0 Lord! that even that which Thou hast ordained for the good of men will, through them, turn out for evil." Hitaya yane, karmani kathitani tvaya prabho Manyetani mahadeva viparitani manave. It is significant, in connection with these observations, to note that this particular Tantra was chosen as the subject of commentary by Shrimad Hariharananda Bharati, the Guru of the celebrated Hindu "reformer," Raja Ram Mohun Roy.

The Tantra has been assigned to the group of sixty-four known as those of the Rathakranta. It was first published by the Adi-Brahma-Samaja in 1798 Shakabda (A.D. 1876), and was printed in Bengali characters, with the notes of the Kulavadhuta Shrimad Hariharananda Bharati under the editorship of Anandachandra Vidyavagisha. The preface to this edition stated that three MSS. were consulted; one belonging to the library of the Samaja; the second supplied by Durgadasa Chandhuri, and the third taken from the library of Raja Ram Mohun Roy. This text appears to be the basis of subsequent publications. It was again printed in 1888 by Shri Krishna Gopala Bhakta, since when there have been several editions with Bengali translations, including that of Shri Prasanna Kumara Shastri. The late Pandit Jivananda Vidyasagara published an edition in Devanagari character, with the notes of Hariharananda; and the Venkateshvara Press at Bombay have issued another in similar character with a Hindi translation.

The translation published is that of the first part only. It is commonly thought (and was so stated by the author of the Calcutta edition in English to which I have referred) that the second portion is lost. This is, however, not so, though copies of the complete Tantra are rare enough. The full text exists in manuscript, and I hope at a later date to have an opportunity of publishing a translation of it. I came across a complete manuscript some two years ago in the possession of a Nepalese Pandit. He would, however, only permit me to make a copy of his manuscript on the condition that the Shatkarmma Mantras were not published. For, as he said, virtue not being a condition precedent for the acquisition of siddhi in such Mantras, their publication might enable the evilly disposed to work harm against others, a crime which, he added, was, in his own country, where the Tantra was current, punishable by the civil power. I was unable to persuade him even with the observation that the mere publication of the Mantra without knowledge of what is called the prayoga (which cannot be learned of books) would in any case be ineffectual. I could not give an undertaking which would have involved the publication of a mutilated text, and the reader must therefore for the present be content with a translation of the first part of the Tantra, which is generally known, and has, as stated, been several times printed. The incident has further value than the direct purpose for which I have told it. There are some to whom the Tantra, though they may not have read a line of it, is "nothing but black magic," and all its followers are "black magicians." This is of course absurd. In this connection I cannot avoid interposing the observation that certain practices are described in Tantra which, though they are alleged to have the results described therein, yet exist "for delusion." The true attitude of the higher Tantrika is illustrated by the action of the Pandit who, if he disappointed my expectations, at any rate by his refusal afforded an answer to these too general allegations.

The second portion of the manuscript in his possession contained over double the number of Shlokas to be found in the first part here published.

The edition which has been used for the translation is that (now out of print) edited and published at Calcutta by Shri Krishna Gopala Bhakta in Chaitra 1295 Bengali era (April, 1888), with Commentary of Shrimad Hariharananda Bharati, and with additional notes by the learned and lately deceased Pandit Jaganmohana Tarkalangkara, called Vriddha in order to distinguish him from another celebrated Pandit of the same name. A new edition of the same work is now, in course of publication, with further notes by the latter’s son, Pandit Jnanendranatha Tantraratna.

This valuable Commentary is not, however, altogether suitable for the general reader, for it assumes a certain amount of knowledge on his part which he does not possess. I have accordingly, whilst availing myself of its aid, written my own commentary, and added an Introduction explaining certain matters and terms referred to or presupposed by the text which, as they require a somewhat more extended treatment, could not be conveniently dealt with in the footnotes. Some of the matters there explained are, though common and fundamental, seldom accurately defined. Nothing, therefore, is lost by a re-statement of them with an intention to serve such accuracy. Other matters are of a special character, and are either not generally known or are misunderstood. The Introduction, however, does not profess to be an exhaustive treatment of that with which it deals. On the contrary, it is but an extended note written to help some way towards a better understanding of the text by the ordinary reader. For a fuller exposition of general principles and practice the interested are referred to three works which I have in preparation, "Principles of Tantra" (Tantratattva), "Exposition of the Secret Worship" (Rahasyapujapaddhati), and "Description of the Six Centres" (Shatchakranirupana). There are, however, some matters in the Shastra or its accompanying oral tradition which he must, and if disposed thereto will, find out for himself. This, too, is implied by the saying in this Tantra that it is by merit acquired in previous births that the mind inclines to Kaula doctrine (Chapter VII., verse 99). However this may be, no one will understand the Shastra who starts his inquiry with a mind burdened with the current prejudices against it, whatever be the colour of truth some of them may possess by reason of actual abuse of Shastric principles.

In conclusion, I wish to thank my Indian friends for the aid they have given me in the preparation of this and other kindred works, and to whom I am indebted for much information gathered during many pleasant hours which we have spent together in the study of a subject of common interest to them and myself. The Tantras generally are written in comparatively simple Sanskrit. For their rendering, however, a working knowledge of their terminology and ritual is required, which can be only fully found in those to whom it is familiar through race, upbringing, and environment, and in whom there is still some regard for their ancient inheritance. As for others, they must learn to see through the Indian eye of knowledge until their own have been trained to its lines of vision. In this way we shall be in the future spared some of the ridiculous presentments of Indian beliefs common in the past and even now too current.


January 7, 1913.






Mount Kailasa

The scene of the revelation of this Tantra is laid in Himalaya, the "Abode of Snow," a holy land weighted with the traditions of the Aryan race. Here in these lofty uplands, encircled with everlasting snows, rose the great mountain of the north, the Sapta Kula Parvata. Hence the race itself came, and there its early legends have their setting. There are still shown at Bhimudiyar the caves where the sons of Pandu and Draupadi rested, as did Rama and his faithful wife at the point where the Kosi joins the Sita in the grove of Asoka trees. In these mountains Munis and Rishis lived. Here also is the Kshetra of Shiva Mahadeva, where His Spouse Parvvati, the daughter of the Mountain King, was born, and where Mother Ganges also has her source. From time immemorial pilgrims have toiled through these mountains to visit the three great shrines of Gangotri, Kedarnath, and Badrinath. At Kangri, further north, the pilgrims make the parikrama of Mount Kailasa (Kang Rinpoche), where Shiva is said to dwell. This nobly towering peak rises to the north-west of the sacred Mansarowar Lake (Mapham Yum-tso) from amidst the purple ranges of the lower Kangri Mountains. The paradise of Shiva is a summerland of both lasting sunshine and cool shade, musical with the song of birds and bright with undying flowers. The air, scented with the sweet fragrance of Mandara chaplets, resounds with the music and song of celestial singers and players. The Mount is Gana Parvata, thronged with trains of Spirits (devayoni), of which the opening Chapter speaks.

And in the regions beyond rises Mount Meru, centre of the world-lotus. Its heights, peopled with spirits, are hung with clusters of stars as with wreaths of Malati flowers. In short, it is written: "He who thinks of Himachala, though he should not behold him, is greater than he who performs all worship in Kashi (Benares). In a hundred ages of the Devas I could not tell thee of the glories of Himachala. As the dew is dried up by the morning sun, so are the sins of mankind by the sight of Himachala."

It is not, however, necessary to go to the Himalayan Kailasa to find Shiva. He dwells wheresoever his worshippers, versed in Kulatattva, abide, and His mystic mount is to be sought in the thousand-petalled lotus (sahasrara-padma) in the body of every human jiva, hence called Shivasthana, to which all, wheresoever situate, may repair when they have learned how to achieve the way thither.

Shiva promulgates His teaching in the world below in the works known as Yamala, Damara, Shiva Sutra, and in the Tantras which exist in the form of Dialogues between the Devata and his Shakti, the Devi in Her form as Parvvati. According to the Gayatri Tantra, the Deva Ganesha first preached the Tantra to the Devayoni on Mount Kailasa, after he had himself received them from the mouth of Shiva.

After a description of the mountain, the Dialogue opens with a question from Parvvati in answer to which and those which succeed it, Shiva unfolds His doctrine on the subjects with which this particular Tantra deals.

Shiva and Shakti

That eternal immutable existence which transcends the turiya and all other states is the unconditioned Absolute, the supreme Brahman or Para-brahman, without Prakriti (nishkala) or Her attributes (nir-guna), which, as being the inner self and knowing subject, can never be the object of cognition, and is to be apprehended only through yoga by the realization of the Self (atmajñana), which It is. For as it is said, "Spirit can alone know Spirit." Being beyond mind, speech, and without name, the Brahman was called "Tat," "That," and then "Tat Sat," "That which is." For the sun, moon, and stars, and all visible things, what are they but a glimpse of light caught from "That" (Tat)?

Brahman is both nishkala and sakala. Kala is Prakriti. The nishkala Brahman or Para-brahman is the Tat, when thought of as without Prakriti (prakriteranya). It is called sakala when with Prakriti. As the substance of Prakriti is the three gunas It is then su-guna, as in the previous state It was nir-guna. Though in the latter state It is thought of as without Shakti, yet (making accommodation to human speech) in It potentially exists Shakti, Its power and the whole universe produced by It. To say, however, that the Shakti exists in the Brahman is but a form of speech, since It and Shakti are, in fact, one, and Shakti is eternal (Anadi-rupa). She is Brahma-rupa and both vi-guna (nir-guna) and sa-guna; the Chaitanya-rupini-Devi, who manifests all bhuta. She is the Ananda-rupini-Devi, by whom the Brahman manifests Itself, and who, to use the words of the Sarada, pervades the universe as does oil the sesamum seed.

In the beginning the Nishkala Brahman alone existed. In the beginning there was the One. It willed and became many. Ahab bahu syam – "may I be many." In such manifestation of Shakti the Brahman is known as the lower (apara) or manifested Brahman, who, as the subject of worship, is meditated upon with attributes. And, in fact, to the mind and sense of the embodied spirit (jiva) the Brahman has body and form. It is embodied in the forms of all Devas and Devils, and in the worshipper himself. Its form is that of the universe, and of all things and beings therein.

As Shruti says: "He saw" (Sa aikshata, aham bahu syam prajayeya). "He thought to Himself may I be many." "Sa aikshaya" was itself a manifestation of Shakti, the Para-mapurva-nirvana shakti, or Brahman as Shakti. From the Brahman, with Shakti (Para-shakti-maya) issued Nada (Shiva-Shakti as the "Word" or "Sound" ), and from Nada, Vindu appeared. Kalicharana in his commentary on the Shatchakra-nirupana says that Shiva and Nirvana Shakti bound by a mayik bond and covering, should be thought of as existing in the form of Parang Vindu.

The Sarada says: Sachchidananda vibhavat sakalat parameshvarat asichchhaktistato nado, nadad vindu-samudbhavah ("From Parameshvara vested with the wealth of sachchidananda and with Prakriti (sakala) issued Shakti; from Shakti came Nada and from Nada was born Vindu" ). The state of subtle body which is known as Kama-kala is the mula of mantra. The term mula-mantratmika, when applied to the Devi, refers to this subtle body of Hers known as the Kama-kala. The Tantra also speaks of three Vindus, namely Shiva-maya, Shakti-maya, and Shiva-shakti-maya.

The Parang-vindu is represented as a circle, the centre of which is the brahma-pada, or place of Brahman, wherein are Prakriti-Purusha, the circumference of which is encircling maya. It is on the crescent of nirvana-kala, the seventeenth, which is again in that of ama-kala, the sixteenth digit (referred to in the text) of the moon-circle (Chandramandala), which circle is situate above the Sun-Circle (Suryyamandala), the Guru and the hangsah, which are in the pericarp of the thousand-petalled lotus (sahasrarapadma). Next to the Vindu is the fiery Bodhini, or Nibodhika (v. post). The Vindu, with the Nirvana-kala, Nibodhika, and Ama-kala, are situated in the lightning-like inverted triangle known as "A, Ka, Tha," and which is so called because at its apex is A; at its right base is Za; and at its left base Tha. It is made up of forty-eight letters (matrika): the sixteen vowels running from A to Ka; sixteen consonants of the ka-varga and other groups running from A to Ka; and the remaining sixteen from Ka to Tha. Inside are the remaining letters (matrika), ha, la(second), and ksha. As the substance of Devi is matrika (matrika-mayi) the triangle represents the "Word" of all that exists. The triangle is itself encircled by the Chandramandala. The Vindu is symbolically described as being like a grain of gram (chanaka), which under its encircling sheath contains a divided seed. This Parang-vindu is Prakriti-Purusha, Shiva-Shakti. It is known as the Shabda-Brahman (the Sound Brahman), or Aparabrahman. A polarization of the two Shiva and Shakti Tattvas then takes place in Parashaktimaya. The Devi becomes Unmukhi. Her face turns towards Shiva. There is an unfolding which bursts the encircling shell of Maya, and creation then takes place by division of Shiva and Shakti or of "Hang" and "Sah." The Sarada says: "The Devataparashaktimaya is again Itself divided, such divisions being known as Vindu, Vaja, and Nada. Vindu is of the nature of Nada or Shiva, and Vaja of Shakti, and Nada has been said to be the relation of these two by those who are versed in all the Agamas." The Sarada says that before the bursting of the shell enclosing the brahma-pada, which, together with its defining circumference, constitute the Shabda-brahman, an indistinct sound arose (avyaktatmaravobhavat). This avyaktanada is both the first and the last state of Nada, according as it is viewed from the standpoint of evolution or involution. For Nada, as Raghava-bhatta says, exists in three states. In Nada are the guna (sattva, rajas, and tamas), which form the substance of Prakriti, which with Shiva It is. When tamo-guna predominates Nada is merely an indistinct or unmanifested (dhvanyat – makovykta-nadah) sound in the nature of dhvani. In this state, in which it is a phase of Avyaktanada, it is called Nibodhika, or Bodhini. It is Nada when rajoguna is in the ascendant, when there is a sound in which there is something like a connected or combined disposition of the letters. When the sattva-guna preponderates Nada assumes the form of Vindu. The action of rajas on tamas is to veil. Its own independent action effects an arrangement which is only perfected by the emergence of the essentially manifesting sattvika guna set into play by it. Nada, Vindu, and Nibodhika, and the Shakti, of which they are the specific manifestation, are said to be in the form of Sun, Moon, and Fire respectively. Jñana (spiritual wisdom) is spoken of as fire as it burns up all actions, and the tamoguna is associated with it. For when the effect of cause and effect of action are really known, then action ceases. Ichchha is the Moon. The Moon contains the sixteenth digit, the Ama-kala with its nectar, which neither increases nor decays, and Ichchha, or will, is the eternal precursor of creation. Kriya is like the Sun, for as the Sun by its light makes all things visible, so unless there is action and striving there cannot be realization or manifestation. As the Gita sways: "As one Sun makes manifest all the loka."

The Shabda-Brahman manifests Itself in a triad of energies – knowledge (jñanashakti), will (ichchha-shakti), and action (kriya-shakti), associated with the three gunas of Prakriti, tamas, sattva, and rajas. From the Parang-Vindu, who is both vindvat-maka and kalatmai.e., Shakti – issued Raudri, Rudra, and his Shakti, whose forms are fire (vahni), and whose activity is knowledge (jñana); Vama, and Vishnu and his Shakti, whose form is the sun, and whose activity is kriya (action): and Jyeshtha and Brahma and his Shakti, whose form is the Moon and whose activity is desire. The Vamakeshvara Tantra says that Tri-pura is threefold, as Brahma, Vishnu, and Isha; and as the energies desire, wisdom, and action, the energy of will when Brahman would create; the energy of wisdom when She reminds Him, saying "Let this be thus" ; and when, thus knowing, He acts, She becomes the energy of action. The Devi is thus Ichchha-shakti-jñana-shakti-kriya-shakti-svaru-pini.

Para-shiva exists as a septenary under the form, firstly, of Shambhu, who is the associate of time (kala-bandhu). From Him issues Sada-shiva, Who pervades and manifests all things, and then come Ishana and the triad, Rudra, Vishnu, and Brahma, each with their respective Shakti (without whom they avail nothing) separately and particularly associated with the gunas, tamas, sattva and rajas. Of these Devas, the last triad, together with Ishana, and Sada-shiva, are the five Shivas who are collectively known as the Maha-preta, whose vija is "Hsauh." Of the Maha-preta, it is said that the last four form the support, and the fifth the seat, of the bed on which the Devi is united with Parama-shiva, in the room of chintamani stone, on the jewelled island clad with clumps of kadamba and heavenly trees set in the ocean of Ambrosia.

Shiva is variously addressed in this work as Shambhu, Sada-shiva, Shankara, Maheshvara, etc., names which indicate particular states, qualities, and manifestations of the One in its descent towards the many; for there are many Rudras. Thus Sada-shiva indicates the predominance of the sattva-guna. His names are many, 1,008 being given in the sixty-ninth chapter of the Shiva Purana, and in the seventeenth chapter of the Anushasana Parvan of the Mahabharata.

Shakti is both maya, that by which the Brahman creating the universe is able to make Itself appear to be different from what It really is, and mula-prakriti, or the unmanifested (avyakta) state of that which, when manifest, is the universe of name and form. It is the primary so called "material cause," consisting of the equipoise of the triad of guna or "qualities" which are sattva (that which manifests) rajas (that which acts), tamas (that which veils and produces inertia). The three gunas represent Nature as the revelation of spirit, Nature as the passage of descent from spirit to matter, or of ascent from matter to spirit, and Nature as the dense veil of spirit. The Devi is thus guna-nidhi ("treasure-house of guna" ). Mula-prakriti is the womb into which Brahman casts the seed from which all things are born. The womb thrills to the movement of the essentially active rajo-guna. The equilibrium of the triad is destroyed, and the guna, now in varied combinations, evolve under the illumination of Shiva (chit), the universe which is ruled by Maheshvara and Maheshvari. The dual principles of Shiva and Shakti, which are in such dual form the product of the polarity manifested in Parashakti-maya, pervade the whole universe, and are present in man in the Svayambhu-Linga of the muladhara and the Devi Kundalini, who, in serpent form, encircles it. The Shabda-Brahman assumes in the body of man the form of the Devi Kundalini, and as such is in all prani (breathing creatures), and in the shape of letters appears in prose and verse. Kundala means coiled. Hence Kundalini, whose form is that of a coiled serpent, means that which is coiled. She is the luminous vital energy (jiva-shakti) which manifests as prana, She sleeps in the muladhara, and has three and a half coils corresponding in number with the three and a half vindus of which the Kubjika Tantra speaks. When after closing the ears the sound of Her hissing is not heard death approaches.

From the first avyakta creation issued the second mahat, with its three guna distinctly manifested. Thence sprung the third creation ahangkara (selfhood), which is of threefold form – vaikarika, or pure sattvika ahangkara; the taijasa, or rajasika ahangkara; and the tamasika, or bhutadika ahangkara. The latter is the origin of the subtle essences (tan-matra) of the Tattvas, ether, air, fire, water, earth, associated with sound, touch, sight, taste and smell, and with the colours – pure transparency, shyama, red, white, and yellow. There is some difference in the schools as to that which each of the three forms produces, but from such threefold form of Ahang-kara issue the indriya ("senses"), and the Devas Dik, Vata, Arka, Prachetas, Vahni, Indra, Upendra, Mitra, and the Ashvins. The vaikarika, taijasa, and bhutadika are the fourth, fifth, and sixth creations, which are known as prakrita, or appertaining to Prakriti. The rest, which are products of these, such as the vegetable world with its upward life current, animals with horizontal life current, and bhuta, preta and the like, whose life current tends downward, constitute the vaikrita creation, the two being known as the kaumara creation.

The Goddess (Devi) is the great Shakti. She is Maya, for of Her the maya which produces the sangsara is. As Lord of Maya She is Mahamaya. Devi is a-vidya (nescience) because She binds and vidya (knowledge) because She liberates and destroys the sangsara. She is Prakriti, and as existing before creation is the Adya (primordial) Shakti. Devi is the vachaka-shakti, the manifestation of chit in Prakriti, and the vachya-shakti, or Chit itself. The Atma should be contemplated as Devi. Shakti or Devi is thus the Brahman revealed in Its mother aspect (shri-mata) as Creatrix and Nourisher of the worlds. Kali says of Herself in Yogini Tantra "Sachchidananda-rupaham brahmaivaham sphurat-prab-ham." So the Devi is described with attributes both of the qualified Brahman; and (since that Brahman is but the manifestation of the Absolute) She is also addressed with epithets, which denote the unconditioned Brahman. She is the great Mother (Ambika) sprung from the sacrificial hearth of the fire of the Grand Consciousness (chit); decked with the Sun and Moon; Lalita, "She who plays"; whose play is world-play; whose eyes playing like fish in the beauteous waters of her Divine face, open and shut with the appearance and disappearance of countless worlds now illuminated by her light now wrapped in her terrible darkness.

The Devi, as Para-brahman, is beyond all form and guna. The forms of the Mother of the Universe are threefold. There is first the Supreme (para) form, of which, as the Vishnu-yamala says, "none know." There is next her subtle (sukshma) form, which consists of mantra. But as the mind cannot easily settle itself upon that which is formless, She appears as the subject of contemplation in Her third, or gross (sthula), or physical form, with hands and feet and the like as celebrated in the Devi-stotra of the Puranas and Tantras. Devi, who as Prakriti is the source of Brahma, Vishnu, and Mahesh-vara, has both male and female forms. But it is in Her female forms that She is chiefly contemplated. For though existing in all things, in a peculiar sense female beings are parts of Her. The Great Mother, who exists in the form of all Tantras and all Yantras, is, as the Lalita says, the "unsullied treasure-house of beauty" ; the Sapphire Devi, whose slender waist, bending beneath the burden of the ripe fruit of her breasts, swells into jewelled hips heavy with the promise of infinite maternities.

As the Mahadevi She exists in all forms as Sarasvati, Lakshmi, Gayatri, Durga, Tripura-sundari, Anna-purna, and all the Devi who are avatara of the Brahman.

Devi, as Sati, Uma, Parvvati, and Gauri, is spouse of Shiva. It was as Sati prior to Daksha’s sacrifice (daksha-yajna) that the Devi manifested Herself to Shiva in the ten celebrated forms known as the dasha-mahavidya referred to in the text – Kali, Bagala, Chhinnamasta, Bhuvaneshvari, Matangini, Shodashi, Dhumavati, Tripura-sundari, Tara, and Bhairavi. When, at the Daksha-yajna She yielded up her life in shame and sorrow at the treatment accorded by her father to Her Husband, Shiva took away the body, and, ever bearing it with Him, remained wholly distraught and spent with grief. To save the world from the forces of evil which arose and grew with the withdrawal of His Divine control, Vishnu with His discus (chakra) cut the dead body of Sati, which Shiva bore, into fifty-one fragments, which fell to earth at the places thereafter known as the fifty-one maha-pitha-sthana (referred to in the text), where Devi, with Her Bhairava, is worshipped under various names.

Besides the forms of the Devi in the brahmanda there is Her subtle form called Kundalini in the body (pindanda). These are but some only of Her endless forms. She is seen as one and as many, as it were, but one moon reflected in countless waters. She exists, too, in all animals and inorganic things, since the universe with all its beauties is, as the Devi Purana says, but a part of Her. All this diversity of form is but the infinite manifestations of the flowering beauty of the One Supreme Life, a doctrine which is nowhere else taught with greater wealth of illustration than in the Shakta Shastras, and Tantras. The great Bharga in the bright Sun and all Devatas, and, indeed, all life and being, are wonderful, and are worshipful, but only as Her manifestations. And he who worships them otherwise is, in the words of the great Devi-bhagavata, "like unto a man who, with the light of a clear lamp in his hands, yet falls into some waterless and terrible well." The highest worship for which the sadhaka is qualified (adhikari) only after external worship and that internal form known as sadhara, is described as niradhara. Therein Pure Intelligence is the Supreme Shakti who is worshipped as the Very Self, the Witness freed of the glamour of the manifold Universe. By one’s own direct experience of Maheshvari as the Self She is with reverence made the object of that worship which leads to liberation.


It cannot be said that current explanations give a clear understanding of this subject. Yet such is necessary, both as affording one of the chief keys to Indian philosophy and to the principles which govern Sadhana. The term guna is generally translated "quality," a word which is only accepted for default of a better. For it must not be overlooked that the three guna (Sattva, rajas, and tamas), which are of Prakriti, constitute Her very substance. This being so, all Nature which issues from Her, the Maha-karana-svarupa., is called tri-gunatmaka, and is composed of the same guna in different states of relation to one another. The functions of sattva, rajas, and tamas are to reveal, to make active, and to suppress respectively. Rajas is the dynamic, as sattva and tamas are static principles. That is to say, sattva and tamas can neither reveal nor suppress without being first rendered active by rajas. These gunas work by mutual suppression.

The unrevealed Prakriti (avyakta-prakriti) or Devi is the state of stable equilibrium of these three guna. When this state is disturbed the manifested universe appears, in every object of which one or other of the three guna is in the ascendant. Thus in Devas, as in those who approach the divya state, sattva predominates, and rajas and tamas are very much reduced. That is, their independent manifestation is reduced. They are in one sense still there, for where rajas is not independently active it is operating on sattva to suppress tamas, which appears or disappears to the extent to which it is, or is not, subject to suppression by the revealing principle. In the ordinary human jiva, considered as a class, tamas is less reduced than in the case of the Deva, but very much reduced when comparison is made with the animal jiva. Rajas has great independent activity, and sattva is also considerably active. In the animal creation sattva has considerably less activity. Rajas has less independent activity than in man, but is much more active than in the vegetable world. Tamas is greatly less preponderant than in the latter. In the vegetable kingdom tamas is more preponderant than in the case of animals, and both rajas and sattva less so. In the inorganic creation rajas makes tamas active to suppress both sattva and its own independent activity. It will thus be seen that the "upward" or revealing movement from the predominance of tamas to that of sattva represents the spiritual progress of the jivatma.

Again, as between each member of these classes one or other of the three guna may be more or less in the ascendant.

Thus, in one man as compared with another, the sattva guna may predominate, in which case his temperament is sattvik, or, as the Tantra calls it, divyabhava. In another the rajoguna may prevail, and in the third the tamoguna, in which case the individual is described as rajasik, or tamasik, or, to use Tantrik phraseology, he is said to belong to virabhava, or is a pashu respectively. Again the vegetable creation is obviously less tamasik, and more rajasik and sattvik than the mineral, and even amongst these last there may be possibly some which are less tamasik than others.

Etymologically, sattva is derived from "sat," that which is eternally existent. The eternally existent is also chit, pure Intelligence or Spirit, and ananda or Bliss. In a secondary sense, sat is also used to denote the "good." And commonly (though such use obscures the original meaning), the word sattva guna is rendered "good quality." It is, however, "good" in the sense that it is productive of good and happiness. In such case, however, stress is laid rather on a necessary quality or effect (in the ethical sense) of "sat" than upon its original meaning. In the primary sense sat is that which reveals. Nature is a revelation of spirit (sat). Where Nature is such a revelation of spirit there it manifests as sattva guna. It is the shining forth from under the veil of the hidden spiritual substance (sat). And that equality in things which reveals this is sattva guna. So of a pregnant woman it is said that she is antahsattva, or instinct with sattva; she in whom sattva as jiva (whose characteristic guna is sattva) is living in an hidden state.

But Nature not only reveals, but is also a dense covering or veil of spirit, at times so dense that the ignorant fail to discern the spirit which it veils. Where Nature is a veil of spirit there it appears in its quality of tamoguna.

In this case the tamoguna is currently spoken of as representative of inertia, because that is the effect of the nature which veils. This quality, again, when translated into the moral sphere, becomes ignorance, sloth, etc.

In a third sense nature is a bridge between spirit which reveals and matter which veils. Where Nature is a bridge of descent from spirit to matter, or of ascent from matter to spirit, there it manifests itself as rajoguna. This is generally referred to as the quality of activity, and when transferred to the sphere of feeling it shows itself as passion. Each thing in Nature then contains that in which spirit is manifested or reflected as in a mirror or sattvaguna; that by which spirit is covered, as it were, by a veil of darkness or tamoguna, and that which is the vehicle for the descent into matter or the return to spirit or rajoguna. Thus sattva is the light of Nature, as tamas is its shade. Rajas is, as it were, a blended tint oscillating between each of the extremes constituted by the other guna.

The object of Tantrik sadhana is to bring out and make preponderant the sattva guna by the aid of rajas, which operates to make the former guna active. The subtle body (lingasharira) of the jivatma comprises in it buddhi, ahangkara, manas, and the ten senses. This subtle body creates for itself gross bodies suited to the spiritual state of the jivatma. Under the influence of prarabdhda karmma, buddhi becomes tamasik, rajasik, or sattvik. In the first case the jivatma assumes inanimate bodies; in the second, active passionate bodies; and in the third, sattvik bodies of varying degrees of spiritual excellence, ranging from man to the Deva. The gross body is also trigunatmaka. This body conveys impressions to the jivatma through the subtle body and the buddhi in particular. When sattva is made active impressions of happiness result, and when rajas or tamas are active the impressions are those of sorrow and delusion. These impressions are the result of the predominance of these respective guna. The action of rajas on sattva produces happiness, as its own independent activity or operation on tamas produce sorrow and delusion respectively. Where sattva or happiness is predominant, there sorrow and delusion are suppressed. Where rajas or sorrow is predominant, there happiness and delusion are suppressed. And where tamas or delusion predominates there, as in the case of the inorganic world, both happiness and sorrow are suppressed. All objects share these three states in different proportions. There is, however, always in the jivatma an admixture of sorrow with happiness, due to the operation of rajas. For happiness, which is the fruit of righteous acts done to attain happiness, is after all only a vikara. The natural state of the jivatma – that is, the state of its own true nature – is that bliss (ananda) which arises from the pure knowledge of the Self, in which both happiness and sorrow are equally objects of indifference. The worldly enjoyment of a person involves pain to self or others. This is the result of the pursuit of happiness, whether by righteous or unrighteous acts. As spiritual progress is made, the gross body becomes more and more refined. In inanimate bodies karma operates to the production of pure delusion. On the exhaustion of such karma the jivatma assumes animate bodies for the operation of such forms of karma as lead to sorrow and happiness mixed with delusion. In the vegetable world sattva is but little active, with a corresponding lack of discrimination, for discrimination is the effect of sattva in buddhi, and from discrimination arises the recognition of pleasure and pain, conceptions of right and wrong, of the transitory and intransitory, and so forth, which are the fruit of a high degree of discrimination, or of activity of sattva. In the lower animal sattva in buddhi is not sufficiently active to lead to any degree of development of these conceptions. In man, however, the sattva in buddhi is considerably active, and in consequence these conceptions are natural in him. For this reason the human birth is, for spiritual purposes, so important. All men, however, are not capable of forming such conceptions in an equal degree. The degree of activity in an individual’s buddhi depends on his prarabdha karma. However bad such karma may be in any particular case, the individual is yet gifted with that amount of discrimination which, if properly aroused and aided, will enable him to better his spiritual condition by inducing the rajoguna in him to give more and more activity to the sattva guna in his buddhi.

On this account proper guidance and spiritual direction are necessary. A good guru, by reason of his own nature and spiritual attainment and disinterested wisdom, will both mark out for the sishya the path which is proper for him, and aid him to follow it by the infusion of the tejas which is in the Guru himself. Whilst sadhana is, as stated, a process for the stimulation of the sattva guna, it is evident that one form of it is not suitable to all. It must be adapted to the spiritual condition of the sishya, otherwise it will cause injury instead of good. Therefore it is that the adoption of certain forms of sadhana by persons who are not competent (adhikari), may not only be fruitless of any good result, but may even lead to evils which sadhana as a general principle is designed to prevent. Therefore also is it said that it is better to follow one’s own dharma than that, however exalted it be, of another.

The Worlds (Loka)

This earth, which is the object of the physical senses and of the knowledge based thereon, is but one of fourteen worlds or regions placed "above" and "below" it, of which (as the sutra says) knowledge may be obtained by meditation on the solar "nerve" (nada) sushumna in the merudanda. On this nadi six of the upper worlds are threaded, the seventh and highest overhanging it in the Sahasrara Padma, the thousand-petalled lotus. The sphere of earth (Bhurloka), with its continents, their mountains and rivers, and with its oceans, is the seventh or lowest of the upper worlds. Beneath it are the Hells and Nether Worlds, the names of which are given below. Above the terrestrial sphere is Bhuvarloka, or the atmospheric sphere known as the antariksha, extending "from the earth to the sun," in which the Siddhas and other celestial beings (devayoni) of the upper air dwell. "From the sun to the pole star" dhruva) is svarloka, or the heavenly sphere. Heaven (svarga) is that which delights the mind, as hell (naraka) is that which gives it pain. In the former is the abode of the Deva and the blest.

These three spheres are the region of the consequences of work, and are termed transitory as compared with the three highest spheres, and the fourth, which is of a mixed character. When the jiva has received his reward he is reborn again on earth. For it is not good action, but the knowledge of the atma which procures Liberation (moksha). Above Svarloka is Maharloka, and above it the three ascending regions known as the janarloka, tapoloka, and satyaloka, each inhabited by various forms of celestial intelligence of higher and higher degree. Below the earth (Bhuh) and above the nether worlds are the Hells (commencing with Avichi), and of which, according to popular theology, there are thirty-four, though it is elsewhere said there are as many hells as there are offences for which particular punishments are meted out. Of these, six are known as the great at hells. Hinduism, however, even when popular, knows nothing of a hell of eternal torment. To it nothing is eternal but the Brahman. Issuing from the Hells the jiva is again reborn to make its future. Below the Hells are the seven nether worlds, Sutala, Vitala, Talatala, Mahatala, Rasatala, Atala, and Patala, where, according to the Puranas, dwell the Naga serpent divinities, brilliant with jewels, and where, too, the lovely daughters of the Daityas and Danavas wander, fascinating even the most austere. Yet below Patala is the form of Vishnu proceeding from the dark quality (tamogunah), known as the Sesha serpent or Ananta, bearing the entire world as a diadem, attended by his Shakti Varuni, his own embodied radiance.

Inhabitants of the Worlds

The worlds are inhabited by countless grades of beings, ranging from the highest Devas (of whom there are many classes and degrees) to the lowest animal life. The scale of beings runs from the shining manifestations of Spirit to those in which it is so veiled that it would seem almost to have disappeared in its material covering. There is but one Light, one Spirit, whose manifestations are many. A flame enclosed in a clear glass loses but little of its brilliancy. If we substitute for the glass, paper, or some other more opaque yet transparent substance, the light is dimmer. A covering of metal may be so dense as to exclude from sight the rays of light which yet burns within with an equal brilliancy. As a fact, all such veiling forms are maya. They are none the less true for those who live in and are themselves part of the mayik world. Deva, or "heavenly and shining one" – for spirit is light and self-manifestation – is applicable to those descending yet high manifestations of the Brahman, such as the seven Shivas, including the Trinity (trimurtti), Brahma, Vishnu, and Rudra. Devi, again, is the title of the Supreme Mother Herself, and is again applied to the manifold forms assumed by the one only Maya, such as Kali, Sarasvati, Lakshmi, Gauri, Gayatri, Sandhya, and others. In the sense also in which it is said, "Verily, in the beginning there was the Brahman. It created the Devas," the latter term also includes lofty intelligencies belonging to the created world intermediate between Ishvara (Himself a Purusha) and man, who in the person of the Brahmana is known as Earth-deva (bhudeva). These spirits are of varying degrees. For there are no breaks in the creation which represents an apparent descent of the Brahman in gradually lowered forms. Throughout these forms play the divine currents of pravritti and nivritti, the latter drawing to Itself that which the former has sent forth.

Deva, jiva and jara (inorganic matter) are, in their real, as opposed to their phenomenal and illusory, being, the one Brahman, which appears thus to be other than Itself through its connection with the upadhi or limiting conditions with which ignorance (avidya) invests it. Therefore all beings which are the object of worship are each of them but the Brahman seen through the veil of avidya. Though the worshippers of Devas may not know it, their worship is in reality the worship of the Brahman, and hence the Mahanirvana Tantra says that, "as all streams flow to the ocean, so the worship given to any Deva is received by the Brahman." On the other hand, those who, knowing this, worship the Devas, do so as manifestations of the Brahman, and thus worship It mediately. The sun, the most glorious symbol in the physical world, is the mayik vesture of Her who is "clothed with the sun."

In the lower ranks of the celestial hierarchy are the Devayonis, some of whom are mentioned in the opening verses of the first chapter of the text. The Devas are of two classes: "unborn" (ajata)that is, those which have not, and those which have (sadhya) evolved from humanity as in the case of King Nahusha, who became Indra. Opposed to the divine hosts are the Asura, Danava, Daitya, Rakshasa, who, with other spirits, represent the tamasik or demonic element in creation. All Devas, from the highest downwards, are subordinate to both time and karma. So it is said, "Salutation to Karma, over which not even Vidhi (Brahma) prevails" (Namastat karmmabhyovidhirapi na yebhyah prabhavati). The rendering of the term "Deva" by "God" has led to a misapprehension of Hindu thought. The use of the term "angel" may also mislead, for though the world of Devas has in some respects analogy to the angelic choirs, the Christian conception of these Beings, their origin and functions, does not include, but in fact excludes, other ideas connoted by the Sanskrit term.

The pitris, or "Fathers," are a creation (according to some) separate from the predecessors of humanity, and are, according to others, the lunar ancestry who are addressed in prayer with the Devas. From Brahma, who is known as the "Grandfather" Pita Maha of the human race, issued Marichi, Atri, and others, his "mental sons": the Agnishvattvah, Saumnyah, Havishmantah, Ushmapah, and other classes of Pitris, numbering, according to the Markandeya Purana, thirty-one. Tarpanam, or oblation, is daily offered to these pitris. The term is also applied to the human ancestors of the worshipper generally up to the seventh generation to whom in shraddha (the obsequial rites) pinda and water are offered with the mantra "svadha."

The Rishi are seers who know, and by their knowledge are the makers of shastra and "see" all mantras. The word comes from the root rish Rishati-prapnoti sarvvang mantrang jnanena pashyati sangsaraparangva, etc. The seven great Rishi or saptarshi of the first manvantara are Marichi, Atri, Angiras, Pulaha, Kratu, Pulastya, and Vashishtha. In other manvantara there are other sapta-rshi. In the present manvantara the seven are Kashyapa Atri, Vashishtha, Vishvamitra, Gautama, Jamadagni, Bharadvaja. To the Rishi the Vedas were revealed. Vyasa taught the Rigveda so revealed to Paila, the Yajurveda to Vaishampayana, the Samaveda to Jaimini, Atharvaveda to Samantu, and Itihasa and Purana to Suta. The three chief classes of Rishi are the Brah-marshi, born of the mind of Brahma, the Devarshi of lower rank, and Rajarshi or Kings who became Rishis through their knowledge and austerities, such as Janaka, Ritaparna, etc. Thc Shrutarshi are makers of Shastras, as Sushruta. The Kandarshi are of the Karmakanda, such as Jaimini.

The Muni, who may be a Rishi, is a sage. Muni is so called on account of his mananam (mananat muniruchyate). Mananam is that thought, investigation, and discussion which marks the independent thinking mind. First there is shravanam listening; then mananam, which is the thinking or understanding, discussion upon, and testing of what is heard as opposed to the mere acceptance on trust of the lower intelligence. There two are followed by nididhyasanam, which is attention and profound meditation on the conclusions (siddhanta) drawn from what is so heard and reasoned upon. As the Mahabharata says, "The Veda differ, and so do the Smriti. No one is a muni who has no independent opinion of his own (nasau muniryasya matang na bhinnam).

The human being is called jiva – that is, the embodied Atma possessed by egoism and of the notion that it directs the puryashtaka, namely, the five organs of action (karmendriya), the five organs of perception (jnanendriya), the fourfold antahkarana or mental self (Manas, Buddhi, Ahangkara, Chitta), the five vital airs (Prana), the five elements, Kama (desire), Karma (action and its results), and Avidya (illusion). When these false notions are destroyed, the embodiment is destroyed, and the wearer of the mayik garment attains nirvana. When the jiva is absorbed in Brahman, there is no longer any jiva remaining as such.


Ordinarily there are four chief divisions or castes (varna) of Hindu society – viz.: Brahmana (priesthood; teaching); Kshattriya (warrior); Vaishya (merchant); Shudra (servile) – said to have sprung respectively from the mouth, arm, thigh, and foot of Brahma. A man of the first three classes becomes an investiture, during the upanayana ceremony of the sacred thread, twice-born (dvija). It is said that by birth one is shudra, by sangskara (upanayana), dvija (twice-born); by study of the Vedas one attains the state of a vipra; and that he who has knowledge of the Brahman is a Brahmana. The present Tantra, however, speaks of a fifth or hybrid class (samanya), resulting from intermixture between the others. It is a peculiarity of Tantra that its worship is largely free of Vaidik exclusiveness, whether based on caste, sex, or otherwise. As the Gautamiya Tantra says, "The Tantra is for all men, of whatever caste, and for all women" (Sarvvavarnadhikaraschcha narinang yogya eva cha).


The four stages, conditions, or periods in the life of a Brahman are: First, that of the chaste student, or brahmachari; second, the period of secular life as a married householder, or grihastha; third, that of the recluse, or vanaprastha, when there is retirement from the world; and lastly, that of the beggar, or bhikshu, who begs his single daily meal, and meditates upon the Supreme Spirit to which he is about to return. For the Kshattriya there are the first three Ashramas; for the Vaishya, the first two; and for the Shudra, the grihastha Ashrama only. This Tantra states that in the Kali age there are only two Ashrama. The second garhasthya and the last bhikshuka or avadhuta. Neither the conditions of life, nor the character, capacity, and powers of the people of this age allow of the first and third. The two ashramas prescribed for the Kali age are open to all castes indiscriminately.

There are, it is now commonly said, two main divisions of avadhuta – namely, Shaivavadhuta and Brahmavadhuta – of each of which there are, again, three divisions. Of the first class the divisions are firstly Shaivavadhuta, who is apurna (imperfect). Though an ascetic, he is also a householder and like Shiva. Hence his name. The second is the wandering stage of the Shaiva (or the parivrajaka), who has now left the world, and passes his time doing puja, japa, etc., visiting the tirtha and pitha, or places of pilgrimage. In this stage, which, though higher, is still imperfect, the avadhuta is competent for ordinary sadhana with a shakti. The third is the perfect stage of a Shaiva. Wearing only the kaupina, he renounces all things and all rites, though within certain limits he may practise some yoga, and is permitted to meet the request of a woman who makes it of him. Of the second class the three divisions are, firstly, the Brahma-vadhuta, who, like the Shaivavadhuta, is imperfect (apurna) and a householder. He is not permitted, however, to have a Shaiva Shakti, and is restricted to sviya-shakti. The second-class Brahma-parivrajaka is similar to the Shaiva of the same class, except that ordinarily he is not permitted to have anything to do with any woman, though he may, under the guidance of his Guru, practise yoga accompanied by Shakti. The third or highest class – Hangsavadhuta – is similar to the third Shaiva degree, except that he must under no circumstances touch a woman or metals, nor may he practise any rites or keep any observances.

Correspondence Between Macrocosm and Microcosm

The universe consists of a Mahabrahmanda, or grand Kosmos, and of numerous Brihatbrahmanda, or macrocosms evolved from it. As is said by the Nirvana Tantra, all which is in the first is in the second. In the latter are heavenly bodies and beings, which are microcosms reflecting on a minor scale the greater worlds which evolve them. "As above, so below." This mystical maxim of the West is stated in the Vishvasara Tantra as follows: "What is here is elsewhere; what is not here is nowhere" (yadihasti tadanyatra yannehasti natatkvachit). The macrocosm has its meru, or vertebral column, extending from top to bottom. There are fourteen regions descending from Satyaloka, the highest. These are the seven upper and the seven nether worlds (vide ante). The meru of the human body is the spinal column, and within it are the chakra, in which the worlds are said to dwell. In the words of the Shaktananda-Tarangini, they are pindamadhyesthita. Satya has been said to be in the sahasrara, and Tapah, Janah, Mahah, Svah, Bhuvah, Bhuh in the ajna, vishuddha, anahata, manipura, svadishthana, and muladhara lotuses respectively. Below muladhara and in the joints, sides, anus, and organs of generation are the nether worlds. The bones near the spinal column are the kula-parvata. Such are the correspondences as to earth. Then as to water. The nadi are the rivers. The seven substances of the body (dhatu) are the seven islands. Sweat, tears, and the like are the oceans. Fire exists in the muladhara, sushumna, navel, and elsewhere. As the worlds are supported by the pravahana and other vayu ("airs"), so is the body supported by the ten vayu prana, etc. There is the same akasha (ether) in both. The witness within is the purusha without, for the personal soul of the microcosm corresponds to the cosmic soul (hiranyagarbha) in the macrocosm.

The Ages

The passage of time within a maha-yoga influences for the worse man and the world in which he lives. This passage is marked by the four ages (yuga), called Satya, Treta, Dvapara, and Kali-yuga, the last being that in which it is generally supposed the world now is. The yuga is a fraction of a kalpa, or day of Brahma of 4,320,000 human years. The kalpa is divided into fourteen manvantara, which are again subdivided into seventy-one maha.-yuga; the length of each of which is 4,320,000 human years. The maha-yuga (great age) is itself composed of four yuga (ages) – (a) Satya, (b) Treta, (c) Dvapara, (d) Kali. Official science teaches that man appeared on the earth in an imperfect state, from which he has since been gradually, though continually, raising himself. Such teaching is, however, in conflict with the traditions of all peoples – Jew, Babylonian, Egyptian, Hindu, Greek, Roman, and Christian – which speak of an age when man was both innocent and happy. From this state of primal perfection he fell, continuing his descent until such time as the great Avatara, Christ and others, descended to save his race and enable it to regain the righteous path. The Garden of Eden is the emblem of the paradisiacal body of man. There man was one with Nature. He was himself paradise, a privileged enclosure in a garden of delight – gan be Eden. Et eruditus est Moyse omni sapientia Ægyptiorum. The Satya Yuga is, according to Hindu belief, the Golden Age of righteousness, free of sin, marked by longevity, physical strength, beauty, and stature. "There were giants in those days" whose moral, mental, and physical strength enabled them to undergo long brahmacharyya (continence) and tapas (austerities). Longevity permitted lengthy spiritual exercises. Life then depended on the marrow, and lasted a lakh of years, men dying when they willed. Their stature was 21 cubits.

To this age belong the Avatara or incarnations of Vishnu, Matsya, Kurma, Varaha, Nri-singha, and Vamana. Its duration is computed to be 4,800 Divine years, which, when multiplied by 360 (a year of the Devas being equal to 360 human years) are the equivalent of 1,728,000 of the years of man. (b) The second age, or Treta (three-fourth) Yuga, is that in which righteousness (dharmma) decreased by one-fourth. The duration was 3,600 Divine years, or 1,296,000 human years. Longevity, strength, and stature decreased. Life was in the bone, and lasted 10,000 years. Man’s stature was 14 cubits. Of sin there appeared one-quarter, and of virtue there remained three-quarters. Men were still attached to pious and charitable acts, penances, sacrifice, and pilgrimage, of which the chief was that to Naimisharanya. In this period appeared the avatars of Vishnu as Parashurama and Rama. (c) The third, or Dvapara (one-half) Yuga, is that in which righteousness decreased by one-half, and the duration of which was 2,400 Divine, or 864,000 human, years. A further decrease in longevity and strength, and increase of weakness and disease, mark this age. Life which lasted 1,000 years was centred in the blood. Stature was 7 cubits. Sin and virtue were of equal force. Men became restless, and, though eager to acquire knowledge, were deceitful, and followed both good and useful pursuits. The principal place of pilgrimage was Kurukshetra. To this age belongs (according to Vyasa, Anushtubhacharya and Jiya-deva) the avatara of Vishnu as Bala-rama, the elder brother of Krishna, who, according to other accounts, takes his place. In the sandhya, or intervening period of 1,000 years between this and the next yuga the Tantra was revealed, as it will be revealed at the dawn of every Kali-yuga. (d) Kali-yuga is the alleged present age, in which righteousness exists to the extent of one-fourth only, the duration of which is 1,200 Divine,or 432,000 human, years. According to some, this age commenced in 3120 B.C. on the date of Vishnu’s return to heaven after the eighth incarnation. This is the periodwhich, according to the Puranas and Tantras, is characterized by the prevalence of viciousness, weakness, disease, and the general decline of all that is good. Humanlife, which lasts at most 120, or, as some say, 100, years,is dependent on food. Stature is 3½ cubits. The chief pilgrimage is now to the Ganges. In this age has appeared the Buddha Avatara. The last, or Kalki Avatara,the Destroyer of sin, has yet to come. It is He who will destroy iniquity and restore the age of righteousness.The Kalki Purana speaks of Him as One whose body is blue like that of the rain-charged cloud, who with sword in hand rides, as does the rider of the Apocalypse, a white horse swift as the wind, the Cherisher of the people, Destroyer of the race of the Kali-yuga, the Source of true religion. And Jayadeva, in his Ode to the Incarnations,addresses Him thus: "For the destruction of all the impure thou drawest thy cimeter like a blazing comet. O how tremendous! Oh, Keshava, assuming the body of Kalki! Be victorious. O Hari, Lord of the Universe!" With the Satya-yuga a new maha-yaga will commence, and the ages will continue to revolve with their rising and descending races until the close of the kalpa or day of Brahma.. Then a night of dissolution (pralaya) of equal duration follows, the Lord reposing in yoga-nidra (yoga sleep in pralaya) on the Serpent Shesha, the Endless One, till day break, when the universe is created anew and the next kalpa follows.

The Scriptures of the Ages

Each of these Ages has its appropriate Shastra or Scripture, designed to meet the characteristics and needs of the men who live in them The Hindu Shastra are classed into: (1) Shruti, which commonly includes the four Veda. (Rik, Yajuh, Sama, Atharva, and the Upanishads), the doctrine of which is philosophically exposed in the Vedanta-Darshana. (2) Smriti, such as the Dharma-Shastra of Manu and other works on family and social duty prescribing for pavritti-dhamia, as the Upanishads had revealed the nivritti-dharma. (3) The Puranas, of which, according to the Brahma-vaivartta Purana, there were originally four lakhs, and of which eighteen are now regarded as the principal. (4) The Tantra.

For each of these ages a suitable Shastra is given. The Veda is the root of all Shastra (mula-shastra). All others are based on it. The Tantra is spoken of as a fifth Veda. Kulluka-Bhatta, the celebrated Commentator on Manu, says that Shruti is of two kinds, Vaidik and Tantrik (vaidiki-tantriiki chaiva dvi-vidha shrutih-kirttita). The various Shastras, however, are different presentments of shruti appropriate to the humanity of the age for which they are given. Thus the Tantra is that presentment of shruti which is modelled as regards its ritual to meet the characteristics and infirmities of the Kali-yuga. As men have no longer the capacity, longevity, and moral strength necessary for the application of the Vaidika Karma-kanda, the Tantra prescribes a special sadhana or means or practice of its own, for the attainment of that which is the ultimate and common end of all Shastra. The Kularnava Tantra says that in the Satya or Krita age the Shastra is Shruti (in the sense of the Veda and Upanishads); in Treta-yuga, Smriti (in the sense of the Dharma-Shastra and Shruti-jivika, etc.); in Dvapara Yuga the Purana; and in the last or Kali-yuga the Tantra, which should now be followed by all orthodox Hindu worshippers. The Maha-nirvana and other Tantras and Tantrik works lay down the same rule. The Tantra is also said to contain the very core of the Veda to which, it is described to bear the relation of the Paramatma to the Jivatma. In a similar way, Kaulachara is the central informing life of the gross body called vedachara, each of the achara which follow it up to kaulachara being more and more subtle sheaths.

The Human Body

The human body is Brahma-para, the city of Brahman. Ishvara Himself enters into the universe as jiva. Wherefore the maha-vakya "That thou art" means that the ego (which is regarded as jiva only from the standpoint of an upadhi) is Brahman.

The Five Sheaths

In the body there are five kosha or sheaths – anna-maya, prana-maya, mano-maya, vijñana-maya, ananda-maya, or the physical and vital bodies, the two mental bodies, and the body of bliss. In the first the Lord is self-conscious as being dark or fair, short or tall, old or youthful. In the vital body He feels alive, hungry, and thirsty. In the mental bodies He thinks and understands. And in the body of Bliss He resides in happiness. Thus garmented with the five garments, the Lord, though all pervading, appears as though He were limited by them.

Anna-Maya Kosha

In the material body, which is called the "sheath of food" (anna-maya kosha), reign the elements earth, water, and fire, which are those presiding in the lowest Chakra, the Muladhara, Svadhishthana, and mani-pura centres. The two former produce food and drink, which is assimilated by the fire of digestion, and converted into the body of food. The indriya are both the faculty and organs of sense. There are in this body the material organs, as distinguished from the faculty of sense.

In the gross body (sharira-kosha) there are six external kosha – viz., hair, blood, flesh, which come from the mother, and bone, muscle, marrow, from the father.

The organs of sense (indriya) are of two kinds – viz.: jnanendriya, or organs of sensation, through which knowledge of the external world is obtained (ear, skin, eyes, tongue, nose); and karmendriya, or organs of action – mouth, arms, legs, anus, penis, the functions of which are speech, holding, walking, excretion, and procreation.

Prana-Maya Kosha

The second sheath is the prana-maya-kosha, or sheath of "breath" (prana), which manifests itself in air and ether, the presiding elements in the Anahata and Vishuddha chakra.

There are ten vayu (airs), or inner vital forces, of which the first five are the principal – namely, the sapphire prana; apana, the colour of an evening cloud; the silver vyana; udana, the colour of fire; and the milky samana. These are all aspects of the action of the one Prana-devata. Kundalini is the Mother of prana, which She the Mula-Prakriti, illumined by the light of the Supreme Atma, generates. Prana is vayu, or the universal force of activity, divided on entering each individual into fivefold function. Specifically considered, prana is inspiration, which with expiration is from and to a distance of eight and twelve inches respectively. Udana is the ascending vayu. Apana is the downward vayu, expelling wind, excrement, urine, and semen. The samana, or collective vayu, kindles the bodily fire, "conducting equally the food, etc., throughout the body." Vyana is the separate vayu, effecting division and diffusion. These forces cause respiration, excretion, digestion, circulation.

Mano-maya, Vijñana Kosha, and Ananda-maya Kosha

The next two sheaths are the mano-maya and vijñana kosha. These constitute the antah-karana, which is fourfold – namely, mind in its twofold aspect of buddhi and manas, self-hood (ahankara), and chitta. The function of the first is doubt sangkalpa-vikalpatmaka, (uncertainty, certainty); of the second, determination (nishchaya-karini); of the third (egoity), consciousness (abhimana). Manas automatically registers the facts which the senses perceive. Buddhi, on attending to such registration, discriminates, determines, and cognizes the object registered, which is set over and against the subjective self by Ahangkara. The function of chitta is contemplation (chinta), the faculty whereby the mind in its widest sense raises for itself the subject of its thought and dwells thereon. For whilst buddhi has but three moments in which it is born, exists, and dies, chitta endures.

The antah-karana is master of the ten senses, which are the outer doors through which it looks forth upon the external world. The faculties, as opposed to the organs or instruments of sense, reside here. The centres of the powers inherent in the last two sheaths are in the Ajna Chakra and the region above this and below the sahasrara lotus. In the latter the Atma of the last sheath of bliss resides. The physical or gross body is called sthula-sharira. The subtle body (sukshma-sharira, also called linga-sharira and karana-shanra) comprises the ten indriya, manas, ahangkara, buddhi, and the five functions of prana. This subtle body contains in itself the cause of rebirth into the gross body when the period of reincarnation arrives.

The atma, by its association with the upadhis, has three states of consciousness – namely, the jagrat, or waking state, when through the sense organs are perceived objects of sense through the operation of manas and buddhi. It is explained in the Ishvara-pratya-bhijna as follows – "the waking state dear to all is the source of external action through the activity of the senses." The jiva is called jagari – that is, he who takes upon himself the gross body called Vishva. The second is svapna, the dream state, when, the sense organs being withdrawn, Alma is conscious of mental images generated by the impressions of jagrat experience. Here manas ceases to record fresh sense impressions, and it and buddhi work on that which manas has registered in the waking state. The explanation of this state is also given in the work last cited. "The state of svapna is the objectification of visions perceived in the mind, due to the perception of ideas there latent." Jiva in the state of svapna is termed taijasa. Its individuality is merged in the subtle body. Hiranyagarbha is the collective form of these jiva, as Vaisvanara is such form of the jiva in the waking state. The third state is that of sushupti, or dreamless sleep, when manas itself is withdrawn, and buddhi, dominated by tamas, preserves only the notion: "Happily I slept; I was not conscious of anything" (Patanjala-yoga-sutra). In the Macrocosm the upadhi of these states are also called Virat, Hiranyagarbha, and Avyakta. The description of the state of sleep is given in the Shiva-sutra as that in which there is incapacity of discrimination or illusion. By the saying cited from the Patanjala-sutra three modifications of avidya are indicated – viz., ignorance, egoism, and happiness. Sound sleep is that state in which these three exist. The person in that state is termed prajna, his individuality being merged in the causal body (karana). Since in the sleeping state the prajna becomes Brahman, he is no longer jiva as before; but the jiva is then not the supreme one (Paramatma), because the state is associated with avidya. Hence, because the vehicle in the jiva in the sleeping state is Karana, the vehicle of the jiva in the fourth is declared to be mahakarana. Ishvara is the collective form of the prajna jiva.

Beyond sushupti is the turiya, and beyond turiya the transcendent fifth state without name. In the fourth state shuddha-vidya is acquired, and this is the only realistic one for the yogi which he attains through, samadhi-yoga. Jiva in turiya is merged in the great causal body (maha-karana). The fifth state arises from firmness in the fourth. He who is in this state becomes equal to Shiva, or, more strictly, tends to a close equality; for it is only beyond that, that "the spotless one attains the highest equality," which is unity. Hence even in the fourth and fifth states there is an absence of that full perfection which constitutes the Supreme. Bhaskara-raya, in his Commentary on the Lalita, when pointing out that the Tantrik theory adds the fourth and fifth states to the first three adopted by the followers of the Upanishads, says that the latter states are not separately enumerated by them owing to the absence in those two states of the full perfection of Jiva or of Shiva.


It is said that there are 3½ crores of nadi in the human body, of which some are gross and some are subtle. Nadi means a nerve or artery in the ordinary sense; but all the nadis of which the books on Yoga speak are not of this physical character, but are subtle channels of energy. Of these nadi, the principal are fourteen; and of these fourteen, ida, pingala, and sushumna are the chief; and, again, of these three sushumna is the greatest, and to it all others are subordinate. Sushumna is in the hollow of the meru in the cerebro-spinal axis. It extends from the Muladhara lotus, the Tattvik earth centre, to the cerebral region. Sushumna is in the form of Fire (vahni-svarupa), and has within it the vajrini-nadi in the form of the sun (surya-svarupa). Within the latter is the pale nectar-dropping chitra or chitrini-nadi, which is also called Brahma-nadi, in the form of the moon (chandra-svarupa,). Sushumna is thus triguna. The various lotuses in the different Chakra of the body (vide post) are all suspended from the chitra-nadi, the chakra being described as knots in the nadi, which is as thin as the thousandth part of a hair. Outside the meru and on each side of sushumna are the nadi ida and pingala. Ida is on the left side, and, coiling round sushumna, has its exit in the left nostril. Pingala is on the right, and, similarly coiling, enters the right nostril. The sushumna, interlacing ida and pingala and the ajna-chakra round which they pass, thus forms a representation of the caduceus of Mercury. Ida is of a pale colour, is moon-like (chandra-svarupa), and contains nectar. Pingala is red, and is sun-like (suryya-svarupa), containing "venom," the fluid of mortality. These three "rivers," which are united at the ajna-chakra, flow separately from that point, and for this reason the ajna-chakra is called mukta triveni. The muladhara is called Yukta (united)-tri-veni, since it is the meeting-place of the three nadi, which are also called Ganga (Ida), Yamuna (Pingala), and Sarasvati (sushumna), after the three sacred rivers of India. The opening at the end of the sushumna in the muladhara is called brahma-dvara, which is closed by the coils of the sleeping Devi Kundalini.


There are six chakra, or dynamic Tattvik centres, in the body – viz., the muladhara, svadhishthana, mani-pura, anahata, vishuddha, and ajna – which are described in the following notes. Over all there is the thousand-petalled lotus (sahasrara-padma).


Muladhara is a triangular space in the midmost portion of the body, with the apex turned downwards like a young girl’s yoni. It is described as a red lotus of four petals, situate between the base of the sexual organ and the anus. "Earth" evolved from "water" is the Tattva of this chakra. On the four petals are the four golden varnas – "vang," "shang," "shang," and "sang," In the four petals pointed towards the four directions (Ishana, etc.) are the four forms of bliss – yogananda (yoga bliss), paramananda (supreme bliss), samaj-ananda (natural bliss), and virananda (vira bliss). In the centre of this lotus is Svayambhu-linga, ruddy brown, like the colour of a young leaf. Chitrini-nadi is figured as a tube, and the opening at its end at the base of the linga is called the door of Brahman (brahma-dvara), through which the Devi ascends. The lotus, linga and brahma-dvara, hang downwards. The Devi Kundalini, more subtle than the fibre of the lotus, and luminous as lightning, lies asleep coiled like a serpent around the linga, and closes with Her body the door of Brahman. The Devi has forms in the brahmanda. Her subtlest form in the pindanda, or body, is called Kundalini, a form of Prakriti pervading, supporting, and expressed in the form of the whole universe; "the Glittering Dancer "(as the Sarada-tilaka calls Her) "in the lotus-like head of the yogi." When awakened, it is She who gives birth to the world made of mantra. A red fiery triangle surrounds svayambhu-linga, and within the triangle is the red Kandarpa-vayu, or air, of Kama, a form of the apana vayu, for here is the seat of creative desire. Outside the triangle is a yellow square, called the prithivi-(earth)-mandala, to which is attached the "eight thunders" (ashta-vajra). Here is the vija "lang", and with it prithivi on the back of an elephant. Here also are Brahma and Savitri, and the red four-handed Shakti Dakini.


Svadhishthana is a six-petalled lotus at the base of the sexual organ, above muladhara and below the navel. Its pericarp is red, and its petals are like lightning. "Water" evolved from "fire" is the Tattva of this chakra. The varnas on the petals are "bang," "bhang," "mang," "yang," "rang," and "lang." In the six petals are also the vritti (states, qualities, functions, or inclinations) – namely, prashraya (credulity), a-vishvasa (suspicion, mistrust), avajna (disdain), murchchha (delusion, or, as some say, disinclination), sarvva-nasha (false knowledge), and krurata (pitilessness). Within a semicircular space in the pericarp are the Devata, the dark blue Maha-vishnu, Maha-lakshmi, and Sarasvati. In front is the blue four-handed Rakini Shakti, and the vija of Varuna, Lord of water or "vang." Inside the vija there is the region of Varuna., of the shape of an half-moon, and in it is Varuna himself seated on a white alligator (makara).


Mani-para-chakra is a ten-petalled golden lotus, situate above the last in the region of the navel. "Fire" evolved from "air" is the Tattva of this chakra. The ten petals are of the colour of a cloud, and on them are the blue varnas – "dang," "dhang," "nang," tang," "thang," "dang," "dhang," "nang," "pang," "phang," – and the ten vritti (vide ante), namely, lajja (shame), pishunata (fickleness), irsha (jealousy), trishna (desire), sushupti (laziness), vishada (sadness), kashaya (dullness), moha (ignorance), ghrina (aversion, disgust), bhaya (fear). Within the pericarp is the vija of fire ("rang"), and a triangular figure (mandala) of Agni, Lord of Fire, to each side of which figure are attached three auspicious signs or svastika. Agni, red, four-handed, and seated on a ram, is within the figure. In front of him are Rudra and his Shakti Bhadra-kali. Rudra is of the colour of vermilion, and is old. His body is smeared with ashes. He has three eyes and two hands. With one of these he makes the sign which grants boons and blessings, and with the other that which dispels fear. Near him is the four-armed Lakini Shakti, of the colour of molten gold (tapta-kanchana), wearing yellow raiments and ornaments. Her mind is maddened with passion (mada-matta-chitta). Above the lotus is the abode and region of Suryya. The solar region drinks the nectar which drops from the region of the Moon.


Anahata-chakra is a deep red lotus of twelve petals, situate above the last and in the region of the heart, which is to be distinguished from the heart-lotus facing upwards of eight petals, spoken of in the text, where the patron deity (Ishta-devata) is meditated upon. "Air" evolved from "ether" is the Tattva of the former lotus. On the twelve petals are the vermilion varnas – "Kang" "Khang," "Gang," "Ghang," "ngang," "chang", "Chhang," "Jang," "Jhang," "Nyang," "Tang," "Thang," and the twelve vrittis (vide ante) – namely asha (hope), chinta (care, anxiety), cheshta (endeavour), mamata (sense of mineness), dambha (arrogance or hypocrisy), vikalata (languor), ahangkara (conceit), viveka (discrimination), lolata (covetousness), kapatata (duplicity), vitarka (indecision), anutapa (regret). A triangular mandala within the pericarp of this lotus of the lustre of lightning is known as the Tri-kona Shakti. Within this mandala is a red vana-linga, called Narayana or Hiranya-garbha, and near it Ishvara and His Shakti Bhuvaneshvari. Ishvara, who is the Overlord of the first three chakra, is of the colour of molten gold, and with His two hands grants blessings and dispels fear. Near him is the three-eyed Kakini Shakti, lustrous as lightning, with four hands holding the noose and drinking-cup, and making the sign of blessing, and that which dispels fear. She wears a garland of human bones. She is excited, and her heart is softened with wine. Here, also, are several other Shakti, such as Kala-ratri, as also the vija of air (vayu) or "vang." Inside the lotus is a six-cornered smoke-coloured mandala, and the circular region of smoke-coloured Vayu, who is seated on a black antelope. Here, too, is the embodied atma (jivatma), like the tapering flame of a lamp.


Vishuddha chakra or Bharatisthana, abode of the Devi of speech, is above the last and at the lower end of the throat (kantha-mula). The Tattva of this chakra is "ether." The lotus is of a smoky colour, or the colour of fire seen through smoke. It has sixteen petals, which carry the red vowels – "ang," "ang" "ing," "ing," "ung," "ung"," "ring," "ring," "lring," "lring," "eng," "aing," "ong," "aung," "ang," "ah;" the seven musical notes (nishada, rishabha, gandhara, shadaja, madhyama, dhaivata and panchama): "venom" (in the eighth petal); the vija "hung," "phat," "vaushat," "vashat," "svadha," "svaha," "namah," and in the sixteenth petal nectar (amrita). In the pericarp is a triangular region, within which is the androgyne Shiva, known as Arddha-narishvara. There also are the region of the full moon and ether, with its vija "hang." The akasha-mandala is transparent and round in shape.

Akasha himself is here dressed in white, and mounted on a white elephant. He has four hands, which hold the noose (pasha), the elephant-hook (angkusha), and with the other he makes the mudra which grant blessing and dispel fear. Shiva is white, with five faces, three eyes, ten arms, and is dressed in tiger skins. Near Him is the white Shakti Shakini, dressed in yellow raiments, holding in Her four hands the bow, the arrow, the noose, and the hook.

Above the chakra, at the root of the palate (talumula) is a concealed chakra, called Lalana and, in some Tantras, Kala-chakra. It is a red lotus with twelve petals, bearing the following vritti – shraddha (faith), santosha (contentment), aparadha (sense of error), dana (self-command), mana (anger), sneha (affection), shoka (sorrow, grief), kheda (dejection), shuddhata (purity), arati (detachment), sambhrama (agitation), Urmmi (appetite, desire).


Ajna chakra is also called parama-hula and mukta-tri-veni, since it is from here that the three nadis – Ida, Pingala, and Sushumna – go their separate ways. It is a two-petalled lotus, situate between the two eyebrows. In this Chakra there is no gross Tattva, but the subtle Tattva mind is here. Hakararddha, or half the letter La, is also there. On its two petals are the red varnas "hang "and "kshang."

In the pericarp is concealed the vija "ong." In the two petals and the pericarp there are the three guna – sattva, rajas, and tamas. Within the triangular mandala in the pericarp there is the lustrous (tejo-maya) linga in the form of the pranava (pranavakriti), which is called Itara. Para-Shiva, in the form of hangsa (hangsa-rupa) is also there with his Shakti – Siddha-Kali. In the three corners of the triangle are Brahma, Vishnu, and Maheshvara, respectively. In this chakra there is the white Hakini-Shakti, with six heads and four hands, in which are jñana-mudra, a skull, a drum (damaru), and a rosary.

Sahasrara Padma

Above the ajna-chakra there is another secret chakra, called manas-chakra. It is a lotus of six petals, on which are shabda-jñana, sparsha-jñana, rupa-jñana, aghrano-palabdhi, rasopabhoga, and svapna, or the faculties of hearing, touch, sight, smell, taste, and sleep, or the absence of these. Above this, again, there is another secret chakra, called Soma-chakra. It is a lotus of sixteen petals, which are also called sixteen Kala. These Kala are called kripa (mercy), mriduta (gentleness), dhairyya (patience, composure), vairagya (dispassion), dhriti (constancy), sampat (prosperity), hasya (cheerfulness), romancha (rapture, thrill), vinaya (sense of propriety, humility), dhyana (meditation), susthirata (quietude, restfulness), gambhiryya (gravity), udyama (enterprise, effort), akshobha (emotionlessness), audarya (magnanimity), and ekagrata (concentration).

Above this last chakra is "the house without support" (niralamba-puri), where yogis see the radiant Ishvara. Above this is the pranava shining like a flame, and above pranava the white crescent Nada, and above this last the point Vindu. There is then a white lotus of twelve petals with its head upwards, and over this lotus there is the ocean of nectar (sudha-sagara), the island of gems (mani-dvipa), the altar of gems (mani-pitha), the forked lightning-like lines a, ka, tha, and therein Nada and Vindu. On Nada and Vindu, as an altar, there is the Paramahangsa, and the latter serves as an altar for the feet of the Guru; there the Guru of all should be meditated. The body of the Hangsa on which the feet of the Guru rest is jñana-maya, the wings Agama and Nigama, the two feet Shiva and Shakti, the beak Pranava, the eyes and throat Kama-Kala.

Close to the thousand-petalled lotus is the sixteenth digit of the moon, which is called ama-kala, which is pure red and lustrous like lightning, as fine as a fibre of the lotus, hanging downwards, receptacle of the lunar nectar. In it is the crescent nirvana-kala, luminous as the Sun, and finer than the thousandth part of a hair. This is the Ishta-devata of all. Near nirvana-kala is parama-nirvana-Shakti, infinitely subtle, lustrous as the Sun, creatrix of tattva-jnana. Above it are Vindu and Visarga-Shakti, root and abode of all bliss.

Sahasrara-padma – or thousand petalled lotus of all colours – hangs with its head downwards from the brahma-randhra above all the chakra. This is the region of the first cause (Brahma-loka), the cause of the six proceeding causes. It is the great Sun both cosmically and individually, in whose effulgence Parama-Shiva and Adya-Shakti reside. The power is the vachaka-Shakti or saguna-brahman, holding potentially within itself, the gunas, powers, and planes. Parama-Shiva is in the form of the Great Ether (paramakasha-rupi), the Supreme Spirit (paramatma), the Sun of the darkness of ignorance. In each of the petals of the lotus are placed all the letters of the alphabet; and whatever there is in the lower chakra or in the universe (brahmanda) exist here in potential state (avyakta-bhava). Shaivas call this place Shiva-sthana, Vaishnavas, Parama-purusha, Shaktas, Devi-sthana, the Sankhya sages Prakriti-purusha-sthana. Others call it by other names, such as Hari-hara-sthana. Shakti-sthana, Parama-Brahma, Parama-hangsa, Parama-jyotih, Kula-sthana, and Parama-Shiva-Akula. But whatever the name, all speak of the same.

The Three Temperaments

The Tantras speak of three temperaments, dispositions, characters (bhava), or classes of men – namely, the pashu-bhava (animal), vira-bhava (heroic), and divya-bhava (deva-like or divine). These divisions are based on various modifications of the guna (v. ante) as they manifest in man (jiva). It has been pointed out that the analogous Gnostic classification of men as material, psychical, and spiritual, correspond to the three guna of the Sankhya-darshana. In the pashu the rajo-guna operates chiefy on tamas, producing such dark characteristics as error (bhranti), drowsiness (tandra), and sloth (alasya). It is however, an error to suppose that the pashu is as such a bad man; on the contrary, a jiva of this class may prove superior to a jiva of the next. If the former, who is greatly bound by matter, lacks enlightenment, the latter may abuse the greater freedom he has won. There are also numerous kinds of pashu, some more some less tamasik than others. Some there are at the lowest end of the scale, which marks the first advance upon the higher forms of animal life. Others approach and gradually merge into the vira class. The term pashu comes from the root pash, "to bind." The pashu is, in fact, the man who is bound by the bonds (pasha), of which the Kularnava Tantra enurnerates eight – namely, pity (daya), ignorance and delusion (moha), fear (bhaya), shame (lajja), disgust (ghrina), family (kula), custom (shila), and caste (varna). Other enumerations are given of the afflictions which, according to some, are sixty-two, but all such larger divisions are merely elaborations of the simpler enumerations. The pashu is also the worldly man, in ignorance and bondage, as opposed to the yogi and the tattva-jnani. Three divisions of pashsu are also spoken of – namely, sakala, who are bound by the three pasha, called anu (want of knowledge or erroneous knowledge of the self), bheda (the division also induced by maya of the one self into many), and karmma (action and its product. These are the three impurities (mala) called anava-mala, maya-mala, and Karmma-mala. Pratayakala are those bound by the first and last, and Vijnana-kevala are those bound by anava-mala only. He who frees himself of the remaining impurity of anu becomes Shiva Himself. The Devi bears the pasha, and is the cause of them, but She, too, is pashupasha-vimochini, Liberatrix of the pashu from his bondage.

What has been stated gives the root notion of the term pashu. Men of this class are also described in Tantra by exterior traits, which are manifestations of the interior disposition. So the Kubjika Tantra says: "Those who belong to pashu-bhava .re simply pashu. A pashu does not touch a yantra, nor make japa of mantra at night. He entertains doubt about sacrifices and Tantra; regards a mantra as being merely letters only. He lacks faith in the guru, and thinks that the image is but a block of stone. He distinguishes one Deva from another, and worships without flesh and fish. He is always bathing, owing to his ignorance, and talks ill of others. Such an one is called pashu, and he is the worst kind of man." Similarly the Nitya Tantra describes the pashu as – "He who does not worship at night, nor in the evening, nor in the latter part of the day; who avoids sexual intercourse, except on the fifth day after the appearance of the courses (ritu-kalang vina devi ramanang parivarjayet); who do not eat meat, etc., even on the five auspicious days (parvvana)"; in short, those who, following Vedachara, Vaishnavachara, and Shaivachara, are bound by the Vaidik rules which govern all pashus.

In the case of vira-bhava, rajas more largely works on sattva, yet also largely (though in lessening degrees, until the highest stage of divya-bhava is reached) works independently towards the production of acts in which sorrow inheres. There are several classes of vira.

The third, or highest, class of man is he of the divya-bhava (of which, again, there are several degrees – some but a stage in advance of the highest form of vira-bhava, others completely realizing the deva-nature), in which rajas operate on sattva-guna to the confirmed preponderance of the latter.

The Nitya Tantra says that of the bhava the divya is the best, the vira the next best, and the pashu the lowest; and that devata-bhava must be awakened through vira-bhava. The Pichchhila Tantra says that the only difference between the vira and divya men is that the former are very uddhata, by which is probably meant excitable, through the greater prevalence of the independent working of the rajo-guna in them than in the calmer sattvik temperament. It is obvious that such statements must not be read with legal accuracy. There may be, in fact, a considerable difference between a low type of vira and the highest type of divya, though it seems to be true that this quality of uddhata which is referred to is the cause of such differences, whether great or small.

The Kubjika Tantra describes the marks of the divya as he "who daily does ablutions, sandhya; and wearing clean cloth, the tripundara mark in ashes, or red sandal, and ornaments of rudraksha beads, performs japa and archchana. He gives charity daily also. His faith is strong in Veda, Shastra, guru, and Deva. He worships the Pitri and Deva, and performs all the daily rites. He has a great knowledge of mantra. He avoids all food, except that which his guru offers him, and all cruelty and other bad actions, regarding both friend and foe as one and the same. He himself ever speaks the truth, and avoids the company of those who decry the Devata. He worships thrice daily, and meditates upon his guru daily, and, as a Bhairava, worships Parameshvari with divya-bhava. All Devas he regards as beneficial. He bows down at the feet of women, regarding them as his guru (strinang pada-talang drishtva guru-vad bhavayet sada). He worships the Devi at night, and makes japa at night with his mouth full of pan, and makes obeisance to the kula vriksha. He offers everything to the Supreme Devi. He regards this universe as pervaded by stri (shakti), and as Devata. Shiva is in all men, and the whole brahmanda is pervaded by Shiva-Shakti. He ever strives for the attainment and maintenance of devata-bhava, and is himself of the nature of a Devata.

Here, again, the Tantra only seeks to give a general picture, the details of which are not applicable to all men of the divya-bhava class. The passage shows that it, or portions of it, refer to the ritual divya, for some of the practices there referred to would not be performed by the avadkuta, who is above all ritual acts, though he would also share (possibly in intenser degree) the beliefs of divya men of all classes – that he and all else are but manifestations of the universe-pervading Supreme Shakti.

According to the temperament of the sadhaka, so is the form of worship and sadhana. In fact, the specific worship and sadhana of the other classes is strictly prohibited by the Tantra to the pashu.

It is said in this Tantra and elsewhere that, in the Kali-yuga, divya and pashu dispositions can scarcely be found. It may be thought difficult at first sight to reconcile this (so far as the pasha is concerned) with other statements as to the nature of these respective classes. The term pashu, in these and similar passages, would appear to be used in a good sense as referring to a man who, though tamasic, yet performs his functions with that obedience to nature which is shown by the still more tamasic animal creation free from the disturbing influences of rajas, which, if it may be the source of good, may also be, when operating independently, the source of evil.

The Commentator explains the passage cited from the Tantra as meaning that the conditions and character of the Kali-yuga are not such as to be productive of pasha-bhava (apparently in the sense stated), or to allow of its achara (that is, Vaidikachara). No one, he says, can fully perform the vedachara, vaishnavachara, and shavachara rites, without which the Vaidik, Pauranik mantra, and yajna are fruitless. No one now goes through the brahma-charya ashrama, or adopts after the fiftieth year that called vana-prastha. Those whom the Veda does not control cannot expect the fruit of Vaidik observances. On the contrary, men have taken to drink, associate with the low, and are fallen; as are also those men who associate with them. There can therefore be no pure pashu. Under these circumstances the duties prescribed by the Vedas which are appropriate for the pasha being incapable of performance, Shiva for the liberation of men of the Kali Age has proclaimed the Agama. "Now, there is no other way." The explanation thus given, therefore, appears to amount to this. The pure type of pashu for whom vedachara was designed does not exist. For others who though pasha are not purely so, the Tantra is the governing Shastra. This, however, does not mean that all are now competent for virachara.

It is to be noted, however, that the Prana-toshini cites a passage purporting to come from the Mahanirvana Tantra, which is apparently in direct opposition to the foregoing:

Divya-vira-mayo bhavah kalau nasti kada-chana

Kevalang pasha-bhavena mantra-siddhirbhavennrinam.

"In the Kali Age there is no divya or vira-bhava. It is only by the pashu-bhava that men may obtain mantra-siddhi."

This matter of the bhava prevalent in the Kali-yuga has been the subject of considerable discussion and difference of opinion, and is only touched upon here.

Guru and Shishya

The Guru is the religious teacher and spiritual guide to whose direction orthodox Hindus of all divisions of worshippers submit themselves. There is in reality but one Guru. The ordinary human Guru is but the manifestation on the phenomenal plane of the Adi-natha Maha-kala, the Supreme Guru abiding in Kailasa. He it is who enters into and speaks with the voice of the earthly Guru at the time of giving mantra. Guru is the root (mala) of diksha (imitation). Diksha is the root of mantra. Mantra is the root of Devata; and Devata is the root of siddhi. The Munda-mala Tantra says that mantra is born of Guru and Devata of mantra, so that the Guru occupies the position of a grandfather to the Ishta-devata.

It is the Guru who initiates and helps, and the relationship between him and the disciple (shishya) continues until the attainment of monistic siddhi. Manu says: "Of him who gives natural birth and of him who gives knowledge of the Veda the giver of sacred knowledge is the more venerable father. Since second or divine birth insures life to the twice-born in this world and the next." The Shastra is, indeed, full of the greatness of Guru. The Guru is not to be thought of as a mere man. There is no difference between Guru, mantra, and Deva. Guru is father, mother, and Brahman. Guru, it is said, can save from the wrath of Shiva, but none can save from the wrath of the Guru. Attached to this greatness there is, however, responsibility; for the sins of the disciple recoil upon him.

Three lines of Guru are worshipped: heavenly (divyangga) siddha (siddhangga), and human (manavangga). The kala-guru are four in number, viz.: the Guru, Parama-guru, Parapara-guru, Parameshti-guru; each of these being the guru of the preceding one. According to the Tantra, woman with the necessary qualifications may be a guru, and give initiation. Good qualities are required in the disciple, and according to the Sara-sangraha a guru should examine and test the intending disciple for a year. The qualifications of a good disciple are stated to be good birth, purity of soul (shuddhatma), and capacity for enjoyment, combined with desire for liberation (purushartha-parayanah). Those who are lewd (kamuka), adulterous (para-daratura), constantly addicted to sin (sada papa-kriya), ignorant, slothful, and devoid of religion, should be rejected.

The perfect sadhaka who is entitled to the knowledge of all Shastra is he who is pure-minded, whose senses are controlled (jitendriyah), who is ever engaged in doing good to all beings, free from false notions of dualism, attached to the speaking of, taking shelter with, and living in the supreme unity of the Brahman. So long as Shakti is not fully communicated (see next note) to the shishya’s body from that of the guru, so long the conventional relation of guru and shishya exists. A man is shishya only so long as he is sadhaka. When, however, siddhi is attained, both Guru and Shishya are above this dualism. With the attainment of pure monism, naturally this relation, as all others, disappears.



Initiation is the giving of mantra by the guru. At the time of initiation the guru must first establish the life of the guru in his own body; that is the vital force (prana-shakti) of the Supreme Guru whose abode is in the thousand-petalled lotus. As an image is the instrument (yantra) in which divinity (devatva) inheres, so also is the body of guru. The day prior thereto the guru should, according to Tantra, seat the intending candidate on a mat of kusha grass. He then makes japa of a "sleep mantra" (supta-mantra) in his ear, and ties his crown lock. The disciple, who should have fasted and observed sexual continence, repeats the mantra thrice, prostrates himself at the feet of the guru, and then retires to rest. Initiation, which follows, gives spiritual knowledge and destroys sin. As one lamp is lit at the flame of another, so the divine shanti, consisting of mantra, is communicated from the guru’s body to that of the Shishya. Without daksha, japa of the mantra, puja, and other ritual acts, are said to be useless. Certain mantra are also said to be forbidden to shudra and women. A note, however, in the first Chalakshara Sutra, to the Lalita would, however, show that even the shudra are not debarred the use even of the Pranava, as is generally asserted. For, according to the Kalika Purana (when dealing with svara or tone), whilst the udatta, an-udatta, and prachita are appropriate to the first of these castes, the svara, called aukara, with anusvara and nada, is appropriate to shudra, who may use the Pranava, either at the beginning or end of mantra, but not, as the dvija may, at both places. The mantra chosen for initiation should be suitable (anukala). Whether a mantra is sva-kula or a-kula to the person about to be initiated is ascertained by the kula-chakra, the zodiacal circle called rashichakra and other chakra which may be found described in the Tantra-sara. Initiation by a woman is efficacious; that by a mother is eight-fold so. Certain special forms of initiation, called abhisheka, are described in the next note.


Abhisheka is of eight kinds, and the forms of abhisheka which follow the first at later stages, mark greater and greater degrees of initiation. The first shaktabhisheka is given on entrance into the path of sadhana. It is so called because the guru then reveals to the shishya the preliminery mysteries of shakti-tattva. By it the shishya is cleansed of all sinful or evil shakti or proclivities, and acquires a wonderful new shakti. The next purnabhisheka is given in the stage beyond dakshinachara, when the disciple has qualified himself by purascharana and other practices to receive it. Here the real work of sadhana begins. Asana, yama, etc., strengthen the disciple’s determina,tion (pratijna) to persevere along the higher stages of sadhana. The third is the difficult stage commenced by krama-dikshabhisheka, in which it is said the great Vashishtha became involved, and in which the Rishi Vishvamitra acquired brahma-jnana, and so became a Brahmana. The sacred thread is now worn round the neck like a garland. The shishya, then undergoing various ordeals (pariksha), receives samrajyabhisheka and maha-samrajyabhisheka, and at length arrives at the most dificult of all stages introduced by yoga-dikshabhisheka. In previous stages the sadhaka has performed the panchanga-puraschharana, and, with the assistance of his guru (with whom he must constantly reside, and whose instructions he must receive direct), he does the panchanga-yoga – that is, the last five limbs of the ashtanga. He is thereafter qualified for purna-dikshabhisheka, and, following that, maha-purna-diksha-bhisheka, sometimes called viraja-grahanabhisheka. On the attainment of perfection in this last grade, the sadhaka performs his own funeral rite (shraddha), makes purnahuti with his sacred thread and crown lock. The relation of guru and shishya now ceases. From this point he ascends by himself until he realizes the great saying, Soham ("I am He"). At this stage, which the Tantra calls jivan-mukta (liberated whilst yet living), he is called parama-hangsa.


Sadhana is that which produces siddhi (q.v.). It is the means, or practice, by which the desired end may be attained, and consists in the exercise and training of the body and psychic faculties, upon the gradual perfection of which siddhi follows; the nature and degree of which, again, depends upon the progress made towards the realization of the atma, whose veiling vesture the body is. The means employed are various, such as worship (puja), exterior or mental; shastric learning; austerities (tapas); the pancha-tattva, mantra, and so forth. Sadhana takes on a special character, according to the end sought. Thus, sadhana for brahma-jñana, which consists in the acquisition of internal control (shama) over buddhi, manas, and ahangkara; external control (dama) over the ten indriya, discrimination between the transitory and the external, and renunciation both of the world and heaven (svarga), is obviously different from that prescribed for, say, the purposes of the lower magic. The sadhaka and sadhika are respectively the man or woman who perform sadhana. They are, according to their physical, mental, and moral qualities, divided into four classes – mridu, madhya, adhimatraka, and the highest adhimatrama, who is qualified (adhikari) for all forms of yoga. In a similar way the Kaula division of worshippers are divided into the prakriti, or common Kaula following virachara, addicted to ritual practice, and sadhana, with pancha-tattva; the madhyama-kaulika, or middling Kaula, accomplishing the same sadhana, but with a mind more turned towards meditation, knowledge, and samadhi; and the highest type of Kaula (kaulikottama), who, having surpassed all ritualism, meditates upon the Universal Self.

Worship Generally

There are four different forms of worship corresponding with four states (bhava). The realization that the jivatma and paramatma are one, that everything is Brahman, and that nothing but the Brahman exists, is the highest state, or brahma-bhava. Constant meditation by the yoga process upon the Devata in the heart is the lower and middlemost (dhyana-bhava) japa (q.v.) and stava (hymns and prayer) is still lower and the lowest of all is mere external worship (puja) (q.v.). Puja-bhava is that which arises out of the dualistic notions of worshipper and worshipped; the servant and the Lord. This dualism exists in greater or less degree in all the states except the highest. But for him who, having realized the advaita-tattva, knows that all is Brahman, there is neither worshipper nor worshipped, neither yoga nor puja, nor dharana, dhyana, stava, japa, vrata, or other ritual or process of sadhana.

In external worship there is worship either of an image (pratima), or of a yantra (q.v.), which takes its place. The sadhaka should first worship inwardly the mental image of the form assumed by the Devi, and then by the life-giving (prana-pratishtha) ceremony infuse the image with Her life by the communication to it of the light and energy (tejas) of the Brahman which is within him to the image without, from which there bursts the lustre of Her whose substance is consciousness itself (chaitanya-mayi). She exists as Shakti in stone or metal, or elsewhere, but is there veiled and seemingly inert. Chaitanya (consciousness) is aroused by the worshipper through the prana-pratishtha mantra.

Rites (karma) are of two kinds. Karma is either nitya nr naimittika. The first is both daily and obligatory, and is done because so ordained. Such as the sandhya (v. post), which in the case of Shudras is in the Tantrik form; and daily puja (v. post) of the Ishta- and Kula-Devata (v. post); and for Brahmamas the pancha-maha-yajna (v. post). The second or conditional karma is occasional and voluntary, and is kamya when done to gain some particular end, such as yajna for a particular object; tapas with the same end (for certain forms of tapas are also nitya); and vrata (v. post).

The Shudra is precluded from the performance of Vaidik rites, or the reading of the Vedas, or the recital of the Vaidik mantra. His worship is practically limited to that of the Ishta-Devata and the Bana-linga-puja, with Tantrik and Pauranik mantra and such vrata as consist in penance and charity. In other cases the vrata is performed through a Brahmana. The Tantra makes no caste distinctions as regards worship. All may read the Tantras, perform the Tantrik worship, such as the sandhya (v. post), and recite the Tantrik mantra, such as the Tantrik Gayatri. All castes, and even the lowest chandala, may be a member of a chakra, or Tantrik circle of worship. In the chakra all its members partake of food and drink together, and are deemed to be greater than Brahmanas; though upon the break-up of the chakras the ordinary caste and social relations are re-established. All are competent for the specially Tantrik worship, for, in the words of the Gautamiya Tantra, the Tantra Shastra is for all castes and for all women. The latter are also excluded under the present Vaidik system, though it is said by Shankha Dharma-shastra-kara that the wife may, with the consent of her husband, fast, take vows, perform homa and vrata, etc. According to the Tantra, a woman may not only receive mantra, but may, as a Guru, initiate and give it. She is worshipful as Guru, and as wife of Guru. The Devi is Herself Guru of all Shastras and woman, as, indeed, all females who are Her embodiments are, in a peculiar sense, Her earthly representatives.

Forms of Achara

There are seven, or, as some say, nine, divisions of worshippers. The extra divisions are bracketed in the following quotation. The Kularnava Tantra mentions seven, which are given in their order of superiority, the first being the lowest: Vedachara, Vaishnavachara, Shaivachara, Dakshinachara, Vamachara, Siddhantachara (Aghorachara, Yogachara), and Kaulachara, the highest of all. The achara is the way, custom, and practice of a particular class of sadhaka. They are not, as sometimes supposed, different sects, but stages through which the worshipper in this or other births has to pass before he reaches the supreme stage of the Kaula. Vedachara, which consists in the daily practice of the Vaidik rites, is the gross body (sthula-deha), which comprises within it all other acharas, which are, as it were, its subtle bodies (sukshma-deha) of various degrees. The worship is largely of an external and ritual character, the object of which is to strengthen dharma. This is the path of action (kriya-marga). In the second stage the worshipper passes from blind faith to an understanding of the supreme protecting energy of the Brahman, towards which he has feelings of devotion. This is the path of devotion (bhakti-marga), and the aim at this stage is the union of it and faith previously acquired. With an increasing determination to protect dharma and destroy a-dharma, the sadhaka passes into Shaivachara, the warrior (kshatriya) stage, wherein to love and mercy are added strenuous striving and the cultivation of power. There is union of faith, devotion (bhakti), and inward determination (antar-laksha). Entrance is made upon the path of knowledge (jnana-marga). Following this is Dakshinachara, which in Tantra does not mean "right-hand worship," but "favourable" – that is, that achara which is favourable to the accomplishment of the higher sadhana, and whereof the Devi is the Dakshina Kalika. This stage commences when the worshipper can make dhyana and dharana of the threefold shakti of the Brahman (kriya, ichchha, jñana), and understands the mutual connection (samanvaya) of the three guna until he receives purnabhisheka (q.v.). At this stage the sadhaka is Shakta, and qualified for the worship of the threefold shakti of Brahma, Vishnu, Maheshvara. He is fully initiated in the Gayatri-mantra, and worships the Devi Gayatri, the Dakshina Kalika, or Adya Shakti – the union of the three Shakti. This is the stage of individualistic Brahmana-tattva, and its aim is the union of faith, devotion, and determination, with a knowledge of the threefold energies. After this a change of great importance occurs, marking, as it does, the entry upon the path of return (nivritti). This it is which has led some to divide the achara into the two broad divisions of Dakshinachara (including the first four) and Vamachara (including the last three), it being said that men are born into Dakshinachara, but are received by initiation into Vamachara. The latter term does not mean, as is vulgarly supposed, "left-hand worship," but the worship in which woman (vama) enters that is lata-sadhana. In this achara there is also worship of the Vama Devi. Vija is here "adverse," in that the stage is adverse to pravritti, which governed in varying degrees the preceding achara, and entry is here made upon the path of nivritti, or return to the source whence the world sprung. Up to the fourth stage the sadhaka followed pravrittimarga, the outgoing path which led from the source, the path of worldly enjoyment, albeit curved by dharma. At first unconsciously, and later consciously, sadhana sought to induce nivrittt, which, however, can only fully appear after the exhaustion of the forces of the outward current. In Vamachara, however, the sadhaka commences to directly destroy pravritti, and with the help of the Guru (whose help throughout is in this necessary) to cultivate nivritti. The method at this stage is to use the force of pravritti in such a way as to render them self-destructive. The passions which bind may be so employed as to act as forces whereby the particular life of which they are the strongest manifestation is raised to the universal life. Passion, which has hitherto run downwards and outwards 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 to cut off all the eight bonds (pasha) which mark the pashu which the Kularnava Tantra enumerates as pity (daya), ignorance (moha), shame (lajja), family (kula), custom (shila), and caste (varna). When Shri Krishna stole the clothes of the bathing Gopi, and made them approach him naked, he removed the artificial coverings which are imposed on man in the sangsara. The Gopi were eight, as are the bonds (pasha), and the errors by which the jiva is misled are the clothes which Shri Krishna stole. Freed of these, the jiva is liberated from all bonds arising from his desires, family, and society. He then reaches the stage of Shiva (shivatva). It is the aim of Vamachara to liberate from the bonds which bind men to the sangsara, and to qualify the sadhaka for the highest grades of sadhana in which the sattvika guna predominates. To the truly sattvik there is neither attachment, fear, or disgust. That which has been commenced in these stages is by degrees completed in those which follow – viz.: Siddhantachara, and according to some, Aghorachara and Yogachara. The sadhaka becomes more and more freed from the darkness of the sangsara, and is attached to nothing, hates nothing, and is ashamed of nothing, having freed himself of the artificial bonds of family, caste, and society. The sadhaka becomes, like Shiva himself, a dweller in the cremation ground (smashana). He learns to reach the upper heights of sadhana and the mysteries of yoga. He learns the movements of the different vayu in the microcosm the Kshudra-brahmanda, the regulation of which controls the inclinations and propensities (vritti). He learns also the truth which concern the macrocosm (brahmanda). Here also the Guru teaches him the inner core of Vedachara. Initiation by yoga-diksha fully qualifies him for yogachara. On attainment of perfection in ashtanga-yoga, he is fit to enter the highest stage of Kaulachara.

Kaula-dharma is in no wise sectarian, but, on the contrary, is the heart of all sects. This is the true meaning of the phrase which, like many another touching the Tantra, is misunderstood, and used to fix the kaula with hypocrisy – antah-shaktah, vahih-shaivah sabhayang vaishnavahmatah nana – rupadharah kaulah vicharanti mahitale (outwardly Shaivas; in gatherings, Vaishnavas; at heart, Shaktas; under various forms the Kaulas wander on earth). A Kaula is one who has passed through these and other stages, which have as their own inmost doctrine (whether these worshippers know it or not) that of Kaulachara. 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 own inner life; it is everything in the sense that knowledge may infuse its apparent limitations with an universal meaning. So understood, form is never a bond. The Vishva-sara Tantra, says of the Kaula that "for him there is neither rule of time; nor place. His actions are unaffected either by the phases of the moon or the position of the stars. The Kaula roams the earth in differing forms. At times adhering to social rules (shishta), he at others appears, according to their standard, to be fallen (bhrashta). At times, again, he seems to be as unearthly as a ghost (bhuta or pishacha) To him no difference is there between mud and sandal paste, his son and an enemy, home and the cremation ground."

At this stage the sadhaka attains to Brahma-jnana, which is the true gnosis in its perfect form. On receiving mahapurna-daksha he performs his own funeral rites and is dead to the sangsara. Seated alone in some quiet place, he remains in constant samadhi, and attains its nir-vikalpa form. The Great Mother, the Supreme Prakriti Maha-shakti, dwells in the heart of the sadhaka, which is now the cremation ground wherein all passions have been burnt away. He becomes a Parama-hangsa, who is liberated whilst yet living (javan-mukta).

It must not, however, be supposed that each of these stages must necessarily be passed through by each jiva in a single life. On the contrary, they are ordinarily traversed in the course of a multitude of births. The weaving of the spiritual garment is recommenced where in a previous birth, it was dropped on death. In the present life a sadhaka may commence at any stage. If he is born into Kaulachara, and so is a Kaula in its fullest sense, 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 Kaulachara.


Shabda, or sound, which is of the Brahman, and as such the cause of the Brahmanda, is the manifestation of the Chit-shakti Itself. The Vishva-sara Tantra says that tha Para-brahman, as Shabda-brahman, whose substance is all mantra, exists in the body of the jivatma. It is either unlettered (dhvani) or lettered (varna). The former, which produces the latter, is the subtle aspect of the jiva’s vital shakti. As the Prapancha-sara states, the brahmanda is pervaded by shakti, consisting of dhvani, also called nada, prana, and the like. The manifestation of the gross form (sthula) of shabda is not possible unless shabda exists in a subtle (sukshma) form. Mantras are all aspects of the Brahman and manifestations of Kula-kundalini. Philosophically shabda is the guna of akasha, or ethereal space. It is not, however, produced by akasha, but manifests in it. Shabda is itself the Brahman. In the same way, however, as in outer space, waves of sound are produced by movements of air (vayu); so in the space within the jiva’s body waves of sound are produced according to the movements of the vital air (prana-vayu) and the process of inhalation and exhalation. Shabda first appears at the muladhara, and that which is known to us as such is, in fact, the shakti which gives life to the jiva. She it is who, in the muladhara, is the cause of the sweet indistinct and murmuring dhvani, which sounds like the humming of a black bee.

The extremely subtle aspect of sound which first appears in the Muladhara is called para; less subtle when it has reached the heart, it is known as pashyanti. When connected with buddhi it becomes more gross, and is called madhyama. Lastly, in its fully gross form, it issues from the mouth as vaikhari. As Kula-Kundalini, whose substance is all varna and dhvani, is but the manifestation of, and Herself the Paramatma; so the substance of all mantra is chit, notwithstanding their external manifestation, as sound, letters, or words; in fact, the letters of the alphabet, which are known as akshara, are nothing but the yantra of the akshara, or imperishable Brahman. This, however, is only realized by the sadhaka when his shakti, generated by sadhana, is united with the mantra-shakti.

It is the sthula or gross form of Kulakundalini, appearing in different aspects as different Devata, which is the presiding Devata (adhishthatri) of all mantra, though it is the subtle or sukshma form at which all sadhakas aim. When the mantrashakti is awakened by sadhana the Presiding Devata appears, and when perfect mantra-siddhi is acquired, the Devata, who is sachchidananda, is revealed. The relations of varna, nada, vindu, vowel and consonant in a mantra, indicate the appearance of Devata in different forms. Certain vibhuti, or aspects, of the Devata are inherent in certain varna, but perfect Shakti does not appear in any but a whole mantra. Any word or letter of the mantra cannot be a mantra. Only that mantra in which the playful Devata has revealed any of Her particular aspects can reveal that aspect, and is therefore called the individual mantra of that one of Her particular aspects. The form of a particular Devata, therefore, appears out of the particular mantra of which that Devata is the adhishthatri Devata.

A mantra is composed of certain letters arranged in definite sequence of sounds of which the letters are the representative signs. To produce the designed effect mantra must be intoned in the proper way, according to svara (rhythm), and varna (sound). Their textual source is to be found in Veda, Purana, and Tantra. The latter is essentially the mantra-shastra, and so it is said of the embodied shastra, that Tantra, which consists of mantra, is the paramatma, the Vedas are the jivatma, Darshana (systems of philosophy) are the senses, Puranas are the body, and Smriti are the limbs. Tantra is thus the shakti of consciousness, consisting of mantra. A mantra is not the same thing as prayer or self-dedication (atma-nivedana). Prayer is conveyed in what words the worshipper chooses, and bears its meaning on its face. It is only ignorance of shastrik principle which supposes that mantra is merely the name for the words in which one expresses what one has to say to the Divinity. If it were, the sadhaka might choose his own language without recourse to the eternal and determined sounds of Shastra.

A mantra may, or may not, convey on its face its meaning. Vija (seed) mantra, such as Aing, Kling, Hring, have no meaning, according to the ordinary use of language. The initiate, however, knows that their meaning is the own form (sva-rupa) of the particular Devata, whose mantra they are, and that they are the dhvani which makes all letters sound and which exists in all which we say or hear. Every mantra is, then, a form (rupa) of the Brahman. Though, therefore, manifesting in the form and sound of the letters of the alphabet, Shastra says that they go to Hell who think that the Guru is but a stone, and the mantra but letters of the alphabet.

From manana, or thinking, arises the real understanding of the monistic truth, that the substance of the Brahman and the brahmanda are one and the same. Man- of mantra comes from the first syllable of manana, and -tra from trana, or liberation from the bondage of the sangsara or phenomenal world. By the combination of man- and -tra, that is called mantra which calls forth (amantrana), the chatur-varga (vide post), or four aims of sentient being. Whilst, therefore, mere prayer often ends in nothing but physical sound, mantra is a potent compelling force, a word of power (the fruit of which is mantra-siddhi), and is thus effective to produce the chatur-varga, advaitic perception, and mukti. Thus it is said that siddhi is the certain result of japa (q.v.). By Mantra the sought for (sadhya) Devata, is attained and compelled. By siddhi in mantra is opened the vision of the three worlds. Though the purpose of worship (puja), reading (patha), hymn (stava), sacrifice (homa), dhyana, dharana, and samadhi (vide post), and that of the diksha-mantra are the same, yet the latter is far more powerful, and this for the reason that, in the first, the sadhaka’s sadhana-shakti only operates, whilst in the case of mantra that sadhana-shakti works, in conjunction with mantra-shakti, which has the revelation and force of fire, and than which nothing is more powerful. The special mantra which is received at initiation (diksha) is the vija, or seed mantra, sown in the field of the sadhaka’s heart, and the Tantrik sandhya, nyasa, puja, and the like are the stem and branches upon which hymns of praise (stuti) and prayer and homage (vandana) are the leaves and flower, and the kavacha, consisting of mantra, the fruit.

Mantra are solar (saura) and lunar (saumya), and are masculine, feminine, or neuter. The solar are masculine and lunar feminine. The masculine and neuter forms are called mantra. The feminine mantra is known as vidya. The neuter mantra, such as the Pauranik-mantra, ending with namah, are said to lack the force and vitality of the others. The masculine and feminine mantra end differently. Thus, Hung, Phat, are masculine terminations, and "thang," or svaha, are feminine ones.

The Nitya Tantra gives various names to mantra. according to the number of their syllables, a one-syllabled mantra being called pinda, a three-syllabled one kartari, a mantra with four to nine syllables vija, with ten to twenty syllables mantra, and mantra with more than twenty syllables mala. Commonly, however, the term vija is applied to monosyllabic mantra. The Tantrik mantras called vija (seed) are so named because they are the seed of the fruit, which is siddhi, and because they are the very quintessence of mantra. They are short, unetymological vocables, such as Hring, Shring, Kring, Hung, Aing, Phat, etc., which will be found throughout the text. Each Devata has His or Her vija. The primary mantra of a Devata is known as the root mantra (mula-mantra). It is also said that the word mula denotes the subtle body of the Devata called Kama-kala. The utterance of a mantra without knowledge of its meaning or of the mantra method is a mere movement of the lips and nothing more. The mantra sleeps. There are various processes preliminary to, and involved in, its right utterance, which processes again consist of mantra, such as, purification of the mouth (mukha-shodhana), purification of the tongue (jihva-shodhana), and of the mantra (ashaucha-bhanga), kulluka, nirvvana, setu, nidra-bhanga, awakening of mantra, mantra-chaitanya, or giving of life or vitality to the mantra. Mantrarthabhavana, forming of mental image of the Divinity. There are also ten sangskara of the mantra. Dipani is seven japa of the vija, preceded and followed by one. Where hring is employed instead of Ong it is prana-yoga. Yoni-mudra is meditation on the Guru in the head and on the Ishta-devata in the heart, and then on the Yoni-rupa Bhagavati from the head to the muladhara, and from the muladhara to the head, making japa of the yoni vija (eng) ten times. The mantra itself is Devata. The worshipper awakens and vitalizes it by chit-shakti, putting away all thought of the letter, piercing the six Chakra, and contemplating the Spotless One. The shakti of the mantra is the vachaka-shakti, or the means by which the vachya-shakti or object of the mantra is attained. The mantra lives by the energy of the former. The saguna-shanti is awakened by sadhana and worshipped, and She it is who opens the portals whereby the vachya-shakti is reached. Thus the Mother in Her saguna form is the presiding deity (adhishthatri Devata) of the Gayatri-mantra. As the nirguna (formless) One, She is its vachya-shakti. Both are in reality one and the same; but the jiva, by the laws of his nature and its three guna, must first meditate on the gross (sthula) form before he can realize the subtle (sukshma) form, which is his liberator.

The mantra of a Devata is the Devata. The rhythmical vibrations of its sounds not merely regulate the unsteady vibrations of the sheaths of the worshipper, thus transforming him, but from it arises the form of the Devata, which it is. Mantra-siddhi is the ability to make a mantra efficacious and to gather its fruit in which case the mantra is called mantra-siddha. Mantra are classified as siddha, sadhya, susiddha, and ari, according as they are friends, servers, supporters, or destroyers – a matter which is determined for each sadhaka by means of chakra calculations.

The Gayatri Mantra

The Gayatri is the most sacred of all Vaidik mantras. In it the Veda lies embodied as in its seed. It runs: Ong bhur bhuvah svah: tat savitur varenyam bhargo devasya dhimahi: dhiyo yo nah prachodayat. Om. "Ong. Let us contemplate the wondrous spirit of the Divine Creator (Savitri) of the earthly, atmospheric, and celestial spheres. May He direct our minds (that is, ‘towards’ the attainment of dharmma., artha, kama, and moksha), Om."

The Gayatrt-Vyakarana of Yogi Yajnavalkya thus explains the following words: Tat, that. The word yat (which) is understood. Savituh is the possessive case of Savitri, derived from the root su, "to bring forth." Savitri is, therefore, the Bringer-forth of all that exists. The Sun (Suryya) is the cause of all that exists, and of the state in which they exist. Bringing forth and creating all things, it is called Savitri. The Bhavishya Purana says Suryya is the visible Devata. He is the Eye of the world and the Maker of the day. There is no other Devata eternal like unto Him. This universe has emanated from, and will be again absorbed into, Him. Time is of and in Him. The planets,, the Vasus. Rudras, Vayu, Agni, and the rest are but parts of Him. By Bhargah is meant the Aditya-devata, dwelling in the region of the Sun (suryya-mandala) in all His might and glory. He is to the Sun what our spirit (atma) is to our body. Though He is in the region of the sun in the outer or material sphere He also dwells in our inner selves. He is the light of the light in the solar circle, and is the light of the lives of all beings. As He is in the outer ether, so also is He in the ethereal region of the heart. In the outer ether He is Suryya, and in the inner ether He is the wonderful Light which is the Smokeless Fire. In short, that Being whom the sadhaka realizes in the region of his heart is the Aditya in the heavenly firmament. The two are one. The word is derived in two ways: (1) from the root bhrij, "to ripen, mature, destroy, reveal, shine." In this derivation Suryya is He who matures and transforms all things. He Himself shines and reveals all things by His light. And it is He who at the final Dissolution (pralaya) will in His image of destructive Fire (kalagni) destroy all things. (2) From bha = dividing all things into different classes; ra = colour; for He produces the colour of all created objects; ga, constantly going and returning. The sun divides all things, produces the different colours of all things, and is constantly going and returning. As the Brahmana-sarvasva says: "The Bhargah is the Atma of all that exists, whether moving or motionless, in the three loka (Bhur bhuvah svah). There is nothing which exists apart from it."

Devasya is the genitive of Deva, agreeing with Savituh. Deva is the radiant and playful (lilamaya) one. Suryya is in constant play with creation (srishti), existence (sthiti), and destruction (pralaya), and by His radiance pleases all. (Lila, as applied to the Brahman, is the equivalent of maya.) Varenyam = varaniya, or adorable. He should be meditated upon and adored that we may be relieved of the misery of birth and death. Those who fear rebirth, who desire freedom from death and liberation and who strive to escape the three kinds of pain (tapa-traya), which are adhyatmika, adhidaivika, and adhibhautika, meditate upon and adore the Bharga, who, dwelling in the region of the Sun, is Himself the three regions called Bhur-loka, Bhuvar-loka, and Svar-loka. Dhimahi = dhya-yema, from the root dhyai. We meditate upon, or let us meditate upon.

Prachodayat = may He direct. The Gayatri does not so expressly state, but it is understood that such direction is along the chatur-varga, or four-fold path, which is dharmma, artha, kama, and moksha (piety, wealth, desire and its fulfilment, and liberation, vide post). The Bhargah is ever directing our inner faculties (buddhi-vritti) along these paths.

The above is the Vaidika Gayatri, which, according to the Vaidik system, none but the twice-born may utter. To the Shudra whether man or woman, and to women of all other castes it is forbidden. The Tantra, which has Gayatri-Mantra of its own, shows no such exclusiveness; Chapter III., verses 109-111, gives the Brahma-gayatri for worshippers of the Brahman: "Parameshva-raya vidmahe para-tattvaya dhimahi: tan no Brahma prachodayat "(May we know the supreme Lord. Let us contemplate the Supreme essence. And may that Brahman direct us).


This word in its most general sense means an instrument, or that by which anything is accomplished. In worship it is that by which the mind is fixed on its object. The Yogini Tantra says that the Devi should be worshipped either in pratima (image), mandala, or yantra. At a certain stage of spiritual progress the sadhaka is qualified to worship yantra. The siddha-yogi in inward worship (antar-puja) commences with the worship of yantra, which is the sign (sangketa) of brahma-vijnana as the mantra is the sangketa of the Devata. It is also said that yantra is so called because it subdues (niyantrana) lust, anger, and the other sins of jiva and the sufferings caused thereby.

This yantra is a diagram engraved or drawn on metal, paper, or other substances, which is worshipped in the same manner as an image (pratima). As different mantra are prescribed for different worships, so are different yantra. The yantras are therefore of various designs, according to the object of worship. The cover of this work shows a silver Gayatri yantra belonging to the author. In the centre triangle are engraved in the middle the words, Shri Shri Gayatri sva-prasada siddhing kuru ("Shri Shri Gayatri Devi: grant me success"), and at each inner corner there are the vija Hring and Hrah. In the spaces formed by the intersections of the outer ovoid circles is the vija "Hring." The outside circular band contains the vija "Tha" which indicates "Svaha," commonly employed to terminate the feminine mantra or vidya. The eight lotus petals which spring from the band are inscribed with the vija, "Hring, Ing, Hrah." The outermost band contains all the matrika, or letters of the alphabet, from ankara to laksha. The whole is enclosed in the way common to all yantra by a bhupura, by which, as it were, the yantra is enclosed from the outer world. The yantra when inscribed with mantra, serves (so far as these are concerned) the purpose of a mnemonic chart of the mantra appropriate to the particular Devata whose presence is to be invoked into the yantra. Certain preliminaries precede, as in the case of a pratima, the worship of a yantra. The worshipper first meditates upon the Devata, and then arouses Him or Her in himself. He then communicates the divine presence thus aroused to the yantra. When the Devata has by the appropriate mantra been invoked into the yantra, the vital airs (prana) of the Devata are infused therein by the prana-pratishtha ceremony, mantra, and mudra. The Devata is thereby installed in the yantra, which is no longer mere gross matter veiling the spirit which has been always there, but instinct with its aroused presence, which the sadhaka first welcomes and then worships. Mantra in itself is Devata, and yantra is mantra in that it is the body of the Devata who is mantra.


The term mudrais derived from the root mud, "to please," and in its upasana form is so called because it gives pleasure to the Devas. Devanang moda-da mudra tasmat tang yatnatashcharet. It is said that there are 108, of which 55 are commonly used. The term means ritual gestures made with the hands in worship or positions of the body in yoga practice. Thus of the first class the matsya – (fish) mudra is formed in offering arghya by placing the right hand on the back of the left and extending, fin-like, on each side the two thumbs, with the object that the conch which contains water may be regarded as an ocean with aquatic animals; and the yoni-mudra which presents that organ as a triangle formed by the thumbs, the two first fingers, and the two little fingers is shown with the object of invoking the Devi to come and take Her place before the worshipper, the yoni being considered to be Her pitha or yantra. The upasana mudra is thus nothing but the outward expression of inner resolve which it at the same time intensifies. Mudra are employed in worship (archchana) japa, dhyana (q.v.), kamya-karma (rites done to effect particular objects), pratishtha (q.v.), snana (bathing), avahana (welcoming), naivedya (offering of food), and visarjana, or dismissal of the Devata. Some mudra of hatha yoga are described sub voc. "Yoga." The Gheranda Sanghita says that knowledge of the yoga mudras grants all siddhi, and that their performance produces physical benefits such as stability, firmness and cure of disease.


The Vaidika sandhya is the rite performed by the twice-born castes thrice a day, at morning, midday, and evening. The morning sandhya is preceded by the following acts. On awakening, a mantra is said in invocation of the Tri-murtti and the sun, moon, and planets, and salutation is made to the Guru. The Hindu dvi-ja then recites the miantra: "I am a Deva. I am indeed the sorrowless Brahman. By nature I am eternally free, and in the form of existence, intelligence, and Bliss." He then offers the actions of the day to the Deity, confesses his inherent frailty, and prays that he may do right. Then, leaving his bed and touching the earth with his right foot, the dvi-ja says, "Om, 0 Earth! salutation to Thee, the Guru of all that is good." After attending to natural calls, the twice-born does achamana (sipping of water) with mantra, cleanses his teeth, and takes his early morning bath to the accompaniment of mantra. He then puts on his caste-mark (tilaka) and makes tarpanam, or oblation of water, to the Deva, Rishi, and Pitri. The sandhya follows, which consists of achamana (sipping of water), marjjana-snanam (sprinkling of the whole body with water taken with the hand or kasha-grass), pranayama (regulation of prana through its manifestation in breath), agha-marshana (expulsion of the person of sin from the body; the prayer to the sun, and then (the canon of the sandhya) the silent recitation (japa) of the Gayatn mantra, which consists of invocation (avahana) of the Gayatri-Devi; rishi-nyasa and shadanga-nyasa (vide post), meditation on the Devi-Gayatri in the morning as Brahmani; at midday as Vaishnavi; and in the evening as Rudrani; japa of the Gayatri a specified number of times; dismissal (visarjana) of the Devi, followed by other mantra.

Besides the Brahmanical Vaidiki-sandhya from which the Shudras are debarred, there is the Tantriki-sandhya, which may be performed by all. The general outline is similar; the rite is simpler; the mantra vary; and the Tantrika-vijas or "seed" mantras are employed.


This word is the common term for worship of which there are numerous synonyms in the Sanskrit language. Puja is done daily of the Ishta-devata or the particular Deity worshipped by the sadhaka – the Devi in the case of a Shakti, Vishnu in the case of a Vaishnava, and so forth. But though the Ishta-devata is the principal object of worship, yet in puju all worship the Pancha-devata, or the Five Deva – Aditya (the Sun), Ganesha, the Devi, Shiva, and Vishnu, or Narayana. After worship of the Pancha-devata, the family Deity (Kula-devata), who is generally the same as the Ishta-devata, is worshipped. Puja, which is kamya, or done to gain a particular end as also vrata, are preceded by the sangkalpa; that is, a statement of the resolution to do the worship, as also of the particular object, if any, with which it is done.

There are sixteen upachara, or things done or used in puja: (1) asana (seat of the image); (2) svagata (welcome); (3) padya (water for washing the feet); (4) arghya (offering of unboiled rice, flowers, sandal paste, durva grass, etc., to the Devata in the kushi) (vessel); (5 and 6) achamana (water for sipping, which is offered twice); (7) madhuparka (honey, ghee, milk, and curd offered in a silver or brass vessel); (8) snana (water for bathing); (9) vasana (cloth); (10) abharana (jewels); (11) gandha (scent and sandal paste is given); (12) pushpa (flowers); (13) dhupa (incense stick); (14) dipa (light); (15) naivedya (food); (16) vandana or namas-kara (prayer). Other articles are used which vary with the puja, such as Tulasi leaf in the Vishnu-puju and bael-(bilva) leaf in the Shiva-puja. The mantras said also vary according to the worship. The seat (asana) of the worshipper is purified. Salutation being made to the Shakti of support or the sustaining force (adhara-shakti); the water, flowers, etc., are purified. All obstructive spirits are driven away (Bhutapasarpana), and the ten quarters are fenced from their attack by striking the earth three times with the left foot, uttering the Astra vija "phat," and by snapping the fingers (twice) round the head. Pranayama (regulation of breath) is performed and (vide post) the elements of the body are purified (bhuta-shuddhi). There is nyasa (vide post); dhyana (meditation) offering of the upachara; japa (vide post), prayer and obeisance (pranama). In the ashta-murti-puja of Shiva the Deva is worshipped under the eight forms: Sharvva (Earth), Bhava (Water), Rudra (Fire), Ugra (Air), Bhima (Ether), Pashupati (yajamana – the Sacrificer man), Ishana (Sun), Mahadeva (Moon).


This word, which comes from the root yaj (to worship), is commonly translated "sacrifice." The Sanskrit word is, however, retained in the translation, since Yajna means other things also than those which come within the meaning of the word "sacrifice," as understood by an English reader. Thus the "five great sacrifices" (pancha-maha-yajna) which should be performed daily by the Brahmana are: The homa sacrifice, including Vaishva-deva offering, "bhuta-yajna or vali, in which offerings are made to Deva, Bhuta, and other Spirits and to animals; pitri-yajna or tarpana, oblations to the pitri; Brahma-yajna, or study of the Vedas and Manushyayajna, or entertainment of guests (atithisaparyya). By these five yajna the worshipper places himself in right relations with all being, affirming such relation between Deva, Pitri, Spirits, men, the organic creation, and himself.

Homa, or Deva-yajna, is the making of offerings to Fire. which is the carrier thereof to the Deva. A firepit (kunda) is prepared and fire when brought from the house of a Brahmana is consecrated with mantra. The fire is made conscious with the mantra – Vang vahni-chaitanyaya namah, and then saluted and named. Meditation is then made on the three nadis (vide ante)Ida, Pingala, and Sushumna – and on Agni, the Lord of Fire. Offerings are made to the Ishta-devata in the fire. After the puja of fire, salutation is given as in Shadanga-nyasa, and then clarified butter (ghee) is poured with a wooden spoon into the fire with mantra, commencing with Om and ending with Svaha. Homa is of various kinds, several of which are referred to in the text, and is performed either daily, as in the case of the ordinary nitya-vaishva-deva-homa, or on special occasions, such as the upanayana or sacred thread ceremony, marriage, vrata, and the like. It is of various kinds, such as prayashchitta-homa, srishtikrit-homa, janu homa, dhara-homa, and others, some of which will be found in the text.

Besides the yajna mentioned there are others. Manu speaks of four kinds: deva, bhauta (where articles and ingredients are employed, as in the case of homa, daiva, vali), nriyajna, and pitri-yajna. Others are spoken of, such as japa-yajna, dhyana-yajna, etc. Yajna are also classified according to the dispositions and intentions of the worshipper into sattvika, rajasika, and tamasika yajna.


Vrata is a part of Naimittika, or voluntary karma. It is that which is the cause of virtue (punya), and is done to achieve its fruit. Vrata are of various kinds. Some of the chief are Janmashtami on Krishnas birthday; Shiva-ratri in honour of Shiva; and the Shat-panchami, Durvashtami, Tala-navami. Ananta-chaturdashi performed at specified times in honour of Lakshmi, Narayana, and Ananta. Others may be performed at any time, such as the Savitri vrata by women only, and the Karttikeya-puja by men only. The great vrata is the celebrated Durga-puja, maha-vrata in honour of the Devi as Durga, which will continue as long as the sun and moon endure, and which, if once commenced, must always be continued. There are numerous other vrata which have developed to a great extent in Bengal, and for which there is no Shastric authority such as Madhu-sankranti-vrata, Jala-sankranti-vrata, and others. While each vrata has its peculiarities, certain features are common to vrata of differing kinds. There is both in preparation and performance sangyama, such as sexual continence, eating of particular food, such as havishyanna, fasting, bathing. No flesh or fish are taken. The mind is concentrated to its purposes, and the vow or resolution (niyama) is taken. Before the vrata the Sun, Planets, and Kula-devata are worshipped, and by the "suryahsomoyamahkala" mantra all Deva and Beings are invoked to the side of the worshipper. In the vaidika vrata the sangkalpa is made in the morning, and the vrata is done before midday.


This term is generally translated as meaning penance or austerities. It includes these, such as the four monthly fast (chatur-masya), the sitting between five fires (pancha-gnitapah), and the like. It has, however, also a wider meaning, and in this wider sense is of three kinds, namely, sharira, or bodily; vachika, by speech; manasa, in mind. The first includes external worship, reverence, and support given to the Guru, Brahmanas, and the wise (prajna), bodily cleanliness, continence, simplicity of life and avoidance of hurt to any being (a-hingsa). The second form includes truth, good, gentle, and affectionate speech, and the study of the Vedas. The third or mental tapas in-cludes self-restraint, purity of disposition, silence, tranquillity, and silence. Each of these classes has three subdivisions, for tapas may be sattvika, rajasika, or tamasika, according as it is done with faith, and without regard to its fruit; or for its fruit; or is done through pride and to gain honour and respect; or, lastly, which is done ignorantly or with a view to injure and destroy others, such as the sadhana of the Tantrika-shat-karma, when performed for a malevolent purpose (abhichara).


Japa is defined as "vidhanena mantrochcharanam," or the repeated utterance or recitation of mantra according to certain rules. It is according to the Tantra-sara of three kinds: Vachika or verbal japa, in which the mantra is audibly recited, the fifty matrika being sounded nasally with vindu; Upangshu-japa, which is superior to the last kind, and in which the tongue and lips are moved, but no sound, or only a slight whisper, is heard; and, lastly, the highest form which is called manasa-japa, or mental utterance. In this there is neither sound nor movement of the external organs, but a repetition in the mind which is fixed on the meaning of the mantra. One reason given for the differing values attributed to the several forms is that where there is audible utterance the mind thinks of the words and the process of correct utterance, and is therefore to a greater (as in the case of vachika-japa), or to a less degree (as in the case of upangshu-japa), distracted from a fixed attention to the meaning of the mantra. The japa of different kinds have also the relative values attachable to thought and its materialization in sound and word. Certain conditions are prescribed as those under which japa should be done, relating to physical cleanliness, the dressing of the hair, and wearing of silk garments, the seat (asana), the avoidance of certain conditions of mind and actions, and the nature of the recitation. The japa is useless unless done a specified number of times – of which 108 is esteemed to be excellent. The counting is done either with a mala or rosary (mala-japa), or with the thumb of the right hand upon the joints of the fingers of that hand (kara-japa). The method of counting in the latter case may differ according to the mantra.


There are ten (or, in the case of Shudras, nine) purificatory ceremonies, or "sacraments," called sangskara, which are done to aid and purify the jiva in the important events of his life. These are jiva-sheka, also called garbhadhana-ritu-sangskara, performed after menstruation, with the object of insuring and sanctifying conception. The garbhadhana ceremony takes place in the daytime on the fifth day, and qualifies for the real garbhadhana at night – that is, the placing of the seed in the womb. It is preceded on the first day by the ritu-sangskara which is mentioned in Chapter IX. of the text. After conception and during pregnancy, the pung-savana and simantonnayana rites are performed; the first upon the wife perceiving the signs of conception, and the second during the fourth, sixth, or eighth month of pregnancy.

In the ante-natal life there are three main stages, whether viewed from the objective (physical) standpoint, or from the subjective (super-physical) standpoint. The first period includes on the physical side all the structural and physiological changes which occur in the fertilized ovum from the moment of fertilization until the period when the embryonic body, by the formation of trunk, limbs, and organs, is fit for the entrance of the individualized life, or jivatma. When the pronuclear activity and differentiation are completed, the jivatma, whose connection with the pronuclei initiated the pro-nuclear or formative activity, enters the miniature human form, and the second stage of growth and de-velopment begins. The second stage is the fixing of the connection between the jiva and the body, or the rendering of the latter viable. This period includes all the anatomical and physiological modifications by which the embryonic body becomes a viable fœtus. With the attainment of viability, the stay of the jiva has been assured; physical life is possible for the child, and the third stage in ante-natal life is entered. Thus, on the form side, if the language of comparative embryology is used, the first sangskara denotes the impulse to development, from the "fertilization of the ovum" to the "critical period." The second sangskara denotes the impulse to development from the "critical period" to that of the "viability stage of the fœtus "; and the third sangskara denotes the development from "viability" to "full term."

On the birth of the child there is the jata-karma, performed for the continued life of the new-born child. Then follows the nama-karana, or naming ceremony, and nishkramana in the fourth month after delivery, when the child is taken out of doors for the first time and shown the sun, the vivifying source of life, the material embodiment of the Divine Savita. Between the fifth and eighth month after birth the annaprasana ceremony is observed, when rice is put in the child’s mouth for the first time. Then follows the chuda-karana, or tonsure ceremony; and in the case of the first three, or "twice-born" classes, upanayana, or investiture with the sacred thread. Herein the jiva is reborn into spiritual life. There is, lastly, udvaha, or marriage, whereby the unperfected jiva insures through offspring that continued human life which is the condition of its progress and ultimate return to its Divine Source. These are all described in the Ninth Chapter of this Tantra. There are also ten sangskara of the mantra (q.v.). The sangskara are intended to be performed at certain stages in the development of the human body, with the view to effect results beneficial to the human organism. Medical science of to-day seeks to reach the same results, but uses for this purpose the physical methods of modern Western science, suited to an age of materiality; whereas in the sangskara the super-physical (psychic, or occult, or metaphysical and subjective) methods of ancient Eastern science are employed. The sacraments of the Catholic Church and other of its ceremonies, some of which have now fallen into disuse, are Western examples of the same psychic method.


This form of sadhana consists in the repetition (after certain preparations and under certain conditions) of a mantra a large number of times. The ritual deals with the time and place of performance, the measurements and decoration of the mandapa, or pandal, and of the altar and similar matters. There are certain rules as to food both prior to, and during, its performance. The sadhaka should eat havishyanna, or alternately boiled milk (kshira), fruits, or Indian vegetables, or anything obtained by begging, and avoid all food calculated to influence the passions. Certain conditions and practices are enjoined for the destruction of sin, such as continence, bathing, japa (q.v.) of the Savitri-mantra 5,008, 3,008, or 1,008 times, the entertainment of Brahmamas, and so forth. Three days before puja there is worship of Ganesha and Kshetra-pala, Lord of the Place. Pancha-gavya, or the five products of the cow, are eaten. The Sun, Moon, and Devas are invoked. Then follows the sangkalpa. The ghata, or kalasa (jar), is then placed into which the Devi is to be invoked. A mandala, or figure of a particular design, is marked on the ground, and on it the ghata is placed. Then the five or nine gems are placed on the kalasa, which is painted with red and covered with leaves. The ritual then prescribes for the tying of the crown lock (shikha), the posture (asana) of the sadhaka; japa (q.v.) nyasa (q.v.), and the mantra ritual or process. There is meditation, as directed. Kulluka is said, and the mantra "awakened" (mantra-chaitanya), and recited the number of times for which the vow has been taken.


The object of this ritual, which is described in Chapter V., verses 93 et seq., is the purification of the elements of which the body is composed.

The Mantra-mahodadhi speaks of it as a rite which is preliminary to the worship of a Deva. The process of evolution from the Para-brahman has been described. By this ritual a mental process of involution takes place whereby the body is in thought resolved into the source from whence it has come. Earth is associated with the sense of smell, water, with taste, fire, with sight, air, with touch, and ether, with sound. Kundalini is roused, and led to the svadhishthana Chakra. The "earth" element is dissolved by that of "water," as "water" is by "fire," "fire" by "air," and "air" by "ether." This is absorbed by a higher emanation, and that by a higher, and so on, until the Source of all is reached. Having dissolved each gross element (maha-bhuta), together with the subtle element (tan-matra) from which it proceeds, and the connected organ of sense (indriya) by another, the worshipper absorbs the last element, "ether," with the tan-matra sound into self-hood (ahangkara), the latter into Mahat, and that, again, into Prakriti, thus retracing the steps of evolution. Then, in accordance with the monistic teaching of the Vedanta, Prakriti is Herself thought of as the Brahman, of which She is the energy, and with which, therefore, She is already one. Thinking then of the black Purusha, which is the image of all sin, the body is purified by mantra, accompanied by kumbhaka and rechaka, and the sadhaka meditates upon the new celestial (deva) body, which has thus been made and which is then strengthened by a "celestial gaze."


This word, which comes from the root "to place," means placing the tips of the fingers and palm of the right hand on various parts of the body, accompanied by particular mantra. The nyasa are of various kinds. Jiva-nyasa follows upon bhuta-shuddhi. After the purification of the old, and the formation of the celestial body, the sadhaka proceeds by jiva-nyasa to infuse the body with the life of the Devi. Placing his hand on his heart, he says the "sohang" mantra ("I am He"), thereby identifying himself with the Devi. Then, placing the eight Kula-kundalini in their several places he says the following mantra: Ang, Kring, Kring, Yang, Rang, Lang, Vang, Shang, Shang, Sang, Hong, Haung, Hangsah: the vital airs of the highly blessed and auspicious Primordial Kalika are here. "Ang, etc., the embodied spirit of the highly blessed and auspicious Kalika is placed here." "Ang, etc., here are all the senses of the highly auspicious and blessed Kalika," and, lastly, "Ang, etc., may the speech, mind, sight, hearing, smell, and vital airs of the highly blessed and auspicious Kalika coming here always abide here in peace and happiness Svaha." The sadhaka then becomes devata-maya. After having thus dissolved the sinful body, made a new Deva body, and infused it with the life of the Devi, he proceeds to matrika-nyasa. Mahika are the fifty letters of the Sanskrit alphabet; for as from a mother comes birth, so from matrika, or sound, the world proceeds. Shabda-brahman, the "Sound," "Logos," or "Word," is the Creator of the worlds of name and of form.

The bodies of the Devata are composed of the fifty matrika. The sadhaka, therefore, first sets mentally (antar-matrika-nyasa) in their several places in the six chakra, and then externally by physical action (Vahy-amatrika-nyasa) the letters of the alphabet which form the different parts of the body of the Devata, which is thus built up in the sadhaka himself. He places his hand on different parts of his body, uttering distinctly at the same time the appropriate matrika for that part.

The mental disposition in the chakra is as follows: In the Ajna Lotus, Hang, Kshang (each letter in this and the succeeding cases is said, followed by the mantra namah); in the Vishuddha Lotus Ang, Ang, and the rest of the vowels; in the Anahata Lotus kang, khang to thang; in the Manipura Lotus, dang dhang, etc., to Phang; in the Svadisthana Lotus bang, bhang to lang; and, lastly, in the Muladhara Lotus, vang, shang, shang, sang. The external disposition then follows. The vowels in their order with anusvara and visarga are placed on the forehead, face, right and left eye, right and left ear, right and left nostril, right and left cheek, upper and lower lip, upper and lower teeth, head, and hollow of the mouth. The consonants kang to vang are placed on base of right arm and the elbow, wrist, base and tips of fingers, left arm, right and left leg, right and left side, back, navel, belly, heart, right and left shoulder, space between the shoulders (kakuda), and then from the heart to the right palm shang is placed; and from the heart to the left palm the (second) shang; from the heart to the right foot, sang; from the heart to the left foot, hang; and, lastly, from the heart to the belly, and from the heart to the mouth, kshang. In each case ong is said at the beginning and namah at the end. According to the Tantra-sara, matrika-nyasa is also classified into four kinds, performed with different aims – viz.: kevala where the matrika is pronounced without vindu; vindu-sangyuta with vindu; sangsarga with visarga; and sobhya with visarga and vindu.

Rishi-nyasa then follows for the attainment of the chatur-varga. The assignment of the mantra is to the head, mouth, heart, anus, the two feet, and all the body generally. The mantra commonly employed are: "In the head, salutation to the Rishi (Revealer) Brahma; in the mouth, salutation to the mantra Gayatri, in the heart, salutation to the Devi Mother Sarasvati; in the hidden part, salutation to the vija, the consonants; salutation to the shakti, the vowels in the feet, salutation to visargah, the kilaka in the whole body." Another form in which the vija employed is that of the Aiya: it is referred to but not given in Chap. V., verse 123, and is: "In the head, salutation to Brahma and the Brahmarshis, in the mouth, salutation to Gayatri and the other forms of verse; in the heart, salutation to the primordial Devata Kali, in the hidden part, salutation to the vija, kring; in the two feet, salutation to the shakti, Hring; in all the body, salutation to the Kalika Shring."

Then follows anga-nyasa and kara-nyasa. These are both forms of shad-anga-nyasa. When shad-anga-nyasa is performed on the body, it is called hridayadi-shad-anga-nyasa; and when done with the five fingers and palms of the hands only, angushthadi-shad-anga-nyasa. The former kind is done as follows: The short vowel a, the consonants of the ka-varga group, and the long vowel a, are recited with "hridayaya namah" (namah salutation to the heart). The short vowel i, the consonants of the cha-varga group, and the long vowel i, are said with "shirasi svaha" (svaha to the head). The hard ta-varga consonants set between the two vowels u are recited with "shikhayai vashat" (vashat to the crown lock); similarly the soft ta-varga between the vowels e and ai are said with "kavachaya hung." The short vowel o, the pavarga, and the long vowel o are recited with netra-trayaya vaushat (vaushat to the three eyes). Lastly, between vindu and visargah the consonants ya to ksha with "kara-tala-prishthabhyang astraya phat" (phat to the front and back of the palm).

The mantras of shadanga-nyasa on the body are used for Kara-nyasa, in which they are assigned to the thumbs, the "threatening" or index fingers, the middle fingers, the fourth, little fingers, and the front and back of the palm.

These actions on the body, fingers, and palms also stimulate the nerve centres and nerves therein.

In pitha-nyasa the pitha are established in place of the matrika. The pitha, in their ordinary sense, are Kama-rupa and the other places, a list of which is given in the Yogini-hridaya.

For the attainment of that state in which the sadhaka feels that the bhava (nature, disposition) of the Devata has come upon him nyasa is a great auxiliary. It is, as it were, the wearing of jewels on different parts of the body. The vija of the Devata are the jewels which the sudkaka places on the different parts of his body. By nyasa he places his Abhishta-devata in such parts, and by vyapaka-nyasa he spreads Its presence throughout himself. He becomes permeated by it losing himself in the divine Self.

Nyasa is also of use in effecting the proper distribution of the shaktis of the human frame in their proper positions so as to avoid the production of discord and distraction in worship. Nyasa as well as Asana are necessary for the production of the desired state of mind and of chitta-shuddhi (its purification). "Das denken ist der mass der Dinge." Transformation of thought is Transformation of being. This is the essential principle and rational basis of all this and similar Tantrik sadhana.


There are, as already stated, three classes of men – pashu, Vira, and Divya. The operation of the guna which produce these types affect, on the gross material plane, the animal tendencies, manifesting in the three chief physical functions – eating and drinking, whereby the annamayakosha is maintained; and sexual intercourse, by which it is reproduced. These functions are the subject of the panchatattva or panchamakara ("five m’s"), as they are vulgarly called – viz.: madya (wine), mangsa (meat), matsya (fish), mudra (parched grain), and maithuna (coition). In ordinary parlance, mudra means ritual gestures or positions of the body in worship and hathayoga, but as one of the five elements it is parched cereal, and is defined as Bhrishtadanyadikang yadyad chavyaniyam prachakshate, sa mudra kathita devi sarvveshang naganam-dini. The Tantras speak of the five elements as pancha-tattva, kuladravya, kulatattva, and certain of the elements have esoteric names, such as Karanavari or tirtha-vari, for wine, the fifth element being usually called lata-sadhana (sadhana with woman, or shakti). The five elements, moreover have various meanings, according as they form part of the tamasika (pashvachara), rajasika (virachara), or divya or sattvika sadhanas respectively.

All the elements or their substitutes are purified and consecrated, and then, with the appropriate ritual, the first four are consumed, such consumption being followed by lata-sadhana or its symbolic equivalent. The Tantra prohibits indiscriminate use of the elements, which may be consumed or employed only after purification (sho-dhana) and during worship according to the Tantric ritual. Then, also, all excess is forbidden. The Shyama-rahasya says that intemperance leads to Hell, and this Tantra condemns it in Chapter V. A well-known saying in Tantra describes the true "hero" (vira) to be, not he who is of great physical strength and prowess, the great eater and drinker, or man of powerful sexual energy, but he who has controlled his senses, is a truth-seeker, ever engaged in worship, and who has sacrificed lust and all other passions. (Jitendriyah satyavadi nityanushthanatatparah kamadi-validanashcha sa vira iti giyate.)

The elements in their literal sense are not available in sadhana for all. The nature of the Pashu requires strict adherence to Vaidik rule in the matter of these physical functions even in worship. This rule prohibits the drinking of wine, a substance subject to the three curses of

Brahma, Kacha, and Krishna, in the following terms: Madyamapeyamadeyamagrahyam ("Wine must not be drunk, given, or taken"). The drinking of wine in ordinary life for satisfaction of the sensual appetite is, in fact, a sin, involving prayaschiyta, and entailing, according to the Vishnu Purama, punishment in the same Hell as that to which a killer of a Brahmana goes. As regards flesh and fish, the higher castes (outside Bengal) who submit to the orthodox Smarta discipline eat neither. Nor do high and strict Brahmanas even in that Province. But the bulk of the people there, both men and women, eat fish, and men consume the flesh of male goats which have been previously offered to the Deity. The Vaidika dharmma is equally strict upon the subject of sexual intercourse. Maithuna other than with the householder’s own wife is condemned. And this is not only in its literal sense, but in that of which is known as Ashtanga (eight-fold) maithuna – viz., smaranam (thinking upon it), kirttanam (talking of it), keli (play with women), prekshanam (looking upon women), guhyabhashanan (talk in private with women), sangkalpa (wish or resolve for maithuua), adhyavasaya (determination towards it), kriyanishpati (actual accomplishment of the sexual act). In short, the pashu (and except for ritual purposes those who are not pashu) should, in the words of the Shaktakramya, avoid maithuna, conversation on the subject, and assemblies of women (maithunam tatkathalapang tadgoshthing parivarjjayet). Even in the case of the householder’s own wife marital continency is enjoined. The divinity in woman, which the Tantra in particular proclaims, is also recognized in the ordinary Vaidik teaching, as must obviously be the case given the common foundation upon which all the Shastra rest. Woman is not to be regarded merely as an object of enjoyment, but as a house-goddess (grihadevata). According to the sublime notions of Shruti, the union of man and wife is a veritable sacrificial rite – a sacrifice in fire (homa), wherein she is both hearth (kunda) and flame – and he who knows this as homa attains liberation. Similarly the Tantrika Mantra for the Shivashakti Yoga runs: "This is the in-ternal homa in which, by the path of sushumna, sacrifice is made of the functions of sense to the spirit as fire kindled with the ghee of merit and demerit taken from the mind as the ghee-pot Svaha." It is not only thus that wife and husband are associated, for the Vaidika dharmma (in this now neglected) prescribes that the householder should worship in company with his wife. Brahmacharyya, or continency, is not as is sometimes supposed, a requisite of the student ashrama only, but is a rule which governs the married householder (grihastha) also. According to Vaidika injunctions, union of man and wife must take place once a month on the fifth day after the cessation of the menses, and then only. Hence it is that the Nitya Tantra, when giving the characteristics of a pashu, says that he is one who avoids sexual union except on the fifth day (ritukalangvina devi rama-nang parivarjjayet). In other words, the pashu is he who in this case, as in other matters, follows for all purposes, ritual or otherwise, the Vaidik injunctions which govern the ordinary life of all.

The above-mentioned rules govern the life of all men. The only exception which the Tantra makes is for purpose of sudhana in the case of those who are competent (adhikari) for virachara. It is held, indeed, that the exception is not strictly an exception to Vaidik teaching at all, and that it is an error to suppose that the Tantrika rahasya-puja is opposed to the Vedas. Thus, whilst the vaidik rule prohibits the use of wine in ordinary life, and for purpose of mere sensual gratification it prescribes the religious yajna with wine. This ritual use the Tantra also allows, provided that the sadhaka is competent for the sadhana, in which its consumption is part of its ritual and method.

The Tantra enforces the Vaidik rule in all cases, ritual or otherwise, for those who are governed by the vaidikachara. The Nitya Tantra says: "They (pashu) should never worship the Devi during the latter part of the day in the evening or at night" (ratrau naiva yajeddeving sandhyayang vaparanhake); for all such worship connotes maithuna prohibited to the pashu. In lieu of it, varying substitutes are prescribed, such as either an offering of flowers with the hands formed into the kachchchapa mudra, or union with the worshipper’s own wife. In the same way, in lieu of wine, the pashu should (if a Brahmana) take milk, (if a Kshattriya) ghee, (if a vaishya) honey, and (if a shudra) a liquor made from rice. Salt, ginger, sesamum, wheat, mashkalai (beans), and garlic are various substitutes for meat; and the white brinjal vegetable, red radish, masur (a kind of gram), red sesamum, and paniphala (an aquatic plant), take the place of fish. Paddy, rice, wheat, and gram geneally are mudra.

The vira, or rather he who is qualified (adhikari) for virachara – since the true vira is its finished product – commences sadhana with the rajasika panchatattva first stated, which are employed for the destruction of the sensual tendencies which they connote. For the worship of Shakti the panchatattva are declared to be essential. This Tantra declares that such worship without their use is but the practice of evil magic.

Upon this passage the commentator Jaganmohana Tarkalangkara observes as follows: "Let us consider what most contributes to the fall of a man, making him forget his duty, sink into sin, and die an early death. First among these are wine and women, fish, meat and mudra, and accessories. By these things men have lost their manhood. Shiva then desires to employ these very poisons in order to eradicate the poison in the human system. Poison is the antidote for poison. This is the right treatment for those who long for drink or lust for women. The physician must, however, be an experienced one. If there be a mistake as to the application, the patient is like to die. Shiva has said that the way of Kulachara is as difficult as it is to walk on the edge of a sword or to hold a wild tiger. There isa secret argument in favour of the panchatattva, and those tattva so understood should be followed by all. None, however, but the initiate can grasp this argument, and therefore Shiva has directed that it should not be revealed before anybody and everybody. An initiate, when he sees a woman, will worship her as his own mother or goddess (Ishtadevata), and bow before her. The Vishnu Purana says that by feeding your desires you cannot satisfy them. It is like pouring ghee on fire. Though this is true, an experienced spiritual teacher (guru) will know how, by the application of this poisonous medicine, to kill the poison of sangsara. Shiva has, however, prohibited the indiscriminate publication of this. The meaning of this passage would therefore appear to be this: "The object of Tantrika worship is brahmasayujya, or union with Brahman. If that is not attained, nothing is attained. And, with men’s propensities as they are, this can only be attained through the special treatment prescribed by the Tantras. If this is not followed, then the sensual pro-pensities are not eradicated, and the work is for the desired end of Tantra as useless as magic which, worked by such a man, leads only to the injury of others." The other secret argument here referred to is that by which it is shown that the particular may be raised to the universal life by the vehicle of those same passions, which, when flowing only in an outward and downward current, are the most powerful bonds to bind him to the former. The passage cited refers to the necessity for the spiritual direction of the Guru. To the want of such is accredited the abuses of the system. When the patient (sishya) and the disease are working together, there is poor hope for the former; but when the patient, the disease, and the physician (guru) are on one, and that the wrong, side, then nothing can save him from a descent on that downward path which it is the object of the sadhana to prevent. Verse 67 in Chapter I. of this Tantra is here in point.

Owing, however, to abuses, particularly as regards the tattva of madya and maithuna, this Tantra, according to the current version, prescribes in certain cases, limitations as regards their use. It prescribes that when the Kaliyuga is in full strength, and in the case of householders (grihastha) whose minds are engrossed with worldly affairs, the "three sweets" (madhuratraya) are to be substituted for wine. Those who are of virtuous temperament, and whose minds are turned towards the Brahman, are permitted to take five cups of wine. So also as regards maithuna, this Tantra states that men in this Kali age are by their nature weak and disturbed by lust, and by reason of this do not recognize woman (shakti) to be the image of the Deity. It accordingly ordains that when the Kaliyuga is in full sway, the fifth tattva shall only be accomplished with sviyashakti, or the worshipper’s own wife, and that union with a woman who is not married to the sadhaka in either Brahma or Shaiva form is forbidden. In the case of other shakti (parakiya and sadharani) it prescribes, in lieu of maithuna, meditation by the worshipper upon the lotus feet of the Devi, together with japa of his ishtamantra. This rule, however, the Commentator says, is not of universal application. Shiva has, in this Tantra, prohibited sadhana with the last tattva, with parakiya, and sadharani shakti, in the case of men of ordinary weak intellect ruled by lust; but for those who have by sadhana conquered their passions and attained the state of a true vira, or siddha, there is no prohibition as to the mode of latasadhana. This Tantra appears to be, in fact, a protest against the misuse of the tattwa, which had followed upon a relaxation of the original rules and conditions governing them. Without the panchatattva in one form or another, the shaktipuja cannot be performed. The Mother of the Universe must be worshipped with these elements. By their use the universe (jagatbrahmanda) itself is used as the article of worship. Wine signifies the power (shakti) which produces all fiery elements; meat and fish all terrestrial and aquatic animals; mudra all vegetable life; and maithuna the will (ichchha) action (kriya) and knowledge (jnana) shakti of the Supreme Prakriti productive of that great pleasure which accompanies the process of creation. To the Mother is thus offered the restless life of Her universe.

The object of all sadhana is the stimulation of the sattvaguna. When by such sadhana this guna largely preponderates, the sattvika sadhana suitable for men of a high type of divyabhava is adopted. In this latter sadhana the names of the panchatattva are used symbolically for operations of a purely mental and spiritual character. Thus, the Kaivalya says that "wine" is that intoxicating knowledge acquired by yoga of the Parabrahman, which renders the worshipper senseless as regards the external world. Meat (mangsa) is not any fleshly thing, but the act whereby the sadhaka consigns all his acts to Me (Mam). Matsya (fish) is that sattvika knowledge by which through the sense of "mineness" the worshipper sympathizes with the pleasure and pain of all beings. Mudra is the act of relinquishing all association with evil which results in bondage, and maithuna is the union of the Shakti Kundalini with Shiva in the body of the worshipper. This, the Yogini Tantra says, is the best of all unions for those who have already con-trolled their passions (yati). According to the Agamasara, wine is the somadhara, or lunar ambrosia, which drops from the brahmarandhra; Mangsa (meat) is the tongue (ma), of which its part (angsha) is speech. The sadhaka, in "eating" it, controls his speech. Matsya (fish) are those two which are constantly moving in the two rivers Ida and Pingala. He who controls his breath by pranayama (q.v.), "eats" them by kumbhaka. Mudra is the awakening of knowledge in the pericarp of the great sahasrara Lotus, where the Atma, like mercury, resplendent as ten million suns, and deliciously cool as ten million moons, is united with the Devi Kundalini. The esoteric meaning of maithuna is thus stated by the Agama: The ruddy-hued letter Ra is in the Kunda, and the letter Ma, in the shape of vindu, is in the mahayoni. When Makara (m), seated on the Hangsa in the form of Akara (a), unites with rakara (r), then the Brahmajnana, which is the source of supreme Bliss, is gained by the sadhaka, who is then called atmarama, for his enjoyment is in the Atma. in the sahasrara. This is the union on the purely sattvika plane, which corresponds on the rajasika plane to the union of Shiva and Shakti in the persons of their worshippers.

The union of Shiva and Shakti is described as a true yoga, from which, as the Yamala says, arises that joy which is known as the Supreme Bliss.


Worship with the panchatattva generally takes place in an assembly called a chakra, which is composed of men (sadhaka) and women (shakti), or Bhairava and Bhairavi. The worshippers sit in a circle (chakra), men and women alternately, the shakti sitting on the left of the sadhaka. The Lord of the chakra (chakrasvamin, or chakreshvara) sits with his Shakti in the centre, where the wine-jar and other articles used in the worship are kept. During the chakra all eat, drink, and worship together, there being no distinction of caste. No pashu should, however, be introduced. There are various kinds of chakra, such as the Vira, Raja, Deva, Maha – Chakras productive, it is said, of various fruits for the participators therein. Chapter VI. of the Mahanirvvana Tantra deals with the panchatattva, and Chapter VIII. gives an account of the Bhairavi and Tattva (or Divya) chakras. The latter is for worshippers of the Brahma-Mantra.


This word, derived from the root Yuj ("to join"), is in grammar sandhi, in logic avayavashakti, or the power of the parts taken together, and in its most widely known and present sense the union of the jiva, or embodied spirit, with the Paramatma, or Supreme Spirit, and the practices by which this union may be attained. There is a natural yoga, in which all beings are, for it is only by virtue of this identity in fact that they exist. This position is common ground, though in practice too frequently overlooked. "Primus modus unionis est, quo Deus, ratione suæ immensitatis est in omnibus rebus per essentiam, præsentiam, et potentiam; per essentiam ut dans omnibus esse; per præsentiam ut omnia prospiciens; per potentiam ut de omnibus disponens." The mystical theologian cited, however, proceeds to say: "Sed hæc unio animæ cum Deo est generalis, communis omnibus et ordinis naturalis . . . illa namque de qua loquimur est ordinis supernaturalis actualis et fructiva." It is of this special yaga, though not in reality more "supernatural" than the first, that we here deal. Yoga in its technical sense is the realization of this identity, which exists, though it is not known, by the destruction of the false appearance of separation. "There is no bond equal in strength to maya, and no force greater to destroy that bond than yoga. There is no better friend than knowledge (jnana), nor worse enemy than egoism (ahangkara). As to learn the Shastra one must learn the alphabet, so yoga is necessary for the acquirement of tattvajnana (truth)." The animal body is the result of action, and from the body flows action, the process being compared to the seesaw movement of a ghatiyantra, or water-lifter. Through their actions beings continually go from birth to death. The complete attainment of the fruit of yoga is lasting and unchanging life in the noumenal world of the Absolute.

Yoga is variously named according to the methods employed, but the two main divisions are those of the hathayoga (or ghatasthayoga) and samadhi yoga, of which raja-yoga is one of the forms. Hathayoga is commonly misunderstood, both in its definition and aim being frequently identified with exaggerated forms of self-mortification.

The Gherandasanghita well defines it to be "the means whereby the excellent rajayoga is attained." Actual union is not the result of Hathayoga alone, which is concerned with certain physical processes preparatory or auxiliary to the control of the mind, by which alone union may be directly attained. It is, however, not meant that all the processes of Hathayoga here or in the books described are necessary for the attainment of rajayoga. What is necessary must be determined according to the circumstances of each particular case. What is suited or necessary in one case may not be so for another. A peculiar feature of Tan-trika virachara is the union of the sadhaka and his shakti in latasadhana. This is a process which is expressly forbidden to Pashus by the same Tantras which prescribe it for the vira. The union of Shiva and Shakti in the higher sadhana is different in form, being the union of the Kundalini Shakti of the Muladhara with the Vindu which is upon the Sahasrara. This process, called the piercing of the six chakra, is described later on in a separate paragraph. Though, however, all Hathayoga processes are not necessary, some, at least, are generally considered to be so. Thus, in the well-known ashtangayoga (eight-limbed yoga), of which samadhi is the highest end, the physical conditions and processes known as asana and pranayama (vide post) are prescribed.

This yoga prescribes five exterior (vahiranga) methods for the subjugation of the body – namely (1) Yama, forbearance or self-control, such as sexual continence, avoidance of harm to others (ahingsa), kindness, forgiveness, the doing of good without desire for reward, absence of covetousness, temperance, purity of mind and body, etc. (2) Niyama, religious observances, charity, austerities, reading of the Shastra and Ishvara Pranidhana, persevering devotion to the Lord. (3) Asana, seated positions or postures (vide post). (4) Pranayama, regulation of the breath. A yogi renders the vital airs equable, and consciously produces the state of respiration which is favourable for mental concentration, as others do it occasionally and unconsciously (vide post). (5) Pratyahara, restraint of the senses, which follow in the path of the other four processes which deal with the subjugation of the body. There are then three interior (yogangga) methods for the subjugation of the mind – namely (6) Dharana, attention, steadying of the mind, the fixing of the internal organ (chitta) in the particular manner indicated in the works on yoga. (7) Dhyana or the uniform continuous contemplation of the object of thought; and (8) that samadhi which is called savikalpasamadhi. Savikalpasamadhi is a deeper and more intense contemplation on the Self to the exclusion of all other objects, and constituting trance or ecstasy. This ecstasy is perfected to the stage of the removal of the slightest trace of the distinction of subject and object in nirvikalpasamadhi, in which there is complete union with the Paramatma, or Divine Spirit. By vairagya (dispassion), and keeping the mind in its unmodified state, yoga is attained. This knowledge, Ahang Brahmasmi ("I am the Brahman"), does not produce liberation (moksha), but is liberation itself, Whether yoga is spoken of as the union of Kulakundalini with Paramashiva, or the union of the individual soul (jivatma) with the Supreme Soul (paramatma), or as the state of mind in which all outward thought is suppressed, or as the controlling or suppression of the thinking faculty (chittavritti), or as the union of the moon and the sun (Ida and Pingala), Prana and Apana, Nada and Vindu, the meaning and the end are in each case the same.

Yoga, in seeking mental control and concentration, makes use of certain preliminary physical processes (sadhana), such as the shatkarmma, asana, mudra, and pranayama. By these four processes and three mental acts, seven qualities, known as shodhana, dridhata, sthirata, dhairyya, laghava, pratyaksha, nirliptatva (vide post), are acquired.

Shodhana: Shatkarmma

The first, or cleansing, is effected by the six processes known as the shatkarmma. Of these, the first is Dhauti, or washing, which is fourfold, or inward washing (antar-dhauti), cleansing of the teeth, etc. (dantadhauti) of the "heart" (hriddhauti), and of the rectum (muladhauti). Antardhauti is also fourfold – namely, vatasara, by which air is drawn into the belly and then expelled; varisara, by which the body is filled with water, which is then evacuated by the anus; vahnisara, in which the nabhi-granthi is made to touch the spinal column (meru); and vahishkrita, in which the belly is by kakinimudra filled with air, which is retained half a yama, and then sent downward. Dantadhauti is fourfold, consisting in the cleansing of the root of the teeth and tongue, the ears, and the "hollow of the forehead" (kapalarandhra). By hriddhauti phlegm and bile are removed. This is done by a stick (dandadhauti) or cloth (vasodhauti) pushed into the throat, or swallowed, or by vomiting (vamanadhauti). Mudadhauti is done to cleanse the exit of the apanavayu either with the middle finger and water or the stalk of a turmeric plant.

Vasti, the second of the shatkarmma, is twofold, and is either of the dry (shuska) or watery (jala) kind. In the second form the yogi sits in the utkatasana posture in water up to the navel, and the anus is contracted and expanded by ashvini mudra; or the same is done in the pashchimottanasana, and the abdomen below the navel is gently moved. In neti the nostrils are cleansed with a piece of string. Lauliki is the whirling of the belly from side to side. In trataka the yogi, without winking, gazes at some minute object until the tears start from his eyes. By this the "celestial vision" (divya drishti) so often referred to in the Tantrika upasana is acquired. Kapalabhati is a process for the removal of phlegm, and is threefold – vatakrama by inhalation and exhalation; vyutkrama by water drawn through the nostrils and ejected through the mouth; and shitkrama the reverse process.

These are the various processes by which the body is cleansed and made pure for the yoga practice to follow.

Dridhata: Asana

Dridhata, or strength or firmness, the acquisition of which is the second of the above-mentioned processes, is attained by asana.

Asana are postures of the body. The term is generally described as modes of seating the body. But the posture is not necessarily a sitting one; for some asana are done on the belly, back, hands, etc. It is said that the asana are as numerous as living beings, and that there are 8,400,000 of these; 1,600 are declared to be excellent, and out of these thirty-two are auspicious for men, which are described in detail. Two of the commonest of these are muktapadmasana ("the loosened lotus seat"), the ordinary position for worship, and baddhapadmasana. Patanjali, on the subject of asana, merely points out what are good conditions, leaving each one to settle the details for himself according to his own requirements. There are certain other asana, which are peculiar to the Tantras, such as munddasana, chitasana, and shavasana, in which skulls, the funeral pyre, and a corpse respectively form the seat of the sadhaka. These, though they may have other ritual objects, form part of the discipline for the conquest of fear and the attainment of indifference, which is the quality of a yoga. And so the Tantras pre-scribe as the scene of such rites the solitary mountain-top, the lonely empty house and river-side, and the cremation-ground. The interior cremation-ground is there where the kamik body and its passions are consumed in the fire of knowledge.

Sthirata: Mudra

Sthirata, or fortitude, is acquired by the practice of the mudra. The mudra dealt with in works of hathayoga are positions of the body. They are gymnastic, health-giving, and destructive of disease, and of death, such as the jaladhara and other mudra. They also preserve from injury by fire, water, or air. Bodily action and the health resulting therefrom react upon the mind, and by the union of a perfect mind and body siddhi is by their means attained. The Gheranda Sanghita describes a number of mudra, of which those of importance may be selected. In the celebrated yonimudra the yogi in siddhasana stops with his fingers the ears, eyes, nostrils, and mouth. He inhales pranavayu by kakinimudra, and unites it with apanavayu. Meditating in their order upon the six chakra, he arouses the sleeping Kulakundalini by the mantra "Hung Hangsah," and raises Her to the Sahasrara; then, deeming himself pervaded with the Shakti, and in blissful union (sanggama) with Shiva, he meditates upon himself, as by reason of that union Bliss itself and the Brahman. Ashvinimudra consists of the repeated contraction and expansion of the anus for the purpose of shodhana or of contraction to restrain the apana in Skatchakrabheda. Shaktichalana employs the latter mudra, which is repeated until vayu manifests in the sushumna. The process is accompanied by inhalation and the union of prana and apana whilst in siddhasana.

Dhairya: Pratyahara

Dhairya, or steadiness, is produced by pratyahara. Pratyahara is the restraint of the senses, the freeing of the mind from all distractions, and the keeping of it under the control of the Atma. The mind is withdrawn from whatsoever direction it may tend by the dominant and directing Self. Pratyahara destroys the six sins.

Laghava: Pranayama

From pranayama (q.v.) arises laghava (lightness).

All beings say the ajapa Gayatri, which is the expulsion of the breath by Hangkara, and its inspiration by Sahkara, 21,600 times a day. Ordinarily, the breath goes forth a distance of 12 finger’s breadth, but in singing, eating, walking, sleeping, coition, the distances are 16, 20, 24, 30, and 36 breadths respectively. In violent exercise these distances are exceeded, the greatest distance being 96 breadths. Where the breathing is under the normal distance, life is prolonged. Where it is above that, it is shortened. Puraka is inspiration, and rechaka expira-tion. Kumbhaka is the retention of breath between these two movements. Kumbhaka is, according to the Gheranda Sanghita of eight kinds: sahita, suryyabheda, ujjayi, shitali, bhastrika, bhramari, murchchha, and kevali. Pranayama similarly varies. Pranayama is the control of the breath and other vital airs. It awakens shakti, frees from disease, produces detachment from the world, and bliss. It is of varying values, being the best (uttama) where the measure is 20; middling (madhyama) when at 16 it produces spinal tremor; and inferior (adhama) when at 12 it induces perspiration. It is necessary that the nadi should be cleansed, for air does not enter those which are impure. The cleansing of the nadi (nadi-shuddhi) is either samau« or nirmanu – that is, with or without, the use of vija. According to the first form, the yogi in padmasana does gurunyasa according to the directions of the guru. Meditating on "yang," he does japa through Ida of the vija 16 times, kumbhaka with japa of vija 64 times, and then exhalation through the solar nadi and japa of vija 32 times. Fire is raised from manipura and united with prithivi. Then follows inhalation by the solar nadu with the vahni vija 16 times, kumbhaka with 64 japa of the vija, followed by exhalation through the lunar nadi and japa of the vija 32 times. He then meditates on the lunar brilliance, gazing at the tip of the nose. and inhales by Ida with japa of the vija "thang" 16 times. Kumbhaka is done with the vija vang 64 times. He then thinks of himself as flooded by nectar, and considers that the nadi have been washed. He exhales by Pingala with 32 japa of the vija lang, and considers himself thereby as strengthened. He then takes his seat on a mat of kusha grass, a deerskin, etc., and, facing east or north, does pranayama. For its exercise there must be, in addition to nadi shuddhi, consideration of proper place, time, and food. Thus, the place should not be so distant as to induce anxiety, nor in an unprotected place, such as a forest, nor in a city or crowded locality, which induces distraction. The food should be pure, and of a vegetarian character. It should not be too hot or too cold, pungent, sour, salt, or bitter. Fasting, the taking of one meal a day, and the like, are prohibited. On the contrary, the Yogi should not remain without food for more than one yama (three hours). The food taken should be light and strengthening. Long walks and other violent exercise should be avoided, as also – cer-tainly in the case of beginners – sexual intercourse. The stomach should only be half filled. Yoga should be commenced, it is said, in spring or autumn. As stated, the forms of pranayama vary. Thus, sahita, which is either with (sagarbha) or without (nirgarbha) vija, is, according to the former form, as follows: The sadhaka meditates on Vidhi (Brahma), who is full of rajoguna, red in colour, and the image of akara. He inhales by Ida in six measures (matra). Before kumbhaka he does the uddiyanabandha mudra. Meditating on Hari (Vishnu) as sattvamaya and the black vija ukara, he does kumbhaka with 64 japa of the vija; then, meditating on Shiva as tamomaya and his white vija makara, he exhales through Pingala with 32 japa of the vija; then, inhaling by Pingala, he does kumbhaka, and exhales by Ida with the same vija. The process is repeated in the normal and reversed order.

Pratyaksha: Dhyana

Through dhyana is gained the third quality of realization or pratyaksha. Dhyana, or meditation, is of three kinds: (1) sthula, or gross; (2) jyotih; (3) sukshma, or subtle. In the first the form of the Devata is brought before the mind. One form of dhyana for this purpose is as follows: Let the sadhana think of the great ocean of nectar in his heart. In the middle of that ocean is the island of gems, the shores of which are made of powdered gems. The island is clothed with a kadamba forest in yellow blossom. This forest is surrounded by Malati, Champaka, Parijata, and other fragrant trees. In the midst of the Kadamba forest there rises the beautiful Kalpa tree, laden with fresh blossom and fruit. Amidst its leaves the black bees hum and the koel birds make love. Its four branches are the four Vedas. Under the tree there is a great mandapa of precious stones, and within it a beautiful bed, on which let him picture to himself his Ishtadevata. The Guru will direct him as to the form, raiment, vahana, and the title of the Devata. Jyotirdhyana is the infusion of fire and life (tejas) into the form so imagined. In the muladhara lies the snake-like Kundalini. There the jivatma, as it were the tapering flame of a candle, dwells. The sadhaka then meditates upon the tejomaya Brahman, or, alternatively, between the eyebrows on pranavatmaka, the flame emitting its lustre.

Sukshmadhyana is meditation on Kundalini with sham-bhavi mudra after She has been roused. By this yoga (vide post) the atma is revealed (atmasakshatkara).

Nirliptatva: Samadhi

Lastly, through samadhi the quality of nirliptatva, or detachment, and thereafter mukti (liberation) is attained. Samadhi considered as a process is intense mental con-centration, with freedom from all sangkalpa, and attachment to the world, and all sense of "mineness," or self-interest (mamata). Considered as the result of such process it is the union of Jiva with the Paramatma.

Forms Of Samadhi Yoga

This samadhi yoga is, according to the Gheranda Sanghita, of six kinds. (1) Dhyanayogasamadhi, attained by shambhavi mudra, in which, after meditation on the Vindu-Brahman and realization of the Atma (atmapratyaksha), the latter is resolved into the Mahakasha. (2) Nadayoga, attained by khechari mudra, in which the frenum of the tongue is cut, and the latter is lengthened until it reaches the space between the eyebrows, and is then introduced in a reversed position into the mouth. (3) Rasanandayoga, attained by kumbhaka, in which the sadhaka in a silent place closes both ears and does puraka and kumbhaka until he hears the word nada in sounds varying in strength from that of the cricket’s chirp to that of the large kettledrum. By daily practice the anahata sound is heard, and the jyotih with the manas therein is seen, which is ultimately dissolved in the supreme Vishnu. (4) Layasiddhiyoga, accomplished by the celebrated yonimudra already described. The sadhaka, thinking of himself as Shakti and the Paramatma as Purusha, feels himself in union (sanggama) with Shiva, and enjoys with him the bliss which is shringararasa, and becomes Bliss itself, or the Brahman. (5) Bhakti Yoga, in which meditation is made on the Ishtadevata with devotion (bhakti) until, with tears flowing from the excess of bliss, the ecstatic condition is attained. (6) Rajayoga, accomplished by aid of the manomurchchha kumbhaka. Here the manas detached from all worldly objects is fixed between the eyebrows in the ajnachakra, and Kumbhaka is done. By the union of the manas with the atma, in which the jnani sees all things, rajayogasamadhi is attained.


The piercing of the six chakra is one of the most important subjects dealt with in the Tantras, and is part of the practical yaga process of which they treat. Details of practice can only be learnt from a Guru, but generally it may be said that the particular is raised to the universal life, which as chit is realizable only in the sahasrara in the following manner: The jivatma in the subtle body, the receptacle of the five vital airs (pancha prana), mind in its three aspects of manas, ahangkara, and buddhi; the five organs of action (panchakarmendriya) and the five organs of perception (panchajnanendriya) is united with the Kulakundalini. The Kandarpa or Kama Vayu in the muladhara a form of the Apana Vayu is given a leftward revolution and the fire which is round Kundalini is kindled. By the vija "Hung," and the heat of the fire thus kindled, the coiled and sleeping Kundalini is wakened. She who lay asleep around svayambhu-linga, with her coils three circles and a half closing the entrance of the brahma-dvara, will, on being roused, enter that door and move upwards, united with the jivatma.

On this upward movement, Brahma, Savitri, Dakini-Shakti, the Devas, vija, and vritti, are dissolved in the body of Kundalini. The Mahimandala or prithivi is converted into the vija "Lang," and is also merged in Her body. When Kundalini leaves the muladhara, that lotus which, on the awakening of Kundalini had opened and turned its flower upwards, again closes and hangs down-wards. As Kundalini reaches the svadhishthana-chakra, that lotus opens out, and lifts its flower upwards. Upon the entrance of Kundalini, Mahavishnu, Mahalakshmi, Sarasvati, Rakini Shakti, Deva, Matrikas, and vritti, Vaikunthadhama, Golaka, and the Deva and Devi residing therein are dissolved in the body of Kundalini. The prithivi, or "earth" vija "Lang," is dissolved in apas, and apas converted into the vija vang remains in the body of Kundalini. When the Devi reaches the manipura chakra all that is in the chakra merges in Her body. The Varuna vija "vang" is dissolved in fire, which remains in the body of the Devi as the Vija "rang." This chakra is called the Brahma-granthi (or knot of Brahma). The piercing of this chakra may involve considerable pain, physical disorder, and even disease. On this account the directions of an experienced Guru are necessary, and therefore also other modes of yoga have been recommended for those to whom they are applicable: for in such modes activity is provoked directly in the higher centre and it is not necessary that the lower chakras should be pierced. Kundalini next reaches the anahata chakra, where all which is therein is merged in Her. The vija of Tejas, "rang," disappears in Vayu and Vayu converted into its vija "Yang" merges into the body of Kundalini. This chakra is known as Vishnu-granthi (knot of Vishnu). Kundalini then ascends to the abode of Bharati (or Sarasvati) or the vishuddha chakra. Upon Her entrance, Arddha-narishvara Shiva, Shakini, the sixteen vowels, mantra, etc., are dissolved in the body of Kundalini. The vija of Vayu, "yang," is dissolved in akasha, which itself being transformed into the vija "hang," is merged in the body of Kundalini. Piercing the lalana chakra, the Devi reaches the ajnachakra, where Parama Shiva, Siddha-Kali, the Deva, guna, and all else therein, are absorbed into Her body. The vija of akasha, "Hang," is merged in the manas chakra, and mind itself in the body of Kundalini. The ajnachakra is known as Rudra-granthi (or knot of Rudra or Shiva). After this chakra has been pierced, Kundalini of Her own motion unites with Parama Shiva. As She proceeds upwards from the two-petalled lotus, the niralamba puri, pranava, nada, etc., are merged in Her.

The Kundalini has then in her progress upwards absorbed in herself the twenty-four tattva commencing with the gross elements, and then unites Herself and becomes one. with Parama Shiva. This is the maithuna (coition) of the sattvika-pancha-tattva. The nectar which flows from such union floods the kshudrabrahmanda or human body. It is then that the sadhaka, forgetful of all in this world, is immersed in ineffable bliss.

Thereafter the sadhaka, thinking of the vayu vija "yang" as being in the left nostril, inhales through Ida, making japa of the vija sixteen times. Then, closing both nostrils, he makes japa of the vija sixty-four times. He then thinks that the black "man of sin" (Papapurusha) in the left cavity of the abdomen is being dried up (by air), and so thinking he exhales through the right nostril Pingala, making japa of the vija thirty-two times. The sadhaka then meditating upon the red-coloured vija "rang" in the manipura, inhales, making sixteen japa of the vija, and then closes the nostrils, making sixteen japa. While making the japa he thinks that the body of "the man of sin" is being burnt and reduced to ashes (by fire). He then exhales through the right nostril with thirty-two japa. He then meditates upon the white chandravija "thang." He next inhales through Ida, making japa of the vija sixteen times, closes both nostrils with japa done sixty-four times, and exhales through Pingala with thirty-two japa. During inhalation, holding of breath, and exhalation, he should consider that a new celestial body is being formed by the nectar (composed of all the letters of the alphabet, matrika-varna) dropping from the moon. In a similar way with the vija "vang," the formation of the body is continued, and with the vija "lang" it is completed and strengthened. Lastly, with the mantra "Sohang," the sadhaka leads the jivatma into the heart. Thus Kundalini, who has enjoyed Her union with Paramashiva, sets out on her return journey the way she came. As she passes through each of the chakra all that she has absorbed therefrom come out from herself and take their several places in the chakra.

In this manner she again reaches the muladhara, when all that is described to be in the chakras (see pp. lvii-lxiii) are in the positions which they occupied before her awakening.

The Gurus instructions are to go above the ajna-chakra, but no special directions are given; for after this chakra has been pierced the sadhaka can reach the brahmasthana unaided. Below the "seventh month of Shiva" the relationship of Guru and sishya ceases. The instructions of the seventh amnaya is not expressed (aprakashita).

Sin and Virtue

According to Christian conceptions, sin is a violation of the personal will of, and apostasy from, God. The flesh is the source of lusts which oppose God’s commands, and in this lies its positive significance for the origin of a bias of life against God. According to St. Thomas, in the original state, no longer held as the normal, the lower powers were subordinate to reason, and reason subject to God. "Original sin" is formally a "defect of original righteousness," and materially "concupiscence." As St. Paul says (Rom. vii. 8, 14), the pneumatic law, which declares war on the lusts, meets with opposition from the "law in the members." These and similar notions involve a religious and moral conscious judgment which is assumed to exist in humanity alone. Hindu notions of papa (wrong) and punya (that which is pure, holy, and right) have a wider content. The latter is accordance and working with the will of Ishvara (of whom the jiva is itself the embodiment), as manifested at any particular time in the general direction taken by the cosmic process, as the former is the contrary. The two terms are relative to the state of evolution and the surrounding circumstances of the jiva to which they are applied. Thus, the impulse towards individuality which is necessary and just on the path of inclination or "going forth" (pra-vritti marga), is wrongful as a hindrance to the attainment of unity, which is the goal of the path of return (nivritti marga) where inclinations should cease. In short, what makes for progress on the one path is a hindrance on the other. The matter, when rightly undertsood, is not (except, perhaps, sometimes popularly) viewed from the juristic standpoint of an external Lawgiver, His commands, and those subject to it, but from that in which the exemplification of the moral law is regarded as the true and proper expression of the jivas own evolution. Morality, it has been said, is the true nature of a being. For the same reason wrong is its destruction. What the jiva actually does is the result of his karmma. Further, the term jiva, though commonly applicable to the human embodiment of the atma, is not limited to it. Both papa and punya may therefore be manifested in beings of a lower rank than that of humanity in so far as what they (whether consciously or unconsciously) do is a hindrance to their true development. Thus, in the Yoga Vashishtha it is said that even a creeping plant acquired merit by association with the holy muni on whose dwelling it grew. Objectively considered, sin is concisely defined as duhkhajanakam papam. It is that which has been, is, and will be the cause of pain, mental or physical, in past, present, and future births. The pain as the consequence of the action done need not be immediate. Though, however, the suffering may be experienced as a result later than the action of which it is the cause, the consequence of the action is not really something separate, but a part of the action itself – namely, that part of it which belongs to the future. The six chief sins are kama, krodha, lobha, moha, mada, matsaryya – lust, anger, covetousness, ignorance or delusion, pride and envy.

All wrong is at base self-seeking, in ignorance or disregard of the unity of the Self in all creatures. Virtue (punya), therefore, as the contrary of sin, is that which is the cause of happiness (sukhajanakam punyam). That happiness is produced either in this or future births, or leads to the enjoyment of heaven (Svarga). Virtue is that which leads towards the unity whose substance is Bliss (ananda). This good karmma produces pleasant fruit, which, like all the results of karmma, is transitory. As Shruti says: "It is not by acts or the pindas offered by one’s children or by wealth, but by renunciation that men have attained liberation." It is only by escape from karmma through knowledge, that the jiva becoming one with the unchanging Absolute attains lasting rest. It is obvious that for those who obtain such release neither vice nor virtue, which are categories of phenomenal being, exist.


Karmma is action, its cause, and effect. There is no uncaused action, nor action without effect. The past, the present, and the future are linked together as one whole. The ichchha, jnana, and kriya shakti manifest in the jivatma living on the worldly plane as desire, knowledge, and action. As the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad says: "Man is verily formed of desire. As is his desire, so is his thought. As is his thought, so is his action. As is his action, so is his attainment." These fashion the individual’s Karmma. "He who desires goes by work to the object on which his mind is set." "As he thinks, so he becometh." Then, as to action, "whatsoever a man sows that shall he reap." The matter is not one of punishment and reward, but of consequence, and the consequence of action is but a part of it. If anything is caused, its result is caused, the result being part of the original action, whigh continues, and is transformed into the result. The jivatma experiences happiness for his good acts and misery for his evil ones.

Karmma is of three kinds – viz., sanchita karmma – that is, the whole vast accumulated mass of the unexhausted karmma of the past, whether good or bad, which has still to be worked out. This past karmma is the cause of the character of the succeeding births, and, as such, is called sangskara, or vasana. The second form of karmma is prarabdha, or that part of the first which is ripe, and which is worked out and bears fruit in the present birth. The third is the new karmma, which man is continually making by his present and future actions, and is called vartamana and agami. The embodied soul (jivatma), whilst in the sangsara or phenomenal world, is by its nature ever making present karmma and experiencing the past. Even the Devas themselves are subject to time and karmma. By his karmma a jiva may become an Indra.

Karmma is thus the invisible (adrishta), the product of ordained or prohibited actions capable of giving bodies. It is either good or bad, and together these are called the impurity of action (karmma mala). Even good action, when done with a view to its fruit, can never secure liberation. Those who think of the reward will receive benefit in the shape of that reward. Liberation is the work of Shiva-Shakti, and is gained only by brahmajnana, the destruction of the will to separate life, and realization of unity with the Supreme. All accompanying action must be without thought of self. With the cessation of desire the tie which binds man to the sangsara is broken.

According to the Tantra, the sadhana and achara (q.v.) appropriate to an individual depends upon his karmma. A man’s tendencies, character, and temperament is moulded by his sanchita karmma. As regards prarabdha-karmma, it is unavoidable. Nothing can be done but to work it out. Some systems prescribe the same method for men of divers tendencies. But the Tantra recognizes the force of karmma, and moulds its method to the temperament produced by it. The needs of each vary, as also the methods which will be the best suited to each to lead them to the common goal. Thus, forms of worship which are permissible to the vira are forbidden to the pashu. The guru must determine that for which the sadhaka is qualified (adhikara).

Four Aims Of Being

There is but one thing which all seek – happiness – though it be of differing kinds and sought in different ways. All forms, whether sensual, intellectual, or spiritual, are from the Brahman, who is Itself the Source and Essence of all Bliss, and Bliss itself (rasovai sah). Though issuing from the same source – pleasure differs in its forms in being higher and lower, transitory or durable, or permanent. Those on the path of desire (pravritti marga) seek it through the enjoyments of this world (bhukti) or in the more durable, though still impermanent delights of heaven (svarga). He who is on the path of return (nivritti marga) seeks happiness, not in the created worlds, but in everlasting union with their primal source (mukti); and thus it is said that man can never be truly happy until he seeks shelter with Brahman, which is Itself the great Bliss (rasam hyevayam labdhva anandi bhavati).

The eternal rhythm of the Divine Breath is outwards from spirit to matter and inwards from matter to spirit. Devi as Maya evolves the world. As Mahamaya She recalls it to Herself. The path of outgoing is the way of pravritti; that of return nivritti. Each of these movements is Divine. Enjoyment (bhukti) and liberation (mukti) are each Her gifts. And in the third chapter of the work cited it is said that of Vishnu and Shiva mukti only can be had, but of Devi both bhukti and mukti; and this is so in so far as the Devi is, in a peculiar sense, the source whence those material things come from which enjoyment (bhoga) arises. All jiva on their way to humanity, and the bulk of humanity itself, is on the forward path, and rightly seeks the enjoyment which is appropriate to its stage of evolution.

The thirst for life will continue to manifest itself until the point of return is reached and the outgoing energy is exhausted. Man must, until such time, remain on the path of desire. In the hands of Devi is the noose of desire. Devi herself is both desire and that light of knowledge which in the wise who have known enjoyment lays bare its futilities. But one cannot renounce until one has enjoyed, and so of the world-process itself it is said: that the unborn ones, the Purushas, are both subservient to Her (prakriti), and leave Her by reason of viveka.

Provision is made for the worldly life which is the "outgoing" of the Supreme. And so it is said that the Tantrika has both enjoyment (bhukti) and liberation (mukti). But enjoyment itself is not without its law. Desire is not to be let loose without bridle. The mental self is, as is commonly said, the charioteer of the body, of which the senses are the horses. Contrary to mistaken notions on the subject, the Tantras take no exception to the ordinary rule that it is necessary not to let them run away. If one would not be swept away and lost in the mighty force which is the descent into matter, thought and action must be controlled by Dharmma. Hence the first three of the aims of life (trivarga) on the path of pravritti are dharmma, artha, and kama.


Dharmma means that which is to be held fast or kept – law, usage, custom, religion, piety, right, equity, duty, good works, and morality. It is, in short, the eternal and immutable (sanatana) principles which hold together the universe in its parts and in its whole, whether organic or inorganic matter. "That which supports and holds together the peoples (of the universe) is dharmma." "It was declared for well-being and bringeth well-being. It upholds and preserves. Because it supports and holds together, it is called Dharmma. By Dharmma are the people upheld." It is, in short, not an artificial rule, but the principle of right living. The mark of dharmma and of the good is achara (good conduct), from which dharmma is born and fair fame is acquired here and hereafter. The sages embraced achara as the root of all tapas. Dharmma is not only the principle of right living, but also its application. That course of meritorious action by which man fits himself for this world, heaven, and liberation. Dharmma is also the result of good action – that is, the merit acquired thereby. The basis of the sanatana dharmma is revelation (shruti) as presented in the various Shastra.– Smriti, Purana, and Tantra. In the Devi Bhagavata it is said that in the Kaliyuga Vishnu in the form of Vyasa divides the one Veda into many parts, with the desire to benefit men, and with the knowledge that they are short-lived and of small intelligence, and hence unable to master the whole. This dharmma is the first of the four leading arms (chaturvarga) of all being.


Kama is desire, such as that for wealth, success, family, position, or other forms of happiness for self or others. It also involves the notion of the necessity for the posses-sion of great and noble aims, desires, and ambitions, for such possession is the characteristic of greatness of soul. Desire, whether of the higher or lower kinds, must, however, be lawful, for man is subject to dharmma, which regulates it.


Artha (wealth) stands for the means by which this life may be maintained – in the lower sense, food, drink, money, house, land, and other property; and in the higher sense the means by which effect may be given to the higher desires, such as that of worship, for which artha may be necessary, aid given to others, and so forth. In short, it is all the necessary means by which all right desire, whether of the lower or higher kinds, may be fulfilled. As the desire must be a right desire – for man is subject to dharmma, which regulates them – so also must be the means sought, which are equally so governed.

This first group is known as the trivarga, which must be cultivated whilst man is upon the pravritti marga. Unless and until there is renunciation on entrance upon the path of return, where inclination ceases (nivritti marga), man must work for the ultimate goal by meritorious acts (dharmma), desires (kama), and by the lawful means (artha) whereby the lawful desires which give birth to righteous acts are realized. Whilst on the pravritti marga "the trivarga should be equally cultivated, for he who is addicted to one only is despicable" (dharmmartha-kamah samameva sevyah yo hyekasaktah sa jano-jagha-nyah).


Of the four aims, moksha or mukti is the truly ultimate end, for the other three are ever haunted by the fear of Death the Ender.

Mukti means "loosening" or liberation. It is advisable to avoid the term "salvation," as also other Christian terms, which connote different, though in a loose sense, analogous ideas. According to the Christian doctrine (soteriology), faith in Christ’s Gospel and in His Church effects salvation, which is the forgiveness of sins mediated by Christ’s redeeming activity, saving from judgment, and admitting to the Kingdom of God. On the other hand, mukti means a loosening from the bonds of the sangsara (phenomenal existence), resulting in a union (of various degrees of completeness) of the embodied spirit (jivatma) or individual life with the Supreme Spirit (paramatma). Liberation can be attained by spiritual knowledge (atmajnana) alone, though it is obvious that such knowledge must be preceded by, and accompanied with, and, indeed, can only be attained in the sense of actual realization, by freedom from sin and right action through adherence to dharmma. The idealistic system of Hinduism, which posits the ultimate reality as being in the nature of mind, rightly, in such cases, insists on what, for default of a better term, may be described as the intellectual, as opposed to the ethical, nature. Not that it fails to recognize the importance of the latter, but regards it as subsidiary and powerless of itself to achieve that extinction of the modifications of the energy of consciousness which constitute the supreme mukti known as Kaivalya. Such extinction cannot be effected by conduct alone, for such conduct, whether good or evil, pro-duces karmma, which is the source of the modifications which it is man’s final aim to suppress. Moksha belongs to the nitvritti marga, as the trivarga appertain to the pravritti marga.

There are various degrees of mukti, some more perfect than the others, and it is not, as is generally supposed, one state.

There are four future states of Bliss, or pada, being in the nature of abodes – viz., salokya, samipya, sarupya, and sayujya – that is, living in the same loka, or region, with the Deva worshipped; being near the Deva,; receiving the same form or possessing the same aishvaryya (Divine qualities) as the Deva, and becoming one with the Deva worshipped. The abode to which the jiva attains depends upon the worshipper and the nature of his worship, which may be with, or without, images, or of the Deva regarded as distinct from the worshipper, and with attributes, and so forth. The four abodes are the result of action, transitory and conditioned. Mahanirvvana, or Kaivalya, the real moksha, is the result of spiritual knowledge (jnana), and is unconditioned and permanent. Those who know the Brahman, recognizing that the worlds resulting from action are imperfect, reject them, and attain to that unconditioned Bliss which transcends them all. Kaivalya is the supreme state of oneness without attributes, the state in which, as the Yogasutra says, modification of the energy of consciousness is extinct, and when it is established in its own real nature.

Liberation is attainable while the body is yet living, in which case there exists the state of jivanmukti celebrated in the Jivanmuktigita of Dattatreya. The soul, it is true, is not really fettered, and any appearance to the contrary is illusory. There is, in fact, freedom, but though moksha is already in possession still, because of the illusion that it is not yet attained, means must be taken to remove the illusion, and the jiva who succeeds in this is jivanmukta, though in the body, and is freed from future embodi-ments. The enlightened Kaula, according to the Nitya-nita, sees no difference between mud and sandal, friend and foe, a dwelling-house and the cremation-ground. He knows that the Brahman is all, that the Supreme soul (paramatma) and the individual soul (jivatma) are one, and freed from all attachment he is jivanmukta, or liberated, whilst yet living. The means whereby mukti is attained is the yoga process (vide ante).


Siddhi is produced by sadhana. The former term, which literally means "success," includes accomplishment, achievement, success, and fruition of all kinds. A person may thus gain siddhi in speech, siddhi in mantra, etc. A person is siddha also who has perfected his spiritual development. The various powers attainable – namely, anima, mahima, laghima, garima, prapti, prakamya, ishitva, vashitva, the powers of becoming small, great, light, heavy, attaining what one wills, and the like – are known as the eight siddhi. The thirty-ninth chapter of the Brahmavaivarta Purana mentions eighteen kinds, but there are many others, including such minor accomplishments as nakhadarpana siddhi or "nail-gazing." The great siddhi is spiritual perfection. Even the mighty powers of the "eight siddhi" are known as the "lesser siddhi," since the greatest of all siddhi is full liberation (mahanirvana) from the bonds of phenomenal life and union with the Paramatma, which is the supreme object (paramartha) to be attained through human birth.

A. A.


Next: Chapter 1 - Questions relating to the Liberation of Beings