om swastik belpatra

 

As in other Hindu and Buddhist yoga traditions, Mantra and Yantra play an important part in Tantra for keening the mindstream and bodymind. The Mantras and Yantras as instruments, invoke specific Hindu deities such as Shiva and Kali Ma. Similarly, puja may involve focusing on a Yantra or mandala associated with a deity.

Identification with deities

Tantra, being a development of early Hindu Vedic thought, embraced the Hindu gods and goddesses, especially Shiva and Shakti, along with the Advaita philosophy that each represents an aspect of the ultimate Para Shiva, or Brahman. These deities may be worshiped externally with flowers, incense, and other offerings; but, more importantly, are engaged as attributes of Ishta Devata meditations, the practitioners either visualizing themselves as the deity or experiencing the darshan (vision) of the deity. In Buddhist Tantra, this process is known as the practice of the Yidam or Deity Yoga.

Concentration on the body

Tantrikas generally see the body as a microcosm; thus in the Kaulajnana-nirnaya, for example, the practitioner meditates on the head as the moon, the heart as the sun and the genitals as fire. As in the yoga tradition, a series of energy centres (chakras "wheels") may be used as concentration points and may be associated with elements, planets or occult powers (siddhi)

Tantra Mantra Yantra Evolution and involution

According to Tantra, being-consciousness-bliss or Satchidananda has the power of both self-evolution and self-involution. Reality evolves into a multiplicity of creatures and things, yet at the same time always remains pure consciousness, being and bliss. In this process of evolution, Maya (illusion) conceals Reality and separates it into opposites, such as conscious and unconscious, pleasant and unpleasant, and so forth. These determining conditions if not realised as illusion; bind, limit and fetter (pashu) the individual (jiva).

In this relative dimension, Shiva and Shakti are perceived as separate. However in Tantra, even in the state of evolution, Reality remains pure consciousness, being, and bliss, though Tantra does not deny either the act or fact of this evolution. In fact, Tantra affirms that both the world process itself and the individual jiva are themselves Real. In this, Tantra distinguishes itself from pure dualism as well as from the qualified non-dualism of Vedanta.

However, evolution or the ’outgoing current’ is only one half of the functioning of Maya. Involution, or the ’return current’, takes the jiva back towards the source or root of Reality, revealing the infinite. Tantra is understood to teach the method of changing the ’outgoing current’ into the ’return current’, transforming the fetters created by Maya into that which ’releases’ or ’liberates’. This view underscores two maxims of Tantra: "One must rise by that by which one falls" and "the very poison that kills becomes the elixir of life when used by the wise."

The Tantric method

The Tantric method is to sublimate rather than negate relative reality. This method of sublimation consists of three phases: purification, elevation and the "reaffirmation of identity on the plane of pure consciousness."

Tantric practices

Because of the wide range of communities covered by the term Tantra, it is hard to describe tantric practices definitively. The basic practice, the Hindu worship known as puja may include any of the following elements.