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The phenomenon of tantric1 2 Buddhism that dominated the scene of Indian Buddhism from the eighth to the thirteenth century was the result of a fusion of divergent thoughts and practices. Tantric Buddhism was forged from a variety of metaphysical currents, and religious practices, within a particular socio-political context. To understand its theory and praxis, it is essential to have a panoramic view of tantrism in general, and identify the labyrinth of influences that gave birth to it in particular.- This chapter is an attempt to unravel the genesis, nay the genetics of tantric Buddhism as well as trace its growth and development.

1. Tantra

The essence of tantm is revealed in its etymology. The term ‘tantra' comes either from the Sanskrit root ‘tan’ (to spread) or from ‘tantri' (knowledge). Hence, 'tantrci' may be understood as ‘that which spreads knowledge’.3 Kautilya (3rd century B.C.) used the wordtantra’ to signify ‘fundamental canons of a system of thought’4 Again, in referring to certain systems of Philosophy and Disciplines, such as Nydya, Sdrhkhya and Cikitsa, expressions such as ‘Nyaya-tantresu4Sdmkhya-tantresu’ and Cikitsa-tantresu *, were commonly used.5 The Rcitncigotravibhaga, a text belonging to the Buddhist Tathagatagarbha literature. Was popularly known as Uttaratantra. Therefore, the term 1 tantra', at least initially, meant any work, treatise, or handbook teaching some doctrine or practice, not necessarily a tantric one with the connotation it has now.

The term tantra could also be related to the Sanskrit verbal roots 'tan' which means ‘to stretch’, or ‘expound’, and to fra' which means ‘to save’ Hence ‘tantra' is ‘that which saves’ This soteriological nuance of the term tantra' assumes importance in the face of the common misconception that the primary aim of tantra is to procure mundane benefits.

The Tibetan equivalent of the Sanskrit wordtantra’, 4rgyud’, literally means a ‘continuum’ or an ‘unbroken stream’, flowing from ignorance to enlightenment. This is significant especially in relation to the tantric praxis. Tantra puts into practice the homeopathic dictum of ‘curing the like by the like’ (sitnilia similibus curantur). That is, unlike the Sutra path, the ‘rgyiuT enables dissonant emotions such as raga (passion), dvesa (wrath), moha (delusion) etc., to be transmuted into blissful states of realisation, without renunciation or rejection. This resonates with the spirit of the Madhyamika Karika that sariisdra and nirvana are essentially one and the same continuum. Thus the tantric practitioner can cultivate an uninterrupted continuum between his ordinary initial mind, the advanced mind on the Path, and the resultant fully enlightened mind of the Buddha.8 While the Sanskrit root of the term 'tantra' points to its theoretical aspect, the Tibetan root highlights its praxis. Tantra must be understood in terms of both theory and praxis.

There have been several attempts to define Tantra. Benoytosh Bhattacharyya in his introduction to
Nispannayogdvali states, “Tantras are psychic sciences, which prescribe a variety of psychic exercises in order to experience certain supernormal phenomena.”9 This definition, while highlighting the psychic aspect of tantric praxis, seems to ignore the large number of physical practices enjoined by Kriya and Carya Tantras. Again, tantric praxis produces not only the experience of certain ‘supernormal phenomena’ but also the attainment of siddhis and other temporal benefits, for which alone tantra was often pursued. Mahamahopadhyaya Haraprasad Shastri, in his introduction to N.N. Vasu’s Modern Buddhism and its Followers in Orissa, writes, “The word Tantra is very loosely used. Ordinary people understand by it any system other than the Vedas. But it really means the worship of Sakti, or female energy. The female energy is worshipped in conjunction with male energy. The union of male and female is the essence of Tantra.”10 This definition, albeit applicable to the Hindu lantras as well as the higher Yoga and Anuttarayoga tantras of the Buddhists, fails to include the lower Kriya and Caryd Tantras. Tantra defies definition as it embraces within its fold elements from all quarters; it is theory and praxis; it is philosophy and religion. Hence a definition may in fact do violence to the very spirit of the system, and so it is best left undefined. However, it may be described as a special genre of religious literature, a unique philosophy and a sophisticated psychic praxis of an esoteric nature. We shall now proceed to explore the sources of the theory and praxis of tantra.

2. Rise of Tantrism

Tantrism, whether Hindu, Buddhist or Jaina, is not an absolute novelty within the Philosophico-religious traditions of India. It is rather a continuation, a modification and innovation grafted on their respective traditions. In this sense it marks a point of arrival and departure. The evolution of tantra, its theory and praxis, occurred over several centuries. It owes much to a wide variety of socio-cultural and religious influences. It is possible to posit a store of primitive tantric elements scattered across several cultures, from which Hindu, Buddhist and Jaina Tantras borrowed freely over an indefinite period of time. P.G. Yogi points out that “...Tantrik tradition was not evolved by Hinduism or Buddhism out of its own select material, but has in fact grown out of the soil which both the Hindus and Buddhists use.”11 However, certain specific contribution to tantrism by the respective traditions is not ruled out.

2.1 Antiquity of Tantrism

Available historical data indicate that tantrism is of very ancient magical descent. The genealogy of certain tantric rites has been traced back to the Vedas, especially the Rg-vedct (10th century B.C.) and the Athcir\>a-veda. On account of its close relation with the ritualistic tradition of the Vedas, tontra has been called snitisakhavisesah.'12 Certain symbols engraved on coins belonging to the sixth and seventh century B.C., have been identified as tantric hieroglyphics. Upanisads like the Tripuropanisad contain descriptions of tantric hieroglyphics. Tantric deities were already worshipped in the fifth century is proved by the Gangdhar stone inscriptions (424 A.D.). Again, certain Agamas may possibly belong to the same period. 13 The antiquity of tantrism is still difficult to determine though a number of tantric texts have been discovered. This is because these texts are of a much later development. Tantric practices were in circulation long before the texts delineating them made their appearance. Most of the tantric texts belong to the period between the eighth and the fourteenth century A.D., which is considered to be the golden period of tantrism in terms of textual and artistic production.14 Adequate historical data is not available as yet to arrive at a more certain date as the early stages of tantrism are much older than their first references in literature. Hence even if the tantras can be dated with some certainity the genesis of tantrism may still continue to elude the grasp of the historian.

Much scholarly wrangling has taken place on the question whether the Hindu tantras preceded the Buddhist tantras or vice versa. Mircea Eliade is of the opinion that Hindu tantrism is prior to its Buddhist counterpart. According to him, tantrism is essentially a Hindu phenomenon. However the oldest datable tantric documents are Buddhist. But Eliade counters, “Even if the oldest datable documents are Buddhist (they arc Chinese, not Indian), Hindu tantrism in all likelihood and for several reasons, surely preceded Tantric Buddhism, even if both later interacted.”15 But Benoytosh Bhattacharyya is of the view that the Buddhist Tantras were the inspiration for the Hindu Tantras. He writes,
The developments on Tantra made by [he Buddhists and the extraordinary plastic art they developed did not fail again to create an impression on the minds of the Hindus, and they readily incorporated many ideas, doctrines, and gods, originally conceived by the Buddhists in their religion and literature.... The bulk of the literature which goes by the name of the Hindu Tantras, arose almost immediately aflcr the Buddhist ideas had established themselves, though after the Tantric Age, even up to the last century, Tantric works were continued to be written by the Hindus.

Benoytosh Bhattacharyya tries to establish the relative priority of the origin of certain deities common to both the systems in an effort to prove the priority of Buddhist Tantras. He concludes his lengthy argument stating, “it is possible to declare without fear of contradiction, that the Buddhists were the first to introduce the Tantras into their religion, and that the Hindus borrowed them from the Buddhists in later times, and that it is idle to say that later Buddhism was an outcome of Saivism.” Historical information available so far is scanty and confusing, rendering such an endeavour futile at the present stage. Further, the scope of this work neither warrants nor permits such an enterprise. The primary concern of the present section is only to identify the wellsprings of tantric theory and praxis.

2.2 Sources of Tantric Theory.

Tantric theory shares much in common with the classical Indian systems (Dars'anas)... Its linguistic or metalinguistic speculations are based on those of Mlmamsa. Its cosmology is modelled on the categories of Samkhya. Tantric metaphysics, mostly of the non-dualistic, absolutistic type is Vedantic18 especially in case of Hindu Tantras, and Mahayanic in case of Buddhist Tantras. S.B. Dasgupta writes,
...we find in the Hindu Tantras the ideas of Vedanta. Yoga. Samkhya, Nvdya-vaisesika. the
Puranas and even of the medical sciences and the law-books - all scattered here and there; so also in the Buddhist Tanlras we find fragments of metaphysical thought, which arc all taken from the leading schools of Mahayana Buddhism as influenced by Vedantic monism.19
Tantric theory is a jumble of ideas drawn from Sunyavada, Yogdedra-vijndnavada and Vedanta, including even the leading tenets of early Buddhism. This rather unsystematic and confused presentation of tantric theory is probably because, the primary aim of tantrism is to build up a sure praxis to attain the goal in the shortest and easiest way possible, and not to construct a precise metaphysical system. While Vedanta and Mahayana represent the exoteric teaching, tantrism represents the esoteric one. The two are different yet they are not opposed to each other. The latter aims at the culmination of the spiritual journey, which begins with the comprehension of the monistic and absolutistic philosophy of the former. It is as though tantrism picks up from where the Upanis ads and the Mahayana philosophy leaves off.20 From the theoretical point of view, tantrism has not been inventive, but definitely innovative in interpreting existing notions in a new light. This is not to underplay the significance of certain typically tantric insights into the nature of reality, which we shall discuss at a later stage.

2.3 Sources of Tantric Praxis

The primary concern of tantrism was not to establish a metaphysical system, but “to indicate and explain the practical method of realising the truth.”21 It is in the field of tantric sddhana that tantrism shows its ingenuity and creativity. Tantric sddhana drew inspiration from Vcdic practices and is interspersed with elements of Yoga, besides numerous other cultural and religious ingredients.
The ascription of a Vedic origin to tantric praxis may be debated. However, the roots of certain tantric rites may be traced back to different parts of the Vedic literature, though tantrism as a system was not developed then. Some Tantras do acknowledge their Vedic parentage. The Kularnava Tantra states: "Tasmat veddtmakarii sastram vidhi kaulatmakam priye. ”

Vedic authorities are cited in justification of kaula rites.23 Most of the Vedic loans are from the Atharvci-vedci especially the Saubhagya-kanda of the Athar\>a-veda. The Kalikularnava Tantra begins by stating, ‘‘Now Devi says in the Atharvana Samhita”.24 25 The Yantra-Cintamani of Damodara is considered the quintessence of the Atharva-veda. The tantric Upanisads like Kaula, Rudra etc., seem to maintain the Vedic lineage in the Tantras. The Pahcardtra system owes its descent to a less known vedic school called the Ekaydna sakha (sec Kalpataruparimala under Brahma Sutra, 11:2:42). The origin of certain mantras, yantras, and cakras has been traced to the Vedas especially the Atharva-veda, and Taittiriya Aranyaka 25 Sensualism, which is a hallmark of the Tantras, is also found in the Vedas. Aitareya Aranyaka (11:3.7.3) states that neither the seed of man nor the blood of woman should be despised as they arc forms of Adilya and Agni respectively. The use of intoxicants for sacrificial purpose was known in Vedic times. Some claim that the hymns of Rg-veda point to the $at-kamias of the Tantras.26 Dhamia Sastras. Patanjnli’s Yoga Sutra (iv.I), and Puranas(likc Padnui. Devi. Kahka. and Lingci) and even early secular books like the Arthasaiftra of Kautilya (xiv.3), refer to tantric practices.27 Tantric elements arc observable in Jaina canonical works in Prakrit as well.

Mircea Eliade, however, cautions us that there was no tantrism in Vedic and Brahmanic times, but merely elements that later evolved and became part of tantrism. Hence scattered references to the Vedic tradition in the tantric texts must not be taken to establish the Vedic origin of the Tantras. It is likely that such references were introduced later to win acceptance among orthodox circles.29 The references to some of these practices could only mean, at best, that they were prevalent in some form in such ancient times. However, it does not show that they were either sanctioned or recommended by the Vedas.

The genetics of Tantra may lead us far beyond the confines of Vedic tradition and Aryan influences. Mircea Eliade believes that an ancient fund of autochthonous cults, whose existence is presumed, rather than proved, transformed Vedic esoterism into tantrism.30 These autochthonous practices comprise of the old traditions of unsystematised yoga and body cult, shamanic cultures of Central Asia, medicine, witchcraft, sorcery, occultism, magic - white and black, astrology, religious eroticism and folkloristic ritual.

Certain tantric practices may have been inspired by the primitive agrarian economy and the matriarchal social structures of prehistoric times. Mircea Eliade writes,
It is obvious, for example, that the symbolisms and cults of Mother Earth, of human and agricultural fertility, of the sacrality of woman, and the like, could not develop and constitute a complex religious system except through the discovery of agriculture; it is equally obvious that a preagricultural society, devoted to hunting, could not feel the sacrality of Mother Earth in the same way or with the same intensity.”

Fertility symbolism, eroticism and worship of the phallus are natural outcome of the pastoral concerns of a primitive people. Again, the emphasis on the female element in tantrism may be understood in the context of the matriarchal social structures of prehistoric societies.32 The £akta conception of Sakti as the active partner in the cosmic act of creation while Siva remains purely passive probably had its origin in the primitive matriarchal cultures.

While tantric praxis has its ancestry in the Vcdic practices and in the autochthonous cults, tantric speculation has sprung from early Upanisadic sources such as the Chandogya. the Maitri and others, the Mmidriisa and Samkhva doctrines,3'* the absolutistic systems of Vedanta. Madhvamika and Yoga earn. Thus a wide variety of influences and diverse cross-cultural currents seem to have fathered the emergence of tantrism. We have various essences, the orthodox speculation, the heterodox praxis, the Vedic ritualism and the yogico-mystic traditions of the Dravidians, other indigenous cults and autochthonous traditions brewing up in a prehistoric matriarchal social structure and agrarian economy, fanned by a spirit of revolt and challenge to the established socio-religious system, giving rise to what we now call Tantrism.

3. Salient Features of Tantrism

In this section we intend to discuss the chief characteristics of tantrism in general, without making any distinction between Hindu, Buddhist and Jaina tantras. S.B. Dasgupta holds that there is in fact no essential difference between the two major schools, the Hindu and the Buddhist schools of Tantrism; but other scholars like Lama Anagarika Govinda see it otherwise.

3.1 The Spirit of Heterodoxy

One of the main features of tantrism is that it is a departure from tradition, especially the Vedic. The term ‘lantrika’ (follower of Tantra) was used as a mark of 34 distinction from ‘vaidika’ (follower of Veda).35 36 Tantric tradition came to be deemed extraneous and even opposed to Vcdic tradition, though the former seemed to have borrowed certain elements from the latter. Most of the Vcdic loans were from the Atharva-veda, which always smacked of relative heterodoxy, seen from the fact that many Brahmins referred to the Veda as only ltrayi' (threefold).'<1 The term ‘tantra' was used to denote scriptures, which expounded non-vedic doctrines and practices. The content of tantras differed from the content of the Vedas and its exegetical literature.37 In the eighteenth chapter of Rudrayamala, Vas'istha the self-controlled the son of Brahma, was advised to go to Cina and learn the sadhana of the goddess. Thereupon, Vasistha expressed the confusion in his mind and addressed the Buddha,
Yet seeing the type of discipline (viz. the lefthanded rituals involved), doubts assail my mind. Destroy them and my wicked mind bent on the Vcdic ritual (only). O Lord, in thy abode there arc rites which have been ostracised from the Veda (vedahahiskrtdh) How is it that wine, meat, woman arc drunk, eaten, and enjoyed by heaven-clad (i.c. nude, digatnbara) siddhas (adepts) who are excellent (vat ah ) and trained in the drinking of blood? They drink constantly and enjoy beautiful women (muhurnndudi prapibanti ramayanli varanganam).... They are beyond the Vedas (vedasydgocardh ).

It is said that the Buddha then instructed him in Cinacara involving the use of wine, meat, women etc. and Vasistha obtained siddhi.
The break with the tradition was characteristic of tantrism. It was a departure not only from Brahmanism and classical Hinduism but also from Jainism and Buddhism and even from Mahavdna philosophy to some extent.The differences became more pronounced when we consider the sadhanas. The tantras advocated certain peculiar and heterodox guidelines, which were at times repulsive and obnoxious. Some of these were drawn from certain practices that we find in witchcraft, sorcery, shamanism, occultism, magic and the like. However, tantrism rises far above these heterodox practices in its nature and scope. The cult of the body, including scxo-yogic practices, along with esoteric geometric patterns (yantra), gestures (mudra) and incantations (mantra) arc nothing but instruments to attain spiritual transcendence.

3.2 The Spirit of Revolt

According to some scholars, tantrism as a movement of the masses, is a reaction against the social ills and excesses of the established religions. It professed equality of all, encouraged free social interaction among all castes, and unrestricted access to ritual worship for all. in blatant opposition to the existing Brahmanic traditions. This heterodox spirit is seen especially among the Bauls of Bengal who were called, 'ulto pathiks' (followers of the reverse order of things). They shared the spirit of social criticism upheld by the Santa poets of Northern and Upper
India, the mystics of Mardfhd, and the Sikh, and the Siifi poets. The Hevcijra Tantra re-echoes the same spirit when it states, “The one who performs the Heruka yoga interacts with all the five castes. He conceives of the five castes unified as one caste because he does not distinguish between one or many castes.”41 The text adds, ‘‘Even those untouchable Candalas and other outcastes and those whose minds are intent on living for slaughter will attain accomplishment if they follow the Hevajra method of this there is no doubt.”42 43 The yogi is urged to violate all Vedic injunctions incumbent on the orthodox sadhaka. “The yog/ should not think of anything as being prohibited and he should never think of anything as being inedible. There is not anything, good or bad, that he should not think or say.

Tantrism revelled in the worship of unorthodox deities while principal deities of established religion were relegated to humbler positions. The treatment meted out to these gods smack of a spirit of revolt. They are presented as incapable of alleviating the miseries of the sadhaka who finally takes refuge in the tantric deities. Benoytosh Bhattacharyya points out that in the Buddhist Tantras we find a number of Hindu gods insulted, calumniated and humiliated. It is stated that the worshipper of Mityuvancana Tara attains such power that even the ends of his hair cannot be destroyed by the Hindu gods, such as Brahma,
India, the Moon, the Sun, Siva, the deities of the waters, Yama and Man mat ha,

3.3 Ritualism

Tantrism is essentially ritualistic, with rites and rituals of varying complexity occupying a fundamental position in all tantras, whether Hindu, Buddhist, or Jaina.4' It echoes the strong trend that probably affected all religions, to substitute tangible and popular ritual for the earlier abstract meditations.40 Tantrism did not focus on developing new lines of speculation though certain new metaphysical insights may be read into the theory and praxis of tantra. The metaphysical subtleties, which are not altogether wanting, belong to the respective traditions, Hindu, Buddhist, or Jaina to which they owe allegiance. 4' Tantrism is primarily a sadhana, a fund of practical yoga and mantric method. Heterodox and even repulsive practices, including sexo-yogic practices, are not only not ruled out, but positively recommended. Mircea Eliade points out that these repulsive and frightening practices prove that the adept is free from fear and disgust, and is able to employ the meanest of objects for the noblest of purposes.48 49 Ritual is both external and more importantly internal, especially in the higher tantras. The practice of meditation (dhydna), visualisation of the deities and internal worship of them are integral to the ritual.40 Even in external worship the deity is invoked from within the adept’s own heart and also dismissed therein. Again, worship involves the employment of both gross (sthula) and subtle (suksma) objects, such as intricate formulas {mantra), geometrical designs {yantra), physical gestures {mudra) etc. These are tools by which the Ultimate Reality is realised and the experience articulated.

3.4 Centrality of the Body

One of the fundamental postulates of tantrism is that truth resides within the body of the adept. The human body is credited to be the easiest medium through which truth can be realised.50 Tantrism adopts a mystic physiology in which the body, which is the microcosm, is identified with the universe, which is the macrocosm. 51 52 53 Tantrism is deeply anthropocentric in the sense that there is a macromicrocosmic equation. The ‘cosmic being’, which is as old as Rg-veda (X.90) is adopted and magnified in tantrism. The gods, heavens, hells etc., are all present within the human body."' Body and bodily faculties are not dismissed but employed in the practice of sadhana. “The tantras do not teach to subdue the senses, but to increase their power and then to harness them in the sendee of the achievement of lasting entasy, the target of these methods thus being the same as that of the orthodox.’03 Along with the gross physical body a subtle yogic body is also recognised. This secondary somatic system consisting of nadis and cakras located along an imagined spinal column is common to all yogic disciplines and is at the core of tantric theory and praxis as well.

3.5 The Ultimate Reality as Bi-polar

The notion of the bi-polar structure of the ultimate is the comer stone of tantric speculation. Viewed theologically, the ultimate non-dual reality possesses two aspects in its fundamental nature. The polarities may be characterised as negative and the positive or static (nivitti) and the dynamic (prav/tti).55 56 In its metaphysical aspect it may be characterised as 'prakasa-vimarsa, prajna-upaya, or sunyata-karuna. In its theistic aspect it is Siva-Sakti, Heruka-Nairatmya or (Vajradhara - Vajravarahi). In its physical aspect it is present as the pair of Agni-soma, and male-female reproductive principles. This truth is most effectively manifested in man and woman; and the creation of the universe is compared to a prolonged sexual union. The same principle is depicted in the ‘half man-half woman’ (Ardhanarlsavara) form of Siva. The bi-polarity does not deny the inseparable unity of the two principles just as there is no dichotomy between fire and heat though the two are different.50 The absolute is non-dual (advaya)57 in nature though bi-polar.

3.6 Realisation as the union of polarities

As in other schools of thought, liberation from bondage is the chief goal of tantrism. Liberation is the perfect state of union between the two aspects of reality and the realisation of the non-dual nature of the self and the not-self.5S Tantric sadhana is designed to bring about the re-integration of the adept’s body, speech and mind with the cosmic entities, that is, a fusion of the microcosm and the macrocosm. In the Hindu tantras, it takes place when the internal Sakti (Kundalini) with whom the yogin has completely identified himself reaches Her destination, the supreme Siva, restoring the primeval union.59 Dhyana, mantra, nyasa, mudra and the judicious use of sexo-yogic practices are employed to achieve the union of polarities.

3.7 The Pursuit of Siddhis

Besides the common goal of spiritual emancipation, tantrism in general caters to procuring several mundane benefits for its followers. Some of these practical attainments include astrology, medicine and magic. Many 58 59 tantric texts deal with super-normal abilities (siddhis)60 and the Six rites (so (karma ni). The six rites arc: Sami. Vasikarana. Stambhana. Vidvesana, Uccdtana and Marana. 61 62 In Tantrism the border between the magical and the spiritual is a thin one. It is mostly on account of the former that tantrism became popular.

3.8 Predominance of Female Deities

Tantrism in general has a predominance of female manifestations. In the Vedas, on the contrary, we have a preponderance of male deities. Tantrism assigns a leading role to Sakti in her jiiana aspect, since without her grace or revelation no redemption through the body is possible.02 The Saktas assign the governance of the world to the three manifestations of Devi, namely, Tara or Nilasarasvatl. Sundari and Kali. They hold that everything in the world is of‘female form’. She is the efficient cause of emanation as well as its spiritual base, and for the adept she is the Divine
Mother.03 Devi appears under various names and forms, of benevolent as well as of terrifying natures. In the Hindu Tantras. the benevolent ones are Gauri. Uma, and Parvatl, and those of terrifying forms are Durga and Kali. 04 In the Buddhist Tantras, we find benign goddesses such as Locana, Pandara, Mamaki and Aryatfira. as well as those of terrifying nature such as Ekajata, Nairatmya, and Vajravarahi. However, the role of the female deities in Buddhist tantric tradition is different from that of its Hindu counterpart.

3.9 Deities of Terrifying Nature

The presence of male and female deities of ferocious appearance is another feature of Tantrism. The tantrics hold that though these deities appear terrifying externally, they are extremely compassionate internally, and act constantly for the wellbeing of the practitioner. A passage with reference to the fierce form of Yamari states: “After making my obeisance by my head to Lord Yamari, who is of dignified appearance; internally compassionate, but externally terrific for the good of all beings, I write the procedure of his worship for the benefit of all"63 64 65 Deities are said to assume these terrible forms to overawe and coerce people to perform these rites. Deities of terrible nature are invoked especially to discharge terrible functions. In addition to these, we have a whole host of godlings, spirits, demons, ghosts (pisaca, vetala. preta.
bhuta) and the like who are sought in certain tantric practices.

3.10 Emphasis on Guru and Diksa

Tantrism proves to be a dangerous path for those who are uninitiated and unaccompanied by a competent Guru. No sadhuka should attempt it by himself. The Guru is identified with the principal deity and the initiate is expected to abide by the Guru’s directions. Every tantric tradition insists on the necessity of initiation (diksa) from a competent spiritual guide. The Sanskrit root ‘diks’ means to ‘dedicate or consecrate’ Dlksa is exclusively used to refer to ‘spiritual initiation’. The sacred is also secret. Hence there is an elaborate array of formulas and symbols, which are made known only to the initiated in secret assemblies (guhyasamdja). The Tantric code Language (sandhyahhasd) is a deliberate device to keep curious onlookers at bay.
These are the major features of tantrism in general. Space docs not permit us to enter into a more detailed investigation of these at this juncture. However, these salient features will re-emerge in the course of our discussion and provide greater clarity. We now proceed to narrow down out discussion to the major schools of tantrism.

4. Hindu Tantrism

Tantrism permeated Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism in the course of centuries and gave rise to various schools of tantra within their own fold. The Sammohana tantra (ch.5) and Saktisangama tantra (1,2,850 recognise Sdkta. Saiva. Vaisnava, Saura. Ganapatya, and Buddhist schools of tantra. These six tantric darsanas remind one of the Six Darsanas of classical Indian Philosophy/’8 At the outset, we have to admit that the divisions of tantra are not clear-cut and the bewildering number of tantric schools and subschools make the task of ordering them a Herculean ordeal. The difference among the various tantric schools lies in the doctrines professed, the variety of deities worshipped, and practices employed by each school. The main divisions60 of the Hindu tantras are the worshippers of Siva (Saivas), the worshippers of Sakti (Saktas) and the worshippers of Visnu (Vaisnavas). It is difficult to distinguish clearly the Saiva 68 69 and the Sakta schools as Siva and Sakti arc ontologically inseparable. Schools of lesser importance arc the worshippers of SQrya (Sauras) and the worshippers of Ganapati or Ganesa (Ganapatyas). As an exhaustive treatment of the Hindu tantras is not pertinent to this work only a brief survey is intended here.

4.1 The Saivas

The Saiva tantras centred on Siva, are often classified into Daksina, Vania and Siddhanta (or Madhyania). The Daksina sect is further divided into the Bhairava and Kashmir Saivism. Kashmir Saivism is also known as the pure Trika system on account of its three key concepts -Siva-Sakii-Annu or Pati-Pasu-Pasa. It aims at moving from one’s individuality to universality. It conceives individual souls and the material world as identical with Siva. Doctrinal differences within Kashmir Saivism have given rise to different systems such as Pralyabliiiija, Spanda, Krama and Kula. Some of the most noted tantras of Kashmir Saivism arc Malinrvijaya, Svacchanda. Netra. Vijnanabhairava. Paratrinisikd. and Knlarnava. Abhinavagupta seems to give the highest importance to Mdlinh'ijaya.10 The Vania division comprises of Sirascheda, Sammohana and other tantras. The Siddhanta section claims for itself the Saivagamas.

   The term 'tantric* has no basis in any Sanskrit adjectival form, but it is used widely to characterise the entire development of theory and pi axis based on the class of texts called Tantras. And 'Tantrism* or 'Tantrism* is used as noun to signify the same. For the sake of uniformity 1 use 'Tantrism*.
   For a brief introduction to Tantric Buddhism, the reader may have recourse to the following article by the author. Tomy Augustine, “Tantric Buddhism: An Introduction" Jnanalirlha, voI.IV, no.2 (July-Dccember 2004) pp. 179-199.
   'tunyale. visUiryate jridnum anena iti tantrumS.B. Dasgupta. .4;/ Introduction to TOntric Buddhism, 3rd ed. (Calcutta: University of Calcutta, 1974) p.2. From now on referred to as 1TB.
   S. Ahltayananda, Histoiy of Mysticism: The Unchanging
Testament (Delhi: Sri Satguru Publications, 1996) p. 171.
   S.B. Dasgupta. ITB. p.2.
   "...bhavenaiva vimucyante vajragarbha mahakrpa
badhyante bhdvabandhena mucyante tatparijnava..." (O Vajragarbha of great, it is by utilising the existent itself that men are liberated. Men are bound by the bondage of existence and are liberated by understanding the nature of existence.) G.W. Farrow & I. Menon, trans. & eds.. The Concealed Essence of the Hevajra with the Commentary Yogaratnamald (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers Private Limited. 1992) 1:1:10-11. From now on referred to as HT(F).
   "No samsdrasya nirvandt kimeid asli vises anam.
na nirvdn asya samsdrdl kimeid asti visesa/tam." MK.XXV.19. (Sariisdra has nothing that distinguishes it from Nirvana. Nindna has nothing that distinguishes it from Sariisdra).
   Graham Coleman, ed., A Handbook of Tibetan Culture (Calcutta: Rupa & Co., 1995; Second Impression, 1997) pp.391-392.
   Benoytosh Bhattacharyya, ed., Nispannayogdvali of Malidpandita Abhaydkdragupta (Baroda: Oriental Institute, 1972), p.14.
as quoted in Benoytosh Bhattacharyya, IBE, p.53.
   P.G. Yogi. “An Analysis of Tantrayana (Vajrayana)" in Bulletin of Tibetology (BT), No.3 (1998), p.30.
   S.K. Moharana, Tantric Buddhism (New Delhi: Aryan Books International, 2001). p.3.
   Andie Padoux, "Tantrism: Hindu Tantrism", in The Encyclopaedia of Religion, vol.14. ed., Mircea Eliade, (New York: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1987), p.275.
   Ibid., p.276.
   Ibid., p.275.
   Benoytosh Bhattacharyya. Sadhcmamdld, vol.II, (Baroda: Oriental Institute. 1928), p. xix.
   Benoytosh Bhattacharyya, IBE, p.147.
   Andre Padoux.‘‘Tantrism: Hindu Tantrism", p.277.
   S. B. Dasgupta., ITB. p.4.
   S. Abhayananda , History of Mysticism: The Unchanging Testament, pp. 175-176.
   S. B. Dasgupta, ITB. p.l.
   VidySraina TSranalha, ed., Kuldrnava Tantra (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1984) 11:85.
   Sec Ibid., II: 140-141
   As quoted in Chintaharan Chakravarti. “Antiquity of Tantricism , in EBT vol.l, p.35<
   Ibid., p.36.
   Ibid., p.37.
   Ibid., pp.41-42.
   In the Sthananga Sutra (iv.4) MahSvira refers to the Saya*v3dms who were considered sensualists. Curative spells are found in the Uttanhihydyana Si'ttra. The Sutrakr tango (II.2) refers to the practice of incantations and conjuring, the art to make one happy or miserable. Ibid.. p.4I.
   Andre Padoux, "Tantrism: Hindu Tantrism". p.275.
   Mircea Eliade, The Sacred and the Profane: The Nature of Religion (translated front the French by Willard R. Trask) (New York: A Harvest/HBJ Book, 1959), p. 17.
   Sanjukta Gupta, Dirk Jan Hoens, and Teun Goudriaan, Hindu Tantrism. (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1979), p. 17
   Ibid., p.55
The tantric duality of Siva-Sakti betrays some affinity to the Sahkhyan principle of Purufa and Prakni. While there is no identity of Purtifn and Prakfli in Sttiiklnv, there is transcendental unity of Siva and Sakti in Sdkta and Saiva philosophies. This could be a case of tantric innovation of the basic S&hkhyan thought. Ibid.. p.49.
   Andre Padoux, “Tantrism: An Overview" in The Encyclopaedia of Religion, vol.14., p.273.
   Agchananda Bharati. The Tantric Tradition, (London: Rider & Co., 1965; This edition, 1992), p.82. see fn.30.
   Sanjnkta Gupta, Dirk Jan Hocus, and Teun Goudriaan, Hindu Tantrism. pp.5-6.
   Agchananda Bharati, The Tantric Tradition, p.68
   Andre Padoux, “Tantrism: An Overview" vol.14., p.273.
   Ted Honderich, ed., The Oxford Companion to Philosophy (Oxford: Oxford University Press. 1995). p.S64.
   "hcrukayogasya puriiso vihdrah patlcavarneyn/ paiicavarnasanidyuktam ekavarnarh tu kalpitam/ tmekenaikavarnenp yasmGd bliedo na lakfyate//"(HT (F) 1:6:4.
   "candfilce/tdakdrddyd mdrundrthacittakdh /
Ic ‘pi hevajram tigainya sidhyanie ndtra satiifoyah " (HT (F) 11:4:78.
   ”iidkdryaiil vidyale kincin ndbhakft’arii vidyate sada/ ndcintyarii vidyate hy atra ndvdcyariiyac chubhd ubhamll “HT (F) I: 7:24.
   see Bhattacharyya Benoytosh, 1BE. pp. 116-119.
   Andre Padoux. "Tantrism: An Overview", p. 274.
   A.K.. Warder, Indian Buddhism, 2nd cd. (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass. 1980), p. 493.
   Sanjukta Gupta, Dirk Jan Hocns, and Teun Goudriaan, Hindu Tantrism, p.47.
   Andre Padoux, "Tantrism: Hindu Tantrism", p. 279.
   Sanjukta Gupta, Dirk Jan Hocns, and Teun Goudriaan, Hindu Tantrism. p.8.
   S.B. Dusgupta . ITB, p.3.
   Sanjukla Gupta, Dirk Jan Hocns, and Teun Goudriaan, Hindu
Tnntri.\m. p.8.
   Ibid., p.57.
   Agchananda Bharati, Tlic Tantric Tradition, p.290.
   However, it should be noted that this yogic body is not supposed to have any objective existence in the sense the physical body has. The yogic body is “a heuristic device aiding meditation, not any objective structure; the physical and the yogic body belong to two different logical levels.” Ibid., p.291.
   S.B. Dasgupta . ITB, p.4.
   Sanjukta Gupta, Dirk Jan Hoens, and Teun Goudriaan. Hindu Tantrum. pp.54-56.
   In the Buddhist context, the term ‘advaya’ means knowledge that is free from the duality of the extremes of ‘Is’ and ’Is not’. Murti distinguishes 'advaya' from 'advaita' of Sartkara. Advaita is knowledge of a differenceless entity - Brahman. Advaya is purely
an epistemological approach; the advaita is ontological. See T.R.V. Murti, The Central Philosophy of Buddhism, (New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal Pvt. Ltd., 1955; This edition, 1998) p.217. From now on referred to as CPB. See also Sanjukta Gupta, Dirk Jan Hoens, and Teun Goudriaan, Hindu Tantrism, p.52. David Kalupahana points out that the substantist terminology of the Hindu tantras is conspicuously absent in the Buddhist tantras. See David J. Kalupahana, A History of Buddhist Philosophy: Continuities and Discontinuities (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers, 1994), p.224.
58 S.B. Dasgupta , 1TB, p.4.
59 Sanjukta Gupta, Dirk Jan Hoens, and Teun Goudriaan, Hindu
Tantrism, p.62.
   The eight great siddhis recognised by the Hindus are: Atomization (Animd). Levitation (laghimd), Magnification (Atalnmd), Extension (Prdpti). Efficacy (Prdkdmya). Sovereignty (Kitva). Mastery over elements (Vasitva) and Capacity to will actual facts (Kdmavsdyitva). At times 18, 24 and even 34 kinds of Siddhis aie spoken of. See Benoytosh Bhattacharyya. 1BH. p. S3.
   Siinti is the power to remove disease and save persons from the terrible consequences of evil stars or the bad karmas of the previous birth. Vasikarana, is the power to bewitch other men or women or even gods, and animals and get work done by them. Stambhana is the power by which the adept can stop all actions of others, and to stop the effect even when the cause is operating. Vidvesana is the power to separate two friends, relatives or lovers by creating animosity between them. Uccsllann is the power to cause one's enemy to lice the country in disgrace. Miirana is the power to kill or permanently injure enemies. Ibid., pp.

   Sanjukta Gupta, Dirk Jan Hoens, and Teun Gouduaan. Hindu Tantrism, p.62.
   Ibid., pp.54-55.
   Andre Padoux, “Tantrism: Hindu Tantrism". p. 279.
   "Srimantanianta/j karuntimay am tarii
salvor tint lielo/hahirugrart'/parii:
iidlhani Yamdruh Prampatya murglianfl
hklidmi laisritllianamisfliellioh . " Sdilluinamrild. p.550.
   Andre Padoux. “Tantrism: Hindu Tantrism". p. 2S0.
   Tantric dik->a is different from the upanayanu, which is given to all twice-born male Hindus. Dik^a is given to any suitable candidate irrespective of caste and sex. Agchananda Bharati states that diksa is also different from ahhifvka. In the former, a nutniru is invariably imparted to the neophyte while in the latter it is not conferred. For a detailed discussion on diksi sec Agchananda Bharati. The Tantric Tradition, pp.185-197.
   Sanjukta Gupta. Dirk Jan Hoens, and Teun Goudriaan, Hindu Tantrism, pp.40-41.
   On the basis of conduct (acaras) tantras have been divided into Daksirn, and Vama to which is sometimes added a third called Samaya. Daksina or the right-handed practice (dak.p/tdcara) is the way of the spiritual attainment without the use of panca-makSras (madya. mdmsa. mma. mudra and maithuna) and other extreme forms of rituals. They follow the Vedic tradition and accept the vamasrama. A great number of Vedic stanzas are applied in their tantric ritual context. The Veda samhitas are related to the four internal cakras, the highest being the Athari’a-veda. The lefthanded practice (Vwniicara or Kaula) is the conduct of external worship employing the panca-maksras. Saktas and Saivas may claim to be Kaulas. Abhinavagupta belongs to the Kaula tradition of Kashmir. In the Sakti tradition, kaula worship is related to the three manifestation of Sakti, namely Sri or Tripura. Kali and Tara. SamaydcJra means 'the practice of internal worship' as advocated by Laksmidhara and his followers. It is followed by the Srh'idytJ cult.