Esotric Hindu Tantra scriptures define ‘Maithuna’ or ‘Mithuna’ to be the sacred ritual of sexual union. Maithuna depictions boldly show a copulating pair in sexual embrace.’ Mithunaya’ is to unite sexually and ‘Mithuni’ is to become paired or united sexually. Tantric maithuna prepares a pair psychologically and spiritually under the guidance of a tantric acharya or guru. A couple learns how to utilize their love and spiritual aspiration in order to transform their natural sexual forces to purify the mind, eliminate psychological defects and awaken the latent powers of Consciousness. The man represents Shiva, the masculine aspect of the Creative Divine. The woman represents Shakti, the feminine aspect and the source of the Power of Creation.
Maithuna as spiritual science leading to knowledge. It was kept in strictest secrecy for thousands of years to preserve its pure form and to prevent the crude minded from deviating from the original teachings. Hence the term Maithuna-rahasya meaning 'secrets of the divine union.' Indeed, the secret seems to have unraveled with subjective and tailor-made cosmetics in the hands of left hand or black magic gurus wearing commercial caps. These are sometimes far from the truth. Sacramental sexuality is, in their hands, in a state of degeneration to justify lust, desire, orgy and various deviations not prescribed by Tantra. Thus there is no denying that there is now some degraded form of Shakti worship which has led to magic, immorality and occult. This should not have been the case...Tantra yoga, in its pure form, is a potent power for spiritual regeneration. It is to be learnt at a guru’s feet to become aware that Love is a cosmic phenomenon.
TANTRA YOGA: Tantra explains knowledge of Tattva – Truth or Brahman and Mantra – mystic syllables. Mantras are impulses or rhythms of the consciousness creating vibrations in the spirit. ‘Manana trayate iti mantra’ means mantra is that which saves you from repetitiveness. Everyone knows a repetitive thought, especially at odd moments, is a worry! Mantras help one to be free from worries. Mantra is like a seed with potentials to become a seed. Similarly the sound vibrations in mantra contain all types of possibilities according to the deity worshipped and their bija mantra. ‘Travaye’ means it saves hence it is called Tantra. Mantras are a secret; that which is kept secret alerts the sub-conscious mind. When the mind is calmed and centred, it can turn inwards to experience the vastness and beauty of the Divine consciousness. ‘Antarmukhi Sada Sukhi’ – one is mind is turned inward is ever in Bliss. Therefore, mantra is the tool for this inner bliss.
Tantra texts are hardly books of magic spell or witchcraft packages. They are sources for spiritual strength, wisdom and eternal bliss. Mahanirvana, Kularnava Tantras Yoga Kundalini Upanishad of the Krishna Yajurveda, Jabala Darsana, Trisikha Brahmana Yamala,Vishnu Yamala, Varaha Upanishad and Todala Tantra are essential texts in Tantra Sashtra. They prove to be useful to comprehend knowledge of Kundalini Shakti and subscribe various methods to awaken kundali to it to Sahasrara Chakra at the crown.
SHAKTI TANTRA: Agamas are practical manuals of divine worship. They are treatises explaining the external worship of God. This includes Jnana or knowledge, Yoga or concentration, Kriya or making and Charya or doing. Agamas include Tantras, Mantras and Yantras. The Agamas show three clear divisions being Vaishnava, Shaiva and Sakta. Sakta agamas glorify Feminine Worship. Tantra Agamas belong to the Sakta cult glorifying Sakti as the World Mother dwelling on Shakti-energy aspect of God. There are seventy-seven Agamas and some correspond to the Puranas. They are in the form of dialogues or question-answers between Siva and Parvati.
Sakti Tantra is advaita veda proclaiming the Divine Union between Paramatman – Supreme Soul and Jivatman – Individual Soul. While accepting the Vedas as basic scriptures, Saktas recognise the Sakta-Tantra texts as expounding the spiritual meaning of Divine Union in the nature of Siva-Shakti maithuna. The texts elaborates cosmology, devotion and liberation, philosophy of mantras, mystic diagrams, charms, social and public rules, temple building and image making. These are Vedic in spirit and character as regarded to be authoritative. Maithuna depiction and art is representative of this knowledge.
TEMPLE SCULPTURES: Archeological finds dating back to 2000 BC in the Indus valley civilizations depict Dravidian female deities symbolizing feminity and fertility. Temple sculptures and art depictions show personifications transmuting as powerful forms of cosmic sexual symbolism. Females personified life and nature. As the three great female deities of Indian rivers, Ganga, Yamuna and Sarasvati, they were ever-renewing sap of life; the source of eternal sustenance. Goddess Lakshmi culminated as abundance. Tantric belief and its influence is so strongly reflected in the countless images of Maithuna that adorn Indian temples, depicting Siva and Parvathi as embracing couples. The female principle of voluptuous activity is the motive force that sustains the universe, because without it the male principle of static, transcendental potentially would remain in inert passivity. Thus one finds in abundance, embracing figures around the walls of temples adorned with celebrations of human unity with nature and the Divine. This is also shown as Ardhanarisvara.
DHARMA and ASTANGA MAITHUNA: In Hindu thoughts woman is not to be regarded as a sex tool or object of pleasure. Unlawful sex is also a sin. The rules also apply to the broader category of sex-partners in the Kama Shastras and Kama Sutra. One is counseled to view sex spiritually. Even in Vasthu Shastra emphasis is given not just to bed-rooms but the positioning of the matrimonial bed to avoid demonic forces during intimate moments! Hindu Vaidika Dharma extends spiritual breaches to a eightfold Ashtanga Maithuna. They are 1. Smaranam - thinking upon it, 2. Kirtanam -talking of it, 3.Keli -playing with women, 4.Prekshanam -making eyes at women, 5.Guhya-bhashanam -talking in private with women, 6. Sankalpa-wish or resolve for sexual union, 7. Adhyavasaya -determination towards sex, and finally 8.Kriyanishpatti -actual accomplishment of the sexual act.
On similar note, Saktakramiya states ‘Maithunam tatkathalapam tadgoshitam parivarjayet’ meaning unless lawful or with spiritual consent, avoid maithuna, conversation on the subject and assemblies of women. Emphasising divinity of women, sexual union is also seen as a veritable sacrificial rite – a sacrifice in homa –fire, wherein she is both hunda –hearth and agni-flame and one who knows this as homa attains liberation. Tantrika Mantra of Sivasakti Yoga states that ‘This is the internal homa in which, by the path of sushumna, sacrifice is made of the functions of the spirit as fire kindled with ghee of merit and demerit taken from the mind as the ghee pot, Svaha.’ Vaidikadharma therefore advocates that even worship is performed as a man-woman union.
On this Swami Sivananda in Tantra Yoga notes that ‘a tantric can have copulation with his wife. He calls his wife his Shakti. Wife is a house-goddess Griha-lakshmi or Griha-devata united to her husband by the sacramental Samskara of marriage. She should not be regarded as an object of enjoyment. She is his partner in life -Ardhangini. The union of a man and his wife is a veritable sacred scriptural rite.’ In general Vaidika dharma and injunctions govern ordinary life paving the way for divine bliss. In Gita 7.11, Sri Krishna states that “And I am the strength of the strong, devoid of lust and attachment. O best of the Bharatas, I am sex not contrary to dharma.”
CHAKRAS AND MUDRA: Tantra yoga emphasises development of powers latent in the six chakras from Muladhara to Ajna. Indeed Kundalini yoga belongs to Tantric Sadhana with detailed description of the coiled-serpent power and the Chakras. It chief aim is the awakening of the Kundalini and uniting with Lord Siva, Pure Consciousness in the Sahasrara Chakra. Towards this end various rituals are prescribed. Japa is the chanting of Shakti’s name. Bhuta Suddhi is a tantric rite wherein five elements in the body are purified to infuse into the body the life of Devi. By definition, Bhuta Suddhi literally means ‘cleansing or refining the physical elements’ but this meaning should be considered as ‘refining the underlying consciousness related to the elements.’
Nyasa is a powerful tantric rite of placing the tips of the fingers of the right hand on various parts of the body accompanies by Mantra. Kavaca is where Brahman is invoked as certain parts of the body; Parabrahman as in Saharara Padma in the head, the Supreme Lord upon the heart and Vishnu invoked to protect the throat. Kavaca is also the uttering of the mantras of the Devi or ishta devata.
Mudras are manual gestures of the hands and fingers. It is said to give pleasure to the Devatas. Avahana is the welcoming of the Devata. Arghya is making offering by Matsya Mudra. There are other mudras for the various acts done during worship. Yantra takes the place of the Image and is appropriate to a specific Devata only. All Yantras have a common edging called Bhupura. The Yantra is enclosed and separated d from the external world by the quadrangular figure having four doors. The sadhaka first meditates upon the Devata and then arouses the Devata in himself. He then communicates the Divine presence thus aroused to the Yantra. When the Devata has been invoked into the Tantra, the Pranapratishta ceremony, infusing the vital airs, Prana, takes place. The materials used and the acts done in the Puja is Upachara. Thereafter the maithuna rituals of divine union between man-woman are subject to maithuna-rahsia, one that has come from the guru by word of mouth, and by that sacred tradition nothing further would be added here.
Yoga is to be learnt from a guru, more so Tantra yoga. All sadhana should be done under the personal direction of a guru or spiritual teacher. The guru is none other than the Supreme Divine Mother herself. In this way, the divine Sakti consisting of mantras is communicated from guru to the disciple. Self study may lead to greater ignorance, even hurt. Breach of this rule is a gross abuse of Saktism and at all times a tantric adherent should be endowed with purity, guru's blessing and cosmic love. However Tantric practices do conflict with Vaidik rules sometimes. This will be considered in Pancha Tattvas.
PANCHA TATTVAS: It is an error to suppose that the Tantrika-Rahasyapuja is opposed to the Vedas. While certain Vaidik rules place prohibitions on mere sensual gratification of certain acts and item, for example wine or maithuna, it prescribes them for religious yajna provided the sadhaka is competent for the sadhana, not to mention the auspiciousness of a guru.
The Pancha Tattva is said to be essential for Shakti worship. They are Madya-wine, Mamsa-meat, Matsya-fish, Mudra- cereal and Maithuna-coition or sexual union. These are also crudely known as Pancha Makaras, all five having the ‘M’ alphabet. The Pancha Tattvas are the five elements of worship destroying great sins, Maha-pataka-nasam. Pancha Tattva stand for drinking, eating and propagation. Notwithstanding the esoteric meaning and symbolism behind the five makarasis - “Kill egoism, control flesh, drink the wine of intoxication and be in Divine Union with Lord Siva. Therefore the literal meaning of the Pancha Tattvas differ according to the Tamasic, Rajasic and Sattvic gunas of the sadhaka. The symbolism behind the Pacha Tattva is of some interest.
MADYA-WINE : This may be wine or any fermented drink such as coconut water. The philosophy behind it is intoxication. It symbolises God-intoxication or the intoxicating knowledge of Brahman the absolute. Wine also symbolises the Supreme, eternal Bliss of Yoga knowledge or knowledge of Atma-jnana. Milk, ghee and honey are substitutes for wine. Wine is agni-fire element. It is to be noted Goddess Tara was Herself a liquid form as Dravamayi.
MAMISA-MEAT: Meat or flesh is the act by which the aspirant consecrates all his actions to the Lord. Salt, ginger, sesamum, white beans and garlic are substitutes for meat. Flesh is air element.
MATSYA-FISH: Fish symbolises the Sattvic knowledge by which the sadhaka sympathises with the pleasure and pain of all beings. White brinjal, red radish, masur grain and red sesamum are substitutes for fish. Fish is water element.
MUDRA- CEREAL : This symbolises the act of abandoning all associations with evil leading to bondage. Paddy, rice, wheat and grains are substitutes for mudra. Cereal is earth element.
MAITHUNA-DIVINE UNION: Symbolises the union of Siva and Shakti in the upper brain centre known as Sahasrara or the thousand petalled lotus. Offering flowers with the hands formed with a particular mudra is Maithuna. Sexual union is ether element. The sadhaka who has achieved a Deva body is said to be Bhuta Suddhi. Nyasas are performed together with mental worship of the Devi who is thought of being in red raiment seated on the red lotus. Her dark body is like rain-cloud.Her forehead is shining with the crescent moon. Thereupon external worship begins. The mantra japas and ritual lead one to be in Maithuna and Divine Union.
Thus maithuna is a kriya or completed action to achieve divine union. It is the outward physical manifestation of awakened kundalini. Kriya Shakti is a power of thought. Therefore maithuna refers to the male-female couple in their union in the physical and sexual sense where a couple find spiritual transformation as Siva and Shakti in the metaphysical sense. That would be a Yoga boat to perfection.
DELTA UNION: Since Sigmund Freud, subjective experience or the bliss of male-female orgasm lends itself to scientific study. Masters and Johnson, Kinsey Group or others note that orgasm in the female matches the orgasm of the male in physiological detail. They study bliss in terms of beta, alpha, theta and delta brain wave levels. Beta is the mental intention. Alpha is when one gets turned on. Theta is the sense of relaxation, comfort and compassion. Delta is the ‘in love feelings’ of mutual bond ‘the deepest sleep level.’ This last level is one of temporary loss of consciousness while the body is still functioning.
So modern science claims during peak of 9-13 seconds of ejaculation, orgasm or whatever, ie at the delta level, one is said to be unconscious – total emptiness of the mind during the ‘bond’ of bliss. They study all this, probably with wires and sensors running from copulating couples to some receptor monitor in a lab. Hindu spiritual science has substituted wires and sensors with coiled serpents some four thousand years ago. In Hindu thoughts, Bliss is an awareness and not an ejaculated feeling! Perhaps one should settle for the sculptor’s chisel or the artist’s brush and seek the spiritual wisdom behind Maithuna depictions?