Consequently, Shiva and Parvari become Kameshwara and Kameshwari respectively. They merge to be become Ardhanarishvara. This is to be seen metaphysically that the Kamesh couple took their forms, not to create Lord Skanda but to continue the process of Srishti- Creation, Sthithi – Preservation and Samhaara – destruction. One can say that Brahman, Creative Consciousness is static Shakti and Shakti is the dynamic side of Brahman.
SHAKTAM: The Shaktas consider Mother Goddess Devi to be the source of all creation. In Shaktam, Ardhanarishvari is the Supreme Creator that split Her own body into hald man and half woman. According to them, Supreme One is a female as it is the female species that gives birth. They also believe that feminine energy of Mother Goddess is at the centre of all creative process. Shaktas depict that Shakti produced Shiva from Her own form, thereby balancing her feminine qualities with masculine one. This also forms the basis of Sri Chakra theory and practice. This is all not a debate of God’s gender but metaphysical exposition of God being energy.
YOGINI HRIDAYA: The Yogini Hridaya states, ‘When the Supreme Shakti of Her own will takes the form of the universe and looks at Her own throb, then the Sri Chakra comes into being.’ This creates the two completely opposite, yet complementary, forces of Shakti and Shiva as Prakriti and Purusha respectively. Here, Shiva is the Transcendent One, the Satchitananda, who merely observes and is unmoved by events occurring in creation.
Shakti, on the other hand, does not depend on him to perform her functions, but she needs his power to sustain and maintain her creation. So though Shakti is not co-existent with the Purusha, that is, Shiva, she requires his presence to keep the cosmos functioning smoothly. Therefore, the concept of Ardhanarishvara clearly brings out the fact that Prakriti - Shakti and Purusha - Shiva are nothing without each other and one cannot exist and function in the absence of the other.
SRI CHAKRA: The harmonious union by Ardhanarishvara is symbolised in the Sri Chakra itself. The Bindu right in the center of the Sri Chakra depicts the complete harmony between the consciousness of Shiva and energy of Shakti. It represents a state of oneness and non-duality, where surface differences and biases vanish completely. Therefore, in Tantric practice, worshipping the Sri Chakra in itself is a prayer to the Ultimate Truth. The Bindu is likened to Kameshwara - Purusha and the Trikona - triangle, to the Kameshwari - Shakti, the Mother of all Creation. The union of these two aspects create the Divine Sri Chakra.
TANTRA YOGA: Shiva Agamas are theological treatises and practical manuals of divine worship. The agamas include Tantras, Mantras and Yantras. Tantra explains -Tanoti in great detail the knowledge concerning Tattva or Brahman and Mantra which are mystic syllables. Tantra yoga saves -Trayate. Hence it is called Tantra. The three chief sects of Hinduism base their doctrines and dogmas on their respective Agamas. The Vaishnava Agamas called Pancharatra Agamas glorify God as Vishnu. Shaiva Agamas glorify God as Siva and have given rise to an important school of philosophy known as Saiva Siddhanta. Shakta Agamas or Tantras glorify God as the Mother of the world under one of the many names of Devi. The Agamas are not antagonistic to the Vedas and are regarded as authoritative.
SHAIVA TANTRA AGAMAS: These are very much like the Puranas in some respects. Tantra Agama belong to the Shakta cult and glorify Shakti as the Mother Goddess of the Universe. They dwell on the feminine energy of Shakti. Tantra prescribes procedure and ritualistic worship of Mother Goddess in her various manifestations and forms. Worship of the Dasa Mahavidya Mother Goddesses is a good example. Sri Chakra worship is part of Tantric worship.
Agama texts are usually in the form of dialogues between Siva and Parvati. Here Lord Shiva is the Mahaguru and Mahayogi. Goddess Parvathi is the seeking disciple. The format is usually Lord Shiva answering Parvati’s questions; otherwise Shiva questions and Parvati comes up with the answers
The most noted of Tantra Agama Texts are Mahanirvana, Kularnava, Kulasara, Prapanchasara, Tantraraja, Rudra Yamala, Brahma Yamala, Vishnu Yamala, and Todala Tantra. On the surface they appear to be teaching several power conferring occult practices. Regretfully they have been portrayed as witchcraft with mysterious formulae. This is far from the truth, for, the essence of Tantric teachings are the pursuit of jnana and the paths to moksha and eternal Bliss.
Of these, the Mahanirvana Tantra and Kularnava Tantras are the important books in Tantra Sastra. Kundalini Shakti is the main emphasis in Yoga Kundalini Upanishad of Krishna Yajurveda, Jabala Darsana, Trisikha Brahmana, and Varaha Upanishad. These texts are useful for getting knowledge of Kundalini Sakti and the methods to awaken it and take it to Sahasrara Chakra at the crown of the head.
By and large, Tantra, and some aspects of Tantric knowledge and practice is a secret doctrine. One cannot read and understand Tantra from reading books or studying diagrams. As such it is called Gupta Vidya. Strictly, Tantric knowledge and practice is sourced from Tantric Gurus. Tantric Acharyas stipulate a condition precedent that a Tantric aspirant is endowed with purity, faith, devotion, dedication to Guru, dispassion, humility, courage, cosmic love, truthfulness, non-covetousness, and contentment. Absence of these qualities in the practitioner means a gross abuse of Shaktism and Shakta Tantric practice.
ADVAITA: The Shakti Tantra is Advaita Vada proclaiming that Paramatman, Supreme Soul and Jivatman, individual soul are not separate entities. By and large, Shaktas accept the Vedas as the basic scriptures. They recognise the Shakta-Tantras as texts expounding the means to attain Purushata goals of Dharma, Arta, Kama and Moksha as set forth in the Vedas.
KUNDALINI YOGA: Tantra Yoga lays special emphasis on the development of the powers latent in the six Chakras, from Muladhara to Ajna. Kundalini Yoga actually belongs to Tantric Sadhana which gives a detailed description about this serpent-power and the Chakras. Entire Tantric Sadhana aims at awakening Kundalini, and making her to unite with Lord Sadasiva, in the Sahasrara Chakra. Methods adopted to achieve this end in Tantric Sadhana are Japa of the Namajapa, Devotion and Prayer and various meaningful rituals. Here again Kundalini yoga can be a twin sided blade to be learnt from a Guru.
PANCHA TATTVA: This tattva has been mistaken by giving a literal meaning. It is essential for the worship of Shakti. The Pancha Tattvas are Madya –wine, Mamsa – meat, Matsya – fish, Mudra - parched cereal and Maithuna - sexual union. Collectively they are known as Pancha-ma-kara or five M's. While the Pancha Tattvas appear to represent drinking, eating and propagation, they are the five elements of worship destroy great sins. This is the meaning behind the Maha-pataka-nasanam.
The Pancha Tattvas meanings differs according as they refer to the Tamasic -Pasu, Rajasic -Vira or Sattvic -Divya Sadhana references respectively. So, one is to go beyond the literal meaning of the Panha Tattvas. Wine which could lead to intoxication is a reference to God-intoxication. It can also mean a state of getting intoxicated with the knowledge of Brahman. Thus instead of the wine that one consumes in a pub or the cool confines of the home, it is a symbol to denote the Supreme, eternal Bliss of Yoga knowledge, or knowledge of Atman. This is Atma-jnana.
Mamsa or meat is the act by which the aspirant consecrates all his actions to the Lord. Matsya or fish is that Sattvic knowledge by which the Sadhaka sympathises with the pleasure and pain of all beings. Mudra is the act of abandoning all associations with evil which leads to bondage. Now, Maithuna, to start with is the offering of flowers with the hands formed with a particular Mudra. In essence, Maithuna or sexual intercourse represents the union of Siva and Sakti in the upper brain centre known as Sahasrara or thousand-petalled lotus is Maithuna.
TANTRIC SEX: Vaidika Dharma requires that sexual intercourse between two parties is to be of a legitimate relationship. Unlawful or coerced sex is considered to be sinful and has karma effects. Having established legitimacy and voluntariness of a sexual act, the Sadhaka is guided to think that he has got a Deva body. This is called Bhuta- Suddhi. Towards this attitude, various Nyasas are performed. Mental worship is performed of the Devi who is thought of as being in red raiment seated on a red lotus. Her dark body is like rain-cloud. Her forehead is shining with the light of the crescent moon. Mantrajapa is then done. Thereupon there is external worship.
ASHTANGA MAITHUNA: The Ashtanga or eightfold Maithuna are Smaranam - thinking upon it, Kirtanam - talking of it , Keli - play with women, Prekshanam - making eyes at women , Guhya-bhashanam - talking in private with women , Sankalpa - wish or resolve for sexual union , Adhyavasaya - determination towards it, Kriyanishpatti - actual accomplishment of the sexual act. A Tantric who copulates calls his spiritual partner, Shakti. So, in effect one has the male in a Deva body making spiritual love to Shakti, his partner.
In the house-hold, a wife is a house-goddess Griha-lakshmi or Griha-devata united to her husband by the sacramental Samskara of marriage. In both instances, women are not objects of enjoyment but a partner or Ardhangini. The Maithuna Yoga is one based on the sacred Shiva-Shakti Tantra Yoga. Therefore, Tantra Yoga is the saving of Wisdom leading to perfection and moksha. These are all better comprehended when the knowledge comes to the aspirant from a Tantric guru.
YOGATATTVA UPANISHAD: 129-131(a). Then he obtains the Raja-Yoga and certainly he does not meet with obstacles. When a Yogin fulfils his action by Raja-Yoga, then he certainly obtains discrimination and indifference to objects. Vishnu, the great Yogin, the grand one of great austerities and the most excellent Purusha is seen as a lamp in the path of truth.
131(b)-134(a). That breast from which one suckled before (in his previous birth) he now presses (in love) and obtains pleasure. He enjoys the same genital organ from which he was born before. She, who was once his mother will now be wife and she who is now wife is (or will be) verily mother. He who is now father will be again son and he who is now son will be again father. Thus are the egos of this world wandering in the womb of birth and death like a bucket in the wheel of a well and enjoying the worlds.
136(b)-138(a). As the smell in the flower, as the ghee in the milk, as the oil in the gingelly seed and as the gold in the quartz, so is the lotus situated in the heart. Its face is downwards and its stem upwards. Its Bindu is downwards and in its centre is situated Manas.
139(b)-140(a). The person engaged in Yoga obtains the supreme seat, which is like a pure crystal, which is without parts and which destroys all sins.
140(b)-141. As a tortoise draws its hands and head within itself, so drawing in air thus and expelling it through the nine holes of the body, he breathes upwards and forwards.
142. Like a lamp in an air-tight jar which is motionless, so that which is seen motionless through the process of Yoga in the heart and which is free from turmoil, after having been drawn from the nine holes, is said to be Atman alone.”
Hara Hara Mahadeva.
(draft Yoga, Gods, Goddesses, Minor Deities and Sages)
Yogi Ananda Saraswathi