Demystifying Tantra, The Tantras- An Overview

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Tantra is a much misunderstood school of Indian thought. “Being the bedrock of Hindu thought and spiritual practice, the tantras deserve close attention. The tantras contain within them the essentials of the Vedic sacrifices and oblations, and the essence of the monotheistic philosophy of the Upanishads, of the Bhakri cult preached by the Puranas, of the Yoga method propounded by Patanjali, and of the mantra element of the Atharva-Veda. The most remarkable contribution of tantra probably lies in its theory and practice of mantras”. The following articles attempt to demystify tantra.

1. The Tantras: An Overview by Swami Samarpanananda, a monastic member of the Ramakrishna Mission Vivekananda University Belur, provides a summary of the origin of tantric texts and sects as well as some key tantric doctrines and practices. To read article click on PDF file.

2. Tantra and its Misconcepts - Reclaiming the essence from Illusions by Pt Vamadeva Shastri, founder of The American Institute of Vedic Studies – covers broader aspects of tantra, non-sexual aspects, tantra and body, tantra and worship of goddesses etc.

3. Tantra And Teachings Of Kashmir's Abhinavgupta by Linda Johnsen, first published in Yoga International

4. Tantra Unveiled - excerpts from a book by Pt Rajmani Tugnait, Spiritual Head Himalayan Institute, covers the living science of tantra, where tantra still lives, finding the Way In and includes distinctive features of the three schools of T i.e. kaula, mishra & samaya. Further kaula is divided into left and right hand schools.
Click here to read.

5. Tibetan Buddhism stems from the influence of two major sources, Buddhism and yoga. Initially brought to Tibet by Padmasambhava in the 8th Century, Tibetan Buddhism incorporates both Hindu yogic and Tantra practices as well as the classical teachings of The Buddha. To read click here. Also read Tantric Practice in Tibetan Buddhism.

6. Evolution of Tantras by Nithin Sridhar - Unfortunately sections of theMedia and the common man do not understand tantra but associate it with sex only. Note that the current Indian attitude towards sex is actually a Victorian one. What is the Indian attitude would form the subject matter of another article.
To read article click here.

7. How did the popular 'Sri Yantra' evolve by Vimla Patil - " The word Tantra has repelling responses from many because of the misconceptions attached to it through films, media reports and fraudulent practitioners of blood-smeared cults. In truth, many great saints of India – including Adi Shankaracharya, Dnyaneshwar, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu – were believers of the Tantra school of philosophy."

The Tantras: An Overview article is courtesy and copyright Prabuddha Bharata (www.advaitaashrama.org). I have been reading the Prabuddha Bharata for years and found it enlightening. You can subscribe online at www.advaitaashrama.org. Cost is Rs 100/ for one year, Rs 280/ for three years, Rs 1,200/ for twenty years and Rs 2,000 for twenty five years.

'Compiled by Sanjeev Nayyar'