Tantra Essay

1007 words - 4 pages

Tantra plays an important role in Hinduism as a method of honoring the feminine divine. This neglected branch of Indian spiritual practices dates back to the 5th-9th century AD. Although the history or origins of Tantra are difficult to trace, “they offer mythical explanations for their origins, often setting themselves as the given word of Siva of the goddess Devi.” The actual word Tantra can have two different meanings: the sacred literature which appeared from the 5th century onward and focused on the cults of all of the earlier deities and the second meaning restricts the texts to the worship of Shakti. Tantric literature somewhat disregards the caste system because in these texts, women are held in high regard. As it refers to Hinduism, Tantra ties closely to Vedic tradition, or rather the rejection of the orthodox beliefs.The Hindu Tantras were written in the medieval period, sometime after the Puranas and was set up as a dialogue between Shiva and his consort. Most of the dialogue was Shiva explaining to Parvati about the philosophy and myths underlying the Tantric ritual. This ritual involves reversals of normal Hindu social practices and reversals of normal physiological processes. “It also reverses the orthodox Hindu “five products of the cow,” or panchagavya (milk, butter, curds, urine, and feces) used for purification; in Tantra, these become the “five m's”: maithuna (“intercourse”), matsya (“fish”), mansa (“flesh”), mudra (“parched grain”), and mada (“wine”).” Fisher explains in Living Religions that, “Sacred texts called Tantras instruct worshippers how to honor the feminine divine.” The women are highly venerated in Hinduism and so a lot of their rituals involve worshipping a feminine divine of some sort.In Hindu Tantra, two distinct branches evolved as a result of the union between Shiva and Shakti. One branch was known as the right-hand path (Dakshina Marga) and the other is called the left-hand path (Vama Marga). The right-hand path is considered to be the conservative approach to worshipping, by chanting and having a devotional attitude. The left-hand path involves allowing sexual union as a means of obtaining Enlightenment. The intent of "Right-Hand Path" belief systems is to attain proximity to divinity, or integration with divinity and the intent of the Left-Hand Path belief systems is to become divinities in their own right.Tantra is often preferred over other traditions because “because it takes the whole person, and his/her worldly desires into account.” The other traditions teach that you must learn to get rid of your desires in order to achieve enlightenment, but in most cases this results in a conflict with the self. People are definitely drawn to the spiritual beliefs, but they also feel the need to fulfill their desires. Without Tantra, people will begin to feel guilty or wrong for having such thoughts and...

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