Where did Tantra Originate?
Tantra is a very ancient practice compared to other popular religious & spiritual practices. It’s not a religion, although its practices have emerged throughout history in all religions and cultures. So Where Did Tantra Originate From? This is debatable since some believe it began 7000 years ago at the end of the Dvapara Yuga while others believe that it came into existence in the Indus Valley (Pakistan and northwestern India) between 3,000 and 5,000 years ago. Around the same time the earlier Vedas were written. However, it became common much later when classical yoga flourished. While it’s still not clear about Where did Tantra Originate From, the reason why it became popular is common across history. The curiosity for our primitive sexual nature has always compelled us to understand it and unlock this mystery. Tantra is also found in Asian religions and scriptures.
There are major four schools of Tantra:
Tantrik Hinduism & Shaivism
In Hinduism “Yuga” is an era within a cycle of 4 ages. There are 4 yugas, it starts with Satya Yuga, then comes Treta Yuga, then is the Dvapara Yuga which finally culminates into Kali Yuga. We are currently said to be in the Kali Yuga which started from 3102 BC with the end of the Mahabharata War.
It is believed that it was at the end of the Dvapara Yuga, around 7000 years ago that we found out about Tantra.
Vigyan Bhairava Tantra is a key ancient Tantra scripture of the Trika school of Kashmir Shaivism. It is essentially a dialogue between Lord Shiva and his wife Parvati. Tantra Master Abhinav Gupta has adopted it in into a book in Sanskrit language and the book discusses about the 112 meditation techniques which are useful for finding and realizing our true self.
Kula Tradition which primarily flourished in India in the first millennium AD is a religious tradition in Shaktism & Tantric Shaivism. It is known by its distinctive rituals and symbolism connected with the worship of Shakti. It is derived from the Kapalika tradition and is divided into 4 categories based on the goddesses Kulesvari, Kubjika, Kali & Tripurasundari. Kula is said to represent a unifying connectedness. Another meaning indicates that is the getting together of a group of people in the practice of spiritual discipline. Kashmir Shaivism is a powerful and transformative. It is a non-dual, yogic philosophy that originated in Kashmir in the ninth century. A branch of the Shaivite philosophical tradition, it explains how Lord Shiva manifested the Universe. It also describes the practices that enable us to reconnect with our innate divinity. This can be practiced by anyone and everyone without restriction of caste, creed, color or gender. It provides great tools for the spiritual seeker.
As per Shaivism, there is a divine energy which is both masculine and feminine. This energy is said to take the form of the Hindu God Shiva & Goddess Shakti. These two energies are found in both men & women. These energies are already within us and when united, it completes one. There’s a balance of joy within oneself. Reaching out to both these energies help us reach our innate divinity and the path to this is surprising as well as enlightening.
During Kali yuga era, around 4000 years ago Lord Krishna also spoke about Tantra. His wise words and teachings on Tantra are found in the Bhagavad Gita. Lord Krishna is written to be giving talks to his disciple Arjuna about topics such as Life, Love, Sex, Tantra, Karma, Yoga, Money, Politics etc. Quoting Lord Krishna verbatim “Arjuna if you talk about Kama (meaning desire or longing) in the context of sensual or sexual love then I am the God of Kama. And is you talk about Yoga then I am the God of Yoga.”
Lord Krishna is the only Hindu God or Tantra master who accepts Man in totality. He accepts all the facets such as Yoga, Kama, Tantra, Power, Money etc. Lord Krishna narratives are often described as Krishna Leela.
To put it simply, this school of thought says yes to love, yes to life and yes to sex. Nothing is considered lower or higher. Every aspect of the human being is honored and pleased.
Though Tantra is not considered as a part of the Vedic scriptures, it is said to run alongside each other. Atharva Veda is cited by many Tantra texts as a source of great knowledge. Vedic Tantra can be looked upon as the natural progressions of the Vedas. In the age of Kali Yuga, Vedic practices are no longer applicable due to the current state of morality. Vedic Tantra is the most direct means to realization for spiritual seekers. Thus, most of Vedic Tantra is based on Hinduism, most notable the worship of Lord Shiva and Kali Maa. There are several Tantra Mantra Schools in India teaching this spiritual heritage which has been preserved for thousands of years in many volumes of sacred texts. These Tantra Mantra Schools provide a rich and complete resource for those who are keen in reading them.
There are 3 yanas (meaning ‘vehicles’) in Buddhism: Hinayana, Mahayana & Vajrayana. Tantra is the distinguishing feature of Vajrayana. Tantra techniques in Vajrayana are the specific techniques which are used to attain Buddhahood. Buddhist Tantra teachings are usually esoteric. Buddhism Tantra first developed in medieval India and then spread to Tibet and East Asia.
Karmamudra is a Vajrayana practice of partnered sexual yoga which uses powerful meditation techniques to transform human attributes such as desires and pleasures into means for spiritual transformation and liberation.
In Buddhism Tantra rather than going after full enlightenment as a faraway goal, it is encouraged to use the result as the path itself, thus one identifies with achieving the three Vajras instead, that is the enlightened body, speech and mind of a Buddha.
The Tantric Lineage of Buddhism Starts from Master Padamsambhava to Tilopa to Naropa. Tilopa was born in Bengal, India. He was not only a tantric practitioner but also a MahaSiddha. He practiced a set of spiritual practices knows as the Anuttarayoga Tantra to attain Buddhahood. Naropa is considered to be his main disciple of Tilopa. Naropa was also an Indian Buddhist Mahasiddha. He was able to attain enlightenment in his lifetime due to the trust & devotion he had for his teacher. Saraha in Hindi or the Arrow Shooter in Tibetan was the first Sahajiya and also one of the 84 Mahasiddhas. He is considered to be the founder of the Mahamudra tradition of Buddhist Vajrayana. He is also popularly known as the Great Brahmin since he was born in Eastern India into a Brahmin family.
Buddhism Tantra is narrow in its approach, saying yes to sex but no to love. They believe that sexual energy would get entangled in emotions if the man falls in love and thus, they encourage sex without any feelings.
“Taoist sexual practices” in traditional Chinese literally mean “the bedroom arts”. In Taoism, these practices are also known as “Joining Energy” or “The Joining of the Essences” because joining of sexual energies by two partners is supposed to bring them the highest pleasure and spiritual enlightenment.
Sexual energy is considered to be the same as life force in Taoism Tantra. Energy centres of the body are used to increase the life force which in turn increases our consciousness and spirituality and are said to increase overall health and attain longevity.
Taoism Tantra Practices:-
– Qi (lifeforce) and jing (essence)
Qi is life-force which is a part of everything in existence according to all Taoist literature. Jing is the energetic substance contained in the human body which is directly related to Qi. Without Jing, the body dies. Taoists use practices to stimulate and conserve this Jing. Out of all our bodily fluids, Semen according to Taoists belief contains the most Jing. To conserve life, it’s important to keep this Jing in the body. Thus, they practice to either decrease the frequency or totally avoiding ejaculation.
– Male control of ejaculation
Taoists have various methods for controlling ejaculation by men. The common one being pulling out from intercourse immediately before orgasm. Another popular suggested method involves the male applying pressure on the perineum to retain the sperm.
– Yin/Yang Balancing
The concept of Yin and Yang is given significance in Taoism especially in sex. Yin refers to the female sex and Yang refers to the male sex. Different positions and actions in lovemaking have separate significance.
– Women Practices (White Tigress)
Taoists understand that the act of sex is not for pleasing the man alone. The act has to be equally pleasurable & desirable for both. Also, sex should not happen if one partner desires it more. The desire and passion should be equal.
– Taoist Tantra – When and Where (Dates and timing according to Moon and Sun cycle)
Taoists also believed that certain times were better for intercourse than others. Taoists believed that a person should abstain from sexual intercourse on days when there were abnormally high winds, torrential rains, thunder, lightning, extreme heat or cold, celestial events such as solar and lunar eclipse, quarter or full moon, or when rainbows were visible or there were catastrophes like earthquakes. They also believed that people should steer clear of having intercourse in some locations such as the interior of holy places, or in the vicinity of holy places, in close proximity to coffins or graves, and wells. It was also believed that the glare of the Sun, Moon & Stars should be avoided during intercourse. If these beliefs were followed then only the family would have healthy children, if not followed it could lead to the offspring being evil and his eventual death.
– Longevity and immortality
Some Taoist sects in the Ming dynasty believed that men could achieve longevity by having sexual intercourse with virgins, preferably of a young age. They believed that due to the said activity the “jing” would travel up the spine and provide nourishment to the brain instead of leaving the body.
Tantra as we know is the achievement of liberation of consciousness from limitations, barriers and worldly notions. Shaman means to know. Shamanism has been in practice from 40,000 years ago in Nepal and India. A Shaman is like medicine for a man and woman that help them travel to hidden worlds known only as myths or in dreams. They have been known to heal human suffering, interpret dreams, reverse disease, project their spirits out of their bodies, exorcism, shape shift and time travel.
So Shamanic Tantra is a merging of spiritual-sexual integration. This is done using breath, sound, movement, prayer, chanting, lovemaking and ritual to awaken your senses. It teaches us to be in the now by opening up and connection our spirituality & sexuality. Unlike traditional Tantra, Shamanic Tantra is more intuitive as it activates one’s ability to move between the worlds of spirit. Using shamanic sounds, shamanic breath work and other healing techniques one can connect deeper to the Spirit, to the Source. From this profound and timeless space you can go deep into a Tantric experience being fully self-sourced. Shamanic Tantra helps you in opening your heart & creating a bridge between life force energy and spirit. This helps one get closer to a state of Divinity.
Osho’s Neo Tantra
Osho, also known as Acharya Rajneesh and Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh was an enlightened mystic and an intellectual guru. He gave his first series of lectures on Tantra in 1965 in Bombay. The Lecture series was called “Sambhog Se Samadhi Ki Aur”. These series of lectures were later compiled into a book with the same name and the book was translated into English and titled “From Sex to Super Consciousness.”
Osho Talks on Tantra in this series are the foundation of Neo Tantra. Later in the seventies, eighties and the nineties, Osho also spoke about the different kinds of Tantra traditions and Tantric masters such as Shiva, Tilopa, Naropa & Saraha. Osho Tantra talks are compiled in these books:
1) Book of Secrets (Talks on Vigyan Bhairav Tantra) – English
2) Shiv Sutra (Hindi)
3) Sambhog se Samadhi Ki Aur (Hindi)
4) Tantra the Supreme Understanding (Talks on Tilopa and Naropa) (English)
5) The Tantra Vision Volume 1 & 2 (Talks on Royal Song of Saraha) (English)
In today’s times wherever Tantra is practiced, whether in India or any part of the World, it has drawn some inspiration and influence, whether direct or indirect, by Enlightened Master Osho’s understanding of Tantra, Osho Tantra. We will always be deeply grateful to him for imparting us the knowledge of Tantra and making Tantra alive, relevant and mainstream today.
Osho Tantra plays a key role in our modern Tantra Practices. In Osho Tantra, you can understand the teachings of Osho Active meditation, Osho Bio-dynamic breathe work, Catharsis, Osho New Vipassana, Exercises for Men and Women through senses, Osho Chakra Breathing Work and Therapeutic Approach.