Tantra (Sanskrit, "web" or "warp" a body of esoteric Hindu and Buddhist religious texts and rituals. The Hindu Tantras were written after the Puranas, in the medieval period, and are usually set in the form of a dialogue between the God Shiva and his consort Parvati, in which he explains to her the philosophy and myths underlying the Tantric ritual. They emphasize the Goddess Shakti as the female power or energy of the God. This view taken to its extreme holds that Shiva with out Shakti is like a corpse.
The Tantric rituals involve 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 faeces) used for purification; in Tantra, these become the "five m's": maithuna ("intercourse"), matsya ("fish"), mansa ("flesh"), mudra ("Parched grain"), and mada ("wine"). Tantric adepts learn, from a Guru, how to raise their psychosexual energy--the curled serpent power (Kundalini) that lies at the base of the spine--through successive focal points (chakras), until it reaches the highest chakra, at the top of the skull, and the adept experiences, within, the union of the God and the Goddess. This process (sadhana) begins with a systematic visualization of the deity, limb by limb, who materializes through the use of visual diagrams (yantras) and through the use of magic incantations (mantras).
Buddhist Tantra is an aspect of the third stage of Buddhism, the Thunderbolt Vehicle of Diamond Vehicle (Vajrayana) that developed out of Mahayana Buddhism; it was perfected in Tibet and both influenced and was influenced by Hindu Tantra, particularly in Assam and Bengal. Tantric sects once existed through out China and Nepal but at the present time survive principally in northern India.
The taxt guides the reader towords a greater understanding of the secrets, explaning various important and key facets in language simple enough for a general reader to understand the mystery of Tantras and clear enough for a student to provoke him to further research on the subject.
This is probably the first and the only such Encyclopaedia available on Tantra and will be welcomed by all classes of readers-general, researchers, teachers, and students alike. It will particularly be interesting for the western readers as it provides him an oppertunity to get all important information on this important branch of Hindu philosophy at one place.
- Vol. I:
- Meaning of Tantra
- Nature of Tantric doctrines
- Vedic origin of Tantric practices
- What is Siva Linga?
- Tantric practice with Makaras
- Gradations of approaching the divine
- Glossary of Tantric terminology
- Vol. II:
- Salient features of Tantra
- The six systems of Yoga
- Tantra and Nirvan
- Metaphysics of Tantra
- Applied side of Tantra: dance, music, astrology, sarcraments
- Degeneration of Tantra
- Human anatomy and Tantra
- Healing aspect of Yantra and Mantra
- Therapeutic aspect of Tantra
- Vol. III:
- Saiva works and Tantras of Kashmir
- Sex relationship and spiritual realisation
- Social and religious background
- Tantra and cultural complex of India
- Unpublished Tantras of Bengal
- Tantras and their details
- Tantric devotees
- Vol. IV:
- Divinity in Buddhist Tantras
- Initiation of disciples
- Offering materials and their meanings
- Symbolism of the Mandala Palace
- Tantric rituals
- Tantric songs and twilight language
- The nine orifices of the body
- Fundamentals of initiation in the Kriya Tantra
- Fundamentals of the Carya Tantra
- Fundamentals of the Yoga Tantra
- Fundamentals of the Anuttara-Yoga Tantra
- The birth of Agni in the Tantric Agnijanana
- Vol. V:
- The waking state and the 'Why'; of the Samadhi-Plunge
- The critique of the trance-solution
- The critique of the 'Jivanmukti-solution'
- The issue: status or dynamis
- The mind-consciousness: its achievements and failures
- The inwardization and the ascension
- The conquest
- The mastery of the nights
- The vision of the divine body
- The conquest of sleep
- Attempts at 'Kayasiddhi' and rejuvenation
- The mystery of life and death
- Metaphysical factors of death
- The physiology of senescence and death.