The candidate brings out the importance of the therapeutic aspect of Tantra and makes a plea for further investigation in this “drugless theraphy” on scientific lines.
Above analysis shows how the candidate has done full justice to the topic undertaken by her. In fact such an attempt was a long-felt desideratum and the writer deserves compliments for fulfilling this gap.
Miss Shah has presented the material methodologically and scientifically. She has taken great pain in making her study scientific and illustrative by giving charts etc. Most of them are presented in prescribed colours.
Miss Pragna R. Shah has critically analysed the esoteric and therapeutic aspects of Tantra and argued that it represents an original Indian tradition. Therapeutic aspect of Tantra has been examined in great details and it deserves appreciation. The present work is based on the wide reading and through grasp of the esoteric and therapeutic aspects of Tantra. It is evident from the work that Miss Shah has sound understanding of the Tantric tradition which is very rare and as such she has made an original contribution to a very difficult subject. She has examined the different therapeutic aspects of Tantra and their fundamental assumptions are expounded and their emphasis and symbolism are fully considered. Miss Shah develops the view that ‘with the lamp of knowledge Tantra saves the Sadhaka from the darkness of nescience and with healing process it protects from physical and mental disorders.’ Further she says in her conclusion that ‘Being a symbolic representation of the elemental forces Sri Chakra also represents both macrocosm and microcosm. So it provides as a link and also as an instrument for realizing the identity between microcosm and macrocosm’. The above observation is based on deep understanding of Tantra Sadhana. The present work is articulate and lucid exposition of the theory, practice and therapeutic aspects of Tantra which is the result of the hard labour of the researcher. The research work is based on the source materials which have been used in a critical manner.
The present work has a uniqueness as it employs both the scientific and philosophical methods in analyzing some of the root concepts and symbolism of Tantra, by writing a thesis on such a difficult theme Miss Shah has fulfilled the long cherished desire of many scholars interested in understanding ‘Tantric tradition in its real perspectives.’ The present work is a rare contribution to the body of Tantric knowledge and literature.
Of all the ancient Indian philosophies, tantra, perhaps, is the most misunderstood one. But if it has come to be believed as an occult science and an amoral philosophy, the fault does not lie so much in its concept as in its misuse by immature sadhakas (disciples) who used tantra for destructive purpose discarding its constructive utility.
Tantra is the science of understanding and the technique of perfection Tantric literature that dates back to pre-Aryan times exhibits a revolutionary philosophy for the wholesome development of the human personality. It is not a vain intellectual abstraction which we see today flourishing in every branch of knowledge leading to inner conflicts and social unrest. A correct understanding, therefore, of the tantra philosophy and its method for a contented life deserves attention.
A peep into this discarded science and tradition is what Miss Pragna Shah, a student of philosophy, has done. The study made under the guidance of Prof. J.J. Shukla, a scholar of philosophy, has brought her a doctorate from Gujarat university.
In a sense tantra is an advanced form of yoga. It starts where yoga ends. The essential difference is that while the advanced form of yoga evinces an attitudes of escapism, tantra aims at leading a perfect life by using all natural instincts and endowments of man. It preaches identification of oneself with the cosmic reality, and not, death and privation. In other words, tantra is founded on harmony of the self with the world.
Tantra is a discipline not black magic as it has come to be understood. It is a way of life for perfect life. Unlike many other religious dogmas, it lays equal emphasis on body and mind. Energy is the core of life. Use of the energy judiciously results in full life and happiness and vice versa. Tantra ensures mental and physical health in two ways-the cultivation of strong will power and therapy.
The therapeutic value of tantra, that encompasses mantra and yantra, is enormous. Tantra believes all organs of the body are connected with seven chakras or centres through subtle channels or nadis. The chakras are the centre of consciousness The power required by the limbs of the body is provided by this consciousness through the nadis. This has a great resemblance to the allopathic concept of glands and the nervous system. Allopathy believes that the growth of the body and efficiency of the nervous system depends on the proper secretion of glands.
Disease also occurs due to the disturbance of the elemental forces (Panch Mahabhutas) with which the body is constituted. Meditation with mantra an certain figures of yantra or symbols gives one perfect health.
Human body is a miniature universe. The sun and moon can be located in the body. Sun is on the right side and moon on the left. Vital current flows through the pingala nadi where the sun is located and the mental current flows through the Ida nadi controlled by the moon. The flow of breathing through the Pingala and Ida nadi takes place through only one nostril. The switching over of nostrils takes place at an interval of two hours. A scripture, Swarodaya, lays down guidelines to ascertain which nostril should be working at a particular time. The working of the wrong nostril shows imbalance of force and hence illness. This can be cured by changing the pattern of breathing. Similarly, various diseases can be cured by changing the pattern of breathing. Similarly, various diseases can be cured by mudras (gestures) with the five fingers because five fingers, again, represent the five elements of which body is constituted. This also is a process of identification between microcosm and macrocosm. The mudras help to restore imbalance among the five elements.
The strict use of tantra gives the sadhakas almost supernatural power no wonder some tend to misuse it. The astonishing power of foreseeing events by yogis is believed to have been acquired through the learning of tantra. Yet it has a sound scientific base. The thrust of the tantric literature is identification of one self with the cosmic reality that alone is sufficient to make it an ideal philosophy since it places everyman on par with God.
Miss Pragna Shah is not an idle speaker. Nor has she done a four year study of the subject just for a doctorate degree. She conducts yoga classes, has acquired skill in the acupressure method and is now getting herself acquainted with all kinds of drugless therapy.
Dr. Pragna R. Shah; Born on 18-4-1956 and graduated from Gujarat Univeristy and also Post-graduate from the same University, Undertook research in this Esoteric aspect of our tradition. The book is an outcome of her Thesis offered for her Doctoral Degree.
Author has mastered some of the techniques of advanced YOGA under expart guidance. She imbibes Scientific spirit as well as approach.
As a seeker of Truth, I found that TANTRA Practices formed Alpha and Omega of all our religious ceremonies during life-span and after death. It moved in a circular fashion beginning from conception (Garbhadhan) to post-mortem or Antyeshthi religious rights lasting for sixteen days and spread over one complete year after death. The thread ceremony among Brahmin families which formerly was compulsory among all Aryans, was a process of initiation based upon psychological background and celebrated as a social occasion. The whole ritual aimed at purification of one’s own self inner and outer, so that it may become a fit vehicle and receptacle for receiving the Truth Ultimate. And yet I failed to understand how so widespread and foundational Tantra practices, in course of time degenerated into bad repute so much so that it was sometimes equated with witchcraft, magic and sorcery and those who practiced it were treated as if they are untouchables, were viewed with suspicion and were locked down upon.
I wanted to investigate into and ascertain how much truth it contained and how much arrogant are its claims with regard to especially Supernatural powers that it aims to cultivate in the individual-both bodily powers and mental powers.
When this was brewing in my mind, Miss Prajna Shah after completion of her Post-graduate Degree, approached with a request to guide her in her Research on TANTRA which somehow she selected as a research topic. She came across a Sadhaka, she revealed on my inquiry, who practiced it daily at an appointed hour regularly. She observed the inquiry, who practiced it daily at an appointed hour regularly. She observed the various practices like nyasa etc., he perfomed but when she inquired as to why he indulged in these practices, he refused to say anything about it as his guide of Guru forbidded him to reveal anything about it. Her curiosity was stimulated and as an inquiring young mind restless when once stirred, she decided to undertake and ascertain the truth about Tantra practices and its underlying principles.
The book is an outcome of her thesis prepared for her Doctorate degree in Philosophy submitted to Gujarat University. She got her degree and now reveals, through this book, her investigations in her sojourn in search of Truth.
I have assisted her in reading some of the esoteric works like KULARNAVA TANTRA, HEVAJRA TANTRA (A Buddhist work of Tantra) and many other Tantric works originally written in Sanskrit and after restoring her confidence in travelling alone in the unknown path, guided her in interpreting some of the most difficult Tantric –Symbols embedded in tantric symbolic language. In our effort at interpretation of Tantric Texts, we have always relied upon evidence and anything which warranted evidence, we have resorted to inferential evidence of authorities who commented upon the texts. In extreme cases, we have relied upon the authority of Shabdakalpadrum, Mantra Mahodadhi with Mahidhar’s Nauka Commentary etc.
Miss Prajna Shah has also mastered some of the techniques of advanced Yoga and have put to test the claims of the texts advocated by the composers of Tantric Texts known and unknown and have distilled the essence out of high esoteric practices as a “Drugless Therapy” with a view to help common man in the hours of his stress and strain as a safe-guard to the health of his body, mind and Spirit.
Very recently a survey has been reported in the newspaper in which it is stated that if doctors are on strike death rate decreases. ~ Do you neglect it by merely considering it as a caprice of one's own mind or accept it as a fact of present era? This problem touches not only A or B person but it affects the entire human race. Health is wealth is an universal fact and we can't neglect it.
It is thoughtful consideration that mankind is entering into another dimension of physical diseases and mental sufferings. Our life has become so mechanical and commercial that we have lost the capacity to understand the real nature of body and mind with the result that we are suffering from physical and mental ailments of various types like tensions, blood pressures etc.
How our body and mind become victim of diseases? Modern science has coined bacteria, virus etc. as causes of disease. Indian Science of medicine, Ayurveda has a different view regarding this. In the words of Caraka, all diseases originate from the foibles of human thinking," They are namely grief, fear, anger, lust etc., which are at the root of diseases. This also reflects that in disease not only body but mind also plays prominent role. This fact has been wonderfully worked out by seers thousands of years back, which at present, we know as psychosomatic disease in modern medical terminology. For Tantra health means harmony between vital forces (prana sakti) and mental forces (citta sakti) which control body and mind respectively. Hence for Tantra, disease means disharmony between these two types of forces.
This is about the origination of disease. Now something about remedy. Human race has worked out many remedies. Some of them give instant cure while others take time. The patient, in this age, is in a hurry that he is always in search of rapid relief. So he expects from doctors instant cures. Sometimes some doctors, at the cost of patient's health and just for money, prescribe the cheaper and of lower quality of drugs known as pain killers. Patient feels relief for sometime but the side effects of the lower quality drugs re-appear in a worst form of new diseases. For curing that new disease again he has to go to doctor for inviting new diseases. This vicious circle diminishes the power of resistance of body with the result that body becomes weaker and weaker and more susceptible to disease. So very often malpractices of doctors and inefficiency of drugs increases death rates when doctors are present. In their absence, i.e. when they are on strike, the malpractices on the part of doctors and inefficiency of drugs being absent both work together in bringing down the death rate.
Is drug therapy the only remedy for disease? If it is so then how our ancient seers had lived healthy and happy life while staying on the peaks of ice mountains without having any kind of antibiotic drugs?
Two possibilities can be inferred from this situation: Either their bodies must have been so developed as to make them full proof against all attacks of diseases or they must have found out powerful panacia for all ailments. The first possibility can not be accepted on the ground that the nature of body is mortal, subject to decay which also occurs through the medium of disease. Of course, the quality and quantity of disease might not be so dreadful as that of present era. So there is now second possibility regarding the powerful panacia. For curing the ailments they found out the techniques of cultivating inner natural power of resistance of body against diseases.
It is maintained and rightly so by physiologists that human body retains within itself an inbuilt system of resistance against any attacks of disease on the body. Addiction to frequent drugs reduces the inherent power of the body to resist any attack of disease. It is, therefore, advised by traditional practioners of medicine especially Indian system of Ayurveda not to resort to any medication unless it is badly so required. Instead we must help body to resist itself with its own inherent powers. Ancient fathers bad cultivated these powers and with the help of them they preserved the pure and perfect body and enjoyed prolonged life.
Who does not desire to be healthy throughout the whole life span? Every one of us wishes to possess healthy life. A healthy body is the first and foremost requisite for happy life. A single remedy which everyone of us can have is prescribed by Tantra and that is cultivation of strong will power which can fortify our body against any attacks from outside as well as inside.
Tantric techniques are especially designed for cultivation of will power. What Tantra is, is it a black magic? If it is so then how it helps positively, such questions can be asked. Tantra has always been generally misunderstood as a black magic or sorcery not only by lay man but sometimes by scholars also. In reality Tantra is that system which deals with the cultivation of inner powers. For this, purified and perfect body is required. Tantra has prescribed Mantra, Yantra, meditation and also various forms of practices for this purpose. All these have their therapeutic value and to explain this aspect of Tantra is the objective of this thesis.
In our humble capacity and ability, it is our approach to focus on the details of Tantra, Mantra and Yantra with a special reference to their therapeutic aspect.
Health is wealth. As it is true for the lay man so also equally it is applicable to the seeker of spirituality. To preserve the wealth of health, human race has found out different kinds of therapies. In the present era, Allopathy, Homeopathy, Ayurveda are the leading one. Among these, Allopathy has wide spread influence on man kind as it gives instant cure. At the same time, Borne of us also become victims of the side-effects of drugs which are, sometimes. severer than the original diseases and detrimental to health.
Is there no way to come out of this? Can't we cultivate our inner power of resistance inherent in body given by nature against disease? Yes, Tantra gives techniques for the cultivation of that power.
The concept of energy is the very core of Tantra on which the whole system stands. The term Tantra comes from the root tan which denotes expansion or cultivation. Tantra is a mode of practice (sadhana) through which one can expand the latent power which in Tantra terms is known as Kundalini or Serpent- power. Kundalini is considered as the source of all energies, the universal energy out of which everything manifests.
Energy is the source of life. A powerless person, as the Devi bhagavata declares, is always condemned. Due to the very crux of life, energy has been a centre of attraction. This power may be of the nature of political, nucleus or supernatural etc. All our activities revolve round the centre of energy. A minister fights for political power. A lay man is mad after money power. An immature practitioner (sadhaka) has craze for supernatural powers. Scientists are not an exception to this. They churn their brain for having more nucleus power. So no one is left from the clutches of energy. We are in grip of energy but a genuine Tantric sadhaka grips the energy by awakening the Kundalmi sakti, This is the ridiculous difference between a lay man and a seer.
Tantric sadhana is very difficult to practice and sometimes it also proves dangerous in absence of authentic instructor (Guru). Our body is made of many types of sheaths. They are traditionally classified as Annamaya kosa (Food sheath), Pranamaya kosa (Vital sheath), Manomaya kosa (Mind sheath), Vijnanamaya k osa (Intellect sheath) and Anandamaya kosa (Bliss sheath). Tantra sadhana starts with the physical body. The goal of the Tantra sadhana is the realization of self. This self resides within the framework of body. Mind and prjina are also related with body. So for reaching to the self, these three outer layers should be controlled. Tantra has not only mentioned process of realization but also it shows different ways to control the physical-mental processes which come in the way of salvation. That way Tantra works as therapy.
The approach of Tantra system for salvation is unique. Other sadhana systems favour the mortification of mind and renunciation of material world while Tantra has totally different view. It accepts the bodily instincts positively and believes in the gratification of instincts. We have been told and advised by scriptures and preachers to avoid the instincts like greed, anger, sex which resist any attempt at their eradication or suppression. This shows that they are unavoidable aspects of life. Among all instincts, sex is highly condemned by society. Tantra tells us not to negate sex. Transcend the sex with the help of sex as poison is removed by poison.
Thus physical body and its instincts both are highly esteemed in Tantra system. Actually, Tantra is a process of sublimation from gross to subtle or from physical to spiritual. Unfortunately, this system has been neglected by considering as a sorcery or black magic. We have chosen to focus attention on this important neglected aspect of Tantra.
The seed of the selection of this aspect also lies in the curiosity to know how our ancient seers could live desired life span without having any complication of disease. In my study of Tantra system, I could locate the secrecy of their health. I could see that they must have purified their bodily nerves by pral!ayama (Brea- thing process) by purificatory actions (satkriyas) and by Mantras which are scientifically woven in the daily Tantric sadhana. The bodily postures (Asanas) mentioned by the Hathayoga also have tremendous therapeutic value. Ancient seers must have utilized these postures and strengthened their limbs of body.
Beyond this, there is also one hidden fact behind the rejuvenation of their body. It is the intake of the mercury (parada). This Rasa Siddhanta or the theory of alchemy is the unique contribution of the Nath a cult, one of the sects of Tantra. Generally, mercury can not be utilized in a naked form. The Natha yogis have prescribed certain processes on mercury. The utilization of this prepared mercury ensures longivity and health.
Here in this thesis an effort is made to focus the therapeutic aspect of Tantra in my own way. Though some scientific work has been done by scholars on Tantra system very recently but since I know, nobody has stressed its therapeutic aspect and because of this, this effort will prove attractive and interesting in my opinion.
This thesis has been divided into two sections. The first section is chiefly devoted to the details of Tantra. This section contains four chapters. The first chapter deals with the salient features of Tantra in which meanings of Tantra, Tantra Tradition, Founders of Tantra, Principles of Tantra etc. have been discussed. All these details have been viewed with the therapeutic point of view.
Tantra is a sadhana system which is based on some metaphysical principles. The second chapter is an exposition of the metaphysics of Tantra under the title "Schools of Tantra" under the portion A of this chapter, white the portion B contains the details about the Tantra sadhana in which the process of awakening of the Kundalini, the universal power has been focussed. Some hypothesis regarding the drugless therapy related with the sadhana system also have been mentioned therein.
Tantra is based on the concept of energy which is the source of life. Being so it is related with all aspects of life but within the limit of thesis only four aspects namely Dance, Music, Astrology and Sacraments have been mentioned. This is the core of the third chapter.
The fourth and the last chapter deals with the couse of degeneration of this sublime system and also an attempt has been made to focus the real side of Tantra. The second section especially deals with the therapeutic aspect of Yantra, Mantra and Tantra. This section contains three chapters. The first chapter forms the subject matter of the anatomy given by allopathy and Tantra.
The second chapter covers the details of Yantra and Mantra with their therapeutic value.
The third chapter of the second section is divided into two groups. A and B. A is related with the transformation of body while B consists the various Tantric ways of healing.
In general it is an attempt to point out Tantra as means against defending the body-mind complex against attacks from increasing polution of natural environment. Here I would like to draw the attention of the reader that this is not an empirical study. No hypothesis made here is tested. It is only an approach to point out the possibility of drugless therapy mentioned by Tantra system. I hope this will open a new direction for advance work in this neglected aspect,
Original Tantric Texts (24)
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