According to the tradition found in the Tantric texts themselves,
Tantras are innumerable. The Nityasodasikarnava says that Tantras
are endless in number but records only sixty-four Kaula Tantras. The
Saundaryalahari, attributed by some to Sankaracarya, refers to sixty-
four Tantras. The Tantraloka of Abhinavagupta states that there are
three groups of ten, eighteen and sixty-four Saiva Tantras. The
Saktisangamatantra refers to the Tantric sects and treatises of the
Vaisnavas, Ganapatyas, Saivas, Svayambhuvas, Candras, Pasupatas,
Cinas, Jainas, Kalamukhas and Vaidikas. The Sammoha or Sammohana-
tantra knows the existence of 402 Saiva Tantras, 339 Vaisnava Tantras,
180Saura Tantras, 122 Ganapatya Tantras and 39 Bauddha Tantras.
The numbers are fictitious, but they show that the author of the said
Tantra had a vague idea of the sects and their texts. The same Tantra
states that China possesses 100 principal Tantras and 7 subsidiary
ones, Dravida 20 principal and 20 subsidiary ones, and Gauda
27 principal and 16 subsidiary ones.
A classification of Tantric texts on the basis of the three currents
of Tantric tradition
daksina, vama and madhyama is also found
each of which is again subdivided into two classes, inner (harda) and
outer (bahya). This division is also made in terms of divya, kaula and
vama. The amnaya divisions, six or nine, of the regions are often
brought under two general categories Kadimata and Hadimata.
There is also a tradition of classifying Tantras into astaka, mangala,
cakra and sikha. Tantric texts are known by such names as Tantra,
Upatantra, Agama, Samhita, Yamala, Damara, Tattva, Kalpa, Arnava
(ka), Uddala, Uddisa, Upasamkhya, Cudamani, Vimarsini, Cintamani,
Purana, Upasajna, Kaksaputi. Kalpadruma, Kamadhenu, Sabhava,
Avataranaka, Sukta, Amrta (tarpana), Darpana, Sagara, etc.
The terms Tantra, Agama and Samhita are very often used in the
same sense, each of which denotes any type of religious text. According to
Pingalamata Agama is that by which the objects around are
known. The name is also explained as that class of Tantra which is
addressed to Parvati by Siva. It is said that the word is formed by the
first letters of agata (that which comes from Siva), gata (that which
goes to Parvati) and mata (that which is established). It is called
Agama because knowledge proceeds from it, Sastra because everything is
controlled and protected by it, Jnana because everything can
be known through it, and Tantra because everything is preserved
and perpetuated by it. According to the Varahitantra, Agama deals
with seven topics, viz., cosmology, destruction, worship of god,
sadhana, purascarana, six forms of rites and four forms of meditation.
The number of Agamas of the Pancaratra school is generally stated
to be 108, but on comparison with different lists their number
appears to be more than 200. The basic Saiva Agamas are 18 in
number according to one tradition, and 28 according to another.
Other sects have their own Agamas also.
The Varahitantra gives a list of twelve special Agamas which are
Muktaka, Prapanca, Sarada, Narada, Maharnava, Kapila, Yoga, Kalpa,
Kapinjala, Amrtasuddhi, Vira and Siddhasamvarana. Another class of
Tantric literature is called Damara which
traditionally consists of six
texts known as Siva, Yoga, Durga, Sarasvata, Brahma and Gandharva.
Yamala is a special class of Tantric literature, the principal ones being
eight in number: Rudra, Skanda, Brahma, Visu, Yama, Vayu, Kubera
and lndra. Two other old texts Pingalamata and Jayadratha belong
to the Yamala group. Besides there are other Yamalas like Aditya and Ganesa.
An ordinary Tantra has a form somewhat similar to that of a
Purana, since it theoretically discusses in order the same five subjects
(pancalaksana): the creation and dissolution of the universe, the
worship of gods, the attainment of supernatural power, and union
with the supreme being. But here the mythological elements are
absent. Instead we find details of ritual acts and practices which
remind us of the contents of Brahmana literature. We have Tantric
parallels of all Smarta and Puranic rites. A fourfold division of Tantra
topics into Vidya, Kriya, Yoga and Carya is indicated in many texts. In
some cases Yoga and Carya are indicated in many texts. In some cases
Yoga and Carya have been substituted by Upaya and Siddhi. There is
also a twofold division into Kriyatantra and Yogatantra.
In a good number of Puranic texts Tantric subjects have been
incorporated. Apararka quotes a passage from the Devipurana wherein
the qualification of a Sthapaka, i.e. one who performs the installation
of God, is considered in terms of his ability in Tantric rituals. The
Kalikapurana devotes many chapters to the description of mantras,
mudras, kavacas, nyasas, etc. The Agnipurana states that the worship
of Visnu and other gods should follow the Vaidiki, Tantriki or Misra
way, the first and third being for the higher varnas and the second or
Tantriki for the Sudras. The Bhagavatapurana mentions Tantric
cults of Visnu, Vaidiki and Tantriki diksa, Tantric methods of angas,
upangas, ayudhas, etc. Many Tantric elements are found in the
Q1. What are the main tantric texts?
texts are usually associated with a particular tradition and deity. The
different types of Tantric literature are:
paddhati texts, stotram, kavaca, nighaṇṭu, koṣa,
and hagiographical literature. They are written in Sanskrit and regional
major textual Tantra traditions with some key exemplary texts are as follows:
Saiva – Sadasiva (Sivagama), Vama or
Tumburu, Dakṣiṇa or Bhairava
Sivasakthi – Yamala (also part of Bhairava
Sakta – Kali traditions (Kali, Kali Viṣṇu, Kamakhya/Kubjika, Tara and
- Kulamarga and Other tantras
Vaiṣṇava – Vaikhanasas, Pancharatra,
bhakti-oriented tantras of Krsna and Rama
Q2. How often should you practice
a beginner practitioner, a tantrika would, first of all, develop and adhere to
a daily spiritual practice that includes techniques from Tantra Yoga, Tantric
Meditation, and pranayama, and could additionally supplement with exercises
from Tantric Sexuality and Tantra Massage. In time the practitioner would
progress on the yogic and tantric path and gain further advanced techniques
that will transform and purify the mind, body, and spirit more and more.
Through steady motivation and determination, Tantra supersedes its influence as
merely a daily practice and eventually becomes a way of life with practical
applications for existence and everyday experiences.
Q3. What are the four types of
Kriya tantra – the bliss of partners looking at
each other. Were taught to practitioners for performing ritual bathing, the
sprinkling of scented water, the use of mudras, and the chanting of mantras.
Charya tantra – the bliss of smiling at each other.
It is for internal meditative stabilization without relying on very many
Yoga tantra – the bliss of hugging each other.
Mainly rely on meditative stabilization and rely on only a few external
Anuttarayoga tantra – the bliss of being in the union.
It uses sexual union and is thus also designated the “tantra of the union of
Q4. What is the difference between
tantra and tantric?
are works that primarily focus on ritual and meditative practices, so the term
tantric also envelops the practices associated with these scriptures, which
were traditionally distributed by the tantric practitioners with the texts.
Tantra and the tantric traditions of Hinduism and Buddhism have been subjected
to a great deal of misunderstanding. As an adjective, tantric is describing Vajrayana
Buddhism, any branch of yoga or esoteric traditions rooted in India.
Tantric is a derived term of tantra- tantric sex. As a noun tantra is a Hindu
or Buddhist religious or esoteric text - white, red, or black tantra.
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