I was wondering if any Shaivite groups still base their practice around this tantra.
a pdf link for it:
a html link for it:
I was wondering if any Shaivite groups still base their practice around this tantra.
a pdf link for it:
a html link for it:
[quote=srivijaya;25889] I was wondering if any Shaivite groups still base their practice around this tantra.
Yes of course, these and similar practices like stri puja, kula yaga, or rahasya puja are core concepts of the Kaula Dharma, shaiva as well as shakta, but the Yoni tantra itself would better be described as a kaula shakta tantra than a shaiva agama.
MahaHrada writes,Yes of course, these and similar practices like stri puja, kula yaga, or rahasya puja are core concepts of the Kaula Dharma, shaiva as well as shakta, but the Yoni tantra itself would better be described as a kaula shakta tantra than a shaiva agama.
As I understand it there are 6 schools of śaivism that I can count (also with multiple flavors and spinoffs that I cannot count in full).
One may say where is smārta in this list? as it originates from ādi Śaṅkara. Perhaps it is wise to view this as smārta sampradāya (tradition , handed down), yet it too recognizes Śiva.
- Kaśmīr śaivism is the one I gravitate to and am most comfortable with, yet there are 5 more:
- Śaiva Siddhāna
- Paśupāta śaivism
- Vira śaivism
- Śiva Advaita
- Siddha Siddhāna
Perhaps you can assist so I better understand the following.
I ask to learn , not to challenge.
- Of these schools can you advise me (us on HDF) which schools/traditions above advocate or use Kaula Dharma, Yoni tantra ~kaula shakta tantra~ in their practices?
- Do you have an opinion on their application? i.e. Can you perhaps compare or contrast those that do or do not?
- And do you see a difference between kula and kaula?
Last edited by yajvan; 23 December 2008 at 09:52 PM.
because you are identical with śiva
In addition to yajvan's query, I'd like to ask whether the instructions within this tantra are to be carried out in a literal manner, or whether there is an interpretive angle on them.
My impression of India is that it is a deeply conservative society which would never condone such things - but you have trained there so perhaps you could say a little about that situation.
I adress both of your question in this one posting
What is commonly called nowadays "kashmir shaivaism" should be properly called Trika Kaula and this school comprises several other traditions, namely those of the Krama, the Spanda, the Prathyabhijna and the Kula lineages. These are all either Shakta or Shaiva or Shaiva/shakta, and Kaula traditions.
To call these Schools Shaiva is an undue simplification, the great Gopinath Kaviraj even called Abhinavagupta "verily the soul of the shakta culture" and i agree with him.
One can say that, because there is no strict demarcation between Shakta and Shaiva traditions, in those schools belonging to the tantric tradition, in the analysis of their acharas by scholars, there have crept in some undue simplifications.
What is called the Kula school in Kashmir shaivaism, is a substream of the broader Kaula tradition , it is going back to Matsyendranath who is the primary Guru of many other tantric lineages also of the the Siddha siddhanta aka Nath parampara and the Yogini Kaula.
It is said by some sources that Matsyendranath aka Macchandranath is the primal Guru of all Kaula lineages in the Kali Yuga. Most scholars agree that it was Matsyendranatha under the name of Luipa, who founded the Vajrayana tradition also.
Like i mentioned before this school (Kula) aims to realise the absolute formless shiva (akula) in the particular (kula). In the bodily gnosis, here akula is shiva in the brain center and kula (the cluster or group or family) is shakti stationend in the muladhara.
The advanced Kula practicioner has transcended all differentiation of dharma and adharma, papa and punya therefore whether he contemplates on the shakti in the muladhara or akula shiva in the brain center, he realisies the same state of samarasya, the perfect assimilation of sameness of the divine couple, spread out in its fullness (purnatva) in the visible universe and as well beyond into the transcendent. Same is true whether the union is conceived as happening in ones own body and the chakra system, with divine messengers, or in the bodily act.
Also the individual body cluster (kula pinda) is experienced as being similar to the Brahmanda, the universe and as well similar to the mahasakara pinda of Shiva.
The Brahmanda (the universe) as well as the Mahasakara Pinda of transcendent Shiva and one own body, these 3 are in perfectly balanced state of mirroring each other and in such a way that all elements retain their uniqueness, while being nonetheless not two,and each particular (no matter how low in the order of evolutes) can assume the role of the pivotal centre, the ultimate archetype, which state of knowledge of their unity, is the advaitam of the tantric tradition.
Wherever and whatever a kaula attends on and no matter on which level of grossness or subtility, this place where he is,(not some other place or state) is always the place or state where he attempts to realise the pivotal point of the all.
So therefore in the kula there is only an illusion of a graded path, (if any graded path at all is acknowledged), in essence everything stays as it is, your task is only to remember your true state and realise that desires and goals and all your hopes and fears and aims (even if they are spiritual or religious) are exactly part of that which bind you to the cycle of rebirth and have to be sacrificed.
If there is no place to go and no graded path, there is no impurity anywhere, not even in the most impure, for the realised kaula.
Gopinath Kaviraj identifies Mahesvarananda, author of the Mahartha Manjari, a kula shastra, with Goraksanatha the disciple of Matsyendranatha, which would link the complete siddha tradition including the Vajrayana directly to the Kula tradition , as understood by the Kashmiri shaivas.
To come back to your question about the shaivaite traditions that are associated with tantric teachings, these are the following:
Kapalikas aka Mahavratins
Siddha siddhanta aka Nath parampara which are going back to Matsyendranatha and Gorakhnatha and its offshoot the so called "Tamil siddha" tradition going back to Bhogarnatha.
The two Aghora lineages where one is going back to Gorakshanath the other more recently going back to Baba kinaram.
and of course Kashmir shaivaism aka Trika kaula which is a pure Kaula tradition.
All other streams connected with the Kaula Dharma are Shakta.
To come to the topic whether the Yoni Tantra is to be taken literally the answer is: yes, but there are of course also grosser substitutes allowed, like using a painted or engraved yantra (or in Vajrayana a mandala) instead of the Yoni, or a murti of the devi, or a vessel or flask filled with alcohol or water, instead of a living female, but this substitute procedure is not described in the Yoni Tantra.
I have no idea whether the indian society can be called conservative or condoning tantric practicies as such, whenever i visited india i experienced it as the most liberal culture i have ever been confonted with. In India each community is following its own religious and cultural customs without outside interference. The only oppressive patterns i noticed have been introduced by the british colonial rulers and their precursors the muslim despots.
As a side remark i have not studied tantra shastra in India, but with Mike Maggee, who coincidentially is the one who wrote the introduction and translation of the Yoni Tantra, that you linked to in your posting.
Last edited by MahaHrada; 24 December 2008 at 07:23 PM.
Many thanks MahaHrada. I shall take my time to carefully read your post before I ask any further questions.
Since, this topic comes up too often and is often regarded as controversial, I wud like a point as information (not knowledge, since I don't have any knowledge on the matter).
People in general seem to have the idea that tantras are more liberal in matters of morality, sexuality and diet in particular. It is often seen as a reversal of prevailing customs and wisdoms of so called “mainstream” Hinduism, the smarta and the vedic religions. And current belief among the tantra enthusiasts (I should say ‘kaula’ enthusiasts) is that it is the dual path of bhoga and moksha where one can be engaged in day to day pleasures of life and gradually work towards liberation. With limited knowledge on the philosophical basis of the trika-kaula schools, I don’t know if this is indeed a right justification. I have personally tried multiple times to read trika books, but most of the time I found my interest failing, as it seemed more like theories of modern academicians who build complex abstract theories out of original simple ideas of others. Somehow I didn’t find in it, the originality and the charm of kevaladvaita or tattva darshana of samkhya, but a manipulation of samkhya-vedanta by some bright academic mind. May be by noting down this observation I am just reflecting my ignorance, but I am also being honest about my orientation.
But coming back to the earlier point, tantra is often seen as a dual path of bhoga and moksha, a gradual path, a wordly path and so on. However my limited interactions with traditions in Bengal, seem to indicate that it is the opposite. While the goal is the dual siddhi of bhoga and moksha, there is no dual path. Instead of being more liberal than vedic or the smarta dharma, the vira bhava actually demands a much much more strict sexual conduct! Why? While for the ordinary individual sex is but a pleasure which he engages in for his own gratification and wine is a pastime. For the vira sadhaka, sex is but a service to the goddess. He can use it as a service to the goddess because he has sufficient mastery over his senses to be able to offer something so sensual to the deity. Most of us find hard to offer dana to dana patra in a mandir if the correct denominations are not there in our pockets. Imagine offering sex. Thus logically virachara comes after having practiced reasonable control over senses also called vedachara or pashyachara.
This seems to be one of the viewpoints of virasadhana in the shakta sampradayas and I am not sure if someone following trika-kaula and abhinavagupta needs this viewpoint.
But I am not a great fan of non-duality when the everyday vision is clearly dual.
What is Here, is Elsewhere. What is not Here, is Nowhere.
The academic approach of trika may have its cause in the need for the local oral traditions that have been confronted with the dialectics and proselytizing efforts of Buddhism, to define their and defend their heritage. Though i agree that this may have had its downsides at least that way knowledge has been written down and preserved that otherwise might have been lost.
The local traditions that before the approach of a proselytizing belief, were not in need of bookish knowledge and dialectics but have been rather practical and formerly depended on oral instructions, started developing intellectual responses, and teachers began to gather knowledge from diverse sources, write books and devleop a philosophical system of their own, to counter the challenge of buddhist dialectics. So the tradition is actually much older, only passed down orally, then it appears when we are judging its antiquity from the dates of the available earliest tantric or siddhantic manuscripts, which date from around 400-600 AD.
I think one cannot dismiss Trika to be merely as a manipulation of Samkhya or Vedanta or of being merely academic, that would not do justice to the tantric tradition of kashmira desha or Abhinavagupta, who certainly, besides being a scholar, was also a great yogin.
It has to be taken more serious, if not because of him then because it was not Abhinavagupta who invented Trika, or gave a completly new interpretation to the Kaula, we can be shure that he based his contribution to the tantric tradition on a wide variety of earlier teachings, he was well versed and had gurus ranging from the dualist Shaiva Siddhanta, Matsyendranaths Kula teachings, the krama school of the Kalikula, to the Trika which was based on the Rudrayamala and centered around Para shakti, so it is an agamic tradition. i.e ultimately based on its own interpretation of shruti, but independent of samkhya and advaita vedanta.
There were in the time of Abhinavagupta as there are today certain qualifications and skills necessary for using sexuality as a means of Sadhana, that the average person does not have, but there are a wide variety of traditions, ranging from the extremist aghori sadhus which term their tradition also a part of kaula, to south indian kaula sri vidya traditions that are, or have become very orthoprax, so i imagine the required qualifications for the use of sexual sadhana will also differ considerably between these various traditions.
In the Tantraloka Abhinavagupta recommends the use of the Kula Yaga only for shisyas meeting the highest qualifications, for those that already have been established at least once (and if only during the diksha by their teacher) in the highest state.
What seems to be common to all traditions, besides the most important point the diksha and guidance (from a Guru of a Kaulachara or Vamachara Parampara) is that you need to have mastery over your senses, and can establish yourself in such a state of mind as to be without attachment to sense impressions, have no jealousy, no shame and be free of desires and also you have to be able to control the body functions to a certain extent.
You have to be non-dual regarding pleasant and unpleasant impressions and your mind must be free from classifications of pure or impure. You need to be virile.
The Yoni Tantra is not a part of the trika tradition it is a treatise from bihar and as such i guess has a more straigthforward approach to kaula practises then trika or the southern srividya tradition has.
Last edited by MahaHrada; 15 January 2009 at 04:34 PM.
As for Trika, as I said, I was reflecting my own ignorance.This has promted you clear a few things which weren't very clear to me. Thanks again for that.
I am surely not anywhere near qualified to even form my own opinion on such a complex system.
However academic approach is not unique to trika and comes from the classical philosophies which were much before in time. Even in mahabharata one finds instances of brahmins engaged in rigorous tarka on various philosophical systems. With my limited understanding I wud postulate, that nothing in Indian philosophical systems is truely independent of samkhya, certainly not yoga (and hence tantra). This was the view of Mahamahopadhyay Gopinath Kaviraj as well, if I am not wrong.
Yet they do not end with the same conclusion.
What is Here, is Elsewhere. What is not Here, is Nowhere.
Considered from this angle even astika teachings like Buddhism owe their origin to the fertile ground prepared by samkhya and Yoga. If i wrote "independent of samkhya or Advaita vedanta" what i wanted to express was independent enough to be classified as a unique approach or philosophy on its own.
If we accept that Trika is a only a manipulation of samkhya and vedanta, this applies to all other indian philosophies as well.
Though derived from a common base the samkhya, and influenced by advaita vedanta, and other philosphies, for instance the grammarians like Bhartrihari, and the early siddhanta shaivas certainly kashmir shaivaism is nonetheless unique enough to be respected as a tradition distinct from other.
God is revealed only by the shruti, and the rishis like Kapila where enabled to perceive this knowledge by their practice of contemplation or Yoga.
The same idea is expressed by the two ways or modalities of Shivajnana in the siddhantic tradition, Shivajnana is both the knowledge of shiva as it is stated in his revealed scriptures and that direct knowledge acquired by the practice of the methods described in these scriptures. Shruti as well as Shivajnana therefore is both an experience and a scripture pointing at the way.
Applying this simplified to Samkhya and its connection to Yoga one can say that samkhya is the theory and yoga is the practice. The goal is acquiring of self knowledge.
Some of the elaborations and additions to the samkhya, that the siddhantic and tantric traditions added were due to the knowledge and experience of the Yogis and a result of their practical application of the common basic principles laid down in the Vedas the Upanishads and Samkhya.
These additions were put into writing in the agamas, but since they were gained by Yoga and contemplation, not by tarka, they were considered by the astikas to belong to the category of shruti.
One of the interesting additions to classical samkhya Yoga by the Kaula stream was their method of utilising a more direct easier access differing from the gradual ardous Path of conventional Yoga or siddhanta, which requires long periods of retreat and which are incompatible with the life of a householder.
The conventional method consists of mastering all the Tattvas one after the other, and retracing the order of evolution by stages, ultimately reaching Shivatva.
The method preferred by the Kaula is to apply the Yoga contemplation to access the ultimate state, by focussing on the lower set of Tattvas that are associated with sensual experience but in a yogic way to utilise the process of cognition , the sense organs , sense objects and the organs of action, in a way that allowed access to ultimate self knowledge, but more fitting the life of a Householder.
This means that even the very uncommon practices, involving impurity, sexuality and sensual experience of the Vajrayana, Vamachara and kaulachara kapalika and aghor are elaborations of samkhya thought.
Sensual experiences refers to all sense experiences not only sexual, like smelling, hearing, feeling, tasting, or bodily processes like awareness of the breathing process or heart beat, are used as objects of contemplation. such methods are described for instance in the Vijnana bhairava.
But to be able to use a direct access, via the "ashuddha tattvas" one must first eradicate the concepts of shuddha and ashuddha pure and impure, higher and lower, papa and punya dharma and adharma and reach a state of detachment from all these dualities and differentiations of pleasant and unpleasant sensual impressions. Only then one is enables to contemplate on the process of cognition in a pure way, without hopes or fears, only then the mind can be fixed in the present, free from modifications of the mind and perceive the reality.
I agree with you that the divison into dvaita dvaitAdvaita and advaita is given undue importance. When looking at the scriptural sources of the non-dual Kashmir shaivaism like the Netra Tantra Malinivijayaottara Tantra, the Para trimshika or the Svacchanda Tantra we find no indication of the importance of such a divison. Abhinavagupta influenced by adi Shankaracharyas doctrine does emphasize the common advaitan approach, but nonetheless the term advaita has different meanings in siddhantic or agamic philosophy than it does have in advaita vedanta.
Non dualism or dualism is a matter of interpretation in the agamic tradition, since dualist shaivas did acknowledged the authority of the very same tantras Abhinavagupta respected.
In the Natha Parampara there is the unique position that it is wise to deny the relevance of this divison and dismiss the question as a whole. The argument is that the unnamend or the Paramapada is beyond mental constructs.
Shri Shraddanathji Maharaj a contemporary nath yogi wrote:
"Ignorant only says, the world exists, illusion (māyā) exists, brāhm exists, living beings exist, etc. He only knows this existence. But the one who says that these do not exist – this world, living beings etc. are all illusions, brāhm is the only truth – he is also ignorant. The one who doesn’t know he only lives in the illusion of existence and non existence. The one who is knowledgeable, remains immersed in the Self only. His ignorance of illusion of what exists and what doesn’t exist disappears. Neither does he say that God is one, living beings are different from Him, nor does he say that the Self is God. These are all thoughts which arise due to mind. No thoughts arise in the one who has realised the Self. Everything quietens down in him. The speaker no longer exists. Knowledgeables also engages in action but he does not have longing for the fruits of action. He does not even complain. He is content with whatever is there or happening around him. After being free from all attachments he lives merged in his Self (atmān)."
Last edited by MahaHrada; 17 January 2009 at 05:28 AM.
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