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Thread: A question about Shaktism

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    Re: A question about Shaktism

    Thanks to all for appreciating my posting. I will try to comment to all of your postings or questions without adressing each of the comments separetly.
    In the tantras and agamas vedachara is the beginning or the lower rung of the ladder of spiritual conduct and their own respective achara be it Siddhanta, Yoga, Vama, Dakshina or Kaula is the most comprehenssive and therefore highest. The most comprehensive and advanced conduct amongst Shaktas is Kaulachara.
    Since different people are qualified for different conducts or religious paths some of the advanced acharas can only be understood and practiced after having spent many lifetimes studying the other acharas that gradually can lead one to the supreme understanding.
    Of course there has occurred a mixture of both veda and agama or tantra during history. There are maybe only 500 people left in Bharata that practise and study according to the ancient vedic shrauta tradition. Also people following a pure tantric path are rare nowadays. So most people today are following a mixed path.
    A lot of agamic or tantric practices and ideas, those ideas and practices that do not contradict shruti and smriti have been accepted also into what is known as classical advaita vedanta, or smarta sampradaya to lesser or greater degree.
    Shastras such as Saundaryalahari and Prapanchasara Tantra that are said to have been authored by Adi Shankaracharya, are a witness to the general acceptance of tantric methods even by adherents of orthodox classical vedanta.
    Saundaryalahari belongs to this class of shastras that resulted form assimilation of tantra into vedanta, it is a shakta shastra with topics that are acceptable within advaita vedanta sampradaya.
    Since it is not possibble to study and practice both, tantra or agama and vedanta to its full extent at the same time , because each path alone would need exclusive attention, that is why during the course of time tantra and vedanta became mixed.

    I always try to remind in discussion that when different darshanas use the same word like brahman or advaita or moksha, it does not necessarily denote the same thing, the same word can have a very different meaning. Also buddhists or jains have terms in common with hindus but they can assume very different meanings according to the context of the religion.
    The term Adishakti also can have many meanings, when Vira Shaiva Sampradaya will use the term it will have a different meaning as when it is used in Kaula Sampradaya. That what is in common is that since "adi" means primal or first, this term will always denote a form of shakti that is considered high ranking or even ultimate. The rest should be decided from the context in which the term is mentionend

    In the tantric viewpoint, Vishnu and Lakshmi or Brahma and Sarasvati, Rudra and Kali and all other dual pairs are derived from the ultimate Para Bindu (transcendent seed-point) splitting into a male female duality and its point of junction or interaction, which is the original cause and the process by which the universe emanates after a mahapralaya. But not only these devata but everything else including our own body, which came ino existance by admixture of rajas and shukra (female egg and male semen, arises out of an interplay of two opposites and their union, the dynamic of laws of physic, like gravity, electricity, magnetism arise also out of the same interaction of opposites.

    Per definition Shiva is never the cause, he is the eternally unmoved quiescent watcher, that never undergoes any change, he is pure awareness, whether this awareness is situated in a devata or a human or and animal, or exist as such it is the same undivided state , therefore he is called the akula, without family or cluster of finite relationsships, and Shakti is the reverse the Kula the family or cluster of finite relationships.
    Thats why it is said that Shiva is Shava (corpse) without the Letter "I" symbol for the Shakti. Shakti is not an effect. Shakti is the cause, creative activity and energy, she only rests at the endpoints of the cycle either when all creation is achieved or when all worlds are dissolved into the Parabindu again. For instance in her activity of creative world mother, (Jagadamba) creating the material world, she assumes the form of Prakriti, an undivided mass of potential physical objects, all these different latent cognitions begin to form into objects in the moment conciousness (Shiva) starts cognising, then the undivided mass of elements, which is Prakriti changes into a huge mass of distinct objects, suited to the individual mass of cognisers (jivas), Shiva has seemingly split into many, by action of Maya Shakti and her limiting energies.

    So whatever kind of jiva is in the process of cognising, whether it is a devata or an animal or a human being, the pure underlying awareness inside each unit is always the same, Shivas undivided self awareness. Also whatever a Jiva is cognising by using his six senses, whether considered good or bad by him, it is only one underlying Shakti that is the object seemingly split in myriad forms.
    Shiva is the eternal subject and Shakti, the eternal object that impinges upon conciousness by the act of cognising or knowing, therefore Shiva is called Prakasha the light (of conciousness) and Shakti vimarsha the mirror of (of objects.)
    Their union, the act of cognising or knowing causes an arising of an image in the mirror. In this example there is one difference to an actual mirror, in the case of the example there is no object outside the mirror that is reflected, we imagine that only the light, the reflection in the mirror and the act of reflecting exist.

    Shakti is active in two modes, one is the creative impulse called sristhi, creation, or vikasa, expansion, which causes the conciousness to become outward directed towards the sense impressions and worldly activity and binds the jiva in this state, this Shakti is the fully expanded lower Shakti called different names for instance, Apara Shakti, or lower Kundalini (adho-kundalini) she that rests in the lower part of the body, the other mode of movement of the shakti is called the dissolving, samhara, or sankoca, contraction, which leads to introversion, rest from sense impressions, and the arising of self knowledge, and this is the Urdhva (upper) Shakti also known in the body as Urdhva Kundalini and other names.

    While the lower Shakti, the expanding Kundalini, turning in the righthand direction, (dakshinamarga) the vishnumaya, deludes the jiva, and keeps him a bound subject (pashu) attached to sensual objects, by her limiting force, that way jiva is kept in the rounds of rebirth, in samsara, while under the influence of the Para sakti and the upper Shakti with her the lefthand turning (vamamarga) directed upwards, kundalini can rise and dissolve the karmas and samskaras, and free the sadhaka from samsara.
    Tantra sadhana can use the forces of both movements, expanding and contracting for spiritual purposes. When this is done dualities such as dharma adharma pure or impure dissolve.
    When the Vijnanabhairavatantra states that the the "mukham" the mouth or face of devi causes shiva to appear, this implies a complicated secret terminology loaded with diverse meanings which is not possible to state in plain words, so much i say that there are two "mukham" of devi corresponding to the expansion and contraction of Shakti the urdhva mukham, and the adho mukham, which can be found in the body and subtle nadis. If the kundalini or prana shakti is moved in a proper way, meditation or awareness of both mouths can be utilised to free the sadhaka from samsara.
    But it is necessary that at first the power of grace, the Anugraha Shakti, the Para Shakti and the Urdhva Kundalini becomes active, this can only happen by grace, not by effort, the karma has to naturally ripen to the state that the sadhak can at least once get the impulse of the shaktipat (descent of power) that will free him from the Maya shakti, the resting, the lower Kundalini, (adho-kundalini ), which binds him to samsara and opposes the begin of the reverse the leftside (Vama) movement of Shakti, which is the outward worlds dissolution and the begining of an inward turning process.

    Because of these peculiar practices, the higher tantric path requires that the jiva has already naturally exhausted the worldly outward movement, (Pravritti marga) and exhausted his karma, only than he will be able receive the required impulse from the higher shakti that makes him enter on the return path. (Nivritti marga)
    In the normal case if the person is qualified the required downflow of shakti is iniitialised by a guru, since grace (Anugraha Shakti) requires that no concious egotistical effort is invested.
    If no Shaktipat or Anugraha Shakti is present, the divine intuiton, Pratibha Shakti will not awaken in the jiva and the meaning of the tantric shastras will not unfold and other acharas have to be practised first.
    Therefore much of the effort invested into the study of highly complex agamas and tantra like the Vijnanabhairava can go in vain without the spiritual impact of Anugraha Shakti through the medium of the Guru or in rare cases by the action of Shakti herself.
    Last edited by MahaHrada; 12 February 2010 at 04:53 PM.

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    Re: A question about Shaktism

    Thankyou for your interesting point Yajvan. I will get back to MahaHrada when I have read you post. It seems we posted at the same time!

    Quote Originally Posted by sambya View Post
    agamas do not reject vedas . they only say that it is difficult to attain perfection through vedic procedures in the age of kali . vedic regulations of satya era are now invalid and tantra is the modern , easier and suitable way to liberation .
    Is there anywhere I could get ahold of these Agamas, because I can't seem to find them online.

    Thanks,

    Wilfred.

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    Re: A question about Shaktism

    ahh ! what a refreshing post and such depth and clear understanding of the topics .

    wonderfull .

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    Re: A question about Shaktism

    namaste mahahradaji,
    wow.superb post.after going through your post i begin 2 undrstand how shiva is known by shakti as mentioned in this thread before.
    thank you for explaining so deeply about shiva and shakti.i felt the lack of understanding about the female diety in our dharma was a big hurdle 2 me and your post clarifies my doubts.
    but i still have some doubts which are silly due to my poor knowledge.please clarify it if it is worth it.
    it is ofcourse difficult 2 study vedanta or tantra specifically.but the understanding about brahman is same to both advaita and tantra.am i right?so,in the long run,isnt vedanta and tantra same,except in practice?
    also,every vedantin practices raja yoga(i may be wrong),which is about the chakras,nadis,kundalini awakening and finally nirvikalpa samadhi.
    i dont know about adi shankara 'including' tantric works into vedanta,but i feel tantra and vedanta is not diff.coz,even before shankara,soundaryalahari was etched on mt.meru by lord ganesha(first part).all the sampradayas are part of the ultimate vedas.the reason i feel the identity b/n vedanta and tantra is the teaching and understanding.i may be wrong.but i await ur comments.
    thanks
    Sarva DharmAAn Parityajya

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    Re: A question about Shaktism

    Quote Originally Posted by amith vikram View Post
    namaste mahahradaji,
    wow.superb post.after going through your post i begin 2 undrstand how shiva is known by shakti as mentioned in this thread before.
    thank you for explaining so deeply about shiva and shakti.i felt the lack of understanding about the female diety in our dharma was a big hurdle 2 me and your post clarifies my doubts.
    but i still have some doubts which are silly due to my poor knowledge.please clarify it if it is worth it.
    it is of course difficult 2 study vedanta or tantra specifically.but the understanding about brahman is same to both advaita and tantra.am i right?
    We find all varieties of differences, dvaita and advaita and dvaitaadvaita described in the agamas and tantras, it is said in the tantra shastras that each head of the 5 heads of shiva speaks and teaches one group of agamas and tantras, containing crores of tantras, one dvaita, the other advaita etc. so that everybody can listen to a darshana according to each persons qualifications and the requirements of the Yugas.
    This gave rise to the 5 different streams or groups of tantras called the Amnayas.
    To understand the differences between kevala advaita of Adi Shankaracharya, which is what we usually talk about when mentioning vedanta or advaita, and the advaita of Agama and Tantra is immensly important when we want to understand the tantras properly.
    so,in the long run, isnt vedanta and tantra same, except in practice?
    Teachings and aims are both very different

    also,every vedantin practices raja yoga(i may be wrong),which is about the chakras,nadis,kundalini awakening and finally nirvikalpa samadhi.
    Like i said a lot is mixed today and differences are brushed aside, or explained away, which makes it more difficult to understand basic tantric concepts, thats why there are so few people around who can properly explain Yoga and Tantra.
    i dont know about adi shankara 'including' tantric works into vedanta,
    I didn´t mean to say that Adi Shankaracharya introduced tantra into vedanta, that was done maybe much later, i only said that some tantric shastras, that are accepted within the sampradaya, are attributed to him. His important philosophical works are vedantic and based on shruti, they contain not even one stray reference to chakras, kundalini or tantric devatas or any other of the tantric concepts. Therefore some have doubts that he really was the author of these tantric shastras.
    but i feel tantra and vedanta is not diff.coz,even before shankara,soundaryalahari was etched on mt.meru by lord ganesha(first part).all the sampradayas are part of the ultimate vedas.the reason i feel the identity b/n vedanta and tantra is the teaching and understanding.i may be wrong.but i await ur comments.
    thanks
    That is the position that is propagated by the tantrics within the smarta sampradaya and what is accepted there. It is an extremist position, there are some tantrics that oppose the vedanta completly, which would be the other extremist viewpoint. I think a balanced view is the best. One should see both, the differences and the similarities. I think it is not very helpful for an intellectual understanding of tantric concept and history to strictly adhere to kevala advaita or the modern (indian middle ages) vedanta that was definend and developed after Shankaracharya. Modern neo vedanta is even worse as a starting point to understand tantric concepts.

    Early vedic shrauta tradition is much closer to tantra for several reasons. For instance the shrauta tradition does accept the reality of the world and that the divine manifests primarily or fully through (ritual) action and mantric speech these are important shared concepts with the mantra marga, these are concepts which advaita vedanta vehemently denies instead it is extolling jnana as the highest mode of conduct, while ascribing an inferior position to ritual acts and mantra. In that sense Tantra is closer to the early vedic attitude than (kevala advaita) vedanta

    Especially for the original poster it is not helpful to belive that tantra or shakta darshana and vedanta are similar he is free to study Hinduism without needing to belive in any extremist viewpoint. As a westerner he would not even be accepted by a smarta tantric of Shankaracharyas sampradaya as qualified to study the shastras, so why should he study Hinduism only from a limiting vedantic viewpoint excluding the agama?
    Last edited by MahaHrada; 12 February 2010 at 04:43 PM.

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    Re: A question about Shaktism

    thanks again for the clarification.i always wanted 2 know things from a shakta perspective. well,now i want 2 know what smarthas have 2 say about this. if anyone in this forum know anything about this,pls tell me.
    thanks
    Sarva DharmAAn Parityajya

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    Re: A question about Shaktism

    Thankyou MahaHrada for your interesting answers to my questions. I am now wondering where texts such as the Puranas/Epics fit into this. How are they viewed in the Agamic and Vedic strains on hinduims? They are obviously different to the vedas, yet (I don't think) are part of the Agamas.

    Thanks,

    Wilfred.

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    Re: A question about Shaktism

    Quote Originally Posted by wcrow View Post
    Thankyou MahaHrada for your interesting answers to my questions. I am now wondering where texts such as the Puranas/Epics fit into this. How are they viewed in the Agamic and Vedic strains on hinduims? They are obviously different to the vedas, yet (I don't think) are part of the Agamas.

    Thanks,

    Wilfred.
    The Puranas developed over long periods of time and where compiled from assorted sources, many of the original source mss. are not available anymore.

    A large part of what is presented in the Puranas is tantric or agamic, these parts of the puranas that treat the way of worship and sadhana is completly based on tantras and agamas. Of course there a vedic mantras incorporated into the agamas and one will find these also in the Puranas.

    At the moment i am studying the Kalika Purana where the sections that are treating sadhana and karma (ritual) are sometimes even namend tantra for instance "Vaishnavi Tantra" and contain all the information that are typical for a shakta tantra.

    So overall the Puranas are a mixture of vedanta and agama with the ritualistic part taken from the agamas.

    In the case of the Kalika Purana there are even many extremist tantric practises recommended which are not sanctioned by shruti and smriti.

    The amount of agamic thought in the epics, is certainly less than in the Puranas, but part of the Yoga taught by Krishna in the Bhagavadgita is not solely inspired by shruti alone but also by other traditions for instance Samkhya Darshana but also including elements of agamic Yoga.
    Abhinavagupta a wellknown tantric acharya and Yogi, in many parts of his commentary to the Bhagavadgita clarified where exactly Sri Krishna included kaula shakta and agamic teachings in his discourse.
    Last edited by MahaHrada; 14 February 2010 at 07:37 AM.

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    Re: A question about Shaktism

    Quote Originally Posted by MahaHrada View Post
    The Puranas developed over long periods of time and where compiled from assorted sources, many of the original source mss. are not available anymore.

    A large part of what is presented in the Puranas is tantric or agamic, these parts of the puranas that treat the way of worship and sadhana is completly based on tantras and agamas. Of course there a vedic mantras incorporated into the agamas and one will find these also in the Puranas.

    At the moment i am studying the Kalika Purana where the sections that are treating sadhana and karma (ritual) are sometimes even namend tantra for instance "Vaishnavi Tantra" and contain all the information that are typical for a shakta tantra.

    So overall the Puranas are a mixture of vedanta and agama with the ritualistic part taken from the agamas.

    In the case of the Kalika Purana there are even many extremist tantric practises recommended which are not sanctioned by shruti and smriti.

    The amount of agamic thought in the epics, is certainly less than in the Puranas, but part of the Yoga taught by Krishna in the Bhagavadgita is not solely inspired by shruti alone but also by other traditions for instance Samkhya Darshana but also including elements of agamic Yoga.
    Abhinavagupta a wellknown tantric acharya and Yogi, in many parts of his commentary to the Bhagavadgita clarified where exactly Sri Krishna included kaula shakta and agamic teachings in his discourse.
    Thanks. I would really like to learn more about the Agamic philosophy and Shakta philosophy in general, but I cannot find any of the Tantras online (unlike other scriptures) and many of the tantric/shakta websites I have visited are very new agey. Any reccomendations as to what I can do to learn more?

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    Re: A question about Shaktism

    Quote Originally Posted by wcrow View Post
    Thanks. I would really like to learn more about the Agamic philosophy and Shakta philosophy in general, but I cannot find any of the Tantras online (unlike other scriptures) and many of the tantric/shakta websites I have visited are very new agey. Any reccomendations as to what I can do to learn more?
    The Tantras and Agamas have been mostly brushed aside, misunderstood and neglected by the academics because of their allegdly inferior content, and still there is very little that is translated or published.

    Reading the original agamas and tantras one is confronted with the problem that agamas and tantras are primarily concernend with cryptic descriptions of only some parts of the ritual practice (karma, kriya) or Yoga sadhana, which most of the time deliberately is written in a way that makes little sense without the guidance of a teacher. There is a lot of secrecy maintained.

    Mahamahopadhyaya Gopinath Kaviraj was the greatest scholar of Agamas and Tantras in this century. This is a very good introduction into the subject containing some articles on matters related to Tantra.

    Gopinath Kaviraj
    Selected Writings of Mahamahopadhyaya Gopinath Kaviraj

    http://www.mrmlonline.com/?page=shop...c34cf594a15dc7

    Arthur Avalon is not as brillant as Gopinath Kaviraj but did some good pioneering books on authentic tantra.

    His Introduction to Tantra shastra is online at scribd.com:

    http://www.scribd.com/doc/17563344/I...-Arthur-Avalon

    also on scribd by Avalon:

    http://www.scribd.com/doc/17563395/A...rpuradi-Stotra

    http://www.scribd.com/doc/6911502/Sh...-Arthur-Avalon

    So called Kashmir shaivaism is also an agamic tradition which in recent years has received some attention by academics mainly due to the personality of the brillant Swami Lakshman joo.

    But not only Shaivas and Shaktas follow the Agamas also a lot of Vaishnava Sampradayas follow their own set of agamas the Pancharatra tradition especially is agamic.

    There are a lot of articles in this blog that are good, also much concerning agama and tantra, (based on the books of Ramachandra Rao Agama Kosha) for instance this series:

    http://ssubbanna.sulekha.com/blog/po...als-1-of-5.htm
    Last edited by MahaHrada; 14 February 2010 at 05:26 PM.

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