In the West, tantrism has a different impact on each person. Elevated people can see in it’s teachings an authentic path that can help them spiritually. Common people consider it a collection of sexual practices, meant to reinvigorate the already worn out, stressed and immoral instinct of the polluted west.

During the first centuries of the Christian era, a spiritual movement (different form previous spiritual currents) sprang and manifested on Indian territory.

It is with magical beliefs, rituals, elevated esoteric teachings and initiatory revelations. Known under the name of tantrism, the movement is a synthesis of the main Hindu currents and spiritual directions. However it’s aspects make it fit for all times.

Although well-known Eastern sources situate the origins of tantrism in 7th century A.D., other evidence and oral traditions prove that it’s origins are much older.

Many statements demonstrate that this is a spiritual current with an extraordinary vision on the whole of creation, and it could not have appeared and developed that fast.

The great hindi thinker Sri Prabhat Rainjar (known under the spiritual name of Sri Anandamurti) asserts, after more studies, that tantra is a very old spiritual science that appeared in India about 7000 years ago.

The word “tantrism” is derived from the sanskrit word “tantra” meaning “system”. An older meaning is that of “fabric”. Tantra comes from the root “ tan ”, generally meaning “to straighten”, “to continue” and “to multiply”.

From all the meanings of this word, Mircea Eliade has chosen that of “succession, extension and continuous process”. Thus, tantra could mean “the one that extends knowledge”, “the one that can develop the individual consciousness, so that it reaches the superior levels of the macro cosmos”, of the infinite creation.

Other meanings of the word tantra are: “body” (as the tantric system insists on body postures), “expansion” (as it amplifies the subtle faculties of perception), “rope” (as the connection between the tantric and the worshiped god becomes very close), “harp” (expressing the music and the beauty of the system itself), “veiling” (because it’s doctrines and methods remain secret for most).

The most common meaning of the word tantra is that of carpet loom, “fabric”, suggesting the existence of two cosmic principles, masculine and feminine, which continuously generate and absorb the whole of creation through their permanent interaction.

Tantric writings have not been conceived by someone but, they have been perceived through visions by the great and wise and then, revealed to the mankind. Every writing is characteristic for a certain age or for a certain cyclic division of mankind.

The tantric bibliography is extremely rich; there are hundreds of writings named tantra, most of them in sanskrit or Tibetan, belonging to the Hindi and the Buddhists.

Usually tantras are a dialogue between Shiva and his consort Shakti, who is Parvati. These texts are divided in two categories:

1. Agama-s, when the one asking questions like a disciple is Shakti, and Shiva, as a spiritual master or guru, answers them. Most of the writings belong to this category.
2. Nigama-s, when Shakti explains and offers the knowledge asked for(for example, Nigama Kalpadruma).

These dialogues, generally contain certain lessons and the ways in which they can be applied. Generally, tantra deals with almost all the subjects that concern a human being.

They also offer many elements and indications about the many ways of worship, thus using the science of astrology, the subtle physics of the human being (especially the nervous system and chakras), spiritual discipline and breathing control techniques (especially in hatha yoga), the art of the “inner alchemy” (of transmutation and sublimation of the energies in the human body).

Some texts are almost exclusively about the mystical eroticism; these are veritable treatises of sexology for which, in fact, tantra yoga has become well known, but also wrongly interpreted by most westerners.


Initially, tantrism has appeared in oral form in India. The first writings like Guhya-Samaja Tantra and Hevajra Tantra, were mentioned in the 14th century.

Anyway, only some fragments have been preserved from others. This is a case of Rudrayamala Tantra, which seems to be the most complex treatise about the tantric system; others are Kularnava Tantra and Maha Nirvana Tantra.

We don’t have the precise number of the tantric writings. The hindi texts mention 64 tantra’s, 84 tantra’s or 108 tantra’s. Then, there are hundreds or maybe thousands of other tantras that have eventually appeared, after the original ones, as well as commentaries on them (some only a few pages long) and texts from the Taoist and Tibetan tradition that are of a tantric nature.

But it is not their quantity that matters. What is important is that they have survived up to present day, when mankind needs an efficient method of inner transformation and spiritual salvation.

Tantric philosophy includes all the levels of the Universe and considers astrology, biology, parapsychology, anatomy, meditation, medicine, music, art and sexuality to be of great importance.

In fact, the sexual experience, seen as a unification of the Eternal masculine aspect with the Eternal feminine aspect, is a main aspect of the tantric techniques, which are mostly erotic.

Tantra is a complex discipline, an exact method and a profound study based on practice, it is a science about different aspects of the Supreme Consciousness and of the ways to achieve it.

Being the basis of these methods, sexuality has some very strict rules, because it is known that the secret of eternal life lies on the control of the sexual energy.

The understanding of the tantric vision about sexuality requires an open mind and a spiritual approach towards life. Those having a puritan mentality and considering sex a sin, that must be avoided, may completely fail the chance towards a fast evolution.

In order to learn the tantric lessons, we should understand the analogies between the human being and the Universe. Thus, sexuality imitates at a lower scale, a permanent and extatic cosmic process, that manifests the whole Universe from the Divine Transcendent Absolute.

In this new perspective, sin disappears, it doesn’t really exist, and it is replaced by extatic happiness and infinite love.

Intercourse becomes a deeply spiritual act, in fact, it can take the form of a meditative discipline. Thus, in tantra there is no pornography, only symbolism and refined beauty.

The image of a man and a woman making love is not considered impure. On the contrary, it is the image of a veritable cosmic ritual. The man that worships the woman has a completely different attitude from a common person having intercourse.

The woman is transfigured into a living symbol; she is the manifestation of the Divine Mother of the Universe (Parashakti) on Earth. Also transfigured, the man embodies the Eternal Masculine Principle (Shiva).

Sexual bliss at a transcendent level is an extraordinary psychic experience with a spiritual character, and it reflects the ineffable happiness of a subtle cosmic nature, which in yoga is known as Ananda (cosmic bliss).


In this section :