Narach Philosophy

VEDIC FOUNDATIONS OF THE TANTRA


We notice that the Kundalini of the Tantra corresponds to the Prakrti of the Sankhya system, as represented by Vrtra in the Vedas. She is described as a serpent, like Vrtra, and is said to be "Vrtra-rupini" (having the form of Vrtra), and her first state is one of rest, like that of Prakrti in the Sankhya, and of the organic cell at the commencement of its life.

Again, as the Sankhya system is based on the Vedic idea of Varuna too, she is spoken of as "Varuni". Thus we see that Kundalini of the Tantra is identified with Prakrti of the Sankhya; and so both of them are founded on the philosophy of the Vedas as expressed in the idea of Vrtra and Varuna. Corresponding to this we see that the Tantra Sastra, like the Sankhya system, claims to be founded on the Vedas.

Sakti as Mind Energy: We have observed that the idea of the Tantra as well as of the principal Sankhya system extends from the region of the Mind to that of the senses of knowledge and action. Corresponding to this we are told that Sakti is Cit-rupini, "having the form of Cit"; and we have explained that Cit, in its original idea, signifies Imagination, aroused when Prana or vital breath is centred in the brows, the region of the Mind. We have also pointed out how in the Brahma Vaivarta Purana. Prakrti is called Sakti, and associated with the Mind.

Sakti as Water: We have explained that Prakrti is represented by Water, as embracing the idea of all liquids in the world; and so Sakti in the Tantra is conceived of as Bindu or Water too; and "Bindu is called a condensed or massive form of Sakti".

Sakti and Maya: We have explained that Maya means creative energy, associated with Prakrti in the Sankhya system; and so Maya is said to be an aspect of Divine Sakti. Sakti is identified with Maya as well as Prakrti. To the enlightened Sakta (worshipper of Sakti), the whole universe is Stri (Woman) or Sakti; and we are told that in the Sankhya system Prakrti is spoken of as "female" and Purusha as "male".

Sakti and Action: We have explained that the word Prakrti is derived from kr, which means "to act", implying that Prakrti is characterised by ceaseless action. Such is the idea of Sakti too. It is said that Sakti has five fundamental aspects, Cit (Mind or Imagination), Ananda (Joy), Iccha (Desire), Jnana (Knowledge), and Kriya (Action) , the watchword of the Tantra is Kriya or Action; and the word Sakti comes from the root Sak, "to be able, to do". "It indicates both activity and capacity therefore. The world, as world, is activity ... Sakti means both power in general and every particular form of power".

Sakti Doctrine and Monism: Prakrti in the Sankhya is regarded as the supreme creator of the universe; and the idea of Sakti in the Tantra is the same. The Tantra, like the Sankhya, is, therefore monistic in its conception of life, ascribing all creation to Prakrti, even as Vedanta is monistic in respect of Purusha or God. The Sakta doctrine is therefore said to be a special presentment of so-called monism". The Sakta doctrine is said to be Advaitavada or Monism, affirming the idea of "the Motherhood of God, that is, God as Sakti or the power which produces, maintains and withdraws the universe".

How Sakti Creates: It would be of interest to examine the Tantra idea of the creation of the universe. It is said that the great symbol of the Mother is Bindu (which signifies both a drop of water and a point),"that is, the Mother as concentrated Power ready to create. From the Bindu the world issues into it on dissolution it enters. The extended universe then collapses into the un-extended Point (Bindu), which itself then subsides like a bubble on the surface of the Causal Waters (Prakrti, Bindu), which are the Immense". This Bindu is said to divide into two, like Visarga in the Sanskrt alphabet (:); and then it is transformed into Nada, which is like Anusvara in the alphabet.

As will be noticed, this process of development is exactly like what takes place in the organic cell. There we have the Centrosome which, at first, is like Bindu or a point; then it divides into two, like Visarga; and finally its action on the Chromosomes, or the colouring matter of the cell, gives us the form of an Anusvara. After this the cell divides into two, and this corresponds to the creation of life; and then once more we have the same process of action repeated without end.

In this connection we have to remember that, according to Vedanta, the Centrosome is Purushic energy, and Purusha in that system is the supreme creator of the universe. But, according to the Sankhya and the Tantra, it is Prakrti or Sakti who creates. Hence the Centrosome or Bindu must be identified with Sakti in the Tantra; and it is this that divides into two in the form of a Visarga, and then creates the form of Nada or an Anusvara and so we are told that Sakti in the form of Hindu first divides into two, and then is transformed into Nada.

Again, Bindu, as Water, refers to Prakrti; and Visarga, according to Vedanta, is Purushic energy. But the whole idea is reversed in the Tantra, which, in this connection, is the opposite of Vedanta and so we are told that Visarga is Prakrti, and Bindu is Purusha.

The Tantra and the Sanskrt Alphabet: We have explained that the idea of the Sanskrt alphabet corresponds to the form, composition, and action of the organic cell. We have now pointed out that the whole creation of life is represented in the Tantra in terms of Visarga and Anusvara. The former is really a Purushic energy, and the latter represents the union of Purusha and Prakrti, and both of them refer to all the five principal creative energies of life, from the Soul to the senses of action. Now, as the idea of Visarga and Anusvara is associated with Prakrti in the Tantra, it should have a certain bearing on the character of the Sanskrt alphabet too.

Nor are we disappointed. There is a picture of Kali (Sakti) where she is represented as dark and terrible, and shown as wearing a garland of heads. But this garland, according to an inner explanation given in the Tantra, is a garland of Letters in the Sanskrt alphabet. "The same explanation is given in the Buddhist Demchog Tantra in respect of the garland worn by the great Heruka. These letters represent the universe of names and forms. ... She wears the Letters which she as the Creatrix bore. She wears the Letters which she as the dissolving Power takes to herself again".

It will be noticed that the form of a garland worn round the neck is elliptical, like that of the cell; and in the picture of Kali or the Buddhist deity it is always shown as inclined slightly to the Right, corresponding exactly to the position of the Drum of Mahadeva, which represents the universe in action, and from whose notes are said to arise the letters of the Sanskrt alphabet as well as the names of forms of all life in the universe.

The Tantra and Other Systems of Religion: We have pointed out that all systems of Religion of Vishnu, Siva, Buddha, and Mahadeva refer to the region of the Mind, the senses of knowledge, or the senses of action, and so each of them has its own Tantric form. This has been explained in connection with these systems in the preceding.

The Importance of the Tantra: Thus we see the importance of the Tantra as a connecting link between all systems of Hindu Religion. All knowledge is from the known to the unknown; and as through the idea of Sacrifice we rise gradually from Sankhya to Vedanta, even so we rise from Jainism to Vaisnavism through the Tantra and so we have the same ascending and descending scales of thought in systems of Religion as well as of Philosophy, and the same idea is expressed in the story of the Mahabharata. There we shall see how Man (five Pandava brothers), born as a Jaina, rises to Buddhism, then to (Saivism, and finally to Vaisnavism all by means of Sacrifice embodying the idea of God; and so Draupadi, also called Yajnaseni or "Mistress of Sacrifice", is the wife of all the five Pandava brothers, and is spoken of as Krshna, the female counterpart of Krshna, the supreme Purusha of Vedanta. We shall examine the "Story of the Epic" in detail in the following volume.