Tantra

Speech delivered by Swami Satyananda Saraswati at Copenhagen (Denmark)

Kriya Yoga has its source and origin in the great system of Tantra which was conceived more then 4000 years before Christ. It will be very difficult for the people of the West to accept the reinterpretation of Tantra in the light of Yoga which I am going to put before you this evening.

To a great many, in India or in the western countries; Tantra means a kind of ceremony which includes all those peculiar things which are not Very acceptable in a respectable society, such as playing with the skull of ate animal or the skull of a man and many other dirty things.

But those who sincere students of Tantra Shastra find that the great system of Kriya Yoga has emerged out of the vast body of this system. Not only Kriya Yoga, but even Hatha Yoga, Pranayam, Mantra Yoga, Ajapa-japa, Kundalini Yoga, Nada Yoga, Tratak, Yoga Nidra and even the practice of Inner silence Antar Mouna, are offshoots and derived from the vast body of Tantra.

What we know in the West and in the East by the word Yoga, the same is meant by the word Tantra, rather Tantra is the basis and Yoga is an offshoot of Tantra.

The science of Mantra, about which we have heard lot from time to time, is not a part of Bhakti Yoga, or the path of devotion, but is an essential part of Tantra. Without the system of mantra, the system of Tantra does not exist.

The word Tantra literally means stretching or rather expansion and liberation. Expansion plus liberation is Tantra The etymological structure of this word Tantra conveys the ideas of two great processes. The first of these is the process of expansion and the second is the process of liberation of release.

If we say Tantra Yoga it means the Yoga which includes the practices for expansion of individual consciousness and then finally for liberation of consciousness from the fold of Prakriti or nature or matter.

The whole Tantric system can be said very plainly to be the native place or the native home of all the yogic science wherever you may find them in India, Tibet, China, Japan and south-east Asia. Anywhere, the Tantric system, is the father or the mother system.

The ultimate purpose of Tantra is to provide a layman with the practices, easy and difficult, according to his social moral and intellectual structure for spiritual realization, for the expansion of his personal self, the small self, and finally to make him free from the bondages of Maya, Prakriti and unreality.

The Tantras suppose and it is true that everybody is not the same. Everybody is not capable of great austerity or acts of renunciation and of practicing a rigorous system of life. But, at the same time, everyone has the right to become aware of the highest consciousness, the highest truth.

Sometimes, in the western countries and also in the eastern countries, even at the present time, people feel that the practices of Yoga are not meant for everyone, they are only meant for the recluse, for renunciates and for those who are celibates or brahmacharyas, but the system of Tantra has brought this insight to us that the above statements are not true. Yoga being an inseparable part of Tantra, is practicable and approachable by each and everyone in expectance of attainment.

There are some people who say that in the Tantric system, of Yoga you include the sexual life, and wine, and meat, flesh and such other things and therefore this is not a pure Yoga, this is not a higher yoga and as such we do not want this Tantric Yoga, we want something better. But this is a wrong conception.

The practices of Tantra are divided according to the Gunas, according to the internal quality of the aspirant which are three in number. The Sattvic, that is to say, the pure ones, Rajasic, the dynamic ones and the Tamasic, the lazy, ignorant and thoughtless people. According to the practitioners qualifications the practices of Tantra are divided and practiced.

Even though the person with sensitive qualities will maintain continence and refrain from taking such undesirable diets, yet there are practices of Tantra for the evolution of his consciousness. But that does not mean that a man who has not completely adjusted morally and who has not corrected his diet and so on, is not alright. He can also practice the system of Tantra of Tantric Yoga but then the practices are slightly different.

The object of Tantric Yoga or the object of the practices of Tantra is not only to do some ceremonial work or some practices like that but the ultimate purpose is to identify your self with highest consciousness, to realise the highest consciousness and to render this lower mind free from all the limitations that it is subjected and attached to.

The symbolisms of Tantra which you see in the form of Yantras or the diagrams; and in the form of pictures of animals and men are all indicative of the planes of human consciousness or the states of psychic evolution or involution of man, where he is standing, during the process of expansion and fusion.

Consider for instance, how the Tantra tries to expanded and liberate the consciousness by the practices of Mantra Yoga. This will be my one example. When you accept a Mantra from your spiritual master you must be sure that he knows the Mantra. Not only that he knows the Mantra but also that he knows what a Mantra is in distinction to an alphabet a, b, c.... the word Mantra does not mean a word. The Guru who knows the science of sound and the composition of a Mantra in relation to the elements, in relation to the sound vibrations, and so on, knows what the proper Mantra for an aspirant is, and he should initiate the aspirant into the Mantra accordingly. The expert Guru who knows the science will provide you with a Mantra which will help you to expand your consciousness, to bring about a state of integration of the pattern of your consciousness if it is completely dissipated and it is completely imperceptible. Therefore it is said that the aspirant should not take a Mantra unless he is convinced of the vast knowledge his Guru has of this system. Because it is not only a respectable man, it is not only a godly or saintly man, but Tantra being a science, it is an expert man who should be made to handle the system of Mantra.

Mantra plays a very important role in our spiritual life. It brings about a great change or transformation of our consciousness by the sound vibrations, etc., which are intrinsically attached to the Mantra. In his most unique book, The Garland of Letters, the great author Sir John Woodroffe has written a lot about its sound, its colour, its frequency, its influence in diseases and so on, according to Tantra Shastra.

According to Tantra Shastra any sound is known as Varna which means colour. For instance, 'Ka', it is a sound according to us, 'Ka' According to Tantra Shastra it has a colour. 'Kha', it is a sound but it has a different colour from 'Ka', 'Ga', it is not a letter of an alphabet but it is a sound and it has a different colour. Therefore, 'Ka', 'Kha', 'Ga', they are different colours perceived by us in the from of sound and it is also said that these sounds are imperishable. When they are accepted and assimilated by the subconscious mind they remain there and make patterns and those patterns are responsible for the development, expression and unfoldment of your subconscious mind and behaviour.

Mantra, therefore, is not only a name of God as is generally misunderstood. This error must be corrected and you must remember that Mantra is something besides the name of God.

In different reflex centres of Ida and Pingala we have different sounds and those sounds belong to that particular Chakra or to that particular circle. There are some sounds that are conducted through Ida to the centres of the brain. Ultimately, the right sound belonging to the particular structure of a chakra is conducted to a certain brain centre provided the Nadi or nerve is flowing properly. For each brain centre there is one sound, that is to say, every sound influences a particular centre in the brain.

It may also be explained in the following way. When a Mantra is recited, the construction or the compiled construction of the Mantra is a combination of different Tattvas, different elements, having different velocities and intensities But in addition to that every sound has a separate influence; on a particular Chakra and the influence is conducted to that part of the brain which corresponds to that particular centre.

In Kundalini Yoga, which is a part of Tantra, they always talk about the Bija-Mantras of Muladhara, Swadhisthana,; Manipura, Anahata, Vishuddhi, Agna and Bindu, once main Bija-Mantra which represents that particular centre has such as Yam, Vam, Ram, and Lam.

In addition to this each Chakra, each centre, has the different modes of consciousness represented by the various sounds on the petals such as Yam, Vam, Ram, Lam, that is the four syllables or the four sounds, then eight sounds, then twelve sounds, then sixteen sounds, then two sounds. All these sounds are different from each other and they are the centres of the sounds, and every sound that is produced by your mouth or is heard has a counterpart in that centre.

At the same time the brain, so to say, I use the word brain, or the Sahasrara Chakra has all the sound, has the centres corresponding to all the sounds which were in all the other Chakras As such a sound is produced, its influx is received by the corresponding Chakra in the Body and the influence is carried through Ida or Pingala to the particular centre in the brain which corresponds to that particular sound. Of these there may be 56, 64, or 86 or 108, it does not matter.

Therefore, concluding my discussion of Mantra, it is very important for practitioners to accept and receive the right Mantra which will influence the whole body, the entire brain and influence their behaviour, their thinking, and every, thing, else in the right way. This is why we say, in Tantra, that with the help of mantra you can completely change your-self and you can even help yourself and if you are powerful you can even heal others by the right type of Mantra.

This Mantra Yoga, about which I have spoken very briefly and in my limited language, is one of the most important items of Tantra Shastra. From this you can now under-stand how important Tantra Shastra is in your life and whether you need this Tantra Shastra or not. You can also decide if this Tantra Shastra as expounded by me here is a fine science or a horrible science.

In addition to Mantra and Yantra, i.e. the system of diagrams, I am going to talk to you about another important item of Tantra Shastra, that is the system of Yoga Nidra or psychic sleep. Without pride I must tell you that I was the first, not only in India but abroad, to reveal this type of 'Yoga Nidra' in 1962. This happened to be my first discovery I am not an inventor, this happened to be my first discover when I was revising all the tantric books. It was then that I came to understand that Yoga Nidra was one of the most powerful methods not only of relaxation but of reawakening the degenerated brain centres. The Yoga Nidra that I first discovered in Tantra is such a peculiar one that if I were to teach you that Yoga Nidra I would have to prepare you for sometime with the science of sound, of science of Mantra. I do not remember exactly at the moment but I think there are about 670 sounds and you can practice yoga Nidra on those 670 or a little more not less. When you practice Yoga Nidra on those sounds it is as good as practicing Yoga Nidra on different centres of the brain of which you have no idea at all. There are various Yoga Nidras, different system of Psychic sleep.

Their purpose is first to enable a Yogi to practice astral projection, second to enable a Yogi to practice long hours of meditation and third to enable a person to rest, relax and to heal himself. Furthermore to enable him to I awaken the centres of the brain by the different sounds or the different Mantras, a number of which are very important and very influential. In the Tantra the Yoga Nidra is such an elaborate system, it is something like surveying the whole body on the external physical plane, that is the external physical limbs, the internal plane such as the heart, the lungs, the respiratory and the circulatory system and not only that but even the thoughts, emotions, etc.

Yoga Nidra begins with the external body thumb, second finger, third, fourth, fifth, palm, etc. Ultimately it goes to that point where you are made so sensitive as to perceive colours, emotions and many other things which is difficult in the beginning. Although I am very eager to take out all the different systems of Yoga Nidra according to different systems of Tantra for the benefit of healing, for the benefit to spiritual revival but so far it has not been possible. Maybe if everything works out alright, then in a few years time, all the system of Yoga Nidra, and there are thousand in the Tantra, will be know and they will be of great use to the broken man of today.

It was in Tantra that I came to discover that Yoga Nidra, the psychic sleep can be practiced while standing sitting and not only while lying down. It is in the Tantra Shastras that I came to know that Yoga Nidra can be practiced with eyes open, with eyes closed, while talking, without talking in anyway you like.

Yoga Nidra is practiced by awakening one end of sensation and conducting the same sensation through the sound principle, or through the feeling principle to the brain. Out of all the system I can suggest to you one kind of Yoga Nidra. This particular Yoga Nidra, which we almost do in our everyday life is not a part of any other system but we have taken it from the body of Tantra and are trying to propagate it to people for their physical and mental well being. This is what I think you learn here in Copenhagen.

Well the system of Tantra is very vast and it is not up to me to tell you everything about Tantra this evening. I merely come and present myself before you in order to make it very clear to you that what you have been learning in the name of Yoga so far is only Tantra and nothing else because Yoga is not an offshoot of Sankhya but Yoga is a branch of Tantra or is an offshoot or Tantra. Only in the name of Tantra are we practicing Yoga but perhaps the Teachers in western countries feel very shy about telling the people they are teaching Tantra.

There are 64 books of Tantra, that is to say there are 64 different systems and they sometimes differ very much from each other. They may talk of different practices such as Tratak, Nada Yoga, Hatha Yoga, Kundalini, Mudra, Bandha, Pranayama, they may talk of hundreds of practices but the fundamental concept is that there are two things, the Purusha and Prakriti, consciousness and content of consciousness. Of these two the Shakti must be awakened over the Purusha, not the consciousness according to Hinduism, according to Hindu Tantra it is awakening of Shakti, it is the awakening of Prakriti. It is the awakening of matter or force which is supposed to be most important and this Shakti, is sometimes known as Kali, and sometimes it is known as Durga and of course it is mostly known as Mother, not the mother, the wife of my father but Mother a very fine concept of Tantra.

There is only a little difference between the Buddhist Tantra and the Hindu Tantra. The aim of Buddhist Tantra is to awaken the consciousness, the awareness and the aim of the Hindu Tantra is to awaken the Shakti. But apart from these two aspects which differ, ultimately there is no difference. There is only a little difference in so far as their approach is concerned.

The Tantra has been introduced, I have a little introductory book, translated into the Danish language. But that is only an introduction that can not give you everything about Tantra. There are a few books very nicely written, in English and French. I am not sure about Danish, by Sir John Woodroffe, who lived in India for many, many years. He definitely did a very good job. In Denmark you are also going to have a Tantric exhibition arranged by one of my disciples. I think that you will also draw the conclusion from this lecture that tantric art, tantric painting, tantric music is not only a few photographs taken from Jaganath Puri showing a kind of sexual act but includes asanas, pranayamas, kundalini, all sorts of chakras, yantras, the Gayatri yantra and many other things. They all concern the Tantric system. Do not exclude this most useful and pious system in favour of only Yoga.