Tāntrik Ritual – Pūja
Śrīkula – Lalitā Tradition
Tāntrik Translations and Summaries
Nathas and Yoga
Devata – Some Devis and Devas
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Translations are © Mike Magee 1975-2022
Second-hand knowledge of the self gathered from books or gurus can never emancipate a man until its truth is rightly investigated and applied; only direct realisation will do that. Realise yourself, turning the mind inward. – Tripurā Rahasya, 18: 89
Only when Śiva is united with Śakti has he the power to create – Saundaryalaharī
Tantra is complicated. I would advise that you look at the Jvālāmukhī page first. This aspect of the goddess unites the Tripurasundarī and the Kālī traditions and stresses the importance of the number 21,600 (२१६००).
There remains an ocean of tāntrik and agamic literature still to be discovered and translated, spanning a period of time which at least reaches back to the 10th century of the common era (c.e.).
The tradition, or perhaps better, the many traditions, underwent many phases and schools over this period of time, ranging from an extremely heterodox viewpoint to, in some cases, a very orthodox standpoint. Refer to this page to see the vast diversity of thoughts and practices subsumed under the word “tantra”. Much of the material on this site is related to the Kaula tradition in many of its guises. The work kaula is cognate with clan and the communities venerated a huge number of gods (devas) and goddesses (devīs).
On this large Web site you will find yantra, mantra, tantra and other material relating to some of the different traditions; texts on the siddhas, gurus and yogis of the Nātha sampradāya including Gorakhnāth, Matsyendranāth and Dattātreya; much about kuṇḍalinī, nāḍīs, cakras; images of tāntrik kula devas (gods) and devīs (goddesses) including Kālī, Tripurā, Śiva, Gaṇeśa, Cchinnamastā, Durgā and Tārā; pūjas and practices; meditations and dhāraṇās; the inner meaning of kaulacāra, vāmācāra and svecchacārya; an extensive bibliography, and original English translations as well as links to other sites.
Although some tantras appear at first glance to be straightforward, most, if not all of them, employ a type of language which can be taken on many levels. According to the tradition, everything has a gross, a subtle and a supreme meaning and as the Devī is the goddess of letters, she can bewilder with her Māyā as well as enlighten.
Many terms used in the tāntrik tradition have meanings which can be taken at face value but do not always have this meaning, thus making them difficult to understand to the literally-minded. The mentality of the paśu, or a person with a herd-disposition, is said to predispose him or her to misunderstand the meaning.
This cryptic way of speaking pervades many of the texts. Should a cremation ground, for instance, be understood as the yoni, as the real place where corpses are burnt, or as a symbol for the Absolute? The answer may be all three. Is a crossroad a symbol of the five elements, the place where roads meet, or four centres within the human body? Again, it may have one or any of these meanings. And is the union of Śiva and Śakti the symbol of sexual intercourse, the union of vital breaths within the body or an eclipse?
We can probably find the answers to these questions by going to the root philosophy of the tāntrik traditions. There is no Śiva without Śakti and yoga is a realisation of the unity of all things. That is not to say that everything in tāntrik texts is figurative; many describe practices which are said to bring about this realisation.
It is also important to remember that legends and stories within the tradition may be intended to appeal to parts of the human mind which are not solely connected with logic.
For example, in the Tripurārahasya (secrets of Tripurā), a wonderful work available in an English translation (see Bibliography), much of the teaching and practical philosophy of the tradition is told in story form, easy to digest but pregnant with meaning. Please bear these considerations in mind when browsing this site.
The sections and the topics left also need some explanation. Very broadly speaking, tantras fall into traditions belonging to greater or lesser schools. The Kālī tradition, for example, has a large literature and there are specific areas in India where her worship is concentrated. The Lalitā, or Śrī Vidyā tradition, also has a very extensive literature, much of which is still unplumbed.
The Nātha Sampradāyas or lines relate to sects said to have originated mostly from Matsyendranāth and Gorakhnāth, and occupy an important position in the yoga schools of the mediaeval period.
Under other topics, we have included a selection of tāntrik topics, each of which could form vast tomes on their own. Remember that when Śakti and Śiva were chatting to each other, there must have been scribblers who wrote their stories down and re-wrote them in Sanskrit.
Tāntrik ritual is included because above all else the adepts of these schools insisted on practical work. Many tantras are practical manuals and this section will be expanded in the future.
We have also included some translations of parts of the tāntrik literature along with abstracts of other texts to give a feel for the whole subject. If there are mistakes in the translations, please forgive us. Also, let us know, and we will fix them.
The Sanskrit texts section will also be expanded in the future to include material hard to find, out of print and also out of copyright.
Suggestions and comments are welcome, corrections and comments about the site are very welcome.