“Ritual enigmas and riddles were in use from Vedic times; in their particular way, they revealed the secrets of the universe. But in tantrism we find a whole system of elaborately worked-out ciphers, which the incommunicabaility of yogico-tantric experiences does not suffice to explain; to…
A sublime statement by the great Indian/ Kashmiri polymath and sage, Abhinavagupta, vividly realized in a striking erotic image and cosmographic symbol.
This image and the poetic summation by the master are central to the school of thought with its origins in ancient flowerings of Hinduism and Buddhism, known as Tantra.
Samadhi, in the quote, refers to a state of consciousness that unifies the transcendental and the material worlds.
To ‘obtain Siva’ is to become one with the God Siva who is at rest, in transcendental ease, at the source of existence.
That oneness is Samadhi.
The linga is the male procreative organ.
It is associated with Siva as a pillar of light of immeasurable height, of ungraspable form, the power of emission that permeates existence with consciousness.
Complementing the Siva linga is the yoni of Sakti, the female procreative organ understood as the doorway of life, life understood as cosmic resource.
The cosmos comes into being through the union of Siva and Sakti.
The sage is presenting a Way to Samadhi through the sensitizing and inebriation of the senses through sex in which one partner is Siva, the other Sakti.
The geometric form is the sublime Sri Yantra, embodiment of Siva and Sakti in union.
Downward facing triangles -Sakti.
Upward facing triangles- Siva.
The symbolism is obvious.
Why is Sakti on top of Siva?
That is because Siva is at rest in transcendental poise, beyond time and space. The ground of being, the root of consciousness.
Sakti is active, projected as the dynamism of the cosmos within time and space.
The bindu, the point at the centre, is their unity as formless essence; the petals, the illumination arising from contemplating this cosmic process, as lotus petals rise pure above water; the four gates, the points of the compass that structure space.
The above is an adaptation of the classical interpretation of this sublime symbol.
To learn more, Google ‘Sri Yantra’.
One could also go to what is perhaps the richest Tantric site-SivaSakti Mandalam.
To read thorough explanations in print, one could see Yantra: The Tantric Symbol of Cosmic Unity by Madhu Khanna and Auspicious Wisdom: Texts and Traditions of Hindu Sakta Tantrism in South India by Douglas Renfrew Brooks.
Two PhD theses are superb on the subject and are expected in print soon: The Goddess Within and Beyond the Three Cities : Sakta Tantra and the Paradox of Power in Nepala-Mandala by Jeffrey S. Lidke.University of California, 2000.
Inspiring written. knowledge dense and lyrical (Great thanks to Phil Hine for informing me of this work and to Jeffrey LIdke for his spontaneous generosity in sending me a copy}.
The Concept and Liturgy of the Śrīcakra Based on Śivānanda’s Trilogy by Maddhu Khanna. University of Oxford, 1987. Expected in print as Sricakra of the Cult of Goddess Tripurasundari.
For Abhinavagupta on sexuality as sacred experience, a vital essay is “Abhinavagupta’s Erotic Mysticism: The Reconciliation of Spirit and Flesh’ by Kerry Martin Skora
( International Journal of Hindu Studies, Vol. 11, No. 1 (April 2007), pp. 63-88. URL :http://www.jstor.org/stable/25691049)
John Dupuche’s book Abhinavagupta:
the Kula Ritual, as Elaborated in Chapter 29 of the Tantrāloka, available at Scribd :http://www.scribd.com/doc/54134989/John-R-Dupuche-Abhinavagupta-The-Kula-Ritual.
The Tantraloka is described as one of the greatest works ever produced by India, and, therefore, in my view, ever produced by humanity, a Tantric encyclopedia yet untranslated in full into English. Only full translation is into Italian by Gnioli.
Apologies to all whom I invited to this page who are uncomfortable with this kind of material. You are likely to have expected something more middle of the road.
My goal is to unify various cultures and disciplines, understanding their points of divergence and convergence as vital to synergy.
Other discussions of Tantra will follow, illustrated by contemporary erotica, specifically pornography, in the spirit of Indian temple erotica/ pornography that evokes the harmony of spirit and matter.
Then possibly, one could link Tantra with the male/female dialectic in Yoruba/ Orisa religion.