TANTRA AND SADHANA
by SHRII SHRII ANANDAMURTI
25 May 1960 DMC, Saharsa, INDIA
Human desire is not satisfied with limited material achievements. Since the
beginning of creation, man has worshiped the Infinite. It was this desire for
the Infinite that enable him to discover the path of spiritual realization. Man's
quest has been for knowledge of the Infinite, direct or indirect.
The Vedas are a collection of truths visualized by Rs'is(sages) through a
process of contemplation and meditation. This appeased to some extent his
urge for knowledge but his inner desire was not satisfied. This inner desire
attains full satisfaction only with real experiences in the course of
No authentic evidence is available that in the Vaedic age spiritual SADHANA
was handed over from Preceptor to Disciple. Historical researchers reveal
Sadashiva to be the first expounder in the realm of Spiritual Sadhana', and
He named it as Tantra. Tantra indicated progressive realization in Spiritual
SADHANA. The authoritative meaning of Tantra is that which relieves one
from the bondages of crudeness or ignorance - “TAḾ JAD́YAT TARAYET
YASTU SAH TANTRAH PARIKIIRTTITAH”. Taḿ is the acoustic root of
staticity. It is benevolent in character.
The word Tantra has another meaning also as derived from the Sam'skrta
root verb “tan”. It means the spiritual path which leads to expansion of the
Self, which ultimately results in achievement of MOKSA. Sadhana for
MOKSA or liberation of the mind is, therefore, synonymous with Tantra.
Really speaking, theoretical knowledge cannot be accepted as Tantra. It is a
practical science. Theoretical knowledge, has therefore a secondary
importance only in Tantra. This SADHANA starts from the body and
subsequently becomes a psycho-physical process and ultimately is established
in the consciousness of the Self.
Practical behavior is the most important factor in Tantra and therefore the
Preceptor- Disciple relationship is to be rigidly followed. The Tantrika has to
learn diligently at the feet of the master and has to prove himself worthy of
the lessons by his conduct in the various walks of life.
That is why Sadashiva never wanted Tantra to be presented as a book. But
with the lapse of time and lack of worthy Preceptors, need was felt to put it
down in script to avoid it from being completely lost.
Sixty-four books on Tantra are now available in script. Basically, Tantra can
be divided into two:-
(1)NIGAMA and (2) AGAMA
Nigama primarily deals with the principles of Tantra and Agama with the
Vaedic scriptures have no practical application, they cannot be categorized as
According to the Rudrayamala Tantra,
AGATAḾ SHIVAVAKTREBHYO GATAINCA GIRIJASHRUTAO;
MATAINCA VASUDEVASYA TASMADAGAMA UCYATE.
The school of pure Tantra cannot accept this as authority. The truths
expounded by Sadashiva cannot be classed as Vasudeva's opinions.
Rudraya'mala Tantra is a later composition, and the supporters of Vedas
have cunningly inserted this couplet.
In Tantra, the relationship between Master and disciple is vitally important.
Every aspirant knows that the path of spirituality is a razor's edge.
KSURASYA DHARA NISHITA DURATYAYA.
The disciple has to tread the path with complete surrender. At every step he
needs guidance from the Master.
The slightest error in spiritual practices communicated from the Master or
the least negligence in meticulously following them will inevitably lead to
degeneration. A worthy master and a worthy disciple are a pre-requisite and
the disciple must therefore be carefully selected. Initiation is the seed of
spiritual attainment which under favorable environment grows in the heart of
the aspirant depending upon the sincerity and regularity of practice.
If the teacher is unworthy, that is if the seed is defective it will not sprout, and
if the soil is barren it will not flourish. Even if the seed is good and the field is
fertile, the harvest will not be upto expectations if ploughing and irrigation
According to Tantrikas, disciples are of three kinds:-
The first category is like Adhomukha Kumbha or like a pot lowered into a
pond with mouth downwards. It appears to retain water till it is dipping but
the moment it is withdrawn it is empty. Such disciples appear to be full of
wisdom till they are with the Master.
The second category of disciples learn with great pains and inconveniences bu
they do not try to retain this knowledge. Negligence results in the loss of what
was learn t after much diligence.
The third and best type of disciples are compared to Urdhva Kumbha – ie.,
like an upright pot which gets filled in when immersed and is brimful when
withdrawn. Such disciples carefully retain the theoretical and practical
knowledge learnt at the feet of the master and value it in their hearts.
Tantra categories the Preceptors into three kinds.
The first category of Preceptors limit themselves to imparting knowledge
only. They are unconcerned about the conduct of the disciple. The medium
category of Preceptors , in addition, keep themselves acquainted as to how the
disciples are following.
The best Preceptors impart knowledge, keep themselves familiar with the
progress of the disciples and take necessary steps to ensure that the disciple
follows the right path.
The Vaedic system does not lay down such a strong master disciple
relationship, because Vaedic knowledge is purely theoretical. In Tantra, there
is much strictness in the selection of Preceptor and disciple on the one hand
and on the other; the disciple has to surrender himself completely in the
beginning at the feet of the Master.
The characteristics of the best Master have been defined in Tantra-Sara.
SHANTO DANTO KULIINASCHA VINIITA SHUDDHAVESHAVAN
SHUDDHACARII SUPRATISTHITA SHUCIRDAKSAH SUBUDDHIMAN
ASHRAMII DHYANANIST́ASHCA TANTRAMANTRA VISHARADAH
NIGRAHANUGRAHE SHAKTO GURURITYABHIDHIIYATE.
All extroversial actions have their origin in the mind. SHANTA is one who
has control over functions of the mind other than hearing, contemplation and
meditation. Mind gets expression in multifarious activities of the organs.
Hearing, contemplation and meditation imply important functions of the
organs. One who has mastery over other than the above functions of the
organs is said to be DANTA.
A KAOLA Sadhaka who practice to arouse the KULAKUND́ALINII (coiled
serpentine) are known as Kulina. They have been referred to as Kula Guru.
The Master must be VINIITA [modest], SHUDDHAVESHAVANA [Soberly
dressed], and have right conduct, right livelihood and pure mind.
In the spiritual field, He must be learned in theory and skilled in practice. It
is not sufficient for the Guru to be learned in theory only. He should be highly
intellectual and benevolently inclined.
He should lead a normal family life; then only he can act as Preceptor to a
person leading a normal life.
Initiation in the process of Dhyana alone does not qualify one to become
Guru. He himself must be established in Dhyana and other Spiritual
Practices. He should be well versed in theory and skilled in the practice of
Mantra. Mantra is that contemplation and meditation upon which leads to
Liberation from all worldly bondages.
The Kula Guru knows the Mantras which have been proved and also knows
how these are applicable to individuals.
The Guru must govern the disciple and also love him. Those who only
administer or love the disciple are not worthy of the dignified position.
The Characteristic of a disciple have also been similarly laid down.
SHANTO VINIITO SHUDDHATMA
PRAJINAH SACCARITO YATIH ;
SHISHYO BHAVATI NANYATHA.
Samartha are they who are always ready to carry out the biddings of the
Master under all circumstances. Pragyah means having requisite knowledge
and expression. Yati means having control over the mind. The worthy disciple
is tranquil, modest, noble, morally virtuous, reverential and preservant,
He must have knowledge and expression, control over mind, and be
enthusiastic to learn the science of Tantra. It is better not to initiate persons
not possessing these qualities.
If the master and the disciples are both worthy, spiritual attainment is a
Tantra has many aspects. Every individual has his own Saḿskaras or
reactions in potentiality, or complexes and sentiments. Initially man is
ordinarily an animal. This is why man has been called a rational animal. Man
devoid of rationality is nearer to an animal.
What is pardonable in lower life is unthinkable and intolerable in the case of
men who are the result of evolution. In any case the first lessons in Spiritual
Practice are intended to elevate man from his animal tendencies and is called
Pashvachara or Pashu Bhava.
With continued Spiritual Practice according to the dictates of the Master, the
aspirant comes to manliness or Viira (brave) Bhava. Animals need an
external pressure; in Pashvacara SADHANA, one controls himself by
external pressure to attain elevation to Viira Bhava. Those beyond the animal
stage cannot get elevation through external control only. They need external
pressure and internal urge.
SARVE CA PASHAVAH SANTI TALAVAD BHUTALE NARAH;
TESAḾ JINANA PRAKASHAYA VIIRABHAVAH PRAKASHITAH;
VIIRABHAVAḾ SADA PRAPYA KRAMENA DEVATA BHAVET.
In crude state every one is an animal. With the rise of a spiritual inspiration
he becomes VIIRA (noble) and when this VIIRA BHAVA is firmly assimilated
he becomes Godlike. This practical truth is the basis of the SCIENCE OF
There is no conflict between Tantra and Natural sciences. According to their
mental stages, human beings can be classified into Animalistic, Noble and
The Master initiates his disciples, according to his Spiritual and Mental stage.
VAEDIKAḾ VAESNAVAḾ SHAEVAḾ DAKSINAḾ PASHAVAḾ
SIDDHANTE VAME CA VIIRE DIVYAḾTU KAOLAMUCYATE.
“Vaedikacara, Vaesnavacara, Shaevacara and Daksinacara are the different
stages of animal feeling (pashubhava).
Siddhantacara and Vamacara come under Viirabhava, and Kaolacara under
Vaedikacara SADHANA has no deep principles. It is merely theoretical and
ritualistic in character and for show.
Tantra and its adherents regard Vaedikachara as the lowest stage. This is
because a Vaedikacari accepts unlimited distinctions and discrimination.
Tantra in its elevation does not accept any discrimination; whatsoever of
caste, class or creed, the Tantra Sadhaka has got only one identification he is
According to Ajinanabodhinii Tantra it has been said,
VARNASHRAMABHIMANENA SHRUTIDASYE BHAVENNARAH;
VARNASHRAMABIHIINASHCA VARTATE SHRUTIMURDHANI.
Elsewhere in Tantra it has been said,
YE KURBANTI NARAH MURDA DIVYACAKRE PRAMADATAH;
KULABHEDAḾ VARNABHEDAḾ TE GACCHANTYADHAMAM
“Those who discriminate class and caste in the realm of Spiritual Practice, get
degenerated into lower life, or get inanimated. Nothing can check their
degeneration. The science of Tantra is for broadening the horizons.
Tomtoming the distinction of caste and class based on a literal interpretation
of Vedas leads to narrowness of mind and vision. This can only lead to
Person vocal in slandering Tantra often cast aspersions at the practice known
as PANCHA MAKARA (Five M's). Little knowledge is dangerous. They
neither know nor comprehend the real meaning, nor do they try to
Tantra has two main branches – one dealing with the crude and other dealing
with the subtle.
THE SUBTLE FORM IS SYNONYMOUS WITH YOGA.
There is a middle path between the subtle and the crude which has also been
SADASHIVA IS THE EXPONENT OF BOTH THE FORMS.
THERE CANNOT THEREFORE BE ANY CONTRADICTION IN THESE.
Ordinary man is dominated by animal tendencies. Of course the dominance
of such instinctive impulses differs from man to man, Where these impluses
are pronounced the individuals run after material enjoyment.
They just cannot give up the objects of their crude desire in favor of spiritual
Others whose desires are relatively limited can abstain easily in favor of a
However for the former category repression or suppression of the instincts is
undesirable and may lead to disastrous consequences.
One may be able to put up a show of saintliness for a short duration but in the
long run the suppressed and repressed impulses will become more violent and
those who in their earlier life appear to be saintly, with the passage of time
indulge in various immoralities.
This was also the reason for the dark shadows of sin in the lives of hermits or
bhikshus etc., as they tried to suppress the tendencies through external
Increasing immorality and sin in the garb of hypocrisy is not a sign of healthy
For persons having strong desires for material enjoyment, tantra has
prescribed the SADHANA of crude M's, and for persons having subtle bent,
Tantra advocates the path of subtle M's or Yoga.
The object of five crude M's is to conduct Spiritual Practices while enveloped
in material enjoyment and to gradually limit and reduce the urge for
enjoyment during this period.
Use of the object of desire in a controlled way leads to increase of will power
and finally the aspirant gets over the weakness.
One who is a drunkard, will reduce the quality of liquor as a part of Spiritual
Practice. This will establish the superiority of his mind over his desire and
gradually his extroversial practice will lead to introversion.
The modern critic does not understand the deep secrets of tantra and
therefore comments adversely. The five M's have a subtle meaning as well, viz
SOMADHARA KSARED YA TU BRAHMARANDHRAT VARANANE;
PIITVANANDAMAYASTVAḾ SA EVA MADYASADHAKAH.
He who enjoys the bliss of the nectar secreting from the Pineal gland is a
Madya-sadhaka. Hormones are secreted by every gland, the hormone
secreted by Supreme Gland, the Pineal, is partly controlled by the moon
(soma) and hence the nectar secreted from this gland is known as Somadhara
This Somadhara vitalizes the different glands and blesses the aspirant with
the joy of divine intoxication. Man does not ordinarily taste this bliss. The
existence of various thoughts in the region of Pituitary gland and mind
destroys the fluid. Those who are absorbed in meditation alone can taste this
nectar and with it, the aspirant feels an intoxication. The laymen mis
comprehend this state.
Devotee poet Ramprasad says : -
SURAPAN KARINE AMI SUDHA KHAI JAYA KALII BALE;
MAN-MATALE MATAL KARE MAD-MATALE MATAL BALE.
Tantrika Yogis have given another interpretation to the word “Madya”.
YADUKTAḾ PARAMA BRAHMA NIRVIKARAḾ NIRAINJANAM ;
TASMIN PRAMADANAJINANAM TANMADYAḾ PARIKIIRTTITAḾ.
“Intense love for Nirvikara Nirainjana Parama Brahma leads to the
annihilation of thought, intellect and ego, and appears as an intoxication
which may be termed a MADYA SADHANA.”
Similarly Maḿsa to the Tantrika Yogi does not indicate flesh.
MA SHABDADRASANA JINEYA TADAḾSAN RASANA PRIYE;
YASTAD BHAKSAYENNITYAM SA EVA MAḾSA SADHAKAH.
“Ma”means “tongue”; “Maḿsa”means “what is uttered by the tongue or
speech” and denotes a control over speech. Alternatively “Maḿsa” has also
been described as:--
EVAḾ MAḾSANOTIHI YATKARMA TANMAḾSA PARIKIIRTTITAḾ;
NA CA KAYAPRATI VANTU YOGIBHIMASIMUCYATE.
The complete surrender of all the actions, good or bad, including the fruit of
Spiritual Sadhana upto Ma (Mam) ie., to the Lord makes one, a real MAḾSA
SADHAKA.. Animal flesh has no use to the Yogi.
Fish eaters when they practice the five M's in crude form will gradually
reduce the quantity of fish taken. In its suitable form Matsya sadhana means:
MATSYAO DVAO CARATAH SADA;
TAO MATSYAO BHAKSAYET YASTU SAH
Here the two nerves leading to breath through the left and right nostrils have
been compared to the fish.
ala nerves also referred to as
These nerves are beside the Id́a and Piung
Ganga and Yamuna. MATSYAO BHAKSANA here means practicing Purna
Kumbhaka or Shunya Kumbhaka on the Trikut́i or AJINA Cakra .
About Matsya – Sadashiva says:--
MATSAMANAḾ SARVABHUTE SUKHADUHKHAMIDAḾ DEVI;
ITI YATSATVIKAḾ JINANAḾ TANMATSYAH PARIKIIRTTITAH.
The state in which one feels the happiness and sorrow of all created beings as
his own, such sentiment realization is called Matsya SADHANA.
There is nothing like crude MUDRA SADHANA:
SATSAUNGENA BHAVENMUKTIRASATSAUNGESU BANDHANAM;
ASATSAUNGAMUDRANAḾ SA MUDRA PARIKIIRTTITA .
Association with the impious leads to bondage and with the righteous leads to
Liberation. In consonance with the truth eschewing all association with the
impious is MUDRA SADHANA.
The Fifth practice of Painca Makara Sadhana has been very much
In crude Maethuna Sadhana progress will be achieved by gradually
practising restraint. This is the dictate of Tantra and is universally
acceptable. As regards to subtle Maethuna Sadhana it has been said
KULAKUND́ALINII SHAKTIRDEHINAḾ DEHADHARINII;
TAYA SHIVASHYA SAḾYOGAH MAETHUNAḾ PARIKIIRTTITAḾ.
The lowest vertebra of the spinal cord is called kula. In this part of the
MULADHARA CAKRA is located the Divine Power or the coiled serpentine
(kulakund́alinii). Elevation of kulakund́alinii to Paramashiva in the thousand
petalled lotus (Sahasrara cakra ) is the Maethuna Sadhana of the Tantrika.
Spiritual Sadhana in Tantra is in stages from the phyiscal to the psycho and
from the psychic to the Spiritual. In other words, it is physico-psychic-
Tantra lays down that spiritual elevation is possible only after the edification
of body and mind. This appears to be logical and rational too.
Purification in the spheres of food, conduct and thought is therefore, essential
for Sadhaka. In their absence, a Sadhaka cannot experience any real
spiritual ideation, and hence the greatest emphasis on this practice of tantra.
Tantra defines Ideation as.
SHUDDHASATTVA VISHESADVA PREMASURYAḾSHUSAMYABHAK;
RUCIBHISHCITTAMASRNYA KRDASAO BHAVA UCYATE.
Idea is mental tendency, “Bhavo hi manaso dharma manasaeva sadabhyaset”
and practice leads to expansion and attainment. Japa or outer suggestion and
auto-suggestion are a repetition of this mental tendency. If one repeatedly
meditates upon God, continued association will cause the curved psychic
waves of the individual to approximate to the straight radiation of the Cosmic
Auto-suggestion and outer-suggestion are the practical ways for God
Vedas refer to phrases like “Ahaḿ Brahma”, and “Tattvamasi” denoting
non-duality bent to a Sadhaka; these are empty sounds in the absence of
spiritual realization. What is to be the nature of ideation or how to imbibe the
spirit of Mantra or how to associate the vital force of a Mantra are problems
to which no reference has been made in the Vedas..
ANUBHUTIḾ BINA MUD́HA VRTHA BRAHMANI MODATE;
The image of a fruit has no taste, so also book knowledge of Brahma possesses
no value in life.
AHAḾ BRAHMASMI, VIJINA DA JINA VILAYO BHAVET;
SO’MITYEVA SAḾCINTYA VIHARET SARVADA DEVI.
The supreme Knowledge “Ahaḿ Brahmasmi [“I am Brahma”] leads out of
all ignorance; nothing else can cause enlightenment. But if this truth remains
confined to utterance alone it is worthless. The ideational-flow is “So'ham”
mantra has to be imbibed by continuous suggestions and this is not possible
by mere repetition. This psycho-spiritual principle is the discovery of tantra.
Japakriya (auto and outer suggestion) and Dhyanakriya have been
prescribed in Sadhana by Mahakaolas.
The Tantrikas assert that mere Japa cannot prove fruitful unless there is a
rhythmic parallelism in the waves of the unit mind and the flow of the
Mantra. If while mentally reciting a Mantra, one is also engaged in thinking
something else, such a recitation is useless. To obtain good results, one has to
concentrate all the mental faculties and the process of breathing in resonance
with the mantra.
MANO’NYATRA SHIVO’NYATRA SHAKTIRANYATRA MARUTAH;
NA SIDHYATI VARANANE KALPAKOTISHATAERAPI.
With the mind loitering away from the divine object, and breath and vital
energy dissipated elsewhere, meditation is impossible.
INDRIYANAM MANONATHAH MANONATHO’STU MARUTAH.
Mind is the controller of organs (indriyas) and Vayu (breath) is the controller
of mind. None of these are, therefore to be ignored. Every constituent fact
must be controlled and directed towards the Supreme Lord.
The process of DIIKSA(Initiation) in Tantra is very scientific. There are two
factors in initiation -- Diipanii and Mantra caetanya. Diipanii means a
“torch” and Mantra Caetanya denotes “Conceptual understanding and
psychic association with the Mantra”.
Vishvasara Tantra defines Initiation as --
DIIPA JINA NAḾ YATO DADYAT KURYAT PAPAKSAYAM TATAH;
TASMATDIIKSETI SA PROKTA SARVATANTRASYA SAMMATA.
Initiation enables one to have a psychic visualization of the Mantra as a result
of which Saḿskaras, get
annihilated quickly. This is the reason why after initiation the aspirants
undergoes unexpected and uncalled for happiness or sorrow. This is an
encouraging symptom but it does not follow by merely repeating the Mantra.
Before proceeding with the Japa of the Mantra, the torch light to guide the
mind in a proper frame and during the process psychic association with the
meaning are essential. These contexts are clear to persons practicing in the
Sadhana of Ananda Marga.
ANDHAKARAGRHE YADVANNA KINCAT PRATIBHASATE;
One cannot place any object howsoever valuable in a dark room. Similarly
without the beacon, one cannot correctly make use of any Mantra howsoever
Without being able to arouse the kulakund́alinii(colied serpentine), auto-
suggestion and outer suggestion are futile. Mantra caetanya is understood to
mean assimilation and association of the idea expressed by the Mantra, and to
achieve early by completing the suggestion by a full conceptual understanding
of the meaning of Mantra. Without Ideational concept all repetition of a
Mantra is a waste of time. In Rudrayamal Tantra, according to Shiva-
CAETANYA RAHITAH MANTRAH PROKTAVARNASTU KEVALAH;
PHALAḾ NAEVA PRAYACCHANTI LAKSA KOT́I PRAJAPATI.
Dhyana – the Process of Dhyana needs neither Diipanii nor Mantra
Caetanya. These are requisites only for the process of auto or outer
suggestion. To aspirants who have not acquired facility in the process of
Mantra-Japa, Dhyana is exceedingly difficult. Dhyana is unification with the
Cosmic Consciousness and embraces all the three Mantra.
Diipani and Mantra Caetanya
Manta – Japa combines a number of Spiritual processes where as Dhyana is a
process complete in itself. That is why novices find difficulty in practicing
Dhyana. Aspirants who can easily practice Dhyana can easily attain a state of
VINANYASAEH VINA PUJAḾ VINA JAPAEH PURASKRIYAḾ;
DHYANAYOGAD BHAVETSIDDHIRNANYATHA KHALU PARVATII.
–Shrii Krama Tantra
Nirvikalpa Samadhi is attainable only after one gets established in Dhyana
and attainment of Samadhi is a natural prelude to Salvation or Absolute