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(tŭn`trə), in both Hinduism and Buddhism, esoteric tradition of ritual and yogayoga
[Skt.,=union], general term for spiritual disciplines in Hinduism, Buddhism, and throughout S Asia that are directed toward attaining higher consciousness and liberation from ignorance, suffering, and rebirth.
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 known for elaborate use of mantramantra
, in Hinduism and Buddhism, mystic words used in ritual and meditation. A mantra is believed to be the sound form of reality, having the power to bring into being the reality it represents. There are several types of mantras.
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, or symbolic speech, and mandalamandala
, [Skt.,=circular, round] a concentric diagram having spiritual and ritual significance in Hindu and Buddhist Tantrism. The mandala may have derived from the circular stupa and the ritual of walking around the stupa in a circle.
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, or symbolic diagrams; the importance of female deities, or ShaktiShakti
[Skt.,=power], in Hinduism, name given to the female consorts of male deities. The Shakti personifies the dynamic, manifesting energy that creates the universe, while the male god represents the static, unmanifest aspect of the divine reality.
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; cremation-ground practices such as meditation on corpses; and, more so in Hindu than in Buddhist tantra, the ritual use of wine, meat, and sexual intercourse. Tantric practices use both ritual and meditation to unify the devotee with the chosen deity. In Hindu Tantra, practice is graded into three types, corresponding to three classes of devotees: the animal, i.e., those in whom the guna, or quality, of tamas (darkness) predominates; the heroic, those in whom the guna of rajas (activity) predominates; and the divine, those in whom sattva (goodness) predominates (see Hindu philosophyHindu philosophy,
the philosophical speculations and systems of India that have their roots in Hinduism. Characteristics

Hindu philosophy began in the period of the Upanishads (900–500 B.C.
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). The practice of the heroic devotee entails actual use of the five elements, called the five m's: fish (matsya), meat (mamsa), wine (madya), aphrodisiac cereals (mudra), and sexual intercourse (maithuna). The animal devotee, not yet ready for the heroic practice, performs the rituals with material symbols; for the divine devotee the rituals are purely internal and symbolic. The object of the rituals, attainable only by the divine devotee, is to awaken kundalini energy, which is identified with Shakti, and merge with the Godhead. In Buddhist Tantra, or Vajrayana, in contrast to the Hindu, the female principle of "wisdom" (prajna) is seen as static, whereas the male, or "means" (upaya), is active. In Buddhism, rituals that appear to break basic moral precepts have for the most part been dropped, but the complex meditation practices have been retained.


See Y. Hakeda, Kukai (1972); A. Wayman, The Buddhist Tantras (1973); A. Bharati, The Tantric Tradition (1975); F. D. Lessing and A. Wayman, Introduction to the Buddhist Tantric Systems (2d ed. 1980); T. Goudriaan and S. Gupta, Hindu Tantric and Shakta Literature (1981); D. Brooks, The Secret of the Three Cities (1990).

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(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

Tantra, a form of sex magic, plays an essential role in a number of magical societies. Long periods of training are a prerequisite of this highly specialized practice. Certain exercises lead to the control of various autonomic functions, such as body temperature, pulse rate, and the reflexes that trigger ejaculation. Breathing exercises are also an important part of the discipline.

The word Tantra is the name of the Hindu texts in which the system is expounded. According to Tantric philosophy, the universe is built up of two basic forces personified as male and female deities, the god Shiva and his consort Shakti. The female principle is the dominant one and the male the subordinate. Women are treated on terms of complete equality with men and in many of the rites are assigned superior status, as living embodiments of the mother goddess. This makes the philosophy and practice appealing to many Wiccans.

Many Tantric rituals are similar to ceremonial magic ones, with candles, incense, wands, bells, magic circles, and words of power. Awakening the "sleeping serpent" known as the kundalini power is a major part of Tantric practice. Once aroused, the kundalini travels up through the chakras of the body. The ability to open the chakras in their correct order so that the kundalini can continue its upward journey is essential to the working of Tantra. At the climax of the journey, Shakti and Shiva are united in an ecstasy that is known as "The Supreme Bliss." The Hindu texts contend that only by laying hold of the power inherent in the sex force is it possible to find the creative energy to ascend to spiritual liberation.

Benjamin Walker describes one Tantric rite, "known as chakra-puja or circle worship, where the participants sit in a circle, which implies complete mutual equality among those present. Male and female participants sit next to each other on the floor, and in the middle of the circle sit another couple who represent Shakti and Shiva. Sometimes a nude girl occupies the central place as Shakti. . . . All the members partake of a ceremonial meal consisting of wine, flesh, fish, and bread, followed by a rite of sexual intercourse." In the Tantric circle worship, participants do not choose their partners; no personal preference is allowed. Various means are used to ensure that the partners pair by chance and not by choice, so a man may partner with his wife, with another man's wife, or with his sister, his daughter, or even his mother. One Tantric text says, "The man who knows the fiery form of Shiva procreates himself anew at every intercourse. His body glows, his mind is crystal clear, his spirit in harmony with heaven."

The Witch Book: The Encyclopedia of Witchcraft, Wicca, and Neo-paganism © 2002 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
In the light of these data, it is possible that the Ucchusmatantra with which the BraYa identified itself was not, properly speaking, a Saiva Tantra. A recent Ph.D.
What I learned was that the practice of Tantra can hasten the progress toward Enlightenment through the practice of precise visual imagery, ritual, mudra, and mantra.
The origins of Tantra continue to be mentioned, but never with any conclusive stance.
Tantra Song: Tantric Painting from Rajasthan coincides with an exhibition of 39 paintings featured in the book at the Santa Monica Museum of Art from September 10th through December 10th, 2011.
Zed, who is president of Universal Society of Hinduism, pointed out that Tantra, a method of spiritual self-culture, was divine revelation whose history went back to fourth century.
It is clear from the study of sNgags rim chen mo (38) that the MVS has proven to be an extremely textual source for his explanation of the three lower tantras. Although we do not find any separate work devoted to its study by Tsongkhapa, he cites more than 24 quotations (39) (as listed on a separate paper) from the MVS for explaining various subjects; the practice of deity yoga, preparation for mandala construction, mantra recitation, display of mudras, samaya vows and so on.
This uncertainty brings us to the question of symbolic language in the Tantras, about which Davidson writes many illuminating pages.
As in most places, Waddell has not shown his source (as he did not have any genuine sources with him) which claims that Tantra began from Nagarjuna.
This is significant to note as his two streams of asceticism basically conform to the Veda / Tantra dichotomy so essential to Sarkar's discourse.
This is a very important publication in the Early Tantra Series from the French Institute of Pondicherry, the Ecole francais d'Extreme Orient, and the University of Hamburg.
This book, as the title reflects, is the outcome of a Franco-German project on early Tantra funded for over three years by the Agence Nationale de la Recherche and the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft.
Tantra is said to be an activity in such dating where each session is guided by a tantric expert and the participants just follow his/her instructions, and where Tantra is employed as "the art of meeting, the science of relationship".