Shiva Shakti Mandalam: the Inner Wisdom of the Hindu Tantrik Traditions
Only when Shiva is united with Shakti does he have the power to create – Saundaryalahari
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. – Tripura Rahasya, 18: 89
Tantra, or more properly tantrika, is a diverse and rich spiritual tradition of the Indian sub-continent. Although in recent years, in the Western world, it has become almost exclusively associated with sex, in reality this is one aspect of what is a way of life. In India itself, tantra is now, nearly always, associated with spells and black deeds.
Neither of these views is correct, and each wildly underestimates the wide-ranging nature of the different traditions. Further, there remains an ocean of tantrik 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 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 (devis).
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 Natha sampradaya including Gorakhnath, Matsyendranath and Dattatreya; much about kundalini, nadis, chakras; images of tantric kula devas (gods) and devis (goddesses) including Kali, Tripura, Shiva, Ganesha, Cchinnamasta, Durga and Tara; pujas and practices; meditations and dharanas; the inner meaning of kaulachara, vamachara and svecchacharya; 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 Devi is the goddess of letters, she can bewilder with her Maya as well as enlighten.
Many terms used in the tantrik 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 pashu, 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 Shiva and Shakti 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 tantrik traditions. There is no Shiva without Shakti and yoga is a realisation of the unity of all things. That is not to say that everything in tantrik 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 Tripurarahasya (secrets of Tripura), 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. Bear these considerations in mind when browsing this site.
If you are new to the subject, we suggest you visit the glossary page, where many of the terms on this site are explained in a simple manner. The headings below each open out into sub-pages where you can sample many of the mysteries of this ancient tradition.
The sections and the topics left also need some explanation. Very broadly speaking, tantras fall into traditions belonging to greater or lesser schools. The Kali tradition, for example, has a large literature and there are specific areas in India where her worship is concentrated. The Lalita, or Shri Vidya tradition, also has a very extensive literature, much of which is still unplumbed.
The Natha Sampradayas or lines relate to sects said to have originated mostly from Matsyendranath and Gorakhanath, and occupy an important position in the yoga schools of the mediaeval period.
Under other topics, we have included a selection of tantrik topics, each of which could form vast topics on their own.
Tantrik 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 tantrik 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.
Because the tradition still lives on in the last years of this millennium, we have also included material written by HH Shri Gurudev Mahendranath, the 23rd guru of the Adinatha Sampradaya, who died just a few years ago.
To charges that in some way we have breached rules about publishing mantras and the like, we can only respond that a great deal of this information is available in Hindi and Sanskrit books which are not hard to obtain, and also in manuscripts available to anyone who takes the time to dig them out of libraries.
Tantrik Ritual – Puja
Armour (kavacha), Flower-Food-Fragrance, Gayatri, Guru, Inner and Outer Ritual, Mala (rosaries), Mantra, Meditation (Dhyana), Nyasa, Pranapratishta, Puja (ritual), Sexuality, Virasadhana, Yantras
Kalikula – Kali Tradition
Durga, Guhyakali, Hamsah Shodha Upanishad, Kalika, Kali 100 Names, Kalihridaya, Kalinityas, Kaliyantra, Magic of Kali, Mahakala, Syama Upanisad
Shrikula – Lalita Tradition
Bala Panchanga, Bhavanopanisad, Dakshinamurti Samhita, Fifteen Nityas, Gandharva Tantra, Jnanarnava Tantra, Kurukulla, Lalita, Meditation on Lalita, Nityotsava, Paradise,
Philosophy of Tripura Tantra,
Rajarajeshvari Kavacha, Shodhanyasa, Shrichakranyasa, Shrinathanavaratnamalika, Shri Vidya Ratna Sutras, Shripuja, Shoshika, Subhagodaya, Tripura, Varahi, Yakshinis,
Tara, Nilasarasvati, Mahachinachara
Tara Devi, Tararahasya, Rudrayamala
Tantrik Translations and Summaries
Brihat Tantrasara, Devirahasya,
Devirahasya Chapter II, Ganesh Upanishad, Gandharvatantra, Guptasadhanatantra, Jnanarnava Tantra, Jnanasankalinitantra, Kamadhenu Tantra, Kankalamalinitantra, Kaulajnana, Kaulavalinirnaya, Kaulopanishad PDF, Kulananda Tantra,
Kulachudamanitantra (introduction), Kulachudamanitantra (translation), Kularnavatantra, Malinivijayottaratantra, Netratantra 1, Netratantra 10, Niruttaratantra, Nityotsava, PDF Translations, Rudrayamala, Shaktanandatarangini,
Tantrarajatantra, Todala Tantra, Yantrachintamani, Yogini Hridaya, Yoginitantra, Yonitantra
Nathas and Yoga
Akulavira Tantra, Chakras,
Chakras according to Goraksanath, Gorakhbodh, Jnanakarika, Jogi Traditions, Kaulajnananirnaya,
Kulananda Tantra, Malinivijayottaratantra,
Shrinathanavaratnamalika, Nathas in Nepala, Shiva Sutras, Shri Vilakshan Avadhoot, Siddhasiddhanta Paddhati, Some Aspects of the History and Doctrines of the Nathas, Tantrik yoga, The 36 Tattvas, Vijnanabhairava, Yogavishaya,
Yogis under the Raj
Shiva to Shankara, Shri Vilakshan Avadhoot, Tantra: The path of Ecstasy
baTuka Bhairava 108, Chinnamastaa 108, shriikarpuuraadistotram.h, kaulopaniShat.h, shaktisuutraaNi, shanaishchara stotram, shiitalaaShTakam.m, shrii vidyaa ratna suutra, yogaviShaya, yoginiihR^idayam.h To view the following, you will need the Sanskrit 98 font. As this site expands, future pages will include Devanagari characters which use the Sanskrit 98 font. Please click on the link below for instructions.
Devata – Some Devis and Devas
Bagalamukhi, Bhairava, Chinnamasta, Female aspects, Ganesha, Jvalamukhi, Krishna, Male aspects, Mrityunjaya, Shakti Mantras, Shiva, Tara Devi, The Ten Mahavidyas
Works of Mahendranatha
Adinathas, Dattatreya, Dhuniwala, Ecstasy-Equipoise-Eternity, Hymn to Lord Shiva, Londinium, Mahashivaratri, Morbid Menus, Magick Path of Tantra, Naked Saints of India, Notes on Pagan India, Snug in Smoky Shmashans, Twilight Yoga, Zen’s Zenith of Zest
Jyotisha, Astrology, Kalachakra
Astrology in Yoga, Time and the Kalachakra, Planets (graha), Mahakala Shani hymn, Surya (the Sun), Nature of the Planets,