Shakti and Shakta

Shakti and Shakta

Essays and Addresses on the Shâkta tantrashâstra


Arthur Avalon

(Sir John Woodroffe),

London: Luzac & Co.,


Chapter One
Indian Religion As Bharata Dharma

A FRIEND of mine who read the first edition of this book suggested that I should add to it an opening Chapter, stating the most general and fundamental principles of the subject as a guide to the understanding of what follows, together with an outline of the latter in which the relation of the several parts should be shown. I have not at present the time, nor in the present book the space, to give effect to my friend’s wishes in the way I would have desired, but will not altogether neglect them.

To the Western, Indian Religion generally seems a “jungle” of contradictory beliefs amidst which he is lost. Only those who have understood its main principles can show them the path.

It has been asserted that there is no such thing as Indian Religion, though there are many Religions in India. This is not so. As I have already pointed out (Is India Civilized?) there is a common Indian religion which I have called Bharata Dharma, which is an Aryan religion (Aryadharma) held by all Aryas whether Brahmanic, Buddhist or Jaina. These are the three main divisions of the Bharata Dharma. I exclude other religions in India, namely, the Semitic religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Not that all these are purely Semitic. Christianity became in part Aryanized when it was adopted by the Western Aryans, as also happened with Islam when accepted by such Eastern Aryans as the Persians and the Aryanized peoples of India. Thus Sufism is either a form of Vedanta or indebted to it.

The general Indian Religion or Bharata Dharma holds that the world is an Order or Cosmos. It is not a Chaos of things and beings thrown haphazard together, in which there is no binding relation or rule. The world-order is Dharma, which is that by which the universe is upheld (Dharyate). Without Dharma it would fall to pieces and dissolve into nothingness. But this is not possible, for though there is Disorder (Adharma), it exists, and can exist only locally, for a time, and in particular parts of the whole. Order however will and, from the nature of things, must ultimately assert itself. And this is the meaning of the saying that Righteousness or Dharma prevails. This is in the nature of things, for Dharma is not a law imposed from without by the Ukase of some Celestial Czar. It is the nature of things; that which constitutes them what they are (Svalakshana-dharanat Dharma). It is the expression of their true being and can only cease to be, when they themselves cease to be. Belief in righteousness is then in something not arbitrarily imposed from without by a Lawgiver, but belief in a Principle of Reason which all men can recognize for themselves if they will. Again Dharma is not only the law of each being but necessarily also of the whole, and expresses the right relations of each part to the whole. This whole is again harmonious, otherwise it would dissolve. The principle which holds it together as one mighty organism is Dharma. The particular Dharma calls for such recognition and action in accordance therewith. Religion, therefore, which etymologically means that which obliges or binds together, is in its most fundamental sense the recognition that the world is an Order, of which each man, being, and thing, is a part, and to which each man stands in a definite, established relation; together with action based on, and consistent with, such recognition, and in harmony with the whole cosmic activity. Whilst therefore the religious man is he who feels that he is bound in varying ways to all being, the irreligious man is he who egoistically considers everything from the standpoint of his limited self and its interests, without regard for his fellows, or the world at large. The essentially irreligious character of such an attitude is shown by the fact that, if it were adopted by all, it would lead to the negation of Cosmos, that is Chaos. Therefore all Religions are agreed in the essentials of morality and hold that selfishness, in its widest sense, is the root of all sin (Adharma). Morality is thus the true nature of man. The general Dharma (Samanya Dharma) is the universal law governing all, just as the particular Dharma (Vishesha Dharma) varies with, and is peculiar to, each class of being. It follows from what is above stated that disharmony is suffering. This is an obvious fact. Wrong conduct is productive of ill, as right conduct is productive of good. As a man sows, so he will reap. There is an Immanent Justice. But these results, though they may appear at once, do not always do so. The fruit of no action is lost. It must, according to the law of causality, which is a law of reason, bear effect. If its author does not suffer for it here and now in the present life, he will do so in some future one. Birth and death mean the creation and destruction of bodies. The spirits so embodied are infinite in number and eternal. The material universe comes and goes. This in Brahmanism has been said (see Sanatana Vaidika Dharma by Bhagavan Das) to be “the Systole and Diastole of the one Universal Heart, Itself at rest — the moveless play of Consciousness”. The appearance and disappearance of the Universe is the nature or Svabhava of That which it ultimately is. Its immediate cause is Desire, which Buddhism calls Trishna — or Thirst, that is desire or thirst for world-enjoyment in the universe of form. Action (Karma) is prompted by desire and breeds again desire. This action may be good (Dharma) or bad (Adharma) leading to enjoyment or suffering. Each embodied soul (Jivatma) will be reborn and reborn into the world until it is freed from all desire. This involves the doctrine of Re-incarnation. These multiple births and deaths in the transmigratory worlds are called Samsara or Wandering. The world is a Dvandva, that is, a composite of happiness and suffering. Happiness of a transitory kind may be had therein by adherence to Dharma in following Kama (desire) and Artha (the means) by which lawful desires may be given effect. These constitute what Brahmanism calls the Trivarga of the Purushartha, or three aims of sentient being. But just as desire leads to manifestation in form, so desirelessness leads away from it. Those who reach this state seek Moksha or Nirvana (the fourth Purushartha), which is a state of Bliss beyond the worlds of changing forms. For there is a rest from suffering which Desire (together with a natural tendency to pass its right limits) brings upon men. They must, therefore, either live with desire in harmony with the universal order, or if desireless, they may (for each is master of his future) pass beyond the manifest and become That which is Moksha or Nirvana. Religion, and therefore true civilization, consists in the upholding of Dharma as the individual and general good, and the fostering of spiritual progress, so that, with justice to all beings, true happiness, which is the immediate and ultimate end of all Humanity, and indeed of all being, may be attained.

Anyone who holds these beliefs follows the Bharata Dharma or common principles of all Aryan beliefs. Thus as regards God we may either deny His existence (Atheism) or affirm it (Theism) or say we have no sufficient proof one way or another (Agnosticism). It is possible to accept the concept of an eternal Law (Dharma) and its sanctions in a self-governed universe without belief in a personal Lord (Ishvara). So Samkhya, which proceeds on intellectual proof only, doe not deny God but holds that the being of a Lord is “not proved”.

There are then based on this common foundation three main religions, Brahmanism, Buddhism and Jainism. Of the second, a great and universal faith, it has been said that, with each fresh acquirement of knowledge, it seems more difficult to separate it from the Hinduism out of which it emerged and into which (in Northern Buddhism) it relapsed. This is of course not to say that there are no differences between the two, but that they share in certain general and common principles as their base. Brahmanism, of which the Shakta doctrine and practice is a particular form, accepts Veda as its ultimate authority. By this, in its form as the four Vedas, is revealed the doctrine of the Brahman, the “All-pervader,” the infinite Substance which is in Itself (Svarupa) Consciousness (Caitanya or Cit), from Which comes creation, maintenance and withdrawal, commonly called destruction (though man, not God, destroys), and Which in Its relation to the universe which the Brahman controls is known as Ishvara, the Ruling Lord or Personal God. Veda both as spiritual experience and the word “which is heard” (Shruti) is the warrant for this. But Shruti, as the ultimate authority, has received various interpretations and so we find in Brahmanism, as in Christianity, differing schools and sects adopting various interpretations of the Revealed Word. Veda says: “All this (that is, the Universe) is Brahman.” All are agreed that Brahman or Spirit is relatively to us, Being (Sat), Consciousness (Cit) and Bliss (Ananda). It is Saccidananda. But in what sense is “This” (Idam) Brahman? The Monistic interpretation (Advaitavada), as given for instance by the great scholastic Shamkaracarya, is that there is a complete identity in essence of both. There is one Spirit (Atma) with two aspects: as transcendent supreme (Paramatma), and as immanent and embodied (Jivatma). The two are at base one when we eliminate Avidya in the form of mind and body. According to the qualified Monism (Vishishtadvaita) of the great scholastic Ramanuja, “This” is Brahman in the sense that it is the body of the Brahman, just as we distinguish our body from our inner self. According to the Dualists (Dvaitavada) the saying is interpreted in terms of nearness (Samipya) and likeness (Sadrishya) for, though God and man are distinct, the former so pervades and is so inextricably involved in the universe as creator and maintainer, that the latter, in this sense, seems to be Brahman through proximity.

Then again there is the Shuddhadvaita of that branch of the Agamas which is called Shaivasiddhanta, the Vaishnava Pañcaratra doctrine, the Advaita of the Kashmirian Shaiva-gama (Trika), the followers of which, though Advaitins, have very subtly criticized Shamkara’s doctrine on several points. Difference of views upon this question and that of the nature of Maya, which the world is said to be, necessarily implies difference upon other matters of doctrine. Then there are, with many resemblances, some differences in ritual practice. Thus it comes about that Brahmanism includes many divisions of worshippers calling themselves by different names. There are Smartas who are the present day representatives of the old Vaidik doctrine and ritual practice, and on the other hand a number of divisions of worshippers calling themselves Shaktas, Shaivas, Vaishnavas and so forth with sub-divisions of these. It is not possible to make hard and fast distinctions between the sects which share much in common and have been influenced one by the other. Indeed the universality of much of religious doctrine and practice is an established fact. What exists in India as elsewhere to-day has in other times and places been in varying degrees anticipated. “In Religion,” it has been said (Gnostics and 1heir Remains, viii) “there is no new thing. The same ideas are worked up over and over again.” In India as elsewhere, but particularly in India where religious activity has been syncretistic rather than by way of supersession, there is much which is common to all sects and more again which is common between particular groups of sects. These latter are governed in general, that is, in their older forms, by the Agamas or Tantra-Shastras, which, at any rate to-day and for centuries past (whatever may have been their origin), admit the authority of the Vedas and recognize other Scriptures. (As to these, see the Introduction to the Kaulacarya Satyananda’s Commentary on the Isha Upanishad which I have published.)

The meaning of Veda is not commonly rightly understood. But this is a vast subject which underlies all others, touching as it does the seat of all authority and knowledge into which I have not the space to enter here. There are four main classes of Brahmanical Scripture, namely, Veda or Shruti, Smriti, Purana, and Agama. There are also four ages or Yugas the latter being a fraction of a Kalpa or Day of Brahma of 4,320,000,000 years. This period is the life of an universe, on the expiration of which all re-enters Brahman and thereafter issues from it. A Mahayuga is composed of the Four Ages called Satya, Treta, Dvapara, Kali, the first being the golden age of righteousness since when all has gradually declined physically, morally, and spiritually. For each of the ages a suitable Shastra is given, for Satya or Krita the Vedas, for Treta the Smritishastra, for Dvapara the Puranas, and for Kaliyuga the Agama or Tantra Shastra. So the Kularnava Tantra says:

Krite shrutyukta acarastretayam smriti-sambhavah

Dvapare tu puranoktah, kalavagamasammatah

(see also Mahanirvana Tantra, I — 28 et seq.) and the Tara-pradipa says that in the Kaliyuga (the supposed present age) the Tantrika and not the Vaidika Dharma, in the sense of mode of life and ritual, is to be followed (see Principles of Tantra). When it is said that the Agama is the peculiar Scripture of the Kali age, this does not mean (at any rate to any particular division of its followers) that something is presented which is opposed to Veda. It is true however that, as between these followers, there is sometimes a conflict on the question whether a particular form of the Agama is unvedic (Avaidika) or not. The Agama, however, as a whole, purports to be a presentment of the teaching of Veda, just as the Puranas and Smritis are. It is that presentment of Vaidik truth which is suitable for the Kali age. Indeed the Shakta followers of the Agama claim that its Tantras contain the very core of the Veda to which it is described to bear the same relation as the Supreme Spirit (Paramatma) to the embodied spirit (Jivatma). In a similar way, in the seven Tantrik Acaras (see Ch. IV post), Kaulacara is the controlling, informing life of the gross body called Vedacara, each of the Acaras, which follow the latter up to Kaulacara, being more and more subtle sheaths. The Tantra Shastra is thus that presentment of Vedantic truth which is modeled, as regards mode of life and ritual, to meet the characteristics and infirmities of the Kaliyuga. As men have no longer the capacity, longevity and moral strength required to carry out the Vaidika Karmakanda (ritual section), the Tantra Shastra prescribes a Sadhana of its own for the attainment of the common end of all Shastra, that is, a happy life on earth, Heaven thereafter, and at length Liberation. Religion is in fact the true pursuit of happiness.

As explained in the next and following Chapters, this Agama, which governs according to its followers the Kali-yuga, is itself divided into several schools or communities of worshippers. One of these divisions is the Shakta. It is with Shakta doctrine and worship, one of the forms of Brahmanism, which is again a form of the general Bharata Dharma, that this book deals.

The Shakta is so called because he is a worshipper of Shakti (Power), that is, God in Mother-form as the Supreme Power which creates, sustains and withdraws the universe. His rule of life is Shaktadharma, his doctrine of Shakti is Shaktivada or Shakta Darshana. God is worshipped as the Great Mother because, in this aspect, God is active, and produces, nourishes, and maintains all. Theological Godhead is no more female than male or neuter. God is Mother to the Sadhaka who worships Her Lotus Feet, the dust on which are millions of universes. The Power, or active aspect of the immanent God, is thus called Shakti. In Her static transcendent aspect the Mother or Shakti or Shivé is of the same nature as Shiva or “the Good”. That is, philosophically speaking, Shiva is the unchanging Consciousness, and Shakti is its changing Power appearing as mind and matter. Shiva-Shakti is therefore Consciousness and Its Power. This then is the doctrine of dual aspects of the one Brahman acting through Its Trinity of Powers (Iccha, Will; Jñana, Knowledge; Kriya, Action). In the static transcendent aspect (Shiva) the one Brahman does not change and in the kinetic immanent aspect (Shivé or Shakti) It does. There is thus changelessness in change. The individual or embodied Spirit (Jivatma) is one with the transcendent spirit (Paramatma). The former is a part (Amsha) of the latter, and the enveloping mind and body are manifestations of Supreme Power. Shakta Darshana is therefore a form of Monism (Advaitavada). In creation an effect is produced without change in the Producer. In creation the Power (Shakti) “goes forth” (Prasharati) in a series of emanations or transformations, which are called, in the Shaiva and Shakta Tantras, the 36 Tattvas. These mark the various stages through which Shiva, the Supreme Consciousness, as Shakti, presents Itself as object to Itself as subject, the latter at first experiencing the former as part of the Self, and then through the operations of Maya Shakti as different from the Self. This is the final stage in which every Self (Purusha) is mutually exclusive of every other. Maya, which achieves this, is one of the Powers of the Mother or Devi. The Will-to-become-many (Bahu syam prajayeya) is the creative impulse which not only creates but reproduces an eternal order. The Lord remembers the diversities latent in His own Maya Shakti due to the previous Karmas of Jivas and allows them to unfold themselves by His volition. It is that Power by which infinite formless Consciousness veils Itself to Itself and negates and limits Itself in order that it may experience Itself as Form.

This Maya Shakti assumes the form of Prakriti Tattva, which is composed of three Gunas or Factors called Sattva, Rajas, Tamas. The function of Prakriti is to veil, limit, or finitize pure infinite formless Consciousness, so as to produce form, for without such limitation there cannot be the appearance of form. These Gunas work by mutual suppression. The function of Tamas is to veil Consciousness, of Sattva to reveal it, and of Rajas the active principle to make either Tamas suppress Sattva or Sattva suppress Tamas. These Gunas are present in all particular existence, as in the general cause or Prakriti Shakti. Evolution means the increased operation of Sattva Guna. Thus the mineral world is more subject to Tamas than the rest. There is less Tamas and more Sattva in the vegetable world. In the animal world Sattva is increased, and still more so in man, who may rise through the cultivation of the Sattva Guna to Pure Consciousness (Moksha) Itself. To use Western parlance, Consciousness more and more appears as forms evolve and rise to man. Consciousness does not in itself change, but its mental and material envelopes do, thus releasing and giving Consciousness more play. As Pure Consciousness is Spirit, the release of It from the bonds of matter means that Forms which issue from the Power of Spirit (Shakti) become more and more Sattvik. A truly Sattvik man is therefore a spiritual man. The aim of Sadhana is therefore the cultivation of the Sattva Guna. Nature (Prakriti) is thus the Veil of Spirit as Tamas Guna, the Revealer of Spirit as Sattva Guna, and the Activity (Rajas Guna) which makes either work. Thus the upward or revealing movement from the predominance of Tamas to that of Sattva represents the spiritual progress of the embodied Spirit or Jivatma.

It is the desire for the life of form which produces the universe. This desire exists in the collective Vasanas, held like all else, in inchoate state in the Mother-Power, which passing from its own (Svarupa) formless state gives effect to them. Upon the expiration of the vast length of time which constitutes a day of Brahma the whole universe is withdrawn into the great Causal Womb (Yoni) which produced it. The limited selves are withdrawn into it, and again, when the creative throes are felt, are put forth from it, each appearing in that form and state which its previous Karma had made for it. Those who do good Karma but with desire and self-regard (Sakama) go, on death, to Heaven and thereafter reap their reward in good future birth on earth — for Heaven is also a transitory state. The bad are punished by evil births on earth and suffering in the Hells which are also transitory. Those, however, who have rid themselves of all self-regarding desire and work selflessly (Nishkama Karma) realize the Brahman nature which is Saccidananda. Such are liberated, that is never appear again in the World of Form, which is the world of suffering, and enter into the infinite ocean of Bliss Itself. This is Moksha or Mukti or Liberation. As it is freedom from the universe of form, it can only be attained through detachment from the world and desirelessness. For those who desire the world of form cannot be freed of it. Life, therefore, is a field in which man, who has gradually ascended through lower forms of mineral, vegetable and animal life, is given the opportunity of heaven-life and Liberation. The universe has a moral purpose, namely the affording to all existence of a field wherein it may reap the fruit of its actions. The forms of life are therefore the stairs (Sopana) on which man mounts to the state of infinite, eternal, and formless Bliss. This then is the origin and the end of man. He has made for himself his own past and present condition and will make his future one. His essential nature is free. If wise, he adopts the means (Sadhana) which lead to lasting happiness, for that of the world is not to be had by all, and even when attained is perishable and mixed with suffering. This Sadhana consists of various means and disciplines employed to produce purity of mind (Cittashuddhi), and devotion to, and worship of, the Magna Mater of all. It is with these means that the religious Tantra Shastras are mainly concerned. The Shakta Tantra Shastra contains a most elaborate and wonderful ritual, partly its own, partly of Vaidik origin. To a ritualist it is of absorbing interest.

Ritual is an art, the art of religion. Art is the outward material expression of ideas intellectually held and emotionally felt. Ritual art is concerned with the expression of those ideas and feelings which are specifically called religious. It is a mode by which religious truth is presented, and made intelligible in material forms and symbols to the mind. It appeals to all natures passionately sensible of that Beauty in which, to some, God most manifests Himself. But it is more than this. For it is the means by which the mind is transformed and purified. In particular according to Indian principles it is the instrument whereby the consciousness of the worshipper (Sadhaka) is shaped in actual fact into forms of experience which embody the truths which Scripture teaches. The Shakta is thus taught that he is one with Shiva and His Power or Shakti. This is not a matter of mere argument. It is a matter for experience. It is ritual and Yoga-practice which secure that experience for him. How profound Indian ritual is, will be admitted by those who have understood the general principles of all ritual and symbolism, and have studied it in its Indian form, with a knowledge of the principles of which it is an expression. Those who speak of “mummery,” “gibberish” and “superstition” betray both their incapacity and ignorance.

The Agamas are not themselves treatises on Philosophy, though they impliedly contain a particular theory of life. They are what is called Sadhana Shastras, that is, practical Scriptures prescribing the means by which happiness, the quest of all mankind, may be attained. And as lasting happiness is God, they teach how man by worship and by practice of the disciplines prescribed, may attain a divine experience. From incidental statements and the practices described the philosophy is extracted.

The speaker of the Tantras and the revealer of the Shakta Tantra is Shiva Himself or Shivé the Devi Herself. Now it is the first who teaches and the second who listens (Agama). Now again the latter assumes the role of Guru and answers the questions of Shiva (Nigama). For the two are one. Sometimes there are other interlocutors. Thus one of the Tantras is called Ishvarakartikeya-samvada, for there the Lord addresses his son Kartikeya. The Tantra Shastra therefore claims to be a Revelation, and of the same essential truths as those contained in the Eternal Veda which is an authority to itself (Svatah-siddha). Those who have had experience of the truths recorded in Shastra, have also proclaimed the practical means whereby their experience was gained. “Adopt those means” they say, “and you will also have for yourself our experience.” This is the importance of Sadhana and all Sadhana Shastras. The Guru says: “Do as I tell you. Follow the method prescribed by Scripture. Curb your desires. Attain a pure disposition, and thus only will you obtain that certainty, that experience which will render any questionings unnecessary.” The practical importance of the Agama lies in its assumption of these principles and in the methods which it enjoins for the attainment of that state in which the truth is realized. The following Chapters shortly explain some of the main features of both the philosophy and practice of the Shakta division of the Agama. For their full development many volumes are necessary. What is here said is a mere sketch in a popular form of a vast subject.

I will conclude this Chapter with extracts from a Bengali letter written to me shortly before his death, now many years ago, by Pandit Shiva-candra Vidyarnava, the Shakta author of the Tantratattva which I have published under the title Principles of Tantra. The words in brackets are my own.

“At the present time the general public are ignorant of the principles of the Tantra Shastra. The cause of this ignorance is the fact that the Tantra Shastra is a Sadhana Shastra, the greater part of which becomes intelligible only by Sadhana. For this reason the Shastra and its Teachers prohibit their general promulgation. So long as the Shastra was learnt from Gurus only, this golden rule was of immense good. In course of time the old Sadhana has become almost extinct, and along with it, the knowledge of the deep and mighty principles of the Shastra is almost lost. Nevertheless some faint shadowings of these principles (which can be thoroughly known by Sadhana only) have been put before the public partly with the view to preserve Shastric knowledge from destruction, and partly for commercial reasons. When I commenced to write Tantra-tattva some 25 years ago, Bengali society was in a perilous state owing to the influx of other religions, want of faith and a spirit of disputation. Shortly before this a number of English books had appeared on the Tantra Shastra which, whilst ignorant of Dharma, Sadhana and Siddhi contained some hideous and outrageous pictures drawn by the Bengali historians and novelists ignorant of, and unfaithful to, Shastric principles. The English books by English writers contained merely a reflection of what English-educated Bengalis of those days had written. Both are even to-day equally ignorant of the Tantra Shastra. For this reason in writing Tantratattva I could not go deeply into the subject as my heart wished. I had to spend my time in removing thorns (objections and charges) from the path by reasoning and argument. I could not therefore deal in my book with most of the subjects which, when I brought out the first volume, I promised to discuss. The Tantra Shastra is broadly divided into three parts, namely Sadhana, Siddhi (that which is gained by Sadhana) and Philosophy (Darshana). Unlike other systems it is not narrow nor does it generate doubt by setting forth conflicting views. For its speaker is One and not many and He is omniscient. The philosophy is however scattered throughout the Tantrik treatises and is dealt with, as occasion arises, in connection with Sadhana and Siddhi. Could (as I had suggested to him) such parts be collected and arranged, according to the principles of the subject-matter, they would form a vast system of philosophy wonderful, divine, lasting, true, and carrying conviction to men. As a Philosophy it is at the head of all others. You have prayed to Parameshvara (God) for my long life, and my desire to carry out my project makes me also pray for it. But the state of my body makes me doubt whether the prayer will be granted. By the grace therefore of the Mother the sooner the work is done the better. You say ‘that those who worship Parameshvara, He makes of one family. Let therefore all distinctions be put aside for all Sadhakas are, as such, one.’ This noble principle is the final word of all Shastras, all communities, and all religions. All distinctions which arise from differences in the physical body are distinctions for the human world only. They have no place in the world of worship of Parameshvara. The more therefore that we shall approach Him the more will the differences between you and me vanish. It is because both of us pray for the removal of all such differences, that I am led to rely on your encouragement and help and am bold to take up on your encouragement and help and am bold to take up this difficult and daring work. If by your grace the gate of this Tantrik philosophy is opened in the third part of Tantra-tattva I dare to say that the learned in all countries will gaze, and be astonished for it is pure truth, and for this reason I shall be able to place it before them with perfect clearness.”

Unfortunately this project of a third part of the Tantra-tattva could not be carried out owing to the lamented death of its author, which followed not long after the receipt of this letter. Naturally, like all believers throughout the whole world, he claimed for his Scripture the possession in all its details of what was true or good. Whilst others may not concede this, I think that those with knowledge and understanding and free from prejudice will allow that it contains a profoundly conceived doctrine, wonderfully worked out in practice. Some of its ideas and principles are shared (through it be under other names and forms) by all religious men, and others either by all or some Indian communities, who are not Shaktas. Leaving therefore for the moment aside what may be said to be peculiar to itself it cannot be that wholly absurd, repulsive, and infamous system (“lust, mummery and magic” as Brian Hodgson called it) which it has been said to be. An impartial criticism may be summed up in the few words that, together with what has value, it contains some practices which are not generally approved and which have led to abuse. As to these the reader is referred to the Chapter on the Pañcatattva or Secret Ritual.

I conclude with a translation of an article in Bengali by a well-known writer, (P. Bandyopadhyaya, in the Sahitya, Shrubby 1320, Calcutta, July-August 1913). It was evoked by the publication of Arthur Abalone’s Translation of, and Introduction to, the Mahanirvana Tantra. It is an interesting statement as regards the Shakta Tantra and Bengali views thereon. Omitting here some commendatory statements touching A. Avalon’s work and the writer’s “thanks a hundred times” for the English version, the article continues as follows:

“At one time the Mahanirvana Tantra had some popularity in Bengal. It was printed and published under the editorship of Pandit Ananda-candra Vedanta-vagisha and issued from the Adi-Brahmo-Samaj Press. Raja Ram Mohan Roy himself was a follower of the Tantras, married after the Shaiva form and used to practice the Tantrik worship. His spiritual preceptor Svami Hariharananda, was well known to be a saint who had attained to perfection (Siddha-purusa). He endeavored to establish the Mahanirvana Tantra as the Scripture of the Brahmo-Samaj. The formula and the forms of the Brahmo Church are borrowed from the initiation in Brahman worship, (Brahma-diksha) in this Tantra. The later Brahmos somewhat losing their selves in their spirit of imitation of Christian rituals were led to abandon the path shown to them by Raja Ram Mohan; but yet even now many among them recite the Hymn to the Brahman which occurs in the Mahanirvana Tantra. In the first era of the excessive dissemination of English culture and training Bengal resounded with opprobrious criticisms of the Tantras. No one among the educated in Bengal could praise them. Even those who called themselves Hindus were unable outwardly to support the Tantrik doctrines. But even then there were very great Tantrik Sadhakas and men learned in the Tantras with whose help the principles of the Tantras might have been explained to the public. But the educated Bengali of the age was bewitched by the Christian culture, and no one cared to inquire what did or did not exist in their paternal heritage; the more especially that any who attempted to study the Tantras ran the risk of exposing themselves to contumely from the ‘educated community’. Maharaja Sir Jatindra Mohan Tagore of sacred name alone published two or three works with the help of the venerable Pandit Jaganmohan Tarkalankara. The Hara-tattva-didhiti associated with the name of his father is even now acknowledged to be a marvelously glorious production of the genius of the Pandits of Bengal. The venerable (Vriddha) Pandit Jaganmohan also published a commentary on the Mahanirvana Tantra. Even at that epoch such study of the Tantras was confined to a certain section of the educated in Bengal. Maharaja Sir Jatindra Mohan alone endeavored to understand and appreciate men like Bama Khepa (mad Bama), the Naked Father (Nengta Baba) of Kadda and Svami Sadananda. The educated community of Bengal had only neglect and contempt for Sadhakas like Bishe Pagla (the mad Bishe) and Binu the Candala woman. Bengal is even now governed by the Tantra; even now the Hindus of Bengal receive Tantrik initiation. But the glory and the honor which the Tantra had and received in the time of Maharajas Krishna-candra and Shiva-candra no longer exist. This is the reason why the Tantrik Sadhakas of Bengal are not so well known at present. It seems as if the World-Mother has again willed it, has again desired to manifest Her power, so that Arthur Avalon is studying the Tantras and has published so beautiful a version of the Mahanirvana. The English educated Bengali will now, we may hope, turn his attention to the Tantra.

“The special virtue of the Tantra lies in its mode of Sadhana. It is neither mere worship (Upasana) nor prayer. It is not lamenting or contrition or repentance before the Deity. It is the Sadhana which is the union of Purusha and Prakriti; the Sadhana which joins the Male Principle and the Mother Element within the body, and strives to make the attributed attributeless. That which is in me and that for which I am (this consciousness is ever present in me) is spread, like butter in milk, throughout the created world of moving and unmoving things, through the gross and the subtle, the conscious and unconscious, through all. It is the object of Tantrik Sadhana to merge that self-principle (Svarat) into the Universal (Virat). This Sadhana is to be performed through the awakening of the forces within the body. A man is Siddha in this Sadhana when he is able to awaken Kundalini and pierce the six Cakras. This is not mere ‘philosophy’ a mere attempt to ponder upon husks of words, but something which is to be done in a thoroughly practical manner. The Tantras say — ‘Begin practicing under the guidance of a good Guru; if you do not obtain favorable results immediately, you can freely give it up.’ No other religion dares to give so bold a challenge. We believe that the Sadhana of the Moslems and the ‘esoteric religion’ or secret Sadhana (and rituals) of the Christians of the Roman Catholic and Greek Churches is based on this ground work of the Tantras.

“Wherever there is Sadhana we believe that there is the system of the Tantra. While treating of the Tantras some time back in the Sahitya, I hinted at this conclusion and I cannot say that the author, Arthur Avalon, has not noticed it too. For he has expressed his surprise at the similarity which exists between the Roman Catholic and the Tantrik mode of Sadhana. The Tantra has made the Yoga-system of Patañjali easily practicable and has combined with it the Tantrik rituals and the ceremonial observances (Karma-kanda); that is the reason why the Tantrik system of Sadhana has been adopted by all the religious sects of India. If this theory of the antiquarians, that the Tantra was brought into India from Chaldea or Shakadvipa be correct, then it may also be inferred that the Tantra passed from Chaldea to Europe. The Tantra is to be found in all the strata of Buddhism; the Tantrik Sadhana is manifest in Confucianism; and Shintoism is but another name of the Tantrik cult. Many historians acknowledge that the worship of Shakti or Tantrik Sadhana which was prevalent in Egypt from ancient times spread into Phoenicia and Greece. Consequently we may suppose that the influence of the Tantra was felt in primitive Christianity.

“The Tantra contains nothing like idolatry or ‘worship of the doll’ which we, taking the cue from the Christian missionaries, nowadays call it. This truth, the author, Arthur Avalon, has made very clear in the Introduction to his translation. The Tantra repeatedly says that one is to adore the Deity by becoming a Deity (Devata) himself. The Ishta-devata is the very self of Atman, and not separate from It; He is the receptacle of all, yet He is not contained in anything, for He is the great witness, the eternal Purusha. The true Tantrik worship is the worship in and by the mind. The less subtle form of Tantrik worship is that of the Yantra. Form is born of the Yantra. The form is made manifest by Japa, and awakened by Mantra-Shakti. Tens of millions of beautiful forms of the Mother bloom forth in the heavens of the heart of the Siddhapurusha. Devotees or aspirants of a lower order of competency (Nimna-adhikari) under the directions of the Guru adore the great Maya by making manifest’. (to themselves) one of Her various forms which can be only seen by Dhyana (meditation). That is not mere worship of the idol! if it were so, the image would not be thrown into the water; no one in that case would be so irreverent as to sink the earthen image of the Goddess in the water. The Primordial Shakti is to be awakened by Bhava, by Dhyana, by Japa and by the piercing of the six Cakras. She is all will. No one can say when and how She shows Herself and to what Sadhaka. We only know that She is, and there are Her names and forms. Wonderfully transcending is Her form — far beyond the reach of word or

thought. This has made the Bengali Bhakta sing this

plaintive song —

‘Hard indeed is it to approach the sea of forms, and to

bathe in it.

Ah me, this my coming is perhaps in vain?’

“The Tantra deals with another special subject —

Mantra-Shakti. It is no exaggeration to say that we have never heard even from any Bengali Pandit such a clear exposition of Mantra-Shakti as that which the author, Arthur Avalon, has given in his Introduction to the Mahanirvana Tantra. We had thought that Mantra-Shakti was a thing to be felt and not to be explained to others. But the author with the force of his genius has in his simple exposition given us such explanation of it as is possible in the English language. The Tantras say that the soul in the body is the very self of the letters — of the Dhvani (sound). The Mother, the embodiment of the fifty letters (Varna), is present in the various letters in the different Cakras. Like the melody which issues when the chords of a lute are struck, the Mother who moves in the six Cakras and who is the very self of the letters awakens with a burst of harmony when the chords of the letters (Varnas) are struck in their order; and Siddhi becomes as easy of attainment to the Sadhaka as the Amalaka fruit in one’s hand when She is roused. That is why the great Sadhaka Ramaprasad awakened the Mother by the invocation — ‘AriseO Mother (Jagrihi, janani)’. That is the reason why the Bhakta sang —

‘How long wilt thou sleep in the Muladhara,O Mother


“The Bodhana (awakening) ceremony in the Durga Puja is nothing but the awakening of the Shakti of the Mother, the mere rousing of the consciousness of the Kundalini. This awakening is performed by Mantra-Shakti. The Mantra is nothing but the harmonious sound of the lute of the body. When the symphony is perfect, She who embodies the Worlds (Jaganmayi) rouses Herself. When She is awake it does not take long before the union of Shiva and Shakti takes place. Do Japa once; do Japa according to rule looking up to the Guru, and the effects of Japa of which we hear in the Tantra will prove to be true at every step. Then you will understand that the Tantra is not mere trickery, or a false weaving out of words. What is wanted is the good Guru; Mantra capable of granting Siddhi, and application (Sadhana). Arthur Avalon has grasped the meaning of the principles of Mantra which are so difficult to understand. We may certainly say that he could only make this impossible thing possible through inherent tendencies (Samskara) acquired in his previous life.

“The Tantra accepts the doctrine of rebirth. It does not, however, acknowledge it as a mere matter of argument or reasoning but like a geographical map it makes clear the unending chain of existences of the Sadhaka. The Tantra has two divisions, the Dharma of Society (Samaja) and the Dharma of Spiritual Culture (Sadhana). According to the regulation of Samaja-Dharma it acknowledges birth and caste. But in Sadhana-Dharma there is no caste distinction, no Brahmana or Shudra, no man or woman; distinction between high and low follows success in Sadhana and Siddhi. We only find the question of fitness or worthiness (Adhikara-tattva) in the Tantra. This fitness (Adhikara) is discovered with reference to the Samskaras of past existences; that is why the Candala Purnananda is a Brahmana, and Kripasiddha the Sadhaka is equal to Sarvananda; that is why Ramaprasada of the Vaidya caste is fit to be honored even by Brahmanas. The Tantra is to be studied with the aid of the teachings of the Guru; for its language is extraordinary, and its exposition impossible with a mere grammatical knowledge of roots and inflections. The Tantra is only a system of Shakti-Sadhana. There are rules in it whereby we may draw Shakti from all created things. There is nothing to be accepted or rejected in it. Whatever is helpful for Sadhana is acceptable. This Sadhana is decided according to the fitness of the particular person (Adhikari-anusare). He must follow that for which he is fit or worthy. Shakti pervades all and embraces all beings and all things, the inanimate and the moving, beasts and birds, men and women. The unfolding of the Power (Shakti) enclosed within the body of the animal (Jiva) as well as the man is brought about only with the help of the tendencies within the body. The mode of Sadhana is ascertained with regard to these tendencies. The very meaning of Sadhana is unfolding, rousing up or awakening of Power (Shakti). Thus the Shakta obtains power from all actions in the world. The Sadhana. of the Tantra is not to be measured by the little measuring-yard of the well-being or ill-being of your community or mine.

“Let you understand and I understand,O my mind —

Whether any one e]se understands it or not.”

The author, Arthur Avalon, is fully conscious of this. In spite of it, he has tried to explain almost all points making them easy to comprehend for the intellect of materialistic civilized society of to-day. For this attempt on his part we are grateful to him.

“The Tantra has no notion of some separate far-seeing God. It preaches no such doctrine in it as that God the Creator rules the Universe from heaven. In the eye of the Tantra the body of the Sadhaka is the Universe, the auto-kratos (Atma-Shakti) within the body is the desired (Ishta) and the “to be sought for” (Sadhya), Deity (Devata) of the Sadhaka. The unfolding of this self-power is to be brought about by self-realization (Atma-darshana) which is to be achieved through Sadhana. Whoever realizes his self attains to Liberation (Mukti). The author, Arthur Avalon, has treated of these matters (Siddhanta) in his work, the Tantra-tattva. Many of the topics dealt with in the Mahanirvana Tantra will not be fully understood without a thorough perusal of the book. The Principles of the Tantra must be lectured on to the Bengali afresh. If the Mahanirvana Tantra as translated by Arthur Avalon is spread abroad, if the Bengali is once more desirous to hear, that attempt might well be undertaken.

“Our land of Bengal used to be ruled by Tantrik works such as the Saradatilaka, Shaktanandatarangini, Pranatoshini, Tantrasara, etc. Then the Mahanirvana Tantra did not have so great an influence. It seems to us that, considering the form into which, as a result of English education and culture, the mind of the Bengali has been shaped, the Mahanirvana is a proper Tantra for the time. Raja Ram Mohan Roy endeavored to encourage regard for the Mahanirvana Tantra because he understood this. If the English translation of the Mahanirvana Tantra by Arthur Avalon is well received by the thoughtful public in Bengal, the study of the original Sanskrit work may gradually come into vogue. This much hope we may entertain. In fact, the English-educated Bengali community is without religion (Dharma) or action (Karma), and is devoid of the sense of nationality (Jatiya Dharma) and caste. The Mahanirvana Tantra alone is fit for the country and the race at the present time. We believe that probably because such an impossibility is going to be possible, a cultured, influential, rich Englishman like Arthur Avalon, honored of the rulers, has translated and published the Mahanirvana Tantra. When his Tantratattva is published we shall be able to speak out much more. For the present we ask the educated people of Bengal to read this most unprecedented Mahanirvana Tantra. Arthur Avalon has not spoken a single word to satisfy himself nor tried to explain things according to his own imagination. He has only given what are true inferences according to the principles of Shastric reasoning. An auspicious opportunity for the English-knowing public to understand the Tantra has arrived. It is a counsel of the Tantra itself, that if you desire to renounce anything, renounce it only after a thorough acquaintance with it; if you desire to embrace anything new, accept it only after a searching inquiry. The Tantra embodies the old religion (Dharma) of Bengal; even if it is to be cast away for good, that ought only to be done after it has been fully known. In the present case a thoughtful and educated Englishman of high position has taken it upon himself to give us a full introduction to the Tantra. We can frankly say that in this Introduction he has not tried a jot to shirk or to gloss over the conclusions of the Shastra, with the vanity of explanation born of his imagination. He has endeavored to bring before the mind of his readers whatever actually is in the Tantra, be it regarded as either good or evil. Will not the Bengali receive with welcome such a full offering (Arghya) made by a Bhakta from a foreign land?”

Chapter Two
Shakti: The World as Power

There is no word of wider content in any language than this Sanskrit term meaning ‘Power’. For Shakti in the highest causal sense is God as Mother, and in another sense it is the universe which issues from Her Womb. And what is there which is neither one nor the other? Therefore, the Yoginihridaya Tantra thus salutes Her who conceives, bears, produces and thereafter nourishes all worlds: “Obeisance be to Her who is pure Being-Consciousness-Bliss, as Power, who exists in the form of Time and Space and all that is therein, and who is the radiant Illuminatrix in all beings.”

It is therefore possible only to outline here in a very general way a few of the more important principles of the Shakti-doctrine, omitting its deeply interesting practice (Sadhana) in its forms as ritual worship and Yoga.

Today Western science speaks of Energy as the physical ultimate of all forms of Matter. So has it been for ages to the Shaktas, as the worshippers of Shakti are called. But they add that such Energy is only a limited manifestation (as Mind and Matter) of the almighty infinite Supreme Power (Maha-Shakti) of Becoming in ‘That’ (Tat), which is unitary Being (Sat) itself.

Their doctrine is to be found in the traditions, oral and written, which are contained in the Agamas, which (with Purana, Smriti and Veda) constitute one of the four great classes of Scripture of the Hindus. The Tantras are Scriptures of the Agama. The notion that they are some queer bye-product of Hinduism and not an integral part of it, is erroneous. The three chief divisions of the Agama are locally named Bengal (Gauda), Kashmira and Kerala. That Bengal is a home of Tantra-shastra is well known. It is, however, little known that Kashmir was in the past a land where Tantrik doctrine and practice were widely followed.

The communities of so-called ‘Tantrik’ worshippers are five-fold according as the cult is of the Sun, Ganesha, Vishnu, Shiva or Shakti. To the Knower, however, the five named are not distinct Divinities, but different aspects of the one Power or Shakti. An instructed Shakti-worshipper is one of the least sectarian of men. He can worship in all temples, as the saying is. Thus the Sammohana Tantra says that “he is a fool who sees any difference between Rama (an Avatara of Vishnu) and Shiva’. “What matters the name,” says the Commentator of the Satcakranirupana, after running through the gamut of them.

The Shakta is so called because the chosen Deity of his worship (Ishta-devata) is Shakti. In his cult, both in doctrine and practice, emphasis is laid on that aspect of the One in which It is the Source of Change and, in the form of Time and Space and all objects therein, Change itself. The word Shakti is grammatically feminine. For this reason an American Orientalist critic of the doctrine has described it as a worthless system, a mere feminization of orthodox (whatever that be) Vedanta — a doctrine teaching the primacy of the Female and thus fit only for “suffragette monists”. It is absurd criticism of this kind which makes the Hindu sometimes wonder whether the Western psyche has even the capacity to understand his beliefs. It is said of the Mother (in the Hymn to Her in the Mahakala-Samhita): “Thou art neither girl, nor maid, nor old. Indeed Thou art neither female nor male, nor neuter. Thou art inconceivable, immeasurable Power, the Being of all which exists, void of all duality, the Supreme Brahman, attainable in Illumination alone.” Those who cannot understand lofty ideas when presented in ritual and symbolic garb will serve their reputation best by not speaking of them.

The Shaiva is so called because his chosen Divinity is Shiva, the name for the changeless aspect of the One whose power of action and activity is Shakti. But as the two are necessarily associated, all communities acknowledge Shakti. It is, for the above reason, a mistake to suppose that a ‘Tantrik,’ or follower of the Agama, is necessarily a Shakta, and that the ‘Tantra’ is a Shakta Scripture only. Not at all. The Shakta is only one branch of the Agamik school. And so we find the Scriptures of Saivaism, whether of North or South, called Tantras, as also those of that ancient form of Vaishnavism which is called the Pancaratra. The doctrine of these communities, which share certain common ideas, varies from the monism of the Shaktas and Northern Shaivas to the more or less dualistic systems of others. The ritual is to a large extent common in all communities, though there are necessarily variations, due both to the nature of the divine aspect worshipped and to the particular form of theology taught. Shakta doctrine and practice are contained primarily in the Shakta Tantras and the oral traditions, some of which are secret. As the Tantras are mainly Scriptures of Worship such doctrine is contained by implication in the ritual. For reasons above stated recourse may be had to other Scriptures in so far as they share with those of the Shakta certain common doctrines and practices. The Tantras proper are the Word of Shiva and Shakti. But there are also valuable Tantrik works in the nature of compendia and commentaries which are not of divine authorship.

The concept ‘Shakti’ is not however peculiar to the Shaktas. Every Hindu believes in Shakti as God’s Power, though he may differ as to the nature of the universe created by it. Shakta doctrine is a special presentment of so-called monism (Advaita: lit. ‘not-two’) and Shakta ritual, even in those condemned forms which have given rise to the abuses by which this Scripture is most generally known, is a practical application of it. Whatever may have been the case at the origin of these Agamic cults, all, now and for ages past, recognize and claim to base themselves on the Vedas. With these are coupled the Word of Shiva-Shakti as revealed in the Tantras. Shakta-doctrine is (like the Vedanta in general) what in Western parlance would be called a theology based on revelation that is, so-called ‘spiritual’ or supersensual experience, in its primary or secondary sense. For Veda is that.

This leads to a consideration of the measure of man’s knowing and of the basis of Vedantik knowledge. It is a fundamental error to regard the Vedanta as simply a speculative metaphysic in the modern Western sense. It is not so; if it were, it would have no greater right to acceptance than any other of the many systems which jostle one another for our custom in the Philosophical Fair. It claims that its supersensual teachings can be established with certainty by the practice of its methods. Theorizing alone is insufficient. The Shakta, above all, is a practical and active man, worshipping the Divine Activity; his watchword is Kriya or Action. Taught that he is Power, he desires fully to realize himself in fact as such. A Tantrik poem (Anandastotra) speaks with amused disdain of the learned chatterers who pass their time in futile debate around the shores of the ‘Lake of Doubt’.

The basis of knowing, whether in super-sense or sense-knowledge, is actual experience. Experience is of two kinds: the whole or full experience; and incomplete experience — that is, of parts, not of, but in, the whole. In the first experience, Consciousness is said to be ‘upward-looking’ (Unmukhi) — that is, ‘not looking to another’. In the second experience it is ‘outward-looking’ (Bahirmukhi) The first is not an experience of the whole, but the Experience-whole. The second is an experience not of parts of the whole, for the latter is partless, but of parts in the whole, and issuing from its infinite Power to know itself in and as the finite centers, as the many. The works of an Indian philosopher, my friend Professor Pramatha Natha Mukhyopadhyaya, aptly call the first the Fact, and the second the Fact-section. The Isha Upanishad calls the Supreme Experience — Purna, the Full or Whole.

It is not, be it noted, a residue of the abstracting intellect, which is itself only a limited stress in Consciousness, but a Plenum, in which the Existent All is as one Whole. Theologically this full experience is Shiva, with Shakti at rest or as Potency. The second experience is that of the finite centers, the numerous Purushas or Jivas, which are also Shiva-Shakti as Potency actualized. Both experiences are real. In fact there is nothing unreal anywhere. All is the Mother and She is reality itself. “Sa’ham” (“She I am”), the Shakta says, and all that he senses is She in the form in which he perceives Her. It is She who in, and as, he drinks the consecrated wine, and She is the wine. All is manifested Power, which has the reality of Being from which it is put forth. But the reality of the manifestation is of something which appears and disappears, while that of Causal Power to appear is enduring. But this disappearance is only the ceasing to be for a limited consciousness. The seed of Power, which appears as a thing for such consciousness, remains as the potency in infinite Being itself. The infinite Experience is real as the Full (Purna); that is, its reality is fullness. The finite experience is real, as such. There is, perhaps, no subject in Vedanta, which is more misunderstood than that of the so-called ‘Unreality’ of the World. Every School admits the reality of all finite experience (even of ‘illusive’ experience strictly so-called) while such experience lasts. But Shamkaracarya, defines the truly Real as that which is changeless. In this sense, the World as a changing thing has relative reality only. Shamkara so defines Reality because he sets forth his doctrine from the standpoint of transcendent Being. The Shakta Shastra, on the other hand, is a practical Scripture of Worship, delivered from the world-standpoint, according to which the world is necessarily real. According to this view a thing may be real and yet be the subject of change. But its reality as a thing ceases with the passing of the finite experiencer to whom it is real. The supreme Shiva-Shakti is, on the other hand, a real, full Experience which ever endures. A worshipper must, as such, believe in the reality of himself, of the world as his field of action and instrument, in its causation by God, and in God Himself as the object of worship. Moreover to him the world is real because Shiva-Shakti, which is its material cause, is real. That cause, without ceasing to be what it is, becomes the effect. Further the World is the Lord’s Experience. He as Lord (Pati) is the whole Experience, and as creature (Pashu) he is the experiencer of parts in it. The Experience of the Lord is never unreal. The reality, however, which changelessly endures may (if we so choose) be said to be Reality in its fullest sense.

Real however as all experience is, the knowing differs according as the experience is infinite or finite, and in the latter case according to various grades of knowing. Full experience, as its name implies, is full in every way. Assume that there is at any ‘time’ no universe at all, that there is then a complete dissolution of all universes, and not of any particular universe — even then the Power which produced past, and will produce future universes, is one with the Supreme Consciousness whose Shakti it is. When again this Power actualizes as a universe, the Lord-Consciousness from and in Whom it issues is the All-knower. As Sarvajña He knows all generals, and as Sarvavit, all particulars. But all is known by Him as the Supreme Self, and not, as in the case of the finite center, as objects other than the limited self.

Finite experience is by its definition a limited thing. As the experience is of a sectional character, it is obvious that the knowing can only be of parts, and not of the whole, as the part cannot know the whole of which it is a part. But the finite is not always so. It may expand into the infinite by processes which bridge the one to the other. The essential of Partial Experience is knowing in Time and Space; the Supreme Experience, being changeless, is beyond both Time and Space as aspects of change. The latter is the alteration of parts relative to one another in the changeless Whole. Full experience is not sense-knowledge. The latter is worldly knowledge (Laukika Jñana), by a limited knowing center, of material objects, whether gross or subtle. Full Experience is the Supreme Knowing Self which is not an object at all. This is unworldly knowledge (Alaukika Jñana) or Veda. Sense-knowledge varies according to the capacity and attainments of the experiencer. But the normal experience may be enhanced in two ways: either physically by scientific instruments such as the telescope and microscope which enhance the natural capacity to see; or psychically by the attainment of what are called psychic powers. Everything is Shakti; but psychic power denotes that enhancement of normal capacity which gives knowledge of matter in its subtle form, while the normal man can perceive it only in the gross form as a compound of sensible matter (the Bhutas). Psychic power is thus an extension of natural faculty. There is nothing ‘supernatural’ about it. All is natural, all is real. It is simply a power above the normal. Thus the clairvoyant can see what the normal sense-experiencer cannot. He does so by the mind. The gross sense-organs are not, according to Vedanta, the senses (Indriya.) The sense is the mind, which normally works through the appropriate physical organs, but which, as the real factor in sensation, may do without them, as is seen both in hypnotic and yogic states. The area of knowledge is thus very widely increased. Knowledge may be gained of subtle chemistry, subtle physiology (as of the cakras or subtle bodily centers), of various powers, of the ‘world of Spirits,’ and so forth. But though we are here dealing with subtle things, they are still things and thus part of the sense-world of objects — that is, of the world of Maya. Maya, as later explained, is, not ‘illusion,’ but Experience in time and space of Self and Not-Self. This is by no means necessarily illusion. The Whole therefore cannot be known by sense-knowledge. In short, sense or worldly knowledge cannot establish, that is, prove, what is super-sensual, such as the Whole, its nature and the ‘other side’ of its processes taken as a collectivity. Reasoning, whether working in metaphysic or science, is based on the data of sense and governed by those forms of understanding which constitute the nature of finite mind. It may establish a conclusion of probability, but not of certainty. Grounds of probability may be made out for Idealism, Realism, Pluralism and Monism, or any other philosophical system. In fact, from what we see, the balance of probability perhaps favors Realism and Pluralism. Reason may thus establish that an effect must have a cause, but not that the cause is one, For all that we can say, there may be as many causes as effects. Therefore it is said in Vedanta that “nothing (in these matters) is established by argument.” All Western systems which do not possess actual spiritual experience as their basis are systems which can claim no certainty as regards any matter not verifiable by sense-knowledge and reasoning thereon.

Shakta, and indeed all Vedantik teaching, holds that the only source and authority (Pramana) as regards supersensual matters, such as the nature of Being in itself, and the like, is Veda. Veda, which comes from the root vid, to know, is knowledge par excellence, that is super-sensual experience, which according to the Monist (to use the nearest English term) is the Experience-Whole. It may be primary or secondary. As the first it is actual experience (Sakshatkara) which in English is called ‘spiritual’ experience.

The Shakta, as a ‘monist,’ says that Veda is full experience as the One. This is not an object of knowledge. This knowing is Being. “To know Brahman is to be Brahman.” He is a “monist,’ not because of rational argument only (though he can adduce reasoning in his support), but because he, or those whom he follows, have had in fact such ‘monistic’ experience, and therefore (in the light of such experience) interpret the Vedantik texts.

But ‘spiritual’ experience (to use that English term) may be incomplete both as to duration and nature. Thus from the imperfect ecstasy (Savikalpa-Samadhi), even when of a ‘monistic’ character, there is a return to world-experience. Again it may not be completely ‘monistic’ in form, or may be even of a distinctly dualistic character. This only means that the realization has stopped short of the final goal. This being the case, that goal is still perceived through the forms of duality which linger as part of the constitution of the experiencer. Thus there are Vedantik and other schools which are not ‘monistic’. The spiritual experiences of all are real experiences, whatever be their character, and they are true according to the truth of the stage in which the experience is had. Do they contradict one another? The experience which a man has of a mountain at fifty miles distance, is not false because it is at variance with that of the man who has climbed it. What he sees is the thing from where he sees it. The first question then is: Is there a ‘monistic’ experience in fact? Not whether ‘monism’ is rational or not, and shown to be probable to the intellect. But how can we know this ~ With certainty only by having the experience oneself. The validity of the experience for the experiencer cannot be assailed otherwise than by alleging fraud or self-deception. But how can this be proved? To the experiencer his experience is real, and nothing else is of any account. But the spiritual experience of one is no proof to another who refuses to accept it. A man may, however, accept what another says, having faith in the latter’s alleged experience. Here we have the secondary meaning of Veda, that is secondary knowledge of super-sensual truth, not based on actual experience of the believer, but on the experience of some other which the former accepts. In this sense Veda is recorded for Brahmanism in the Scriptures called Vedas, which contain the standard experience of those whom Brahmanism recognizes as its Rishis or Seers. But the interpretation of the Vaidik record is in question, just as that of the Bible is. Why accept one interpretation rather than another’? This is a lengthy matter. Suffice to say here that each chooses the spiritual food which his spiritual body needs, and which it is capable of eating and assimilating. This is the doctrine of Adhikara. Here, as elsewhere, what is one man’s meat is another man’s poison. Nature works in all who are not altogether beyond her workings. What is called the ‘will to believe’ involves the affirmation that the form of a man’s faith is the expression of his nature; the faith is the man. It is not man’s reason only which leads to the adoption of a particular religious belief. It is the whole man as evolved at that particular time which does so. His affirmation of faith is an affirmation of his self in terms of it. The Shakta is therefore a ‘monist,’ either because he has had himself spiritual experiences of this character, or because he accepts the teaching of those who claim to have had such experience. This is Apta knowledge, that is received from a source of authority, just as knowledge of the scientific or other expert is received. It is true that the latter may be verified. But so in its own way can the former be. Revelation to the Hindu is not something stated ‘from above,’ incapable of verification ‘below’. He who accepts revelation as teaching the unity of the many in the One, may himself verify it in his own experience. How? If the disciple is what is called not fit to receive truth in this ‘monistic’ form, he will probably declare it to be untrue and, adhering to what he thinks is true, will not further trouble himself in the matter. If he is disposed to accept the teachings of ‘monistic’ religion-philosophy, it is because his own spiritual and psychical nature is at a stage which leads directly (though in a longer or shorter time as may be the case) to actual ‘monistic’ experience. A particular form of ‘spiritual’ knowledge like a particular psychic power can be developed only in him who has the capacity for it. To such an one asking, with desire for the fruit, how he may gather it, the Guru says: Follow the path of those who have achieved (Siddha) and you will gain what they gained. This is the ‘Path of the Great’ who are those whom we esteem to be such. We esteem them because they have achieved that which we believe to be both worthy and possible. If a would-be disciple refuses to follow the method (Sadhana) he cannot complain that he has not had its result. Though reason by itself cannot establish more than a probability, yet when the super-sensual truth has been learnt by Veda, it may be shown to be conformable to reason. And this must be so, for all realities are of one piece. Reason is a limited manifestation of the same Shakti, who is fully known in ecstasy (Samadhi) which transcends all reasoning. What, therefore, is irrational can never be spiritually true. With the aid of the light of Revelation the path is made clear, and all that is seen tells of the Unseen. Facts of daily life give auxiliary proof. So many miss the truth which lies under their eyes, because to find it they look away or upwards to some fancied ‘Heaven’. The sophisticated mind fears the obvious. “It is here; it is here,” the Shakta and others say. For he and every other being is a microcosm, and so the Vishvasara Tantra says: “What is here, is elsewhere. What is not here, is nowhere.” The unseen is the seen, which is not some alien disguise behind which it lurks. Experience of the seen is the experience of the unseen in time and space. The life of the individual is an expression of the same laws which govern the universe. Thus the Hindu knows, from his own daily rest, that the Power which projects the universe rests. His dreamless slumber when only Bliss is known tells him, in some fashion, of the causal state of universal rest. From the mode of his awakening and other psychological processes he divines the nature of creative thinking. To the Shakta the thrill of union with his Shakti is a faint reflection of the infinite Shiva-Shakti Bliss in and with which all universes are born. All matter is a relatively stable form of Energy. It lasts awhile and disappears into Energy. The universe is maintained awhile. This is Shakti as Vaishnavi, the Maintainer. At every moment creation, as rejuvenascent molecular activity, is going on as the Shakti Brahmani. At every moment there is molecular death and loosening of the forms, the work of Rudrani Shakti. Creation did not take place only at some past time, nor is dissolution only in the future. At every moment of time there is both. As it is now and before us here, so it was ‘in the beginning’.

In short the world is real. It is a true experience. Observation and reason are here the guide. Even Veda is no authority in matters falling within sense-knowledge. If Veda were to contradict such knowledge, it would, as Shamkara says, be in this respect no Veda at all. The Hindu is not troubled by ‘biblical science’. Here and now the existence of the many is established for the sense-experiencer. But there is another and Full Experience which also may be had here and now and is in any case also a fact, — that is, when the Self ‘stands out’ (ekstasis) from mind and body and sense-experience. This Full Experience is attained in ecstasy (Samadhi). Both experiences may be had by the same experiencer. It is thus the same One who became many. “He said: May I be many,” as Veda tells. The ‘will to be many’ is Power or Shakti which operates as Maya.

In the preceding portion of this paper it was pointed out that the Power whereby the One gives effect to Its Will to be Many is Maya Shakti.

What are called the 36 Tattvas (accepted by both Shaktas and Shaivas) are the stages of evolution of the One into the Many as mind and matter.

Again with what warrant is this affirmed? The secondary proof is the Word of Shiva and Shakti. Revealers of the Tantra-shastra, as such Word is expounded in the teachings of the Masters (Acaryas) in the Agama.

Corroboration of their teaching may be had by observation of psychological stages in normal life and reasoning thereon. These psychological states again are the individual representation of the collective cosmic processes. “As here, so elsewhere.” Primary evidence is actual experience of the surrounding and supreme states. Man does not leap at one bound from ordinary finite sense-experience to the Full Experience. By stages he advances thereto, and by stages he retraces his steps to the world, unless the fullness of experience has been such as to burn up in the fire of Self-knowledge the seed of desire which is the germ of the world. Man’s consciousness has no fixed boundary. On the contrary, it is at root the Infinite Consciousness, which appears in the form of a contraction (Shamkoca), due to limitation as Shakti in the form of mind and matter. This contraction may be greater or less. As it is gradually loosened, consciousness expands by degrees until, all bonds being gone, it becomes one with the Full Consciousness or Purna. Thus there are, according to common teaching, seven ascending light planes of experience, called Lokas, that is ‘what are seen’ (lokyante) or experienced; and seven dark descending planes, or Talas, that is ‘places’. It will be observed that one name is given from the subjective and the other from the objective standpoint. The center of these planes is the ‘Earth-plane’ (Bhurloka). This is not the same as experience on earth, for every experience, including the highest and lowest, can be had here. The planes are not like geological strata, though necessity may picture them thus. The Earth-plane is the normal experience. The ascending planes are states of super-normal, and the descending planes of sub-normal experience. The highest of the planes is the Truth-plane (Satya-loka). Beyond this is the Supreme Experience, which is above all planes, which is Light itself, and the love of Shiva and Shakti, the ‘Heart of the Supreme Lord’ (Hridayam parameshituh). The lowest Tala on the dark side is described in the Puranas with wonderful symbolic imagery as a Place of Darkness where monster serpents, crowned with dim light, live in perpetual anger. Below this is the Shakti of the Lord called Tamomayi Shakti — that is, the Veiling Power of Being in all its infinite intensity.

What then is the Reality — Whole or Purna? It is certainly not a bare abstraction of intellect, for the intellect is only a fractional Power or Shakti in it. Such an abstraction has no worth for man. In the Supreme Reality, which is the Whole, there is everything which is of worth to men, and which proceeds from it. In fact, as a Kashmir Scripture says: “The ‘without’ appears without only because it is within.” Unworthy also proceeds from it, not in the sense that it is there as unworthy, but because the experience of duality, to which evil is attached, arises in the Blissful Whole. The Full is not merely the collectively (Samashti) of all which exists, for it is both immanent in and transcends the universe. It is a commonplace that it is unknowable except to Itself. Shiva in the Yoginihridaya Tantra, says: “Who knows the heart of a woman? Only Shiva knows the Heart of Yogini (the Supreme Shakti).” For this reason the Buddhist Tantrik schools call it Shunya or the Void. This is not ‘nothing’ but nothing known to mind and senses. Both Shaktas and some Vaishnavas use the term Shunya, and no one suspects them of being ‘Nihilists’.

Relatively, however, the One is said to be Being (Sat), Bliss (Ananda) and Cit — an untranslatable term which has been most accurately defined as the Changeless Principle of all changing experience, a Principle of which sensation, perception, conception, self-consciousness, feeling, memory, will, and all other psychic states are limited modes. It is not therefore Consciousness or Feeling as we understand these words, for these are directed and limited. It is the infinite root of which they are the finite flower. But Consciousness and possibly (according to the more ancient views) Feeling approach the most nearly to a definition, provided that we do not understand thereby Consciousness and Feeling in man’s sense. We may thus (to distinguish it) call Cit, Pure Consciousness or Pure Feeling as Bliss (Ananda) knowing and enjoying its own full Reality. This, as such Pure Consciousness or Feeling, endures even when finite centers of Consciousness or Feeling arise in It. If (as this system assumes) there is a real causal nexus between the two, then Being, as Shiva, is also a Power, or Shakti, which is the source of all Becoming. The fully Real, therefore, has two aspects: one called Shiva, the static aspect of Consciousness, and the other called Shakti, the kinetic aspect of the same. For this reason Kali Shakti, dark as a thundercloud, is represented standing and moving on the white inert body of Shiva. He is white as Illumination (Prakasha). He is inert, for Pure Consciousness is without action and at rest. It is She, His Power, who moves. Dark is She here because, as Kali, She dissolves all in darkness, that is vacuity of existence, which is the Light of Being Itself. Again She is Creatrix. Five corpse-like Shivas form the support of Her throne, set in the wish-granting groves of the Isle of Gems (Manidvipa), the golden sands of which are laved by the still waters of the Ocean of Nectar (Amrita), which is Immortality. In both cases we have a pictorial presentment in theological form of the scientific doctrine that to every form of activity there is a static background.

But until there is in fact Change, Shakti is merely the Potency of Becoming in Being and, as such, is wholly one with it. The Power (Shakti) and the possessor of Power (Shaktiman) are one. As therefore He is Being-Bliss-Consciousness, so is She. She is also the Full (Purna), which is no mere abstraction from its evolved manifestations. On the contrary, of Her the Mahakali Stotra says: “Though without feet, Thou movest more quickly than air. Though without ears, Thou dost hear. Though without nostrils, Thou dost smell. Though without eyes, Thou dost see. Though without tongue, Thou dost taste all tastes.” Those who talk of the ‘bloodless abstractions’ of Vedanta, have not understood it. The ground of Man’s Being is the Supreme ‘I’ (Purnosham) which, though in Itself beyond finite personality, is yet ever finitely personalizing as the beings of the universe. “Sa’ham,” — “She I am.”

This is the Supreme Shakti, the ultimate object of the Shaktas’ adoration, though worshipped in several forms, some gentle, some formidable.

But Potency is actualized as the universe, and this also is Shakti, for the effect is the cause modified. Monistic Vedanta teaches that God is the material cause of the world. The statement that the Supreme Shakti also exists as the Forms evolved from It, may seem to conflict with the doctrine that Power is ultimately one with Shiva who is changeless Being. Shamkara answers that the existence of a causal nexus is Maya, and that there is (from the transcendental standpoint) only a seeming cause and seeming modification or effect. The Shakta, who from his world-standpoint posits the reality of God as the Cause of the universe, replies that, while it is true that the effect (as effect) is the cause modified, the cause (as cause) remains what it was and is and will be. Creative evolution of the universe thus differs from the evolution in it. In the latter case the material cause when producing an effect ceases to be what it was. Thus milk turned into curd ceases to be milk. But the simile given of the other evolutionary process is that of ‘Light from Light’. There is a similarity between the ‘conventional’ standpoint of Shamkara and the explanation of the Shakta; the difference being that, while to the former the effect is (from the transcendental standpoint) ‘unreal,’ it is from the Shakta’s immanent standpoint ‘real’.

It will have been observed that cosmic evolution is in the nature of a polarization in Being into static and kinetic aspects. This is symbolized in the Shakta Tantras by their comparison of Shiva-Shakti to a grain of gram (Canaka). This has two seeds which are so close together as to seem one, and which are surrounded by a single sheath. The seeds are Shiva and Shakti and the sheath is Maya. When the sheath is unpeeled, that is when Maya Shakti operates, the two seeds come apart. The sheath unrolls when the seeds are ready to germinate, that is when in the dreamless slumber (Sushupti) of the World-Consciousness the remembrance of past enjoyment in Form gives rise to that divine creative ‘thinking’ of ‘imagining’ (Srishtikalpana) which is ‘creation’. As the universe in dissolution sinks into a Memory which is lost, so it is born again from the germ of recalled Memory or Shakti. Why? Such a question may be answered when we are dealing with facts in the whole; but the latter itself is uncaused, and what is caused is not the whole. Manifestation is of the nature of Being-Power, just as it is Its nature to return to Itself after the actualization of Power. To the devotee who speaks in theological language, “It is His Will”. As the Yoginihridaya says: “He painted the World-Picture on Himself with the Brush which is His Will and was pleased therewith.”

Again the World is called a Prapañca, that is an extension of the five forms of sensible matter (Bhuta.) Where does it go at dissolution? It collapses into a Point (Bindu). We may regard it as a metaphysical point which is the complete ‘subjectification’ of the divine or full ‘I’ (Purnahanta), or objectively as a mathematical point without magnitude. Round that Point is coiled a mathematical Line which, being in touch with every part of the surface of the Point, makes one Point with it. What then is meant by these symbols of the Point and Line? It is said that the Supreme Shiva sees Himself in and as His own Power or Shakti. He is the ‘White Point’ or ‘Moon’ (Candra), which is Illumination and in the completed process, the ‘I’ (Aham), side of experience, She is the ‘Red Point’. Both colors are seen in the microcosmic generation of the child. Red too is the color of Desire. She is ‘Fire’ which is the object of experience or ‘This’ (Idam), the objective side of experience. The ‘This’ here is nothing but a mass of Shiva’s own illuminating rays. These are reflected in Himself as Shakti, who, in the Kamakalavilasa, is called the ‘Pure Mirror’ of Shiva. The Self sees the Self, the rays being thrown back on their source. The ‘This’ is the germ of what we call ‘Otherness,’ but here the ‘Other’ is and is known as the Self. The relation and fusion of these two Points, White and Red, is called the Mixed Point or ‘Sun’. These are the three Supreme Lights. A = Shiva, Ha = Shakti, which united spell ‘Aham’ or ‘I’. This ‘Sun’ is thus the state of full ‘I-ness’ (Purnaham-bhava). This is the Point into which the World at dissolution lapses, and from which in due time it comes forth again. In the latter case it is the Lord-Consciousness as the Supreme ‘I’ and Power about to create. For this reason Bindu is called a condensed or massive form of Shakti. It is the tense state of Power immediately prior to its first actualization. That form of Shakti, again by which the actualization takes place is Maya; and this is the Line round the Point. As coiled round the Point, it is the Supreme Serpent-Power (Mahakundalini) encircling the Shiva-Linga. From out of this Power comes the whisper to enjoy, in worlds of form, as the memory of past universes arises therein. Shakti then ‘sees’. Shakti opens Her eyes as She reawakens from the Cosmic Sleep (Nimesha), which is dissolution. The Line is at first coiled and one with the Point, for Power is then at rest. Creation is movement, an uncoiling of Maya-Shakti. Hence is the world called Jagat, which means ‘what moves’. The nature of this Power is circular or spiraline; hence the roundness and ‘curvature’ of things of which we now hear. Nothing moves in a really straight line. Hence again the universe is also called a spheroid (Brahmanda). The gross worlds are circular universal movements in space, in which, is the Ether (Akasha), Consciousness, as the Full (Purna), is never dichotomized, but the finite centers which arise in it, are so. The Point, or Bindu, then divides into three, in various ways, the chief of which is Knower, Knowing and Known, which constitute the duality of the world-experience by Mind of Matter.

Unsurpassed for its profound analysis is the account of the thirty-six Tattvas or stages of Cosmic Evolution (accepted by both Shaivas and Shaktas) given by the Northern Shaiva School of the Agama, which flourished after the date which Western Orientalists assign to Shamkaracarya, and which was therefore in a position to criticize him. According to this account (which I greatly condense) Subject and Object in Pure Being are in indistinguishable union as the Supreme Shiva-Shakti. We have then to see how this unity is broken up into Subject and Object. This does not take place all at once. There is an intermediate stage of transition, in which there is a Subject and Object, but both are part of the Self, which knows its Object to be Itself. In man’s experience they are wholly separate, the Object then being perceived as outside the Self, the plurality of Selves being mutually exclusive centers. The process and the result are the work of Shakti, whose special function is to negate, that is to negate Her own fullness, so that it becomes the finite center contracted as a limited Subject perceiving a limited Object, both being aspects of the one Divine Self.

The first stage after the Supreme is that in which Shakti withdraws Herself and leaves, as it were, standing by itself the ‘I’ side (Aham) of what, when completed, is the ‘I-This’ (Aham-Idam) experience. But simultaneously (for the ‘I’ must have its content) She presents Herself as a ‘This’ (Idam), at first faintly and then clearly; the emphasis being at first laid on the ‘I’ and then on the ‘This’. This last is the stage of Ishvara Tattva or Bindu, as the Mantra Shastra, dealing with the causal state of ‘Sound’ (Shabda), calls it. In the second and third stage, as also in the fourth which follows, though there is an ‘I’ and a ‘This’ and therefore not the indistinguishable ‘I – This’ of the Supreme Experience, yet both the ‘I’ and the ‘This’ are experienced as aspects of and in the Self. Then as a preliminary to the division which follows, the emphasis is laid equally on the ‘I’ and the ‘This’. At this point Maya-Shakti intervenes and completely separates the two. For that Power is the Sense of Difference (Bheda-Buddhi). We have now the finite centers mutually exclusive one of the other, each seeing, to the extent of its power, finite centers as objects outside of and different from the self. Consciousness thus becomes contracted. In lieu of being All-knowing, it is a ‘Little Knower,’ and in lieu of being Almighty Power, it is a ‘Little Doer’.

Maya is not rightly rendered ‘Illusion’. In the first place it is conceived as a real Power of Being and as such is one with the Full Reality. The Full, free of all illusion, experiences the engendering of the finite centers and the centers themselves in and as Its own changeless partless Self. It is these individual centers produced from out of Power as Maya-Shakti which are ‘Ignorance’ or Avidya Shakti. They are so called because they are not a full experience but an experience of parts in the Whole. In another sense this ‘Ignorance’ is a knowing, namely, that which a finite center alone has. Even God cannot have man’s mode of knowledge and enjoyment without becoming man. He by and as His Power does become man and yet remains Himself. Man is Power in limited form as Avidya. The Lord is unlimited Power as Maya. In whom then is the ‘Illusion’? Not (all will admit) in the Lord. Nor is it in fact (whatever be the talk of it) in man whose nature it is to regard his limitations as real. For these limitations are he. His experience as man provides no standard whereby it may be adjudged ‘Illusion’. The latter is non-conformity with normal experience, and here it is the normal experience which is said to be Illusion. If there were no Avidya Shakti, there would be no man. In short the knowing which is Full Experience is one thing and the knowing of the limited experience is another. The latter is Avidya and the Power to produce it is Maya. Both are eternal aspects of Reality, though the forms which are Avidya Shakti come and go. If we seek to relate the one to the other, where and by whom is the comparison made? Not in and by the Full Experience beyond all relations, where no questions are asked or answers given, but on the standing ground of present finite experience where all subjectivity and objectivity are real and where therefore, ipso facto, Illusion is negative. The two aspects are never present at one and the same time for comparison. The universe is real as a limited thing to the limited experiencer who is himself a part of it. But the experience of the Supreme Person (Parahanta) is necessarily different, otherwise it would not be the Supreme Experience at all. A God who experiences just as man does is no God but man. There is, therefore, no experiencer to whom the World is Illusion. He who sees the world in the normal waking state, loses it in that form in ecstasy (Samadhi). It may, however, (with the Shakta) be said that the Supreme Experience is entire and unchanging and thus the fully Real; and that, though the limited experience is also real in its own way, it is yet an experience of change in its twin aspects of Time and Space. Maya, therefore, is the Power which engenders in Itself finite centers in Time and Space, and Avidya is such experience in fact of the finite experiencer in Time and Space. So much is this so, that the Time-theorists (Kalavadins) give the name ‘Supreme Time’ (Parakala) to the Creator, who is also called by the Shakta ‘Great Time’ (Mahakala). So in the Bhairavayamala it is said that Mahadeva (Shiva) distributes His Rays of Power in the form of the Year. That is, Timeless Experience appears in the finite centers as broken up into periods of time. This is the ‘Lesser Time’ which comes in with the Sun, Moon, Six Seasons and so forth, which are all Shaktis of the Lord, the existence and movements of which give rise, in the limited observer, to the notion of Time and Space.

That observer is essentially the Self or ‘Spirit’ vehicled by Its own Shakti in the form of Mind and Matter. These two are Its Body, the first subtle, the second gross. Both have a common origin, namely the Supreme Power. Each is a real mode of It. One therefore does not produce the other. Both are produced by, and exist as modes of, the same Cause. There is a necessary parallelism between the Perceived and the Perceiver and, because Mind and Matter are at base one as modes of the same Power, one can act on the other. Mind is the subjective and Matter the objective aspect of the one polarized Consciousness.

With the unimportant exception of the Lokayatas, the Hindus have never shared what Sir William Jones called “the vulgar notions of matter,” according to which it is regarded as some gross, lasting and independently existing outside thing.

Modern Western Science now also dematerializes the ponderable matter of the universe into Energy. This and the forms in which it is displayed is the Power of the Self to appear as the object of a limited center of knowing. Mind again is the Self as ‘Consciousness,’ limited by Its Power into such a center. By such contraction there is in lieu of an ‘All-knower’ a ‘Little Knower,’ and in lieu of an ‘All-doer’ a ‘Little Doer’. Those, however, to whom this way of looking at things is naturally difficult, may regard the Supreme Shakti from the objective aspect as holding within Itself the germ of all Matter which develops in It.

Both Mind and Matter exist in every particle of the universe though not explicitly displayed in the same way in all. There is no corner of the universe which contains anything either potential or actual, which is not to be found elsewhere. Some aspect of Matter or Mind, however, may be more or less explicit or implicit. So in the Mantra Scripture it is said that each letter of the alphabet contains all sound. The sound of a particular letter is explicit and the other sounds are implicit. The sound of a particular letter is a particular physical audible mode of the Shabdabrahman (Brahman as the cause of Shabda or ‘Sound’), in Whom is all sound, actual and potential. Pure Consciousness is fully involved in the densest forms of gross or organic matter, which is not ‘inert’ but full of ‘movement’ (Spanda), for there is naught but the Supreme Consciousness which does not move. Immanent in Mind and Matter is Consciousness (Cit Shakti). Inorganic matter is thus Consciousness in full subjection to the Power of Ignorance. It is thus Consciousness identifying Itself with such inorganic matter. Matter in all its five forms of density is present in everything. Mind too is there, though, owing to its imprisonment in Matter, undeveloped. “The Brahman sleeps in the stone.” Life too which displays itself with the organization of matter is potentially contained in Being, of which such inorganic matter is, to some, a ‘lifeless’ form. From this deeply involved state Shakti enters into higher and higher organized forms. Prana or vitality is a Shakti — the Mantra form of which is ‘Hangsah’. With the Mantra ‘Hang’ the breath goes forth, with ‘Sah’ it is indrawn, a fact which anyone can verify for himself if he will attempt to inspire after putting the mouth in the way it is placed in order to pronounce the letter ‘H’. The Rhythm of Creative Power as of breathing (a microcosmic form of it) is two-fold — an outgoing (Pravritti) or involution as universe, and an evolution or return (Nivritti) of Supreme Power to Itself. Shakti as the Great Heart of the universe pulses forth and back in cosmic systole and diastole. So much for the nature of the Power as an evolutionary process. It is displayed in the Forms evolved as an increasing exhibition of Consciousness from apparently, though not truly, unconscious matter, through the slight consciousness of the plant and the greater consciousness of the animal, to the more highly developed consciousness of man, who in the completeness of his own individual evolution becomes freed of Mind and Matter which constitute the Form, and thus is one with the Supreme Consciousness Itself. There are no gaps in the process. In existence there are no rigid partitions. The vital phenomena, to which we give the name of ‘Life’, appear, it is true, with organized Matter. But Life is not then something entirely new which had no sort of being before. For such Life is only a limited mode of Being, which itself is no dead thing but the Infinite Life of all lives. To the Hindu the difference between plant and animal, and between the latter and man, has always been one rather of degree than of kind. There is one Consciousness and one Mind and Matter throughout, though the Matter is organized and the Mind is exhibited in various ways. The one Shakti is the Self as the ‘String’ (Sutratma) on which all the Beads of Form are strung, and these Beads again are limited modes of Herself as the ‘String’. Evolution is thus the loosening of the bonds in which Consciousness (itself unchanging) is held, such loosening being increased and Consciousness more fully exhibited as the process is carried forward. At length is gained that human state which the Scripture calls so ‘hard to get’. For it has been won by much striving and through suffering. Therefore the Scripture warns man not to neglect the opportunities of a stage which is the necessary preliminary to the attainment of the Full Experience. Man by his striving must seek to become fully humane, and then to pass yet further into the Divine Fullness which is beyond all Forms with their good and evil. This is the work of Sadhana (a word which comes from the root sadh ‘to exert’), which is discipline, ritual, worship and Yoga. It is that by which any result (Siddhi) is attained. The Tantrik Shastra is a Sadhana Scripture. As Powers are many, so may be Sadhana, which is of various kinds and degrees. Man may seek to realize the Mother-Power in Her limited forms as health, strength, long life, wealth, magic powers and so forth. The so-called ‘New Thought’ and kindred literature which bids men to think Power and thus to become power, is very ancient, going back at least to the Upanishad which says: “What a man thinks, that he becomes.”

Those who have need for the Infinite Mother as She is, not in any Form but in Herself, seek directly the Adorable One in whom is the essence of all which is of finite worth. The gist of a high form of Kulasadhana is given in the following verse from the Hymn of Mahakalarudra Himself to Mahakali:

“I torture not my body with penances.” (Is not his body Hers? If man be God in human guise why torment him?) “I lame not my feet in pilgrimage to Holy Places.” (The body is the Devalaya or Temple of Divinity. Therein are all the spiritual Tirthas or Holy Places. Why then trouble to go elsewhere?) “I spend not my time in reading the Vedas.” (The Vedas, which he has already studied, are the record of the standard spiritual experience of others. He seeks now to have that experience himself directly. What is the use of merely reading about it? The Kularnava Tantra enjoins the mastering of the essence of all Scriptures which should then be put aside, just as he who has threshed out the grain throws away the husks and straw.) “But I strive to attain Thy two sacred Feet.”

Chapter Three
What Are the Tantras and Their Significance?

A VERY common expression in English writings is “The Tantra”; but its use is often due to a misconception and leads to others. For what does Tantra mean? The word denotes injunction (Vidhi), regulation (Niyama), Shastra generally or treatise. Thus Shamkara calls the Samkhya a Tantra. A secular writing may be called Tantra. For the following note I am indebted to Professor Surendranath Das Gupta. “The word ‘Tantra’ has been derived in the Kashika-Vritti (7-2-9) from the root ‘Tan’ ‘to spread’ by the Aunadika rule Sarvadhatubhyah tran, with the addition of the suffix ‘tran’. Vacaspati, Anandagiri, and Govindananda, however, derive the word from the root ‘Tatri’ of ‘Tantri’ in the sense of Vyutpadana, origination or knowledge. In Ganapatha, however, ‘Tantri’ has the same meaning as ‘Tan’ ‘to spread’ and it is probable that the former root is a modification of the latter. The meaning Vyutpadana is also probably derived by narrowing the general sense of Vistara which is the meaning of the root ‘Tan’.”

According to the derivation of ‘Tantra’ from Tan, to spread, Tantra is that (Scripture) by which knowledge (Jñana) is spread (Tanyate, vistaryate jñanam anena, iti Tantram). The Suffix Tra is from the root ‘to save’. That knowledge is spread which saves. What is that but religious knowledge? Therefore, as here and generally used, Tantra means a particular kind of religious scripture. The Kamika Agama of the Shaiva Siddhanta (Tantrantara Patala) says:

Tanoti vipulan arthan tattvamantra-samanvitan

Trananca kurute yasmat tantram ityabhidhyate.

(It is called Tantra because it promulgates great knowledge concerning Tattva and Mantra and because it saves.)

It is a common misconception that Tantra is the name only of the Scripture of the Shaktas or worshippers of Shakti. This is not so. There are Tantras of other sects of the Agama, Tantras of Shaivas, Vaishnavas and so forth. We cannot speak of “The Treatise” nor of “The Tantra” any more than we can or do speak of the Purana, the Samhita. We can speak of “the Tantras” as we do of “the Puranas”. These Tantras are Shastras of what is called the Agama. In a review of one of my works it was suggested that the Agama is a class of Scriptures dealing with the worship of Saguna Ishvara which was revealed at the close of the age of the Upanishads, and introduced partly because of the falling into desuetude of the Vaidika Acara, and partly because of the increasing numbers of persons entering the Hindu fold who were not competent (Adhikari) for that Acara. I will not however deal with this historical question beyond noting the fact that the Agama is open to all persons of all castes and both sexes, and is not subject to the restrictions of the Vaidika Acara. This last term is a common one and comes from the verbal root char, which means to move or to act, the prefix 3 being probably used in the sense of restriction. Acara thus means practice, way, rule of life governing a Sadhaka, or one who does Sadhana or practice for some desired end (Siddhi).

The Agamas are divided into three main groups according as the Ishtadevata worshipped is Shakti, Shiva or Vishnu. The first is the Shakta Agama, the second the Shaivagama, and the third the Vaishnava Agama or Pancaratra. This last is the Scripture to which the Shrimad Bhagavata (X. 90. 34) refers as Sattvata Tantra in the lines,

Tenoktang sattvatang tantram yaj jnattva muktibhag bhavet

Yatra strishudradasanang sangskaro vaisnavah smritah.

Some Agamas are called Vaidik (Vaidika Agama) and some non-Vaidik (Avaidika). The Kurma Purana (XVI.1) mentions as belonging to the latter, Kapala, Lakula, Vama, Bhairava, Purva, Pashcima, Pañcaratra, Pashupata and many others. Pashupata again is said to be both Vaidika and Avaidika such as Lakula. Kurma Purana (Uttarabhaga, Ch. 38) says “By Me was first composed, for the attainment of Liberation, Shrauta (Vaidika) Pashupata which is excellent, subtle, and secret, the essence of Veda (Vedasara). The learned devoted to Veda should meditate on Shiva Pashupati. This is Pashupata Yoga to be practiced by seekers of Liberation. By Me also have been spoken Pashupata, Soma, Lakula and Bhairava opposed to Veda (Vedavadaviruddhani). These should not be practiced. They are outside Veda.” Sanatkumara Samhita says:

Shrautashrautavibhedena dvividhastu shivagamah

Shrutisaramapah shrautah sah punar dvividho matah

Svatantra itarash ceti svatantro dashadha pura

Tatha’ shtadashadha pashcat siddhanta iti giyate

Itarah shrutisaras tu shatakoti-pravistarah.

(See also Vayu Samhita, Ch. I. 28

(Shaivagama is of two kinds, Shrauta and Ashrauta. Shrauta is Shrautisaramaya and of two kinds, Svatantra and Itara. Svatantra is first of ten kinds and then Siddhanta of eighteen kinds. (This is the Shaivasiddhanta Agama with 28 Mula Agamas and 207 Upagamas. It is Shuddhadvaita because in it there is no Visheshana). Itara is Shrutisara with numerous varieties. Into this mass of sects I do not attempt here to enter, except in a general way. My subject is the doctrine and ritual of the Shaktas. There are said to be Shaiva, Vaishnava, and Shakta Upanishads favoring one or another doctrine.

We must, however, in all cases distinguish between what a School says of itself and what others say of it. So far as I am aware all Agamas, whatever be their origin, claim now to be based on Shruti, though of course as different interpretations are put on Shruti, those who accept one interpretation are apt to speak of differing Schools as heretical. These main divisions again have subdivisions. Thus there are several Schools of Shaivas; and there are Shaktas with their nine Amnayas, four Sampradayas (Kerala, Kashmira, Gauda and Vilasa) each divided into two-fold division of inner and outer worship (Sammohana Tantra, Ch. V). There is for instance the Northern Shaiva School called Trika of Kashmir, in which country at one time Tantra Shastras were very prevalent. There is again the Southern Shaiva School called Shaivasiddhanta. The Shaktas who are to be found throughout India are largely prevalent in Bengal and Assam. The Shaktas are rather allied with the Northern Advaita Shaiva than with the others, though in them also there is worship of Shakti. Shiva and Shakti are one and he who worships one necessarily worships the other. But whereas the Shaiva predominantly worships Shiva, the Shakta predominantly worships the Shakti side of the Ardhanarishvara Murti, which is both Shiva and Shakti.

Mahavishnu and Sadashiva are also one. As the Sammohana Tantra (Ch. VIII) says, “Without Prakriti the Samsara (World) cannot be. Without Purusha true knowledge cannot be attained. Therefore should both be worshipped; with Mahakali, Mahakala.” Some, it says, speak of Shiva, some of Shakti, some of Narayana (Vishnu). But the supreme Narayana (Adinarayana) is supreme Shiva (Parashambhu), the Nirguna Brahman, pure as crystal. The two aspects of the Supreme reflect the one in the other. The Reflection (Pratibimba) is Maya whence the World-Lords (Lokapalas) and the Worlds are born. The Adya Lalita (Mahashakti) at one time assumed the male form of Krishna and at another that of Rama (Ch. IX). For all aspects are in Mahakali, one with Bhairava Mahakala, who is Mahavishnu. “It is only a fool” it says, “who sees any difference between Rama and Shiva.” This is of course to look at the matter from the high Vedantik standpoint of Shakta doctrine. Nevertheless separate worship and rituals exist among the Sects. A common philosophical basis of the Shaivas and those of Shaktas, who are Agamavadins, is the doctrine of the Thirty-six Tantras. These are referred to in the Tantra (Ch. VII) so well known in Bengal which is called Kularnava. They are also referred to in other Shakta works and their commentaries such as the Anandalahari. The Sharada Tilaka, a great authority amongst the Bengal Shaktas, is the work of Lakshmanacarya, an author of the Kashmir Shaiva school. The latter school as also the Shaktas are Advaitins. The Shaiva Siddhanta and Pancaratra are Shuddhadvaita and Vishishtadvaita respectively. There is also a great body of Buddhist Tantras of differing schools. (I have published one — the Shricakra Sambhara Tantra as Vol. VII of Tantrik Texts.) Now all these schools have Tantras of their own. The original connection of the Shaiva schools is said to be shown amongst other things, by the fact that some Tantras arc common, such as Mrigendra and Matanga Tantras. It has been asserted that the Shakta school is not historically connected with the Shaivas. No grounds were given for this statement. Whatever be the historical origins of the former, the two appear to be in several respects allied at present, as any one who knows Shakta literature may find out for himself. In fact Shakta literature is in parts unintelligible to one unacquainted with some features of what is called the Shaiva Darshana. How otherwise is it that the 36 Tattvas and Shadadhva (see my Garland of Letters) are common to both?

The Shaktas have again been divided into three groups. Thus the esteemed Pandit R. Ananta Shastri in the Introduction to his edition of Anandalahari speaks of the Kaula or Shakta Shastras with sixty-four Tantras; the Mishra with eight Tantras; and the Samaya group which are said to be the most important of the Shakta Agamas, of which five are mentioned. This classification purports to be based on the nature of the object pursued, according as it belongs to one or the other of the Purusharthas. Pancaratra literature is very considerable, one hundred and eight works being mentioned by the same Pandit in Vol. XIII, pp. 357-363 of The Theosophist. I would refer the reader also to the very valuable edition of the Ahirbudhnya Samhita by my friend Dr. Otto Schrader, with an Introduction by the learned Doctor on the Pancaratra system where many Vaishnava Tantras and Samhitas are cited. The Trika school has many Tantras of which the leading one is Malinivijaya. The Svacchanda Tantra comes next. Jagadisha Chandra Chattopadhyaya Vidyavaridhi has written with learning and lucidity on this school. The Shaivasiddhanta has twenty-eight leading Tantras and a large number of Upagamas, such as Taraka Tantra, Vama Tantra and others, which will be found enumerated in Schomerus’ Der Shaiva-siddhanta, Nallasvami Pillai’s Studies in Shaivasiddhanta (p. 294), and Shivajñanasiddihiyar (p. 211). The Sammohana Tantra (Ch. VI) mentions 64 Tantras, 327 Upatantras, as also Yamalas, Damaras, Samhitas and other Scriptures of the Shaiva class; 75 Tantras, 205 Upatantras, also Yamalas, Damaras, Samhitas of the Vaishnava class; numerous Tantras and other scriptures of the Ganapatya and Saura classes, and a number of Puranas, Upapuranas and other variously named Scriptures of the Bauddha class. It then (Ch. VII) mentions over 500 Tantras and nearly the same number of Upatantras, of some 22 Agamas, Cinagama (see Ch. VI post), Buddhagama, Jaina, Pashupata, Kapalika, Pancaratra, Bhairava and others. There is thus a vast mass of Tantras in the Agamas belonging to differing schools of doctrine and practice, all of which must be studied before we can speak with certainty as to what the mighty Agama as a whole is. In this book I briefly deal with one section of it only. Nevertheless when these Agamas have been examined and are better known, it will, I think, be found that they are largely variant aspects of the same general ideas and practices.

As instances of general ideas I may cite the following: the conception of Deity as a supreme Personality (Parahanta) and of the double aspect of God in one of which He really is or becomes the Universe; a true emanation from Him in His creative aspect; successive emanations (Abhasa, Vyuha) as of “fire from fire” from subtle to gross; doctrine of Shakti; pure and impure creation; the denial of unconscious Maya, such as Shamkara teaches; doctrine of Maya Kosha and the Kañcukas (the six Shaiva Kañcukas being, as Dr. Schrader says, represented by the possibly earlier classification in the Pancaratra of the three Samkocas); the carrying of the origin of things up and beyond Purusha-Prakriti; acceptance at a later stage of Purusha-Prakriti, the Samkhyan Gunas, and evolution of Tattvas as applied to the doctrine of Shakti; affirmance of the reality of the Universe; emphasis on devotion (Bhakti); provision for all castes and both sexes.

Instances of common practice are for example Mantra, Bija, Yantra, Mudra, Nyasa, Bhutashuddhi, Kundaliyoga, construction and consecration of temples and images (Kriya), religious and social observances (Carya) such as Ahnika, Varnashramadharma, Utsava; and practical magic (Maya-yoga). Where there is Mantra, Yantra, Nyasa, Diksha, Guru and the like, there is Tantra Shastra. In fact one of the names of the latter is Mantra Shastra. With these similarities there are certain variations of doctrines and practice between the schools. Necessarily also, even on points of common similarity, there is some variance in terminology and exposition which is unessential. Thus when looking at their broad features, it is of no account whether with the Pancaratra we speak of Lakshmi, Shakti, Vyuha, Samkoca; or whether in terms of other schools we speak of Tripurasundari and Mahakali, Tattvas and Kañcukas. Again there are some differences in ritual which are not of great moment except in one and that a notable instance. I refer to the well-known division of worshippers into Dakshinacara and Vamacara. The secret Sadhana of some of the latter (which I may here say is not usually understood) has acquired such notoriety that to most the term “The Tantra” connotes this particular worship and its abuses and nothing else. I may here also observe that it is a mistake to suppose that aberrations in doctrine and practice are peculiar to India. A Missionary wrote to me some years ago that this country was “a demon-haunted land”. There are demons here, but they are not the only inhabitants; and tendencies to be found here have existed elsewhere. The West has produced many a doctrine and practice of an antinomian character. Some of the most extreme are to be found there. Moreover, though this does not seem to be recognized, it is nevertheless the fact that these Kaula rites are philosophically based on monistic doctrine. Now it is this Kaula doctrine and practice, limited probably, as being a secret doctrine, at all times to comparatively few, which has come to be known as “The Tantra”. Nothing is more incorrect. This is but one division of worshippers who again are but one section of the numerous followers of the Agamas, Shaiva, Shakta and Vaishnava. Though there are certain common features which may be called Tantrik yet one cannot speak of “The Tantra” as though it were one entirely homogeneous doctrine and practice. Still less can we identify it with the particular practices and theories of one division of worshippers only. Further the Tantras are concerned with Science, Law, Medicine and a variety of subjects other than spiritual doctrine or worship. Thus Indian chemistry and medicine are largely indebted to the Tantrikas.

According to a common notion the word “Tantra” is (to use the language of a well-known work) “restricted to the necromantic books of the latter Shivaic or Shakti mysticism” (Waddell’s Buddhism of Tibet, p, 164). As charity covers many sins, so “mystic” and “mysticism” are words which cover much ignorance. “Necromancy” too looms unnecessarily large in writers of this school. It is, however, the fact that Western authors generally so understand the term “Tantra”. They are, however, in error in so doing as previously explained. Here I shortly deal with the significance of the Tantra Shastra, which is of course also misunderstood, being generally spoken of as a jumble of “black magic,” and “erotic mysticism,” cemented together by a ritual which is “meaningless mummery”. A large number of persons who talk in this strain have never had a Tantra in their hands, and such Orientalists as have read some portions of these Scriptures have not generally understood them, otherwise they would not have found them to be so “meaningless”. They may be bad, or they may be good, but they have a meaning. Men are not such fools as to believe for ages in what is meaningless. The use of this term implies that their content had no meaning to them. Very likely; for to define as they do Mantra as “mystical words,” Mudra as “mystical gestures” and Yantra as “mystical diagrams” does not imply knowledge. These erroneous notions as to the nature of the Agama are of course due to the mistaken identification of the whole body of the Scripture with one section of it. Further this last is only known through the abuses to which its dangerous practices as carried out by inferior persons have given rise. It is stated in the Shastra itself in which they are prescribed that the path is full of difficulty and peril and he who fails upon it goes to Hell. That there are those who have so failed, and others who have been guilty of evil magic, is well known. I am not in this Chapter concerned with this special ritual or magic but with the practices which govern the life of the vast mass of the Indian people to be found in the Tantras of the Agamas of the different schools which I have mentioned.

A Western writer in a review of one of my books has expressed the opinion that the Tantra Shastra (I think he meant the Shakta) was, at least in its origin, alien and indeed hostile to the Veda. He said: “We are strongly of opinion that in their essence the two principles are fundamentally opposed and that the Tantra only used Vedic forms to mask its essential opposition.” I will not discuss this question here. It is, however, the fact now, as it has been for centuries past, that the Agamavadins claim to base their doctrine on Veda. The Vedanta is the final authority and basis for the doctrines set forth in the Tantras, though the latter interpret the Vedanta in various ways. The real meaning of Vedanta is Upanishad and nothing else. Many persons, however, speak of Vedanta as though it meant the philosophy of Shamkara or whatever other philosopher they follow. This of course is incorrect. Vedanta is Shruti. Shamkara’s philosophy is merely one interpretation of Shruti just as Ramanuja’s is another and that of the Shaivagama or Kaulagama is a third. There is no question of competition between Vedanta as Shruti and Tantra Shastra. It is, however, the fact that each of the followers of the different schools of Agama contend that their interpretation of the Shruti texts is the true one and superior to that of other schools. As a stranger to all these sects, I am not here concerned to show that one system is better than the other. Each will adopt that, which most suits him. I am only stating the facts. As the Ahirbudhnya Samhita of the Pañcaratra Agama says, the aspects of God are infinite, and no philosopher can seize and duly express more than one aspect. This is perfectly true. All systems of interpretation have some merits as they have defects, that of Shamkara included. The latter by his Mayavada is able to preserve more completely than any other interpretation the changelessness and stainlessness of Brahman. It does this, however, at the cost of certain defects, which do not exist in other schools, which have also their own peculiar merits and shortcomings. The basis and seat of authority is Shruti or experience and the Agama interprets Shruti in its own way. Thus the Shaiva-Shakta doctrines are specific solutions of the Vedantic theme which differ in several respects from that of Shamkara, though as they agree (I speak of the Northern Shaiva School) with him on the fundamental question of the unity of Jivatma and Paramatma, they are therefore Advaita.

The next question is how the experience of which the Agama speaks may be gained. This is also prescribed in the Shastra in the form of peculiar Sadhanas or disciplines. In the first place there must be a healthy physical and moral life. To know a thing in its ultimate sense is to be that thing. To know Brahman is, according to Advaita, to be Brahman. One cannot realize Brahman the Pure except by being oneself pure (Shuddhacitta). But to attain and keep this state, as well as progress therein, certain specific means, practices, rituals or disciplines are necessary. The result cannot be got by mere philosophical talk about Brahman. Religion is a practical activity. Just as the body requires exercise, training and gymnastic, so does the mind. This may be of a merely intellectual or spiritual kind. The means employed are called Sadhana which comes from the root “Sadh,” to exert. Sadhana is that which leads to Siddhi. Sadhana is the development of Shakti. Man is Consciousness (Atma) vehicled by Shakti in the form of mind and body. But this Shakti is at base Pure Consciousness, just as Atma is; for Atma and Shakti are one. Man is thus a vast magazine of both latent and expressed power. The object of Sadhana is to develop man’s Shakti, whether for temporal or spiritual purposes. But where is Sadhana to be found P Seeing that the Vaidika Acara has fallen in practical desuetude we can find it nowhere but in the Agamas and in the Puranas which are replete with Tantrik rituals. The Tantras of these Agamas therefore contain both a practical exposition of’ spiritual doctrine and the means by which the truth it teaches may be realized. Their authority does not depend, as Western writers and some of their Eastern followers suppose, on the date when they were revealed but on the question whether Siddhi is gained thereby. This too is the proof of Ayurveda. The test of medicine is that it cures. If Siddhi is not obtained, the fact it is written “Shiva uvaca” (Shiva speaks) or the like counts for nothing. The Agama therefore is a practical exposition and application of Doctrine varying according to its different schools.

The latest tendency in modern Western philosophy is to rest upon intuition, as it was formerly the tendency to glorify dialectic. Intuition has, however, to be led into higher and higher possibilities by means of Sadhana. This term means work or practice, which in its result is the gradual unfolding of the Spirit’s vast latent magazine of power (Shakti), enjoyment and vision which everyone possesses in himself. The philosophy of the Agama is, as a friend and collaborator of mine, Professor Pramathanatha Mukhyo-padhyaya, very well put it, a practical philosophy, adding, that what the intellectual world wants to-day is this sort of philosophy; a philosophy which not merely argues but experiments. The form which Sadhana takes is a secondary matter. One goal may be reached by many paths. What is the path in any particular case depends on considerations of personal capacity and temperament, race and faith. For the Hindu there is the Agama which contains forms of discipline which his race has evolved and are therefore prima facie suitable for him. This is not to say that these forms are unalterable or acceptable to all. Others will adopt other forms of Sadhana suitable to them. Thus, amongst Christians, the Catholic Church prescribes a full and powerful Sadhana in its Sacraments (Samskara) and Worship (Puja, Upasana), Meditation (Dhyana), Rosary (Japa) and the like. But any system to be fruitful must experiment to gain experience, The significance of the Tantra Shastra lies in this that it claims to afford a means available to all, of whatever caste and of either sex, whereby the truths taught may be practically realized.

The Tantras both in India and Tibet are the expression of principles which are of universal application. The mere statement of religious truths avails not. What is necessary for all is a practical method of realization. This too the occultist needs. Further the ordinary run of mankind can neither apprehend, nor do they derive satisfaction from mere metaphysical concepts. They accept them only when presented in personal form. They care not for Shunyata, the Void, nor Saccidananda in the sense of mere Consciousness — Being — Bliss. They appeal to personal Bodhisattvas, Buddhas, Shiva, Vishnu, Devi who will hear their prayer, and grant them aid. Next they cannot stand by themselves. They need the counsel and guidance of priest and Guru and the fortifying virtues of the sacraments. They need a definite picture of their object of worship, such as is detailed in the Dhyana of the Devatas, an image, a Yantra, a Mandala and so forth, a developed ritual and pictorial religion. This is not to say that they are wrong. These natural tendencies, however, become accentuated in course of time to a point where “superstition,” mechanical devotion and lifeless formalism and other abuses are produced. There then takes place what is called a “Reform,” in the direction of a more spiritual religion. This too is accentuated to the point of barrenness. Religion becomes sterile to produce practical result and ritual and pictorial religion recurs. So Buddhism, which in its origin has been represented to be a reaction against excessive and barren ritualism, could not rest with a mere statement of the noble truths and the eightfold path. Something practical was needed. The Mahayana (Thegpa Chhenpo) was produced. Nagarjuna in the second century A.D. (?) is said to have promulgated ideas to be found in the Tantras. In order to realize the desired end, use was made of all the powers of man, physical and mental. Theistic notions as also Yoga came again to the fore in the Yogacarya and other Buddhist systems. The worship of images and an elaborate ritual was introduced. The worship of the Shaktis spread. The Mantrayana and Vajrayana found acceptance with, what an English writer (The Buddhism of Tibet by L. Waddell) describes in the usual style as its “silly mummery of unmeaning jargon and gibberish,” the latter being said to be “the most depraved form of Buddhist doctrine.” So-called Tantrik Buddhism became thus fully developed. A Tantrik reformer in the person of Tsongkhapa arose, who codified the Tantras in his work Lam-rim Chhen-mo. The great code, the Kah-gyur, contains in one of its sections the Tantras (Rgyud) containing ritual, worship of the Divine Mothers, theology, astrology and natural science, as do their Indian counterparts. These are of four classes, the Kriya, Carya, Yoga, Anuttara Tantras, the latter comprising Maha, Anu and Ati-Yoga Tantras. The Tan-ghur similarly contains many volumes of Tantras (Rgyud). Then, at length, Buddhism was driven from out of India. Brahmanism and its rituals survived and increased, until both in our day and the nearer past we see in the so-called reformed sects a movement towards what is claimed to be a more spiritual religion. Throughout the ages the same movements of action and reaction manifest. What is right here lies in the middle course. Some practical method and ritual is necessary if religion is not to be barren of result. The nature of the method and ritual will vary according to the capacity and development of men. On the other hand, the “crooked influence of time” tends to overlay the essential spiritual truths with unintelligent and dead formalism. The Tantra Shastra stands for a principle of high value though, like other things admittedly good, it is capable of, and has suffered, abuse. An important point in this connection should be noted. In Europe we see extreme puritan reaction with the result that the religious movements which embody them become one-sided and without provision for ordinary human needs. Brahmanism has ever been all-inclusive, producing a Sadhana of varying kinds, material and mental, for the different stages of spiritual advancement and exempting from further ritual those for whom, by reason of their attainment, it is no longer necessary.

Chapter Four
Tantra Shastra and Veda

In writing this Chapter I have in mind the dispute which some have raised upon the question whether the Agamas, or some of them, are Vaidik or non-Vaidik.

I do not here deal with the nature and schools of Tantra or Agama nor with their historical origin. Something has been said on these points in the Introductions to the English translations of Pandit Shiva Chandra Vidyarnava’s Tantra-tattva. I have also dealt with this subject in the two Chapters, “What are the Tantras and their significance?” and “Shakti and Shakta”. I wish to avoid repetitions, except so far as is absolutely necessary for the elucidation of the particular subject in hand. On the disputed question whether the Agamas are Vaidik or non-Vaidik I desire to point out that an answer cannot be given unless we keep apart two distinct matters, viz., (1) what was the origin of the Agamas and (2) what they are now. I am not here, however, dealing with the first or historical question, but with the second so far as the Shakta Agama is concerned. Let us assume, for the sake of argument, that (to take a specific example) worship of Kali and other Devis by the Shaktas indicates the existence of non-Aryan elements in their Agama. The question of real importance here, as always, is not as to what were the facts in remote past ages, but what they are now. The answer then is — let it be as you will regarding the origin of the Shakta Agama; but at present Shakta worship is an integral part of the Hinduism and as such admits the authority of Veda, accepting, as later explained, every other belief held by the general body of the Hindu people.

In a recent prosecution under Sections 292, 293 of the Indian Penal Code against an accused who had published a Tantra (but who was rightly acquitted), an Indian Deputy Magistrate who had advised the prosecution, and who claimed to be an orthodox Hindu, stated (I am informed) in the witness box, that he could not define what the Tantra Shastra was, or state whether it was a Hindu scripture of the Kali age, or whether a well-known particular Shastra shown to him was one of the Tantras. Such ignorance is typical of many at the present time and is a legacy from a vanishing age. How is it that a Shastra which has had its followers throughout India from the Himalayas (the abode of Shiva and of Parvati Devi) to Cape Comorin (a corruption of Kumart Devi) which ruled for centuries, so that we may speak of a Tantrik epoch; which even to-day governs the household and temple ritual of every Hindu; how is it that such a Shastra has fallen into complete neglect and disrepute amongst the larger body of the English-educated community’? I remember a time when mention of the Shastra was only made (I speak of course of the same class) with bated breath; and when any one who concerned himself therewith became thereby liable to the charge of giving licentious sway to drink and women. The answer is both a general and particular one. In the first place the English-educated people of this country were formerly almost exclusively, and later to a considerable extent, under the sway of their English educators. In fact they were in a sense their creation. They were, and some of them still are, the Manasaputra of the English. For them what was English and Western was the mode. Hindu religion, philosophy and art were only, it was supposed, for the so-called “uneducated” women and peasants and for native Pandits who, though learned in their futile way, had not received the illuminating advantages of a Western training. In my own time an objection was (I am informed) taken by Indian Fellows of the Calcutta University to the appointment of the learned Pandit Candrakanta Tarkalamkara to a chair of Indian philosophy on the ground that he was a mere native Pandit. In this case English Fellows and the then Vice-Chancellor opposed this absurd and snobbish objection. When the authority of the English teachers was at its highest, what they taught was law, even though their judgments were, in respect of Indian subjects of which they had but a scant and imperfect knowledge, defective. If they said with, or in anticipation of, one Professor, that the Vedas were “the babbling of a child humanity” and the Brahmanas “the drivel of madmen,” or with another that the thought of the Upanishads was so “low” that it could not be correctly rendered in the high English language; that in “treating of Indian philosophy a writer has to deal with thoughts of a lower order than the thoughts of the every-day life of Europe”; that Smriti was mere priestly tyranny, the Puranas idle legends and the Tantras mere wickedness and debauchery; that Hindu philosophy was (to borrow another English Professor’s language concerning the Samkhya) “with all its folly and fanaticism little better than a chaotic impertinence”; and that Yoga was, according to the same man of learning, “the fanatical vagaries of theocracy”; that Indian ritual was nothing but superstition, mummery, and idolatry, and (Indian) art, inelegant, monstrous, and grotesque — all this was with readiness accepted as high learning and wisdom, with perhaps here and there an occasional faint, and even apologetic, demur. I recollect in this connection a rather halting, and shamefaced, protest by the late Rajendra Lal Mitra. I do not say that none of these or other adverse criticisms had any ground whatever. There has been imperfection, folly, superstition, wickedness, here as elsewhere. There has been much of it, for example, in the countries, whence these critics of India came. It is, however, obvious that such criticisms are so excessive as to be absurd.

Even when giving an account of Eastern thought the Western is apt to take up a “superior” attitude because he believes himself to be superior. The Bishop of Durham very clearly reveals this sense of superiority (Christian Aspects of Life, by B. F. Westcott, 175) when after stating that the duty of the Christian missionary was to substitute for “the sterile theism of Islam and the shadowy vagueness of Hindu Philosophy a belief in a living and speaking God” he goes on to point out that “our very advantages” by way of “the consciousness of social and intellectual superiority with which we are filled” and “the national force which sets us as conquerors where we come as evangelists” constitute a danger in the mission field. It is this notion of “superiority” also which prevents a right understanding, and which notwithstanding the facts, insists on charges which, if established, would maintain the reputation for inferiority of the colored races. It is this reiterated claim to superiority that has hypnotized many persons amongst Eastern races into the belief that the European is, amongst other things, always a safe and learned critic even of their own beliefs and practices.

Raja Rammohan Roy was the first to take up the cause of his faith, divorcing it from the superstitious accretions which gather around all religions in the course of the ages. The same defense was made in recent times by that man of upstanding courage, Svami Vivekananda. Foreign criticism on Indian religion now tends in some quarters to greater comprehension. I say in some quarters; for even in quite recent years English books have been published which would be amazing, were one not aware of the deep ignorance and prejudice which exist on the subject. In one of these books the Hindu religion is described as “a mixture of nightmare nonsense and time-wasting rubbish fulfilling no useful purpose whatever: only adding to the general burden of existence borne by Humanity in its struggle for existence.” In another it is said to be “a weltering chaos of terror, darkness, and uncertainty”. It is a religion without the apprehension of a moral evolution, without definite commandments, without a religious sanction in the sphere of morals, without a moral code and without a God: such so-called God, as there is, being “a mixture of Beaches, Don Juan and Dick Turin.” It is there further described as the most material and childishly superstitious animalism that ever masqueraded as idealism; not another path to God but a pit of abomination as far set from God as the mind of man can go; staggering the brain of a rational man; filling his mind with wild contempt for his species and which has only endured “because it has failed.” Except for the purpose of fanatical polemic, one would assume that the endurance of a faith was in some measure the justification of it. It is still more wonderful to learn from this work (The Light of India written by Mr. Harold Begbie and published by the Christian Literature Society for India) that out of this weltering chaos of all that is ignominious, immoral and crassly superstitious, come forth men who (in the words of the author) “standing at prayer startle you by their likeness to the pictures of Christ — eyes large, luminous and tranquil — the whole face exquisite with meekness and majestic with spirit.” One marvels how these perfect men arise from such a worthless and indeed putrescent source. This absurd picture was highly colored in a journalistic spirit and with a purpose. In other cases, faulty criticism is due to supercilious ignorance. As another writer says (the italics are mine) “For an Englishman to get a plain statement of what Brahmanism really means is far from easy. The only wonder is that people who have to live on nine pence a week, who marry when they are ten years old, are prevented by caste life from rising out of what is often, if not always, a degraded state, have any religion at all.” As the Bishop of Peterborough has recently said it is difficult for some to estimate worth in any other terms than g. s. d. It is to be hoped that all such snobbish materialism will be hindered from entrance into this country. These quotations reveal the depths of ignorance and prejudice which still exist. As we are however aware, all English criticism is not as ignorant and prejudiced as these, even though it be often marred by essential error. On the contrary there are an increasing number who appreciate and adopt, or appreciate if they cannot accept, Indian beliefs. Further than this, Eastern thought is having a marked influence on that of the West, though it is not often acknowledged. Many have still the notion that they have nothing to learn in any domain from this hemisphere. After all, what any one else says should not affect the independence of our own judgment. Let others say what they will. We should ourselves determine matters which concern us. The Indian people will do so when they free themselves from that hypnotic magic, which makes them often place blind reliance on the authority of foreigners, who, even when claiming to be scholars, are not always free from bias, religious or racial. Such counsel, though by no means unnecessary to-day, is happily becoming less needed than in the past.

There are, however, still many Indians, particularly those of my own generation, whose English Gurus and their teaching have made them captives. Their mind has been so dominated and molded to a Western manner of thinking (philosophical, religious, artistic, social and political) that they have scarcely any greater capacity to appreciate their own cultural inheritance than their teachers, be that capacity in any particular case more or less. Some of them care nothing for their Shastra. Others do not understand it. The class of whom I speak are, in fact, as I have said, the Manasaputra of the English in a strict sense of the term. The Indian who has lost his Indian soul must regain it if he would retain that independence in his thought and in the ordering of his life which is the mark of a man, that is of one who seeks Svarajya-siddhi. How can an imitator be on the same level as his original? Rather he must sit as a Cela at the latter’s feet. Whilst we can all learn something from one another, yet some in this land have yet to learn that their cultural inheritance with all its defects (and none is without such) is yet a noble one; an equal in rank, (to say the least), with those great past civilizations which have molded the life and thought of the West. All this has been admitted by Indians who have discernment. Such value as my own remarks possess, is due to the fact that I can see and judge from without as an outsider, though (I will admit in one sense) interested observer — interested because I have at heart Indian welfare and that of all others which, as the world now stands, is bound up with it.

As regards the Tantra Shastra in particular, greater ignorance prevailed and still exists. Its Vamacara practice however, seemed so peculiar, and its abuses were so talked of, that they captured attention to the exclusion of every thing else; the more particularly that this and the rest of the Shastra is hard to understand. Whilst the Shastra provides by its Acaras for all types from the lowest to the most advanced, its essential concepts, under whatever aspect they are manifested, and into whatever pattern they are woven, are (as Professor De La Vallee Poussion says of the Buddhist Tantra) of a metaphysical and subtle character. Indeed it is largely because of the subtlety of its principles, together with the difficulties which attend ritual exposition, that the study of the Tantras, notwithstanding the comparative simplicity of their Sanskrit, has been hitherto neglected by Western scholars. Possibly it was thought that the practices mentioned rendered any study of a system, in which they occurred, unnecessary. There was and still is some ground for the adverse criticism which has been passed on it. Nevertheless it was not a just appreciation of the Shastra as a whole, nor even an accurate judgment in respect of the particular ritual thus singled out for condemnation. Let those condemn this Shastra who will. That is their affair. But let them first study and understand it.

I have dealt with the subject of the Tantras in several papers. It is only necessary here to say that “the Tantra” as it is called was wrongly considered to be synonymous with the Shakta Tantras; that in respect of the latter the whole attention was given to the Vamacara ritual and to magic (Shatkarma); that this ritual, whatever may in truth be said against it, was not understood; that it was completely ignored that the Tantras contained a remarkable philosophic presentment of religious teaching, profoundly applied in a ritual of psychological worth; and that the Shastras were also a repertory of the alchemy, medicine, law, religion, art and so forth of their time. It was sufficient to mention the word “Tantra” and there was supposed to be the end of the matter.

I have often been asked why I had undertaken the study of the Tantra Shastra, and in some English (as opposed to Continental) quarters it has been suggested that my time and labor might be more worthily employed. One answer is this: Following the track of unmeasured abuse I have always found something good. The present case is no exception. I protest and have always protested against unjust aspersions upon the Civilization of India and its peoples. If there be what is blameworthy, accuracy requires that criticism should be reduced to its true proportions. Having been all my life a student of the world’s religions and philosophies, I entered upon a particular study of this Shastra to discover for myself what it taught, and whether it was, as represented, a complete reversal of all other Hindu teaching with which I was acquainted. For it was said to be the cultivation or practice of gluttony, lust, and malevolence (“ferocity, lust, and mummery” as Brian Hodgson called it), which I knew the Indian Shastra, like all the other religious Scriptures of the world, strictly forbids.

I found that the Shastra was of high importance in the history of Indian religion. The Tantra Shastra or Agama is not, as some seem to suppose, a petty Shastra of no account; one, and an unimportant sample, of the multitudinous manifestations of religion in a country which swarms with every form of religious sect. It is on the contrary with Veda, Smriti and Purana one of the foremost important Shastras in India, governing, in various degrees and ways, the temple and household ritual of the whole of India to-day and for centuries past. Those who are so strenuously averse to it, by that very fact recognize and fear its influence. From a historical point of view alone, it is worthy of study as an important part of Indian Culture, whatever be its intrinsic worth. History cannot be written if we exclude from it what we do not personally like. As Terence grandly said: “We are men and nothing which man has done is alien to us”. There are some things in some of the Tantras and a spirit which they manifest of which their student may not personally approve. But the cause of history is not to be influenced by personal predilections. It is so influenced in fact. There are some who have found in the Shastra a useful weapon of attack against Indian religion and its tendencies. Should one speak of the heights which Indian spiritual experience has reached, one might be told that the infamous depths to which it had descended in Tantra Shastra, the Pushtimarga, the Vaishnava Sahajiya and so forth were more certainly established. Did one praise the high morality to be found in Indian Shastra, it might be admitted that India was not altogether destitute of the light of goodness; but it might be asked, what of the darkness of the Tantra? And so on and so forth. Let us then grapple with and not elude the objection. There was of course something in all this. But such objectors and others had not the will (even if they had the capacity to understand) to give a true presentment of the teachings of the Shastra. But the interests of fairness require both. Over and above the fact that the Shastra is an historical fact, it possesses, in some respects, an intrinsic value which justifies its study. Thus it is the storehouse of Indian occultism. This occult side of the Tantras is of scientific importance, the more particularly having regard to the present revived interest in occultist study in the West. “New thought” as it is called and kindred movements are a form of Mantravidya. Vasikaranam is hypnotism, fascination. There is “Spiritualism” and “Powers” in the Tantras and so forth. For myself, however, the philosophical and religious aspect of the Scripture is more important still. The main question for the generality of men is not “Powers” (Siddhi). Indeed the study of occultism and its practice has its dangers; and the pursuit of these powers is considered an obstacle to the attainment of that true Siddhi which is the end of every Shastra. A subject of greater interest and value is the remarkable presentation of Vedantic knowledge which the Shakta Tantra in particular gives (I never properly understood the Vedanta until after I had studied the Tantras) as also the ritual by which it is sought to gain realization (Aparokshajñana). The importance of the Shakta Tantra may be summed up by the statement that it is a Sadhana Shastra of Advaitavada. I will develop this last matter in a future paper. I will only say now that the main question of the day everywhere is how to realize practically the truths of religion, whatever they be. This applies to all, whether Hindu, Mohammed or Christian. Mere philosophical speculation and talk will avail nothing beyond a clarification of intellect. But, that, we all know, is not enough. It is not what we speculate about but what we are, which counts. The fundamental question is, how to realize (Sakshatkara) religious teaching. This is the fruit of Sadhana alone, whether the form of that Sadhana be Christian, Hindu, Mohammed, Buddhist or what else. The chief Sadhana-Shastra for the orthodox Hindu is the Tantra Shastra or Agama in its varying schools. In this fact lies its chief significance, and for Hindus its practical importance. This and the Advaitavada on which the Shakta ritual rests is in my opinion the main reason why Shakta Darshana or doctrine is worthy of study.

The opinion which I had formed of the Shastra has been corroborated by several to whom I had introduced the matter. I should like to quote here the last letter I had only a month ago from an Indian friend, both Sanskritist and philosopher (a combination too rare). He says “they (the Tantras) have really thrown before me a flood of new light. So much so, that I really feel as if I have discovered a new world. Much of the mist and haziness has now been cleared away and I find in the Tantras not only a great and subtle philosophy but many of the missing links in the development of the different systems of Hindu philosophy which I could not discover before but which I have been seeking for, for some years past.” These statements might perhaps lead some to think that the Shastra teaches something entirely, that is in every respect, new. As regards fundamental doctrines, the Tantra Shastra (for convenience I confine myself to the Shakta form) teaches much which is to be found in the Advaita Vedanta. Therefore those who think that they will find in the Shastra some fundamental truths concerning the world which are entirely new will be disillusioned. The observation does not apply to some doctrinal teaching, presentment, methods, and details, to which doubtless my friend’s letter referred. He who has truly understood Indian Shastra as a whole will recognize, under variety of form and degree of spiritual advancement, the same substance by way of doctrine.

Whilst the Shakta Tantra recognizes, with the four Vedas, the Agamas and Nigaimas, it is now based, as are all other truly Indian Shastras on Veda. Veda, in the sense of Knowledge, is ultimately Spiritual Experience, namely Cit which Brahman is, and in the one partless infinite Ocean of Which the world, as a limited stress in Consciousness arises. So it is said of the Devi in the Commentary on the Trishati:



She is Brahman-knowledge (Brahmavidya) in the form of direct realization produced by the Vedantic great saying (Mahavakya) — that is “Tat tvam asi” (“That thou art”) and all kindred sayings, So’ham, (“He I am”), Brahmasmi (“I am Brahman”) and so forth. In other words, Self-knowledge is self-luminous and fundamental and the basis of all other knowledge. Owing to its transcendency it is beyond both prover and proof. It is self-realized (Svanubhava). But Shruti is the source from which this knowledge arises, as Samkara says, by removing (as also to some extent reason may do) false notions concerning it. It reveals by removing the superincumbent mass of human error. Again, Veda in a primary sense is the world as Idea in the Cosmic Mind of the creating Brahman and includes all forms of knowledge. Thus it is eternal, arising with and as the Samskaras at the beginning of every creation. This is the Vedamurtibrahman. Veda in the secondary sense is the various partial revelations relating to Tattva, Brahman or God, and Dharma, morality, made at different times and places to the several Rishis which are embodied in the four Vedas, Rig, Yajus, Sama and Atharva. Veda is not coextensive therefore with the four Vedas. But are these, even if they be regarded as the “earliest,” the only (to use an English term) revelations? Revelation (Akasha-vani) never ceases. When and wherever there is a true Rishi or Seer there is Revelation. And in this sense the Tantra Shastra or Agama claims to be a Revelation. The Shabdabrahmamurti is Nigamadishastramaya: it being said that Agama is the Paramatma of that Murti, the four Vedas with their Angas are its Jivatma; the six philosophies its Indriyas; the Puranas and Upapuranas its gross body; Smriti its hands and other limbs and all, “other Shastras are the hairs of its body. In the Heart-lotus are the fifty Tejomayi Matrika. In the pericarp are the Agamas glittering like millions of suns and moons which are Sarvadharmamaya, Brahmajñanamaya, Sarvasiddhimaya, and Murtiman. These were revealed to the Rishis. In fact all Shastras are said to constitute one great many-millioned collection (Shatakoti Samhita) each being particular manifestations to man of the one, essential Veda. From this follows the belief that they do not contradict, but are in agreement with, one another; for Truth is one whatever be the degree in which it is received, or the form in which the Seers (Rishis) promulgated it to those whose spiritual sight has not strength enough to discern it directly and for themselves. But how, according to Indian notions, can that which is put forward as a Revelation be shown to be such? The answer is that of Ayurveda. A medicine is a good one if it cures. In the same way a Shastra is truly such if the Siddhi which it claims to give is gained as the fruit of the practice of its injunctions, according to the competency and under the conditions prescribed. The principle is a practical and widely adopted one. The tree must be judged by its fruit. This principle may, if applied to the general life of to-day, lead to an adverse judgment on some Tantrik practices. If so, let it be. It is, however, an error to suppose that even such practices as have been condemned, claim to rest on any other basis than Veda. It is by the learned in Tantra Shastra said to be ignorance (Avidya) to see a difference between Agama and Veda.

Ignorant notions prevail on the subject of the relation of the Tantras to Veda and the Vedas. I read some years ago in a Bengali book by a Brahmo author that “the difference was that between Hell and Heaven”. Now on what is such a condemnatory comparison based? It is safe to challenge production of the proof of such an assertion. Let us examine what the Shakta Tantra (to which allusion was made) teaches.

In the first place “Hell” recognizes “Heaven,” for the Shakta Tantra, as I have said, acknowledges the authority of Veda. All Indian Shastras do that. If they did not, they would not be Indian Shastra. The passages on this point are so numerous, and the point itself is so plain that I will only cite a few.

Kularnava Tantra says (II. 85,140,141) that Kuladharma is based on and inspired by the Truth of Veda. Tasmat vedatmakam shastram viddhi kaulatmakam priye. In the same place Shiva cites passages from Shruti in support of His doctrine. The Prapañcasara and other Tantras cite Vaidika Mahavakya and Mantras; and as Mantras are a part of Veda, therefore, Meru Tantra says that Tantra is part of Veda (Pranatoshini 70). Niruttara Tantra calls Tantra the Fifth Veda and Kulacara is named the fifth Ashrama (ib.); that is it follows all others. Matsyauktamahatantra (XIII) says that the disciple must be pure of soul (Shuddhatma) and a knower of Veda. He who is devoid of Vaidika-kriya (Vedakriya-vivarjita) is disqualified (Maharudrayamala, I Khanda, Ch. 15; II Khanda, Ch. 2; Pranatoshini 108). Gandharva Tantra (Ch. 2, Pranatoshini 6) says that the Tantrik Sadhaka must be a believer in Veda (Astika), ever attached to Brahman, ever speaking of Brahman, living in Brahman and taking shelter with Brahman; which, by the way, is a queer demand to make of those, the supposed object of whose rites is mere debauchery. The Kularnava says that there is no knowledge higher than that of Veda and no doctrine equal to Kaula (III. 113, Nahivedadhika vidya na kaula-samadarshanam). Here a distinction is drawn between Veda which is Vidya and the Kaula teaching which he calls Darshana. See also Mahanirvana Tantra (I. 18, 19; II. 8-15). In Mahanirvana Tantra (III. 72) the Mantra Om Saccidekam Brahma is given and in the Prapañcasara (Ch. XXIX) this (what it calls) “Secret of the Vedas” is explained.

That the Shakta Tantra claims to be based on Veda admits of no doubt. In fact Kulluka Bhatta, the celebrated commentator on Manu, says that Shruti is of two kinds, Vaidik and Tantrik.

Vaidiki tantrums caviar dvividha shrutih kirtita

It is of course the fact that different sects bandy words upon the point whether they in fact truly interpret Shruti and follow practice conformable to it. Statements are made by opposing schools that certain Shastras are contrary to Shruti even though they profess to be based thereon. So a citation by Bhaskararaya in the Commentary to V. 76 of the Lalita sahasranama speaks of some Tantras as “opposed to Veda” (Vedaviruddhani). The Vayu Samhita says: “Shaivagama is twofold, that which is based on Shruti and that which is not. The former is composed of the essence of Shruti. Shrauta is Svatantra and Itara” (v. ante, p. 19). Shaivagamo’pi dvividhah, shrauto’ shrautash ca samsmritah Srutisaramayah shrautah svantrastvitaro matah.

So again the Bhagavata or Pancaratra Agama has been said to be non-Vaidik. This matter has been discussed by Samkaracarya and Ramanuja following Yamunacarya.

We must in all cases distinguish between what a school says of itself and what others say of it. In Christianity both Catholicism and Protestantism claim to be based on the Bible and each alleges that the other is a wrong interpretation of it. Each again of the numerous Protestant sects says the same thing of the others.

But is Shakta Tantra contrary to Veda in fact? Let us shortly survey the main points in its doctrine. It teaches that Paramatma Nirguna Shiva is Saccidananda (Prapañcasara, Ch. XXIX: Kularnava, Ch. I. vv. 6-7). Kularnava says “Shiva is the impartite Supreme Brahman, the All-knowing (Sarvajña) Creator of all. He is the Stainless One and the Lord of all. He is One without a second (Advaya). He is Light itself. He changes not, and is without beginning or end. He is attributeless and above the highest. He is Saccidananda” (I. 6-7. And see the Dhyana and Pañcaratnastotra in Mahanirvana Tantra III. 50, 59-63). Brahman is Saccidananda, Eternal (Nitya), Changeless (Nirvikara), Partless (Nishkala), Untouched by Maya (Nirmala), Attributeless (Nirguna), Formless (Arupa), Imperishable (Akshara), All-spreading like space (Vyomasannibha), Self-illuminating (Svyamjyotih), Reality (Tattva) which is beyond mind and speech and is to be approached through spiritual feeling alone (Bhavanagamya). Kularnava I, 6-8; III. 92, 93; IX. 7). (Mahanirvana III. 50, 59-63, 67-68, 74; III. 12). In His aspect as the Lord (Ishvara) of all, He is the All-knower (Sarvajña), Lord of all: whose Body is pure Sattva (Shuddhasattvamaya), the Soul of the universe (Vishvatma). (Mahanirvana I. 61, III. 68). Such definitions simply re-affirm the teaching of Veda. Brahman is That which pervades without limit the Universe (Prapañcasara XXIX; Mahanirvana III. 33-35) as oil the sesamum seed (Sharada Tilaka I, Shaktanandatarangini I, Pranatoshini 13). This Brahman has twofold aspect as Parabrahman (Nirguna, Nishkala) and Shabda-brahman (Saguna, Sakala). Sammohana, a highly interesting Tantra, says (Ch. I) that Kubjika is of twofold aspect, namely, Nishkala when She is Candra-vaktra, and Sakala when called Paramukhi. So too is Guhyakali who as the first is Ekavaktra mahapashupatishi advaitabhavasampanna and as the second Dashavaktra. So the Kularnava says Shabda-brahmaparamabrahmabhedena Brahmano dvaividyam uktam (Khanda V, Ullasa 1). The same Tantra says that Sadashiva is without the bonds (of Maya) and Jiva is with them (Pashabadho bhavej jivah pashamuktah Sadashivahi, IX. 42) upon which the author of the Pranatoshini, citing this passage says “thus the identity of Jiva and Shiva is shown (iti Shivajivayoraikyam uktam). The Shakta Tantra is thus Advaitavada: for it proclaims that Paramatma and Jivatma are one. So it affirms the “grand words” (Mahavakya) of Veda — “Tat tvam asi,” “So’ham,” “Brahmasmi” (Mahanirvana VIII. 264-265, V. 105); Prapañcasara II; identifying Hrim with Kundali and Hangsah and then with So’ham. Yah Suksmah So’ham ib. XXIV, Jñanarnava Tantra XXI. 10). As to Brahmasmi, see Kularnava IX. 32 and ib. 41. So’hambhavena pujayet. The Mantra “all this is surely Brahman (Sarvam khalvidam Brahma)” is according to the Mahanirvana (VII. 98) the end and aim of Tantrika Kulacara, the realization of which saying the Prapañcasara Tantra describes as the fifth or Supreme State (Ch. XIX); for the identity of Jivatma and Paramatma is Liberation which the Vedantasara defines to be Jivabrahmanoraikyam). Kularnava refers to the Advaita of which Shiva speaks (Advaitantu shivenoktam I. 108. See also Mahanirvana II. 33-34; I II. 33-35; 50-64; Prapañcasara II, XI X, XXIX). Gandharva Tantra says that the Sadhaka must be a nondualist (Dvaitahina). (See Ch. II. ib. Pranatoshini 108; Maharudrapamala I Khanda, Ch. 15; II Khanda, Ch. 2). It is useless to multiply quotations on this point of which there is no end. In fact that particular form of worship which has earned the Shakta Tantras ill-fame claims to be a practical application of Advaitavada. The Sammohana Tantra (Ch. VIII) gives high praise to the philosopher Samkaracarya saying that He was an incarnation of Shiva for the destruction of Buddhism. Kaulacarya is said to properly follow a full knowledge of Vedantic doctrine. Shiva in the Kularnava (I. 110) says “some desire dualism (Dvaita), others nondualism (Advaita) but my truth is beyond both (Dvaitadvaitavivarjita)”.

Advaitavedanta is the whole day and life of the Shakta Sadhaka. On waking at dawn (Brahmamuhurta) he sits on his bed and meditates “I am the Devi and none other. I am Brahman who is beyond all grief. I am a form of Saccidananda whose true nature is eternal Liberation.”

Aham Devi na canpo’smi, Brahmaivaham na sokabhak,

Saccidanandarupo’ham nitpamuktasvabhavavan.

At noon again seated in Pujasana at time of Bhutasuddhi he meditates on the dissolution of the Tattvas in Paramatma. Seeing no difference between Paramatma and Jivatma he affirms Sa’ham “I am She”. Again in the evening after ritual duties he affirms himself to be the Akhilatma and Saccidananda, and having so thought he sleeps. Similarly (I may here interpose) in the Buddhist Tantra — the Sadhaka on rising in the state of Devadeha (hLayi-sku) imagines that the double drums are sounding in the heavens proclaiming the Mantras of the 24 Viras (dPahvo), and regards all things around him as constituting the Mandala of himself as Buddha Vajrasattva. When about to sleep he again imagines his body to be that of Buddha Vajrasattva and then merges himself into the tranquil state of the Void (Shunyata).

Gandharva Tantra says: “Having saluted the Guru as directed and thought ‘So’ham’ the wise Sadhaka, the performer of the rite should ponder the unity of Jiva and Brahman.”

Gurun natva vidhanena so’ham iti porudhasah

Aikyam sambhavayed dhiman jivasya Brahmano’pi ca.

Kali Tantra says: “Having meditated in this way, a Sadhaka should worship Devi as his own Atma, thinking I am Brahman.” Kubjika Tantra says (Devi is called Kubjika because She is Kundali): “A Sadhaka should meditate on his own Self as one and the same with Her (Taya sahitam atmanam ekibhutam vicintayet)” and so on.

The cardinal doctrine of these Shakta Tantras is that of Shakti whether in its Svarupa (that is, as It is in Itself) as Cidrupini, the Paraprakriti of Paramatma (Mahanirvana IV. 10) or as Maya and Prakriti (see as to the latter the great Hymn to Prakriti in Prapañcasara, Ch. XI). Shakti as the Kubjika Tantra says (Ch. I) is Consciousness (Caitanyarupini) and Bliss (Anandarupini). She is at the same time support of (Gunashraya) and composed of the Gunas (Gunamayi). Maya is however explained from the standpoint of Sadhana, the Tantra Shastra being a Sadhana Shastra, and not according to the Mayavada, that is, transcendental standpoint, of Samkara.

What is there in the great Devi Sukta of the Rigveda (Mandala X, Sukta 125) which the Shakta Tantra does not teach? The Rishi of this revelation was a woman, the daughter of Rishi Ambhrina. It was fitting that a woman should proclaim the Divine Motherhood. Her Hymn says: “I am the Sovereign Queen the Treasury of all treasures; the chief of all objects of worship whose all-pervading Self all Devatas manifest; whose birthplace is in the midst of the causal waters; who breathing forth gives form to all created worlds and yet extends beyond them, so vast am I in greatness.” (The full Hymn is translated in the French Edition of A. and E. Avalon’s Hymns to the Goddess, Bossard, Paris.)

It is useless to cite quotations to show that the Shakta Tantra accepts the doctrine of Karma which as the Kularnava (IX. 125) says Jiva cannot give up until he renounces the fruit of it; an infinite number of universes, and their transitoriness (Mahanirvana III. 7), the plurality of worlds, Heaven and Hell, the seven Lokas, the Devas and Devis, who as the Kulacudamani Nigama (following the Devi-Sukta) says (Ch. I) are but parts of the great Shakti (Shaktanandatarangim III). Being Advaitavada, Moksha the state of Liberation and so forth is Paramatma. It accepts Smriti and Puranas; the Mahanirvana and other Tantras saying that they are the governing Shastras of the Treta and Dvapara ages respectively, as Tantra is that of the Kaliyuga. So the Tarapradipa (Ch. I) says that in the Kaliyuga, the Tantrika and not the Vaidika Dharma is to be followed. It is said that in Satya, Veda was undivided. In Dvapara, Krishnadvaipayana separated it into four parts. In Satya, Vaidika Upasana was Pradhana, that is, prevailed; Sadhakas worshipping Indra for wealth, children and the like; though Nishkama Rishis adored the Sarvashaktiman (Devisukta is Advaitasiddhipurna). In Treta, worship according to Smriti prevailed. It was then, that Vashishtha is said to have done Sadhana of Brahmavidya according to Cinacarakrama. Though in the Dvapara there was both Smriti and Purana, rites were generally performed according to the Puranas. There was also then, as always, worshippers of the Purnashaktimahavidya. At the end of Dvapara and beginning of the Kali age the Tantra Shastra was taught to men. Then the ten Samskaras, Shraddha and Antyeshtikriya were, as they are now, performed according to the Vaidikadharma: Ashramacara according to Dayabhaga and other Smriti Texts; Vratas according to Purana; Disha and Upasana of Brahman with Shakti, and various kinds of Yoga Sadhana, according to the Agama which is divided into three parts Tantra (Sattvaguna), Yamala (Rajoguna), and Damara (Tamoguna). There were 64 Tantras for each of the three divisions Ashvakranta, Rathakranta, Vishnukranta.

Such is the Tantrik tradition concerning the Ages and their appropriate Scriptures. Whether this tradition has any historical basis still awaits inquiry, which is rendered difficult by the fact that many Tantras have been lost and others destroyed by those inimical to them. It is sufficient for my purpose to merely state what is the belief: that purpose being to show that the Tantra Shastra recognizes, and claims not to be in conflict with Veda or any other recognized Shastra. It accepts the six Philosophies (Darshana) which Shiva says are the six limbs of Kula and parts of his body, saying that he who severs them severs His limbs (Kularnava II. 84, 84-85). The meaning of this is that the Six Philosophies and the Six Minds, as all else, are parts of His body. It accepts the Shabda doctrine of Mimamsa subject to certain modifications to meet its doctrine of Shakti. It, in common with the Shaiva Tantra, accepts the doctrine of the 36 Tattvas, and Shadadhva (Tattva, Kala, Bhuvana, Varna, Pada, Mantra; see my Garland of Letters). This is an elaboration in detail which explains the origin of the Purusha and Prakriti Tattvas of the Samkhya. These are shown to be twin facets of the One, and the “development” of Shakti into Purusha-Prakriti Tattva is shown. These Tattvas include the ordinary 24 Prakriti with it, Gunas to Prithivi. It accepts the doctrine of three bodies (causal, subtle, gross) and the three states (Jagrat, Svapna Sushupti) in their individual and collective aspects. It follows the mode of evolution (Parinama) of Samkhya in so far as the development of Jiva is concerned, as also an Abhasa, in the nature of Vivartta, “from Fire to Fire” in the Pure Creation. Its exposition of the body includes the five Pranas, the seven Dhatus, the Doshas (Vayu, Pitta, Kapha) and so forth (Prapañcasara II). On the ritual side it contains the commonly accepted ritual of present-day Hinduism; Mantra, Yantra, Pratima, Linga, Shalagrama, Nyasa, Japa, Puja, Stotra, Kavaca, Dhyana and so forth, as well ‘as the Vaidik rites which are the ten Samskaras, Homa and the like. Most of the commonly accepted ritual of the day is Tantrik. It accepts Yoga in all its forms Mantra, Hatha, Laya, Jñana; and is in particular distinguished by its practice of Laya or Kundali-yoga and other Hatha processes.

Therefore not only is the authority of the Veda acknowledged along with the Agamas, Nigamas and Tantras but there is not a single doctrine or practice, amongst those hitherto mentioned, which is either not generally held, or which has not the adherence of large numbers of Indian worshippers. It accepts all the notions common to Hinduism as a whole. Nor is there a single doctrine previously mentioned which is contrary to Veda, that is on the assumption of the truth of Advaitavada. For of course it is open to Dualists and Vishishtadvaitins to say that its Monistic interpretation of Vedanta is not a true exposition of Vaidik truth. No Shakta will however say that. Subject to this, I do not know of anything which it omits and should have included, or states contrary to the tenor of Vaidik doctrine. If there be anything I shall be obliged, as a student of the Shastra, to any one who will call my attention to it. The Shastra has not, therefore, up to this point shown itself as a “Hell” in opposition to the Vaidik “Heaven.”

But it may said that I have omitted the main thing which gives it its bad and un-Vaidik character, namely the ill-famed Pañcatattva or worship with meat, wine, fish, grain and woman. I have also omitted the magic to be found in some of the Shastras.

The latter may be first shortly dealt with. Magic is not peculiar to the Tantras. It is to be found in plenty in the Atharvaveda. In fact the definition of Abhicara is “the Karma described in the Tantras and Atharvaveda.” Abhicara is magical process with intent to destroy or injure. It is Himsa-karma, or act injurious to others. There is nothing anti-Vaidik then in Magic. I may, however, here also point out that there is nothing wrong in Magic (Shatkarma) per se. As with so many other things it is the use or abuse of it which makes it right or wrong. If a man kills, by Marana Karma, a rival in his business to get rid of competition and to succeed to his clients’ custom, he commits a very grave sin — one of the most grievous of sins. Suppose, however, that a man saw a tiger stalking a child, or a dacoit about to slay it for its golden ornament; his killing of the tiger or dacoit would, if necessary for the safety of the child, be a justifiable act. Magic is, however, likely to be abused and has in fact been abused by some of the Tantriks. I think this is the most serious charge established against them. For evil magic which proceeds from malevolence is a greater crime than any abuse of natural appetite. But in this, as in other matters, we must distinguish between what the Shastra says and the practices of its followers. The injunction laid upon the Sadhaka is that he “should do good to other beings as if they were his own self”. Atmavat sarvabhutebhyo hitam kuryat kuleshvari (Kularnava Tantra XII. 63). In the Kularnava Samhita (a different and far inferior work to the Tantra of that name) Shiva recites some horrible rites with the flesh of rat and bat; with the soiled linen of a Candala woman, with the shroud of a corpse, and so forth; and then he says, “My heart trembles (hridayam kampate mama), my limbs tremble (gatrani mama kampante), my mouth is dry, Oh Parvati! (mukham shushyate Parvati!) Oh gentle one, my mind is all disturbed (kshobho me jayate bhadre). What more shall I say? Conceal it (Na vaktavyam) conceal it, conceal it.” He then says: “In the Kali age Sadhakas are generally greedy of money. Having done greatly sinful acts they destroy living beings. For them there is neither Guru nor Rudra, nor Thee nor Sadhika. My dear life! they are ready to do acts for the destruction of men. Therefore it is wrong to reveal these matters, oh Devi. I have told Thee out of affection for Thee, being greatly pleased by Thy kisses and embrace. But it should be as carefully concealed by Thee, as thine own secret body. Oh Parvati! all this is greatly sinful and a very bad Yoga. (Mahapatakayuktam tat kuyogo’yam udahritah.)”

Kalikale sadhakastu prapasho dhanalolupah

Mahakrityam vidhayaiva praninam badhabhaginah

Na gurur napi Rudro va naiva tvam naiva sadhika

Mahapranivinashaya samarthah pranavallabhe

Etat prakashanam devi dosaya parikalpyate

Snehena tava deveshi chumbanalinganaistatha

Santusyaiva maya devi sarvam etat prakashitam

Tvapa gopyam prayatnena svayoniriva Parvati

Mahapataka-yuktam tat kuyogo’yam udahritah.

“None of these things are ever to be done by Thee, Oh Daughter of the Mountain (Sarvatha naiva kartavyastvaya Parvatanandini). Whoever does so, incurs the sin of destroying Me. I destroy all such, as does fire, dry grass. Of a surety such incur the sin of slaying a Brahmana. All such incur the sin of slaying a Brahmana.”

Sarvatha naiva kartavya stvaya Parvatanandini

Badhabhak mama deveshi krityamimam samacaret

Tasya sarvam haramyashu vahnih shuskatrinam yatha

Avyartham brahmahatyanca brahmahatyam savindati.

When therefore we condemn the sin of evil magic it is necessary to remember both such teaching as is contained in this quotation, and the practice of those of good life who follow the Shastra. To do so is to be both fair and accurate. There is nothing, in any event, in the point that the magical contents of the Tantra Shastra make it contrary to Veda. Those who bring such a charge must also prefer it against the Atharvaveda.

As a matter of fact Magic is common to all early religions. It has been practiced, though condemned, in Christian Europe. It is not necessary to go back to the old witchcraft trials. There are some who protest against its recrudescence to-day. It has been well observed that there are two significant facts about occultism, namely its catholicity (it is to be found in all lands and ages) and its amazing power of recuperation after it has been supposed to have been disproved as mere “superstition”. Even some quarter of a century ago (I am quoting from the same author) there were probably not a score of people in London (and those kept their preoccupation to themselves) who had any interest at all in the subject except from a purely antiquarian standpoint. Magic was dismissed by practically all educated men as something too evidently foolish and nonsensical to deserve attention or inquiry. In recent years the position has been reversed in the West, and complaint is again made of the revival of witchcraft and occultism to-day. The reason of this is that modern scientific investigation has established the objectivity of some leading phenomena of occultism. For instance a little more than a century or so ago, it was still believed that a person could inflict physical injury on another by means other than physical. And this is what is to be found in that portion of the Tantra Shastras which deal with the Shatkarma. Witches confessed to having committed this crime and were punished therefor. At a later date the witchcraft trials were held to be evidence of the superstition both of the accused and accusers. Yet psychology now allows the principle that Thought is itself a Force, and that by Thought alone, properly directed, without any known physical means the thought of another, and hence his whole condition, can be affected. By physical means I mean direct physical means, for occultism may, and does avail itself of physical means to stimulate and intensify the force and direction of thought. This is the meaning of the magic rituals which have been so much ridiculed. Why is black the color of Marana Karma? Because that color incites and maintains and emphasizes the will to kill. So Hypnotism (Vashikaranam), as an instance of the exercise of the Power of Thought, makes use of gestures, rotatory instruments and so forth.

The Magician having a firm faith in his (or her) power (for faith in occultism as in Religion is essential) surrounds himself with every incentive to concentrated, prolonged and (in malevolent magic), malevolent thought. A figure or other object such as part of the clothing, hair, nails and so forth of the victim represents the person to be attacked by magic. This serves as the ‘immediate object’ on which the magical thought is expended. The Magician is helped by this and similar aids to a state of fixed and malignant attention which is rendered intense by action taken on the substituted object. It is not of course the injuries done to this object which are the direct cause of injury to the person attacked, but the thought of the magician of which these injuries are a materialization. There is thus present the circumstances which a modern psychologist would demand for success in a telepathic experiment. As the witchcraft trials show, the victim is first affected in thought and then in body by the malignant thought thus focused upon him. Sometimes no apparent means are employed, as in a case reported to me by a friend of mine as occurring in a Bombay Hotel when a man well-known in India for his “Powers” (Siddhi) drove away, by the power of his thought only, a party of persons sitting at a neighboring table whose presence was greatly distasteful to one of his companions. This, if the effect of’ magical power, was an instance of what the Tantras call Ucchatana. In all cases the general principle is the same, namely the setting in motion and direction of powerful thought by appropriate means.

This is the view of those who give what may be called a psychological explanation of these phenomena. These would hold that the magical symbolisms are without inherent force but work according to race and individual characteristics on the mind which does the rest. Others believe that there is an inherent power in Symbolism itself, that the “Symbol” is not merely such but an actual expression of, and instrument by which, certain occult laws are brought into play. In other words the power of “Symbolism” derives not merely from the effect which it may have on particular minds likely to be affected by it but from itself as a law external to human thought. Some again (and Indian magicians amongst others) believe in the presence and aid of discarnate personalities (such as the unclean Pishacas) given in the carrying out of occult operations. Similarly it is commonly held by some that where so-called “spiritualistic” phenomena are real and not fraudulent (as they sometimes are) the action is not that of the dead but of Infernal Spirits simulating them and misleading men to their ruin. Occultism in the sense of a belief in, and claim to be able to use, a certain range of forces which may be called preternatural, has the adherence not only of savage and barbarous people (who always believe in it) but also of an increasing number of “civilized” Londoners, Berliners, Americans, Parisians and other Western peoples. They differ in all else but they are united in this. Even what most would regard as downright superstition still abundantly flourishes in the West. Witness the hundreds of thousands of “touch-wood” figures and the like sent to the troops in the recent war, the horror of’ sitting 13 to a table, and so on. In fact, from the earliest ages, magic has gone hand-in-hand with religion, and if for short periods the former has been thought to be dead it always rises again. Is this, as some say, the mark of the inherent silly credulity of mankind, or does the fact show that there is something in the claims which occultism has made in all ages P India (I do not speak of the English-educated community which shares in the rise and fall of English opinion) has always believed in occultism and some of the Tantra Shastras are repertories of its ritual. Magic and superstition proper, exist in this country but are also to be found in the West. The same remark applies to every depreciatory criticism passed upon the Indian people. Some have thought that occultism is the sign both of savagery and barbarism on the one hand and of decadent civilization on the other. In India it has always existed and still exists. It has been well said that there is but one mental attitude impossible to the educated man, namely blank incredulity with regard to the whole subject. There has been, and is, a change of attitude due to an increase of psychological knowledge and scientific investigation into objective facts. Certain reconciliations have been suggested, bringing together the ancient beliefs, which sometimes exist in crude and ignorant forms. These reconciliations may be regarded as insufficiently borne out by the evidence. On the other hand a proposed reconciliation may be accepted as one that on the whole seems to meet the claims made by the occultist on one side and the scientific psychologist on the other. But in the present state of knowledge it is no longer possible to reject both claims as evidently absurd. Men of approved scientific position have, notwithstanding the ridicule and scientific bigotry to which they have been exposed, considered the facts to be worthy of their investigation. And on the psychological side successive and continuous discoveries are being made which corroborate ancient beliefs in substance, though they are not always in consonance with the mode in which those beliefs were expressed. We must face the fact that (with Religion) Occultism is in some form or another a widely diffused belief of humanity. All however will be agreed in holding that malevolent Magic is a great Sin. In leaving the subject of Magic I may here add that modern psychology and its data afford remarkable corroboration of some other Indian beliefs such as that Thought is a Force, and that its operation is in a field of Consciousness which is wider than that of which the mind is ordinarily aware. We may note also the aid which is derived from the establishment of dual and multiple personalities in understanding how it may be possible that in one unity there may be yet varying aspects.

The second charge is the alleged Avaidik character of the secret Pañcatattva Sadhana, with wine, flesh and women, its alleged immorality of principle, and the evil lives of those who practice it. I am not in the present paper dealing in full with this subject; not that I intend by any means to shirk it; but it is more appropriately the subject of consideration in future Chapters on the subject of Shakta Tantrik Sadhana of which it forms a part. What I wish to say now is only this: We must distinguish in the first place between a principle and its application. A principle may be perfectly right and sound and yet a supposed application may not be an application in fact; or if there be an application, the latter may violate some other moral or physical law, or be dangerous and inexpedient as leading to abuse. I will show later that the principle involved is one which is claimed to be in conformity with Vaidik truth, and to be in fact recognized in varying forms by all classes of Hindus. Some do so dualistically. The Sadhana of the Shakta Tantra is, whether right or wrong, an application of the principles of Advaitavada and in its full form should not, it is said, be entered upon until after Vedantic principles have been mastered. For this reason Kauladharma has been called the fifth Ashrama. Secondly I wish to point out that this ritual with wine and meat is not as some suppose a new thing, something introduced by the Shakta Tantriks. On the contrary it is very old and has sanction in Vaidik practice as will appear from the authorities cited in the Appendix to this Chapter. So much is this so, that a Tantrik Sadhu discussing the matter with a Bengali friend of mine said of himself, as a follower of this ritual, that he was a Hindu and that those who were opposed to it were Jainas. What he meant, and what seems to be the fact, is that the present-day general prohibition against the use of wine, and the generally prevalent avoidance, or limitation of an animal diet, are due to the influence of Jainism and Buddhism which arose after, and in opposition to, Vaidik usage. Their influence is most marked of course in Vaishnavism but has not been without effect elsewhere. When we examine ancient Vaidik usage we find that meat, fish and Mudra (the latter in the form of Purodasha) were consumed, and intoxicating liquor (in the form of Soma) was drunk, in the Vaidik Yajñas. We also discover some Vaidik rites in which there was Maithuna. This I have dealt with in my article on “Shakti and Shakta”.

The above-mentioned facts show in my opinion that there is ground for the doctrine of the Tantrikas that it is a mark of ignorance (Avidya) to sever Veda and Tantra. My conclusion is not however a counsel to follow this or any other particular form of ritual. I am only concerned to state the facts. I may, however, here add two observations.

From an outside point of view (for I do not here deal with the subject otherwise) we must consider the age in which a particular Shastra was produced and consequently the conditions of the time, the then state of society, its moral and spiritual development and so forth. To understand some rites in the past history of this and other countries one must seek, in lieu of surface explanations, their occult significance in the history of the human race; and the mind must cast itself back into the ages whence it has emerged, by the aid of those traces it still bears in the depths of its being of that which outwardly expressed itself in ancient custom.

Take for instance the rite of human sacrifice which the Kalikalpalata says that the Raja alone may perform (Raja naravalim dadayenna yo’pi parameshvari) but in which, as the Tantrasara states, no Brahmana may participate (Brahmananam naravalidane nadhikarah). Such an animal sacrifice is not peculiarly “Tantrik” but an instance of the survival of a rite widely spread in the ancient world; older than the day when Jehovah bade Abraham sacrifice his son (Gen. XXII) and that on which Sunasshepa (Aitareya Brahmana VII, 3) like Isaac was released. Reference, it is true, is made to this sacrifice in the Shastras, but save as some rare exception (I myself judged a case in Court some years ago) it does not exist to-day and the vast mass of men do not wish to see it revived. The Cakra ritual similarly is either disappearing or becoming in spirit transformed where there had been abuse.

What is of primary value in the Tantra Shastra are certain principles with which I have dealt elsewhere, and with which I deal again in part in this and the following lectures. The application of these principles in ritual is a question of form. All form is a passing thing. In the shape of ritual its validity is limited to place and time. As so limited, it will continue so long as it serves a useful purpose and meets the needs of the age, and the degree of its spiritual advancement, or that of any particular body of men who practice it; otherwise it will disappear, whilst the foundations of Vedanta on which it rests may remain. In the same way it is said that we ourselves come and go with our merits and demerits, but that the Spirit ever abides beyond both good and evil.


The following note as to Tantra Shastra and Veda was kindly prepared for me at my request by Sj. Braja Lal Mukherji, M.A.:

My purpose in this paper is not to give to the public any pre-conceived opinion, but is simply to put together certain facts which will enable it to form a correct opinion on the subject.

These facts have been collected from sources as to the authenticity of which there is no doubt. There is no dispute that most of these works disclose the state of Vaidik society prior to the 6th century s.c. and that at the time when the said works were composed the Vaidik rituals were being observed and performed. Certain elements which have been assumed to be non-Vaidik, appear in the said works or at least in many of them, and they have been summarily disposed of by some scholars as supplementary (Parishishta), or interpolations (Prakshipta). The theory that these portions are interpolations is based on the assumption that the said elements are non-Vaidik or post-Vaidik and also on the assumption that at the times when the said works were composed, the Anushtupchhandah was not known; and that therefore, those portions of the said works which appear in Anushtub, must be later interpolations. We need not go into the propriety of these assumptions in this paper; but suffice it to say, that the first assumption simply begs the question, and the second one is not of any importance in connection with the subject of this paper; inasmuch as, the statements made in the Anushtub portions are corroborated by earlier authorities as to whose antiquity there is no question, and in any case, the fact that the statements have been made are proof of earlier usage or custom.

Vaidik sacrifices are divided into three classes: (1) Pakayajñas, (2) Haviryajñas and (3) Soma sacrifices; and there are sub-divisions under each of the said classes. The Soma sacrifices are classed under three heads according to the number of days required for performance, viz., Ekaha, Ahina and Satra. Ekaha sacrifices are those which are performed in one day by three Savanas, exactly as in the Jagaddhatri Puja; Ahina sacrifices are performed from two to eleven days and Satras are performed during a long period, the minimum number of days required being thirteen and the maximum being a thousand years. The twelve-day sacrifices are arranged as a separate class. The principal Somayajñas are (1) Agnishtoma, (2) Atyagnishtoma, (3) Ukthyah, (4) Shodashi, (5) Vajapeyah, (6) Atiratrah, (7) Aptoryama. The Ishtis or Haviryajñas are also principally seven in number, namely, (1) Agnyadheyam, (2) Agnihotram, (3) Darsha-paurnamasa, (4) Caturmasyam, (5) Agrayaneshti, (6) Nirudhapashubandha, and (7) Sautramani. The Pakayajñas are also seven in number, namely, (1) Astaka, (2) Parvanam, (3) Shraddham, (4) Shravani, (5) Agrahayani, (6) Caitri, and (7) Ashvayuji. The last seven. are to be performed with the help of the Grihya fire and are described in the Grihya works. The others are described in the Shrauta works.

Whatever be the differences among these Yajñas in regard to the number of stomas or stotras and the Samans to be sung and the Kapalas, Grahas, or the number and nature of sacrifices or as to other particulars, there are some ideas which prevail in all of them. All Yajñas are based on the idea that Mithunikarana leads to spiritual happiness. Sexual intercourse is Agnihotra (S.B. XI. 6. 2. 10). Maithunikarana is consecration (S.B. III. 2. l. 2, etc.) They enclose the Sadas secretly, for enclosing is Mithunikarana and therefore it must be done secretly (S.B. IV. 6, 7, 9 and 10). Bricks (Vishvajyotis) are made because the making of the bricks causes generation (S.B. VI. 5. 3. 5.) Two Padas or Caranas of an Anushtub verse are read in a detached manner and the two remaining are read together to imitate the manner of sexual union (A.B. II.5.3.); they do not worship a female Devata, unless she is coupled with a male Deva (A.B. III. 5. 4); they use a couple of Chandas distinguishing the one as male from the other as female and the two are taken together and believed to be the symbol of Maithuna, and by such Maithuna the desired result of ritual is achieved (A.B. V. 3. 1); they believe that the reading of the Ahanasya mantra (S.S.S. XII. 24. 1-10; A.U. XX. 136) will confer bliss (A.B. VI. 5. 10); they say that the highest and best form of Maithuna is that of Shraddha and Satya, Piety and Truth (A.B. VII. 2. 9) and this kind of Maithuna in the abstract is directed for Agnihotris who have purified themselves by actual performances and observances in a religious spirit.

They direct the observance and performance of Maithuna as a religious rite or part of a religious rite (L.S.S. IV. 3. 17; K.S.S. XIII. 42; 7.A. IV. 7. 50; X 62, 7; A.A. I. 2. 4. 10; V. 1. 5. 13; G.G.S. II. 5. 6. 9. 10; S.G.S: I. 19. 2-6; K.G.S. l. 4. 15; H.G.S. I. 24. 3; Ap. G.S. III.8. 10; P.G.S. I. 11. 7; Ap. V. 25. 11; Tan. Br. VIII. 7. 12; Chh. Up. II. 13. 1-2) and they direct that Mantras are to be uttered during the observance of this rite (Br. D. V. 90; VIII. 82; A.V. V. 82. 4; R. V. X 85. 37; R.V. Kh. 30 1; Rik P. II. 15. 1-8; As. S.S. VIII. 3. 28; G.B. VI. 15). One of the articles of faith of the Vaidik people therefore was, that sexual union led the way to bliss hereafter and must be performed in a true religious spirit to ensure spiritual welfare; wanton indulgence being severely deprecated. Ida (a woman) said: “If thou wilt make use of me at the sacrifice, then whatever blessing thou shalt invoke through me, shall be granted to thee.” (S.B. I. 8 — 1. 9, etc.)

The Vaidik people performed their Somayajñas and Haviryajñas which included the Sautramani, with libations and drinks of intoxicating liquor (L.S.S. V. 4, 11; K.S.S. XIX, 1, etc.; S.S.S. XV. 15; XIV. 13. 4.; S.B. V. 1. 2. 12; V. 1. 5. 28; XII. 7. 3. 14, etc.; XII. 8. 1, etc.; XII. 8. 2. 21, 22; V. 5. 4. 19, etc.; XII. 7. 3. 8; Ap. S.S. XVIII. l. 9.) Sura purifies the sacrificer whilst itself is purified (S.B. XII. 8. 1. 16). Rishi Kakshivan sings the praises of Sura (R.V. I. 116. 7). It is said to be a desirable thing (R.V.. X. 107. 9; VIII. 2. 12). They prefer Soma, the sweet drink. Soma is Paramahutih (S.B. VI. 6. 3. 7); it is the nectar of immortality (S.B. IX. 4. 4. 8.) They deprecate and punish the wanton use of intoxicating liquor (Ap. Dh. S. I. 25. 3.; Ga. Dh. S. XXIII. 10; Va. Dh. S. XX. 19; Ba. Dh. S. II. l. 18, etc.; S.V.B. I. 5). They direct the use of Sura and Soma for attainment of happiness and prescribe the manner and purpose of drinking the same; they prescribe the measure and number of drinks to be offered or taken at a sacrifice (S.B. V. l. 2. 9, etc., V. 5. 4), and they add that a breach of these rules destroys the efficacy of the rite. They offer libations of Sura to the Fathers (A.B. III. l. 5; S.B. V. 5. 4. 27, etc.) They offer Sura to the Ashvins (R. V.B. I. 44). They offer Sura to Vinayak’s mother ( Yag. I. 2. 88). During the performance of a sacrifice, the priests and the householder sit together; they all touch their cups, and raise them to their mouths, all the while reciting proper Mantras addressed to Devas (A.B. VI. 3. 1) and then they drink (A.B. VII. 5. 7). The Vaidik people used to offer to their Devatas at their sacrifices animal and vegetable food. The vegetable substances are Tandula, Pishtaka, Phalikarana, Purodasha, Odana, Yavaguh, Prithuka, Laja, Dhanah and Saktu, and the animal food was Payah, Dadhi, Ajyam, Amiksa Vajinam, Vapa, Mamsam, Lohitam, Pashurasah; the principal of these being Dhanah, Karambha, Paribaha, Purodasha and Payasya (A.B. II. 3.6). Indeed it would not be incorrect to say that no Vaidik rite can be performed without these offerings; the forms and the mode of preparation and the number of cakes to be offered, differing in each case (A.B. I. 1. 1.; II. 1-9; II. 3. 5; II. 3-6; S.B. I. 2. 2; L.S.S. V. 4. 1, etc.; Ap. S.S. XII. 3. 12; XII. 4, 9. 14; K.S.S. V. 309; Tait. Br. III. 2. 6, etc.) They offer animal sacrifices (Kat. S.S. Chap. VI; S.B. III. 6. 4; III. 8. 1; V. 1. 3. 2. 14; V. 3. 1. 10; VI. 2. 2. 15. Kanda XIII; As. G.S. I. 11; P.G.S. III. 11; G.G.S. III. 10. 18; Kh. G.S. III. 4; H.G.S. II. 15), which include the horse, goats, sheep, oxen (Tait. Br. II. 8. 1, etc.) and human beings (Tait. Br. III. 4. 1). They believe that by performing animal sacrifices, the sacrificer ransoms himself (S.B. XI. 7. 1. 3; A.B. II. l. 3). or wins all these worlds (Ap. S.S. VII. 1. 1). The animal is the sacrificer himself (A.B. II. 2.1). They direct by special rules, in what manner the animal should be killed, cut and offered (A.B. II. 6; S.B. III. 8. l. 15). They were aware that wanton killing of animals was wrong (A.B. II. l. 7) and believed that offering animal sacrifices to the Devatas, was one of the means whereby bliss hereafter could be attained (Ba. Dh. S. II. 4. 23). And it was only for certain Yajñas that animals could be slain (Va. Dh. S. IV. 5-8; S.G.S. II. 16; 1 Ba. S.S. IV). Wanton killing of animals was very severely punished (Ap. Dh. S. I. 25. 13-26; Ga. Dh. S. XXII. 18, etc.; Va. Dh. S. 18. 23, etc.; Ba. Dh. S. I. 19. 6).

The Vaidik people from the time of the earliest Yajñas severely deprecated lust of any kind whatsoever; and they allowed Maithuna, Mamsa, Madya and Mudra for religious purposes only and as offerings to the Devas. The Cakra sittings of the Tantriks (M.N.T. Ch. VI) have unmistakable similarities with the Vajapeya and Sautramani (S.B. V; K.S.S. XIV; A.B. III. 4. 3; S.B. XII. 7.1, etc.; K.S.S. XIX) and even the manner of drinking in company has been preserved as will appear from the references given above.

When performing Yajña in company, the members of the company become Brahmanas and there is no distinction of caste (3.B. VIII. 4. 1).

The worship in both Vaidik and Tantrik rites begins with Acamana, which is a form of ablution, in which certain parts of the body are touched with water. In this respect, the Vaidik and the Tantrik practices are exactly similar (G.G.S. l. 2. 5; Tait. A. II. 11; M.N.T.; Chap. V). They purify themselves by uttering some mantras as Bijas while contemplating the Deities of certain parts of their bodies and touching such parts with their fingers (A.A. III. 2. l. 2; III. 2. 5. 2; R.V.B. II. 16). They contemplate each Deva through his or her particular Mantras (R.V. III. 62. 10) which will be found collected in the Parishishta to the Taittirya Aranyaka. They make use of certain sounds for removing unclean spirits, e.g., “Khat. Phat. Hum.” (7.A. IV. 27; S.V. St. I. 2. 1; I. l. 3; Aranyagana VI. 1-8; IV. 2. 19; S.B. I 5. 2. 18; I. 3. 3. 14; I. 7. 2. 11-14; I. 7. 2. 21; XI. 2. 2. 3 and 5; M.N.T. Chap. III) and for other purposes (A.B. II. 3. 6.). They attribute a Deity to each letter in a Mantra (A.B. II.5.5)

They make gestures with their fingers as part of their religious rites (S.B. III. l. 3. 25; III. 4. 3. 2) and locate the Devatas of particular sounds in particular parts of their bodies (P.S. 54, 56; K.S.S. VII. 71, 73). They perform their baths as a means of and with the view of pleasing their Devas (G. Sn. S. and M.N.T.) and in performing the Acamana they sacrifice unto themselves conceiving that they are part and parcel of the Great Brahma (T.A. X. i). They worship the Great Brahma thrice daily, such worship being called Sandhyavandan or Ahnika-kriya, twilight prayers or daily rites. How and when the forms of Vaidik Sandhya now practiced by Vaidikas commenced has not yet been ascertained but, there is no doubt that prior to the time when the Taittirya Aranyaka was composed the practice existed in its present form. It will be remembered that it is only in that work that we find the Sandhya-mantras recorded. The practice of Pranayama and Tarpana to Rishis, Fathers, and Devas also existed before Baudhayana. This practice of Vaidik Sandhya worship should be compared with the Tantrik mode, to gain an insight into the relationship of the Vedas and the Tantras.

In the Yajñas, the Vaidik people principally worshipped (1) Sarasvati (S.B. II. 5. 4. 6; III. 1. 4. 9; III. 9. 1. 7; V. 2. 2. 14; V. 3. 5. 8; V. 4. 5. 7; V. 5. 2. 7) to whom animals are sacrificed (S.B. III. 9. l. 7; V. 5. 4. 1; XII. 7. 2. 3) and who is the same as Vak or Vagdevi who became a lioness and went over to the Devatas, on their undertaking that to her offerings should be made before they were made to Agni (S.B. III. 5. 1. 21) and who bestows food (S.B. XII. 8. 2. 16); (2) Mahadeva or Mahesa, another form of Agni, in all his eight forms (S.B. VI. l. 3. 10 et seq.); (3) Rudra, (4) Vishnu, (5) Vinayaka (Ganesha), (6) Skanda (Kartikeya) (S.V.B. I. 4. 31 et seq.); (7) the Lingam or Phallus (7.A. X. 17) on whom they meditated during the daily Sandhya worship and who is the same as Shambhu riding on a bull, (8) Shiva (S.V.B. I. 2. 2). They also worshipped (9) the cow whom they called Bhagavati (A.B. V. 5. 2) and also (10) Indra, Varuna, Agni, Soma, Rudra, Pushan, the Ashvins, Surya and some other Deities. For purposes of attaining eternal bliss they worshipped Ratridevi (S.V.B. III. 8) and this Ratridevi is described as a girl growing into womanhood who bestows happiness. She has long and flowing hair, has in her hand a noose. If she is pleased, then all other Devas are pleased. She being pleased, offers boons, but the worshipper must reject the same and then he will gain freedom from rebirth. This is the worship of Ratri; it requires no fasting and must be performed at night. The Mantras to be recited is the Ratri Sukta which commences with Ratri vakhyad (Rig Veda X. 127. 1) to be followed by aratri parthivam rajas.

The Rig-Vidhana-Brahmana (IV. 19) which follows the Sama-Vidhana-Brahmana declares that the Ratri Sukta must be recited; the worship; the worship must be performed as a Sthalipaka-Yajña. Ratri is substantially the same with, but in form different from, Vagdevi; and they are sometimes worshipped as one and the same (Tait. Br. II. 4. 6. 10 et seq.). The Ratri Sukta describes her as black (R.V. X. 127. 2-3). The portion of the Ratri Sukta which is included in the Khila portion of the Rig-Veda (R.V. Kh. 25) calls Ratri Devi by the name of Durga and this Mantra appears in Taittiriya Aranyaka (X. 1). She is described here, as the bearer of oblations; therefore, she is the same as Agni and as such she has tongues which are named as follows: (1) Kali, (2) Karali, (3) Manojava., (4) Sulohita, (5) Sudhumravarna, (6) Sphulingini, (7) Shucismita and these tongues loll out and by these tongues offerings are received (Grihya-Sangraha I. 13. 14). The Brihaddevata mentions that Aditi, Vak, Sarasvati and Durga are the same (II. 79).

In conformity with the Vaidik system the Tantrik system of worship acknowledges that Om is the supreme Bija (A.B. VII. 3. 6; II. l. 2; V. 5. 7; A.A. II. 3. 8; Chh. Up. I. l. 1 et seq.; 7.A. VII. 8; X. 63. 21 et seq.; Shakatayana, p. 106 (Op-pert); Panini VIII. 2. 87; Br. D. II. 127. 133; G.B. IX. l. 24; I. l. 17. 19; M.N.T.; II. 32) and they also acknowledge and use the Hinkara of the Vedas pronounced Hum (S.B. I. 4. 1. 2; IX. 1. 2. 3. 4; A.B. III. 2. 12; L.S.S. I. 10. 25; I. 1. 27; II. 1. 4; IV. 3. 22). The rules and practice of Acamana, and the bath are exactly the same as will be found on a comparison of chapter V of the Mahanirvana Tantra with the Snanasutra of Gobhila. The Tantras prefer to use single compounds instead of long sentences to express an idea and form one letter Mantras very much according to the Vaidik method. We also find the practice of Nyasa and Shuddhi foreshadowed in the Vedas as has been already mentioned. (See also S.B. VII. 5. 2. 12). The principal Devi of the Veda is Sarasvati, who is called Nagna in the Nighantu, expressing nudeness, and also referring to that age of a woman when womanhood has not expressed itself. If we again take these ideas with that of the Sama-Vidhana-Brahmana, we have the almost complete form of a Devi who is called at the present day by the name of Kali. Another Devi whose worship is very popular at the present day is Durga, who has a lion for her carrier. It will have been observed that Vach turned herself into a lion, and after earnest solicitations went over to the Devas; and therefore, Vach and the lion are identically the same. We have already given references which show that Vach and Durga were the same; and these facts explain how Durga has a lion to carry her. The worship of Ratri is to be performed at night and therefore the worship of Kali must be a night performance; and therefore, must partake of all the features of a night performance; and these elements must be sought for in the Vaidik Atiratra. The Atiratra is a performance of three Paryyayas or rounds of four Stotras and Shastras in each and at the end of each libations are offered, followed by drinking of Soma. The same rules and practices as in the Atiratra are substantially followed in the worship of the Devi Kali, bhang being very largely used under the name of Vijaya and Amrita. It will be remembered that the Devi of the Atiratra is Sarasvati. The principal male Devata of the Tantras is Mahadeva named also Shiva, Mahesa, Shambhu, Soma and also in a different aspect Rudra. Rudra and Mahadeva are admittedly Vaidik gods. Rudra is described as having bows and arrows and has hundred heads and thousand eyes (S.B. IV. l. l. 6.; Yajur Veda III. 27). Mahadeva is Maham devah, the great God (S.B. VI. l. 3. 16). It appears that the Mantras of the different aspects of Mahadeva, which are even now used by Tantriks, were known and used by the Vaidik people. I cannot, however, trace the name Mahesa in Vaidik literature. Shiva can be identified with Rudra Susheva, who is a kind god (S.B. V. 4. 4. 12). Mahadeva (Soma) is clad in a tiger skin which can be traced in Vaidik literature (S.B. V. 3. 5. 3; V. 4. 1. 11). Rudra is black, in the Tantras as well as in the Vedas. He is the same as Manyu with a Devi on each side of him (S.B. IX. l. 1. 6; XI. 6. 1. 12 and 13). In this connection, we must not fail to note some of the attributes of Vaidik Nirriti. Nirriti is black and is a terrible Devi and punishes those who do not offer Soma to her. She is the Devi of misfortunes and removes all misfortunes. She is the genetrix and she is fond of the cremation ground (S.B. VII. 2. 1; A.B. IV. 2. 4.)

The Tantras direct the worship also of Ganesha, Kartika and Vishnu, for whose worship the Sama-Vidhana-Brahmana prescribes the singing of certain Samans, known as the Vinayaka Samhita (S. V. 4. 5. 3. 3), Skanda-Samhita (S. V. 3. 2. l. 4) and the Vishnu-Samhita (S. U. 3. l. 3. 9) respectively.

The Tantras also direct the use of certain figures which are called Yantras. These may be of various kinds and forms and may be used for various purposes. One of these which is constantly used, is a triangle within a square (M.N.T. Chap. V) and this can traced to the rules for the preparation of the Agnikshetra, or the Fire Altar of the Vaidik people (S.B. VI. l. l. 6). Another curious circumstance in connection with the altar, is, that both in the Vaidik and the Tantrik ritual, the heads of five animals are used in its preparation (S.B. VI. 2. l. 5-8). The worship of the Lingam is foreshadowed by the Vaidik Deity Vishnu Shipivishta (R.V. VII. 1001, etc., Nirukta V. 2. 2) and the serpent which twines round Devas or Devis is foreshadowed by the Sarparajñi, the Serpent Queen (S.B. IV. 6. 9. 17) who is the same as Vach.

The facts collected here will, it is hoped, enable impartial readers to come to a definite conclusion as to the relationship of the Vaidik to the Tantrik ritual.

Chapter Five
The Tantras and Religion of the Shaktas

(What follows this bracket is a translation, done in literal fashion, from the German, of an article by the learned Sanskritist, Professor Winternitz, entitled “Die Tantras und die Religion der Saktas” published in the Berlin monthly, the Ostasiatische Zeitschrift, 1916, Heft. 3. The article does not show a complete comprehension of its subject-matter, nor was this to be expected. In European fashion Sadhaka is translated “Magician” and Sadhana is thought of as “magical evocation” and Mahayogini as “Great Magician”. This is the more unfortunate, as the Professor evidently does not like “magic”. It is true that in Indrajalavidya there is Sadhana to achieve its purposes, but what is of course meant is Sadhana in its religious sense. We hear again of “idolatry” though idolatry is not (in the sense in which those who make the charge use the word) to be found in any part of the world. Mantra is still “gibberish,” “trash” and so on. After all, many of these matters are as much a question of temperament as argument. The mind which takes these views is like that of the Protestant who called the Catholic Mass “Hocus Pocus”. It is superstitious trash to him but a holy reality to the believer. Such criticism involves the fallacy of judging others from one’s own subjective standpoint. Moreover, not one man in thousands is capable of grasping the inner significance of this doctrine and for this reason it is kept secret nor does any writing reveal it to those without understanding. The learned Professor has also evidently no liking for “Occultism” and “India-faddists” (Indiensschwarmern). But the former exists whether we like its facts or not. Nevertheless, in reading this article one feels oneself in the presence of a learned mind which wills to be fair and is not to be stampeded from investigation on hearing the frightful word “Tantra”. Several appreciations are just. Particularly noteworthy is the recognition that the Tantra Shastras or Agamas are not merely some pathological excrescence on “Hinduism” but simply one of its several presentations. Nor are they simply Scriptures of the Shaktas. Their metaphysics and ethics are those of the common Brahmanism of which all the sects are offshoots, whatever be the special peculiarities in presentment of doctrine or in its application. Before this Professor Albert Grunwedel had said (in his Der Weg Nach Sambhala, Munchen 1915): “The Tantras are nothing but the continuation of the Veda” (Die Tantras, sind eben die fortsetzung des Veda). He calls also the Tantras the “model-room” (Akt-saal) of Indian Art (the Akt-saal is a room in an Academy of Art in which casts are kept as models for the students). “These Scriptures,” he adds, “furnish the aesthetics and in fact we find that in the later books (of the Kalacakra) the whole figurative mythology (of that system) has been built upon this scheme. Whence this evolution of forms arises is indeed another question which will bring many a surprise to the friends of ‘National Indian Art’ (sic!). Talking is easier. The Jains too have such things.” I may add that the fact that some Jains carry out some so-called “Tantrik rites” is not generally known. Vaishnavas and Bauddhas also have these rites. Notions and practices generally charged to Shaktas only are held and carried out by other sects. It is to be remembered also that there are many schools of Agama. Some of them state that other Agamas were promulgated “for the delusion of men”. It is needless to add that, here as elsewhere, to the adherent of a particular Agama his particular scripture is good, and it is the scripture of his opponent which is “for delusion”. Orthodoxy is “my doxy” in India also amongst some sects. Shakta liberalism (being Advaita Vedanta) finds a place for all.

It cannot, therefore, be said the Agamas are wholly worthless and bad without involving all Hinduism in that charge. On the contrary the Professor discovers that behind the “nonsense” there may be a deep sense and that “immorality” is not the end or aim of the Cult of the Mother. He also holds that if the Tantrik Scriptures contain some things to which he and others take objection, such things in no wise exhaust their contents. There is nothing wonderful about this discovery, which anyone may make for himself by simply reading and understanding the documents, but the wonder consists in this, that it has not hitherto been thought necessary (where it has been possible) to read and understand the Tantra Shastras first and then to criticize them. All the greater then are our thanks to the learned Sanskritist for his share in this work of justice.– J. W.)

India remains still the most important country on earth for the student of religion. In India we meet with all forms of religious thought and feeling which we find on earth, and that not only at different times but also all together even to-day. Here we find the most primitive belief in ancestral Spirits, in Demons and Nature Deities with a primeval, imageless sacrificial cult. Here also is a polytheism passing all limits, with the most riotous idolatry, temple cult, pilgrimages, and so forth. And, side by side with and beyond these crudest forms of religious life, we find what is deepest and most abstract of what religious thinkers of all times have ever thought about the Deity, the noblest pantheistic and the purest monotheistic conceptions. In India we also find a priestcraft as nowhere else on earth side by side with a religious tolerance which lets sect after sect, with the most wonderful saints, exist together. Here there were and still are forest recluses, ascetics, and mendicant monks, to whom renunciation of this world is really and truly a matter of deepest sincerity, and together with them hosts of idle mendicant monks, vain fools and hypocrites, to whom religion is only a cloak for selfish pursuits for the gratification of greed for money, of greed for fame or the hankering after power.

From India also a powerful stream of religious ideas has poured forth over the West, and especially over the East, has flooded Central Asia, has spread over Tibet, China, Korea and Japan, and has trickled through the further East down to the remotest islands of the East Indian Archipelago. And finally, in India as well as outside India, Indian religions have often mixed with Christianity and with Islam, now giving and now taking.

Indeed, sufficient reason exists to welcome every work which contributes in one way or other to a richer, deeper or wider knowledge of Indian religion. I would like, therefore, to draw attention in what follows to some recently published works of this nature.

These are the exceedingly meritorious publications of Arthur Avalon with reference to the literature of the Tantras. Through these works we obtain, for the first time, a deeper insight into the literature of the Tantras, the holy books of Shaktism, and into the nature of this much abused religion itself. It is true that H. H. Wilson in his essays on the religious sects of the Hindus which appeared from 1828 to 1832 has given a brief but relatively reliable and just exposition of this religion. M. Monier-Williams who has treated more fully of Shaktism, worship of the Goddess, and the contents of the Tantras, has only to tell terrible and horrible things. He describes the faith of the Shaktas, of the worshippers of the feminine Deities, as a mixture of sanguinary sacrifices and orgies with wine and women. Similar is the picture of this sect presented by A. Barth who on the one hand indeed admits that the Cult of the Mother is based on a deep meaning and that the Tantras are also full of theosophical and moral reflections and ascetic theories, but is not thereby prevented from saying that the Shakta is “nearly always a hypocrite and a superstitious debauchee”, even though many amongst the authors of the Tantras may have really believed that they were performing a sacred work. R. G. Bhandarkar, to whom we owe the latest and most reliable exposition of Indian sectarianism, happens in fact to deal with the Shaktas very summarily. Whereas the greater part of his excellent book deals with the religion of the Vaishnavas and with the sects of the Shaivas, he only devotes a few pages to the sect of the Shaktas which evidently seems unimportant to him. He speaks, however, both about the metaphysical doctrines and about the cult of this sect, with in every way, the cool, quiet objectivity of the historian. The exposition is only a little too brief and meager. So, all the more are Avalon’s books welcome.

The most valuable is the complete English translation of a Tantra, the Mahanirvana Tantra with an Introduction of 146 pages which introduces us to the chief doctrines of the Shaktas and with the exceedingly complicated, perhaps purposely confused, terminology of the Tantras. If we have been accustomed, up till the present, to see nothing else in Shaktism and in the Tantras, the sacred books of this sect, than wild superstition, occult humbug, idiocy, empty magic and a cult with a most objectionable morality, and distorted by orgies — then a glimpse at the text made accessible to us by Avalon, teaches us that — all these things are indeed to be found in this religion and in its sacred texts, but that by these their contents are nevertheless, in no wise exhausted.

On the contrary, we rather find that behind the nonsense there lies hidden after all much deep sense and that immorality is not the end and aim of the cult of the Mother. We find that the mysticism of the Tantras has been built up on the basis of that mystic doctrine of the unity of the soul and of all with the Brahman, which is proclaimed in the oldest Upanishads and which belongs to the most profound speculations which the Indian spirit has imagined. This Brahman however, the highest divine principle, is, according to the doctrines of the Shakta philosophers, no “nothing”, but the eternal, primeval Energy (Shakti) out of which everything has been created, has originated, has been born. Shakti “Energy”, however is not only grammatically feminine. Human experience teaches also that all life is born from the womb of the woman, from the mother. Therefore the Indian thinkers, from whom Shaktism has originated, believed that the highest Deity, the supremest creative principle, should be brought nearest to the human mind not through the word “Father,” but through the word “Mother”. And all philosophical conceptions to which language has given a feminine gender, as well as all mythological figures which appear feminine in popular belief, become Goddesses, Divine Mothers. So, before all, there is Prakriti, taken from the Samkhya philosophy, primeval matter, “Nature,” who stands in contrast to Purusha, the male spirit, and is identical with Shakti. And this Shakti is, again, mythologically conceived as the spouse of God Shiva, Mahadeva, the “Great God”. Mythology, however, knew already Uma or Parvati, “the daughter of the Mountain,” the daughter of the Himalaya, as the spouse of Shiva. And so Prakriti, Shakti, Uma, Parvati, are ever one and the same. They are only different names for the one great All-Mother, the Jaganmata, “the Mother of all the living”. The Indian mind had been long since accustomed to see Unity in all Multiplicity. Just as one moon reflects itself in innumerable waters, so Devi, the “Goddess,” by whatever other names she may be otherwise called, is the embodiment of all Gods and of all “energies” (Shaktis) of the Gods. Within her is Brahma, the Creator, and his Shakti; within her is Vishnu, the Preserver, and his Shakti; within her is also Shiva as Mahakala, “great Father Time”, the great Destroyer. But as this one is swallowed up by herself, she is also Adyakalika, the “primordial Kali”; and as a “great magician,” Mahayogini, she is at the same time Creatrix, Preservatrix, and Destroyer of the world. She is also the mother of Mahakala, who dances before her, intoxicated by the wine of Madhuka blossoms. As, however, the highest Deity is a woman, every woman is regarded as an embodiment of this Deity. Devi, “the Goddess”, is within every feminine being. This conception it is, which has led to a woman worship which, undoubtedly, has taken the shape, in many circles, of wild orgies, but which also — at least according to the testimony of the Mahanirvana Tantra — could appear in a purer and nobler form, .and has as surely done so.

To the worship of the Devi, the Goddess, who is the joyously creative energy of nature, belong the “five true things” (Pancatattva) through which mankind enjoy gladly, preserve their life and procreate; intoxicating drink which is a great medicine to man, a breaker of sorrows and a source of pleasure; meat of the animals in the villages, in the air and in the forests, which is nutritious and strengthens the force of body and mind; fish which is tasty and augments procreative potency; roasted corn which, easily obtained, grows in the earth and is the root of life in the three worlds; and fifthly physical union with Shakti “the source of bliss of all living beings, the deepest cause of creation and the root of the eternal world.” But these “five true things” may only be used in the circle of initiates, and only after they have been consecrated by sacred formulas and ceremonies. The Mahanirvana Tantra lays stress on the fact that no abuse may be made of these five things. Who drinks immoderately is no true worshipper of the Devi. Immoderate drinking, which disturbs seeing and thinking, destroys the effect of the sacred action. In the sinful Kali age also, only the own spouse should be enjoyed as Shakti. In everything the Tantra takes all imaginable trouble to excuse the Pancatattva ceremonies and to prevent their abuse. In the Kali age sweets (milk, sugar, honey) must be used instead of intoxicating drink, and the adoration of the lotus feet of the Devi should be substituted for the physical union. The worship should not be secret, indecencies should not occur, and evil, impious people should not be admitted to the circle of the worshippers. True, it is permissible for the “Hero” (Vira) who is qualified to the Sadhaka or “magician” to unite in secret worship with other Shaktis. Only in the highest “heavenly condition” (Divyabhava) of the saint do purely symbolical actions take the place of the “five true things”.

But to the worship of the Devi belong in the first place Mantras (formulas) and Bijas (monosyllabic mysterious words like Aim, Klim, Hrim etc.); further also Yantras (diagrams of a mysterious meaning, drawn on metal, paper or other material), Mudras (special finger positions and hand movements) and Nyasas. (These last consist in putting the tips of the fingers and the flat of the right hand, with certain mantras, on the various parts of the body, in order by that to fill one’s own body with the life of the Devi.) By the application of all these means the worshipper renders the Deity willing and forces him into his service, and becomes a Sadhaka, a magician. For Sadhana, “Magic,” is the chief aim, though not the final aim of Devi worship.

This highest and final aim is the same as that of all Indian sects and religious systems; Moksha or deliverance, the unification with the Deity in Mahanirvana, the “great extinction”. The perfected saint, the Kaula, reaches this condition already in the present life and is one who is liberated whilst living (Jivanmukta). But the way to deliverance can only be found through the Tantras. For Veda, Smriti, Puranas and Itihasa are each the sacred books of past ages of the world, whilst for our present evil age, the Kali age, the Tantras have been revealed by Shiva for the salvation of mankind (I, 20 ff.) The Tantras thus on the strength of their own showing indicate themselves to be relatively modern works. In the present age Vedic and other rites and prayers have no value but only the mantras and ceremonies taught in the Tantras (II, 1 K). And just as the worship of the Devi leads equally to thoroughly materialistic results through magic and to the highest ideal of Nirvana, so there is a strong mixture in the worship itself of the sensuous and the spiritual. Characteristic is Mahanirvana Tantra V, 139-151 (P. 86 K): The worshipper first offers to the Devi spiritual adoration, dedicating to her his heart as her seat, the nectar of his heart as the water for washing her feet, his mind as a gift of honor, the restlessness of his senses and thoughts as a dance, selflessness, dispassionateness, and so forth as flowers, but then he offers to the Devi an ocean of intoxicating drink, a mountain of meat and dried fish, a heap of roasted corn in milk, with sugar and butter, “nectar” and other things. Besides the “five true things” and other elements of this most sensuous worship which is calculated to produce the intoxication of the senses, and in which also bells, incense, flowers, lights and rosaries are not lacking, there is also the quiet contemplation (Dhyana) of the Deity. And likewise, we find side by side with mantras which are completely senseless and insipid such beautiful sayings as, for instance, V, 156: “O Adya Kali, who dwellest in the innermost soul of all, who art the innermost light,O Mother! Accept this prayer of my heart. I bow down before thee.”

The Shaktas are a sect of the religion which is commonly designated “Hinduism,” a term which is a facile one but which has not been chosen very happily. The word embraces all the sects and creeds which have originated from Brahmanism through a mixture with the cults of the aborigines of India and thus present a kind of degeneration of the old Brahmanical religion, but which still hold fast more or less, to orthodox Brahmanism and so distinguish themselves from the heretical sects (Buddhists and Jains). In reality there is strictly no sense in speaking of “Hinduism” as a “system” or as one “religion”. For it is impossible to say where Brahmanism ends and where “Hinduism” begins. We are also altogether ignorant as to how much the old Brahmanic religion had already assimilated from the faith and the customs of the non-Aryan populace. For it is not admissible to classify without further ado all animal worship, all demon worship, all fetichism and so on as “non-Aryan”. In reality, all sects of “Hinduism” which are related to a worship of Vishnu or of Shiva, are nothing but offshoots of the original Brahmanism, which they never, however, deny. So also Shaktism has as a special characteristic merely the worship of the Shaktis, of the female deities, with its accessory matter (of the “five true things,” the worship in the cakra or “circle” of the initiates, and so on). For the rest, its dogmatics — or if it be preferred, its metaphysics — as well as its ethics are altogether those of Brahmanism, of which also the essential ritual institutions have been preserved. In dogmatics it is the teachings of the orthodox systems of the Vedanta and the Samkhya, which meet us also in the Tantras clearly enough, sometimes even under the trash of senseless magic formulas. And as far as ethics are concerned, the moral teaching in the VIII chapter of the Mahanirvana Tantra reminds us from beginning to end of Manu’s Code, the Bhagavad Gita, and the Buddhist sermons. Notwithstanding the fact that in the ritual proper of the Shakta there are no caste differences but in Shakti worship all castes as well as the sexes are equal yet, in harmony with Brahmanism, the castes are recognized with this modification that a fifth caste is added to the four usual ones, which springs from the mixture of the four older ones, namely, the caste of the Samanyas. Whilst Manu, however, distinguishes four Ashramas or statuses of life, the Mahanirvana Tantra teaches that, there are only two Ashramas in the Kali age, the status of the householder and that of the ascetic. For the rest, everything which is taught in our Tantra about the duties towards parents, towards wife and child, towards relations and in general towards fellow-men, might find a place, exactly in the same way, in any other religious book or even in a profane manual of morals. As an example we may quote only a few verses from this Chapter VIII: (vv. 24, 25, 33, 35, 39, 45-47, 63-67).

The duties of each of the castes as well as the duties of the king are not prescribed much differently from Manu. Family life is estimated very highly by the Mahanirvana Tantra. So it is rigorously prescribed that no one is allowed to devote himself to the ascetic life who has children, wives, or such like near relations to maintain. Entirely in consonance with the prescriptions of the Brahmanic texts also are the “sacraments from conception until the marriage which are described in the 9th chapter of the Mahanirvana Tantra (Samskaras). Likewise in the 10th chapter the direction for the disposal and the cult of the dead (Shraddha) are given. A peculiarity of the Shaktas in connection with marriage consists in the fact that side by side with the Brahma marriage for which the Brahmanic prescriptions are valid, there is also a Shaiva marriage, that is kind of marriage for a limited period which is only permitted to the members of the circle (Cakra) of the initiates. But children out of such a marriage are not legitimate and do not inherit. So far Brahmanic law applies also to the Shaktas, and so the section concerning civil and criminal law in the 11th and 12th chapters of the Mahanirvana Tantra substantially agree with Manu.

Of course, notwithstanding all this, the Kauladharma expounded in the Tantra is declared the best of all religions in an exuberant manner and the veneration of the Kula-saint is praised as the highest merit. It is said in a well-known Buddhist text: “As, ye monks, there is place for every kind of footprints of living beings that move in the footprint of the elephant, because, as is known indeed, the footprint of the elephant is the first in size amongst all, so, ye monks, all salutary doctrines are contained in the four noble truths.” So it is said in the Mahanirvana Tantra, (probably in recollection of the Buddhist passage): “As the footprints of all animals disappear in the footprint of the elephant, so disappear all other religions (dharma) in the Kula religion (kula-dharma) .”

From what has been said it is clear that Avalon is right when he declares that up till now this literature has been only too often judged and still more condemned without knowing it, and that the Tantras deserve to become better known than has been the case hitherto. From the point of view of the history of religion they are already important for the reason that they have strongly influenced Mahayana Buddhism and specially the Buddhism of Tibet. It is, therefore, much to be welcomed that Avalon has undertaken to publish a series of texts and translations from this literature. It is true that we have no desire to be made acquainted with all the 3 x 64 Tantras which are said to exist. For — this should not be denied, that for the greatest part these works contain, after all, only stupidity and gibberish (“doch nur Stumpfsinn und Kauderwelsch”). This is specially true of the Bijas and Mantras, the mysterious syllables and words and the magic formulas which fill these volumes. To understand this gibberish only to a certain degree and to bring some sense into this stupidity, it is necessary to know the Tantric meaning of the single vowels and consonants. For, amongst the chief instruments of the magic which plays such a great part in these texts, belongs the spoken word. It is not the meaning embedded in the mantra which exercises power over the deity, but the word, the sound. Each sound possesses a special mysterious meaning. Therefore, there are special glossaries in which this mysterious meaning of the single vowels and consonants. is taught. A few of such glossaries, indispensable helps for the Sadhaka, or rather the pupil who wants to develop himself into Sadhaka, have been brought to light in the first volume of the series of Tantric Texts, published by Avalon: The Mantrabhidhana belonging to the Rudrayamala, Ekaksharakosha ascribed to Purushottamadeva, the Bijanighantu of Bhairava and two Matrikanighantus, the one by Mahidhara, the other by Madhava. Added to these is one other auxiliary text of this same kind, the Mudranighantu, belonging to the Vamakeshvara Tantra, an enumeration of the finger positions as they are used in Yoga.

The second volume of the same series of Texts contains the text of the Satcakranirupana, the “description of the six circles,” together with no less than three commentaries. The “six circles” are six places in the human body, imagined as lotus-shaped, of great mystical significance and therefore of great importance for Yoga. The first of these circles is Muladhara, which is described as a triangle in the middle of the body with its point downwards and imagined as a red lotus with four petals on which are written the four golden letters Vam, Sham, Sham and Sham. In the center of this lotus is Svayambhulinga. At the root of this reddish brown linga the Citrininadi opens, through which the Devi Kundalini ascends, more delicate than a lotus fiber and more effulgent than lightning, and so on. The Satcakranirupana is the chapter of the Shritattvacintamani composed by Purnananda Swami. In addition the volume contains the text of a hymn, entitled Paduka-pañcakam, which is said to have been revealed by Shiva, and a voluminous commentary.

The third volume of the Series contains the text of the Prapañcasaratantra which is ascribed to the Vedantic philosopher Shamkaracarya, and by others to the deity Shiva in his incarnation as Shamkaracarya.

The name Samara appears fairly often in Tantra literature, but it is not at all sure that the works in question really come from the Philosopher. Avalon prefaces the text by a detailed description of the contents of the work. Prapañca means “extension,” ” the extended Universe” from which, “Prapañcasara” “the innermost being of the universe”. The work begins with a description of creation, accompanied, in the first two chapters, by detailed expositions of Chronology, Embryology, Anatomy, Physiology and Psychology, which are exactly as “scientific,’ as both the following chapters which treat of the mysterious meaning of the letters of the Sanskrit alphabet and of the Bijas. The further chapters which partly contain rituals, partly prayers, meditations and Stotras, are of greater importance from the standpoint of the history of religion. To how high a degree in the Shakti cult the erotic element predominates, is shown in IX, 23 ff., where a description is given, “how the wives of the gods, demons, and demi-gods impelled by mantras come to the magician, the Sadhaka, oppressed by the greatness of their desires”. In the XVIII chapter, the mantras and the dhyanas (meditations) for the adoration of the God of love and his Shaktis are taught, and the union of man and woman is represented as a mystic union of the “I” (Ahamkara) with perception (Buddhi) and as a sacred sacrificial action. When a man honors his beloved wife in such a way, she will, struck by the arrows of the God of love, follow him like a shadow even in the other world (XVIII, 33). The XXVIII chapter is devoted to Ardhanarishvara, the God who is half woman — Shiva, represented as a wild looking man, forms the right-hand half of the body, and his Shakti represented as a voluptuous woman, the left-hand half. The XXXIII chapter which seems to have originally closed the work describes in its first part ceremonies against childlessness, the cause of which is indicated as lack of veneration of the Gods and neglect of the wife. The second part is connected with the relation between teacher and pupil which is of extreme importance for the Shakta religion. Indeed, worship of the Guru, the teacher, plays a prominent part in this sect.

However, the rituals and Mantras described in this Tantra are not exclusively connected with the different forms of the Devi and Shiva, but Vishnu and his Avataras are also often honored. The XXXVI chapter contains a disquisition on Vishnu Trailokyamohana (the Enchanter of the triple world) in verses 35-47 translated by Avalon. It is a description, glowing and sensuous (Voll sinnlicher Glut.): Vishnu shines like millions of suns and is of infinite beauty. Full of goodness his eye rests on Shri, his spouse, who embraces him, full of love. She too is of incomparable beauty. All the Gods and Demons and their wives offer homage to the August Pair. The Goddesses, however, press themselves in a burning yearning of love towards Vishnu, whilst exclaiming: “Be our husband, our refuge, August Lord!” In addition to this passage Avalon has also translated the hymns to Prakriti (Chapter XI), to Vishnu (Chapter XXI) and to Shiva (Chapter XXVI). Of these hymns the same holds good as of the collection of hymns to the Devi, which Avalon, together with his wife, has translated in a separate volume. Whilst many of these texts are mere insipid litanies of names and epithets of the worshipped deities, there are others, which, as to profoundness of thought and beauty of language may be put side by side with the best productions of the religious lyrics of the Indians. So the hymn to Prakriti in the Prapañcasara XI, 48, begins with the words:

“Be gracious to me,O Pradhana, who art Prakriti in the form of the elemental world. Life of all that lives. With folded hands I make obeisance to thee our Lady, whose very nature it is to do that which we cannot understand.”

It is intelligible that the poets have found much more intimate cries of the heart when they spoke of the Deity as their “Mother” than when they addressed themselves to God as Father. So, for instance, it is said in a hymn to the Goddess ascribed to Shamkara:


By my ignorance of They commands

By my poverty and sloth

I had not the power to do that which I should have done

Hence my omission to worship Thy feet.

But Oh Mother, auspicious deliverer of all,

All this should be forgiven me

For, a bad son may sometimes be born, but a bad

mother never.


Oh Mother! Thou hast many sons on earth,

But I, your son, am of no worth;

Yet it is not meet that Thou shouldst abandon me

For, a bad son may sometimes be born, but a bad

mother never.


Oh Mother of the world, Oh Mother!

I have not worshipped Thy feet,

Nor have I given abundant wealth to Thee,

Yet the affection which Thou bestowest on me is

without compare,

For, a bad son may sometimes be born, but a bad

mother never.

Avalon looks with great sympathy on the Shakta religion which has found the highest expression for the divine principle in the conception “Mother”. He is of opinion that when the European thinks that it is a debasement of the deity to conceive of it as feminine, then this can only be because he “looks upon his mother’s sex as lower than his own” and because he thinks it unworthy of the deity to conceive it otherwise than masculine. That the conception of the Indian and especially of the Shakta is, in this connection, the more unbiased and unprejudiced one, we will freely concede to Avalon. He, however, goes still further and believes that the Tantras not only have an interest from the point of view of the history of religion, but that they also possess an independent value as manuals of Sadhana, that is magic. However grateful we might be to the editor and translator of these texts for having made us better acquainted with a little known and much misunderstood Indian system of religion, we yet would hope to be saved from the possibility of seeing added to the Vedantists, Neo-Buddhists, Theosophists and other India-fattest (Indiensschwarmern) in Europe and America, adherents of the Sadhana of the Shakti cult. The student of religion cannot and may not leave the Tantras and Shaktism unnoticed. They have their place in the history of religion. But, may this occultism, which often flows from very turbid sources — (this word should not be translated as “Secret Science” thus abusing the sacred name of Science, but rather as “Mystery Mongering” Geheimtuerei) remain far away from our intellectual life.

(To the above may be added a recent criticism of M. Masson Oursel of the College de France in the Journal Isis (iii, 1920) which is summarized and translated from the French: “The obscurity of language, strangeness of thought and rites sometimes adjudged scandalous, have turned away from the study of the immense Tantrik literature even the most courageous savants. If, however, the Tantras have appeared to be a mere mass of aberrations, it is because the key to them was unknown. The Tantras are the culmination of the whole Indian literature. Into them How both the Vedic and popular cults. Tantricism has imposed itself on the whole Hindu mentality (le Tantrisme, est imposé a toute la mentalité hindoue). Arthur Avalon has undertaken with complete success a task which in appearance seems to be a thankless one but is in reality fecund of results.”

The article of Dr. Winternitz deals largely with the Mahanirvana Tantra. Because objections cannot be easily found against this Tantra, the theory has been lately put forward by Dr. Farquhar in his last work on Indian Literature that this particular scripture is exceptional and the work of Ram Mohun Roy’s Guru Hariharananda Bharati. The argument is in effect “All Tantras are bad; this is not bad: therefore it is not a Tantra.” In the first place, the MS. referred to in the Preface to A. Avalon’s translation of this Tantra as having been brought to Calcutta, was an old MS. having the date Shakabda 1300 odd, that is, several hundreds of years ago. Secondly, the Mahanirvana which belongs to the Visnukranta, or as some say Rathakranta, is mentioned in the Mahasiddhisara Tantra, an old copy of which was the property of Raja Sir Radhakant Dev (b. 1783 — d. 1867), a contemporary of Raja Ram Mohun Roy (1774-1833) who survived the latter’s son. The earliest edition of that Tantra by Anandacandra Vedantavagisha was published from a text in the Sanskrit College Library which is not likely to have had amongst its MSS. one which was the work of a man who, whatever be the date of his death, must have died within a comparatively short period of the publication of this edition. In fact, the Catalogue describes it as an old MS. and an original Tantra. Dr. Rajendralala Mitra in his notice of a MS. of the Tagore collection speaks of it as containing only the first half of fourteen chapters. This is so. The second half is not published and is very rare. The Pandit’s copy to which reference was made in the Preface to A.A.’s translation of the Mahanirvana contained both parts. How comes it that if the Tantra was written by Raja Ram Mohun Roy’s Guru that we have only the first half and not the second containing amongst other things the so-called magic or Shatkarma. It should be mentioned that there are three Tantras — the Nirvana, Brihannirvana and Mahanirvana Tantras, similar to the group Nila, Brihannila and Mahanila Tantras. It is to be noted also that in the year 1293 B.S. or 1886 an edition of the Mahanirvana was published with commentary by a Samnyasin calling himself Shamkaracarya under the auspices of the Danda Shabha of Manikarnika Ghat, Benares, which contains more verses than is contained in the text, commented upon by Hariharananda and the interpretation of the latter as also that of Jagamohan Tarkalamkara, are in several matters controverted. We are asked to suppose that Hariharananda was both the author of, and commentator on, the Tantra. That the Mahanirvana has its merits is obvious, but there are others which have theirs. The same critic speaks of the Prapañcasara as a “rather foul work”. This criticism is ridiculous. The text is published for any one to judge. All that can be said is what Dr. Winternitz has said, namely, that there are a few passages with sensuous erotic imagery. These are descriptive of the state of women in love. What is wrong here? There is nothing “foul” in this except for people to whom all erotic phenomena are foul. “This is a very indecent picture,” said an elderly lady to Byron, who retorted “Madam, the indecency consists in your remark”. It cannot be too often asserted that the ancient East was purer in these matters than the modern West, where, under cover of a pruriently modest exterior, a cloaca of extraordinarly varied psychopathic filth may flow. This was not so in earlier days, whether of East or West, when a spade was called a spade and not a horticultural instrument. In America it is still, I am told, considered indecent to mention the word “leg”. One must say “limb”. Said Tertullian: “Natura veneranda et non eru-bescenda”; that is, where the knower venerates his unknowing critic blushes.

The Prapañcasara which does not even deal with the rite against which most objection has been taken (while the Mahanirvana does), treats of the creation of the world, the generation of bodies, physiology, the classification of the letters, the Kalas, initiation, Japa, Homa, the Gayatri Mantra, and ritual worship of various Devatas and so forth; with facts in short which are not “foul” with or without the qualifying “rather”.

Chapter Six
Shakti and Shakta

Shakti who is in Herself pure blissful Consciousness (Cidrupini) is also the Mother of Nature and is Nature itself born of the creative play of Her thought. The Shakta faith, or worship of Shakti, is I believe, in some of its essential features one of the oldest and most wide-spread religions in the world. Though very ancient, it is yet, in its essentials, and in the developed form in which we know it to-day, harmonious with some of the teachings of modern philosophy and science; not that this is necessarily a test of its truth. It may be here noted that in the West, and in particular in America and England, a large number of books are now being published on “New Thought,” “Will Power,” “Vitalism,” “Creative Thought,” “Right Thought,” “Self Unfoldment,” “Secret of Achievement,” “Mental Therapeutics” and the like, the principles of which are essentially those of some forms of Shakti Sadhana both higher and lower. There are books of disguised magic as how to control (Vashikarana) by making them buy what they do not want, how to secure “affection” and so forth which, not-withstanding some hypocrisies, are in certain respects on the same level as the Tantrik Shavara as a low class of books on magic are called. Shavara or Candala are amongst the lowest of men. The ancient and at the same time distinguishing character of the faith is instanced by temple worship (the old Vaidik worship was generally in the home or in the open by the river), the cult of images, of Linga and Yoni (neither of which, it is said, were part of the original Vaidik Practice), the worship of Devis and of the Magna Mater (the great Vaidik Devata was the male Indra) and other matters of both doctrine and practice.

Many years ago Edward Sellon, with the aid of a learned Orientalist of the Madras Civil Service, attempted to learn its mysteries, but for reasons, which I need not here discuss, did not view them from the right standpoint. He, however, compared the Shaktas with the Greek Telestica or Dynamica, the Mysteries of Dionysus “Fire born in the cave of initiation” with the Shakti Puja, the Shakti Shodhana with the purification shown in d’Hancarvilles’ “Antique Greek Vases”; and after referring to the frequent mention of this ritual in the writings of the Jews and other ancient authors, concluded that it was evident that we had still surviving in India in the Shakta worship a very ancient, if not the most ancient, form of Mysticism in the whole world. Whatever be the value to be given to any particular piece of evidence, he was right in his general conclusion. For, when we throw our minds back upon the history of this worship we see stretching away into the remote and fading past the figure of the Mighty Mother of Nature, most ancient among the ancients; the Adya Shakti, the dusk Divinity, many breasted, crowned with towers whose veil is never lifted, Isis, “the one who is all that has been, is and will be,” Kali, Hathor, Cybele, the Cowmother Goddess Ida, Tripurasundari, the Ionic Mother, Tef the spouse of Shu by whom He effects the birth of all things, Aphrodite, Astarte in whose groves the Baalim were set, Babylonian Mylitta, Buddhist Tara, the Mexican Ish, Hellenic Osia, the consecrated, the free and pure, African Salambo who like Parvati roamed the Mountains, Roman Juno, Egyptian Bast the flaming Mistress of Life, of Thought, of Love, whose festival was celebrated with wanton Joy, the Assyrian Mother Succoth Benoth, Northern Freia, Mulaprakriti, Semele, Maya, Ishtar, Saitic Neith Mother of the Gods, eternal deepest ground of all things, Kundali, Guhyamahabhairavi and all the rest.

And yet there are people who allege the “Tantrik” cult is modern. To deny this is not to say that there has been or will be no change or development in it. As man changes, so do the forms of his beliefs. An ancient feature of this faith and one belonging to the ancient Mysteries is the distinction which it draws between the initiate whose Shakti is awake (Prabuddha) and the Pashu the unillumined or “animal,” and, as the Gnostics called him, “material” man. The Natural, which is the manifestation of the Mother of Nature, and the Spiritual or the Mother as She is in and by Herself are one, but the initiate alone truly recognizes this unity. He knows himself in all his natural functions as the one Consciousness whether in enjoyment (Bhukti), or Liberation (Mukti). It is an essential principle of Tantrik Sadhana that man in general must rise through and by means of Nature, and not by an ascetic rejection of Her. A profoundly true principle is here involved whatever has been said of certain applications of it. When Orpheus transformed the old Bacchic cult, it was the purified who in the beautiful words of Euripides “went dancing over the hills with the daughters of Iacchos”. I cannot, however, go into this matter in this paper which is concerned with some general subjects and the ordinary ritual. But the evidence is not limited to mysteries of the Shakti Puja. There are features in the ordinary outer worship which are very old and widespread, as are also other parts of the esoteric teaching. In this connection, a curious instance of the existence, beyond India, of Tantrik doctrine and practice is here given. The American Indian Maya Scripture of the Zunis called the Popul Vuh speaks of Hurakan or Lightning, that is (I am told) Kundalishakti; of the “air tube” or “Whitecord” or the Sushumna Nadi; of the “two-fold air tube” that is Ida and Pingala; and of various bodily centers which are marked by animal glyphs.

Perhaps the Pañcatattva Ritual followed by some of the adherents of the Tantras is one of the main causes which have operated in some quarters against acceptance of the authority of these Scriptures and as such responsible for the notion that the worship is modern. On the contrary, the usage of wine, meat, and so forth is itself very old. There are people who talk of these rites as though they were some entirely new and comparatively modern invention of’ the “Tantra,” wholly alien to the spirit and practice of the early times. If the subject be studied it will, I think. be found that in this matter those worshippers who practice these rites are (except possibly as to Maithuna) the continuators of very ancient practices which had their counterparts in the earlier Vaidikacara, but were subsequently abandoned. possibly under the influence of Jainism and Buddhism. I say “counterpart,” for I do not mean to suggest that in every respect the rites were the same. In details and as regards, I think, some objects in view, they differed. Thus we find in this Pañcatattva Ritual a counterpart to the Vaidik usage of wine and animal food. As regards wine, we have the partaking of Soma; meat was offered in Mamsashtaka Shraddha; fish in the Ashtakashraddha and Pretashraddha; and Maithuna as a recognized rite will be found in the Vamadevya Vrata and Maravrata of universally recognized Vaidik texts, apart from the alleged, and generally unknown, Saubhagykanda of the Atharvaveda to which the Kalikopanishad and other “Tantrik” Upanishads are said to belong. Possibly, however, this element of Maithuna may be foreign and imported by Cinacara (see Ch. V). So again, as that distinguished scholar Professor Ramendra Sundara Trivedi has pointed out in his Vicitraprasanga, the Mudra of Pañcatattva corresponds with the Purodasa cake of the Soma and other Yagas. The present rule of abstinence from wine, and in some cases, meat is due, I believe, to the original Buddhism. It is so-called “Tantriks,” who follow (in and for their ritual only) the earlier practice. It is true that the Samhita of Ushanah says, “Wine is not to be drunk, given or taken (Madyam apeyam adeyam agrahyam)” but the yet greater Manu states, “There is no wrong in the eating of meat or the drinking of wine (Na mamsabakshane dosho na madye)” though he rightly adds, as many now do, that abstention therefrom is productive of great fruit (Nivrittistu mahaphala). The Tantrik practice does not allow extra-ritual or “useless” drinking (Vrithapana).

Further, it is a common error to confound two distinct things, namely, belief and practice and the written records of it. These latter may be comparatively recent, whilst that of which they speak may be most ancient. When I speak of the ancient past of this faith I am not referring merely to the writings which exist today which are called Tantras. These are composed generally in a simple Sanskrit by men whose object it was to be understood rather than to show skill in literary ornament. This simplicity is a sign of age. But at the same time it is Laukika and not Arsha Sanskrit. Moreover, there are statements in them which (unless interpolations) fix the limits of their age. I am not speaking of the writings themselves but of what they say. The faith that they embody, or at least its earlier forms, may have existed for many ages before it was reduced to writing amongst the Kulas or family folk, who received it as handed down by tradition (Paramparyya) just as did the Vaidik Gotras. That such beliefs and practices, like all other things, have had their development in course of time is also a likely hypothesis.

A vast number of Tantras have disappeared probably for ever. Of those which survive a large number are unknown. Most of those which are available are of fragmentary character. Even if these did appear later than some other Shastras, this would not, on Indian principles, affect their authority. According to such principles the authority of a Scripture is not determined by its date; and this is sense. Why, it is asked, should something said 1,000 years ago be on that account only truer than what was said 100 years ago? It is held that whilst the teaching of the Agama is ever existent, particular Tantras are constantly being revealed and withdrawn. There is no objection against a Tantra merely because it was revealed to-day. When it is said that Shiva spoke the Tantras, or Brahma wrote the celebrated Vaishnava poem called the Brahmasamhita, it is not meant that Shiva and Brahma materialized and took a reed and wrote on birch bark or leaf, but that the Divine Consciousness to which men gave these and other names inspired a particular man to teach, or to write, a particular doctrine or work touching the eternally existing truth. This again does not mean that there was any one whispering in his ear, but that these things arose in his consciousness. What is done in this world is done through man. There is a profounder wisdom than is generally acknowledged in the saying “God helps those who help themselves”. Inspiration too never ceases. But how, it may be asked, are we to know that what is said is right and true? The answer is “by its fruits.” The authority of a Shastra is determined by the question whether Siddhi is gained through its provisions or not. It is not enough that “Shiva uvaca” (Shiva says) is writ in it. The test is that of Ayurveda. A medicine is a true one if it cures. The Indian test for everything is actual experience. It is from Samadhi that the ultimate proof of Advaitavada is sought. How is the existence of Kalpas known? It is said they have been remembered, as by the Buddha who is recorded as having called to mind 91 past Kalpas. There are arguments in favor of rebirth but that which is tendered as real proof is both the facts of ordinary daily experience which can, it is said, be explained only on the hypothesis of pre-existence; as also actual recollection by self-developed individuals of their previous lives. Modern Western methods operate through magnetic sleep producing “regression of memory”. (See A. de Rochas Les Vies Successives and Lancelin La Uie Posthume.) Age, however, is not wholly without its uses: because one of the things to which men look to see in a Shastra is whether it has been accepted or quoted in works of recognized authority. Such a test of authenticity can, of course, only be afforded after the lapse of considerable time. But it does not follow that a statement is in fact without value because, owing to its having been made recently, it is not possible to subject it to such a test. This is the way in which this question of age and authority is looked at on Indian principles.

A wide survey of what is called orthodox “Hinduism” today (whatever be its origins) will disclose the following results: Vedanta in the sense of Upanishad as its common doctrinal basis, though variously interpreted, and a great number of differing disciplines or modes of practice by which the Vedanta doctrines are realized in actual fact. We must carefully distinguish these two. Thus the Vedanta says “So’ham”; which is Hamsha. “Hakara is one wing; Sakara is the other. When stripped of both wings She, Tara, is Kamakala.” (Tantraraja Tantra.) The Acaras set forth the means by which “So’ham” is to be translated into actual fact for the particular Sadhaka. Sadhana comes from the root “Sadh” which means effort or striving or accomplishment. Effort for and towards what? The answer for those who desire it is liberation from every form in the hierarchy of forms, which exist as such, because consciousness has so limited itself as to obscure the Reality which it is, and which “So’ham” or “Shivo’ham” affirms. And why should man liberate himself from material forms? Because it is said, that way only lasting happiness lies: though a passing, yet fruitful bliss may be had here by those who identify themselves with active Brahman (Shakti). It is the actual experience of this declaration of ‘So’ham” which in its fundamental aspect is Veda: knowledge (Vid) or actual Spiritual Experience, for in the monistic sense to truly know anything is to be that thing. This Veda or experience is not to be had sitting down thinking vaguely on the Great Ether and doing nothing. Man must transform himself, that is, act in order to know. Therefore, the watchword of the Tantras is Kriya or action.

The next question is what Kriya should be adopted towards this end of Jñana. “Tanyate, vistaryate jñanam anena iti Tantram.” According to this derivation of the word Tantra from the root “Tan” “to spread,” it is defined as the Shastra, by which knowledge (Jñana) is spread. Mark the word Jñana. The end of the practical methods which these Shastras employ is to spread Vedantic Jñana. It is here we find that variety which is so puzzling to those who have not gone to the root of the religious life of India. The end is substantially one. The means to that end necessarily vary according to knowledge, capacity, and temperament. But here again we may analyze the means into two main divisions, namely, Vaidik and Tantrik, to which may be added a third or the mixed (Mishra). The one body of Hinduism reveals as it were, a double framework represented by the Vaidik and Tantrik Acaras, which have in certain instances been mingled.

The word “Tantra” by itself simply means as I have already said “treatise” and not necessarily a religious scripture. When it has the latter significance, it may mean the Scripture of several divisions of worshippers who vary in doctrine and practice. Thus there are Tantras of Salvias, Vaishnavas, and Shaktas and of various sub-divisions of these. So amongst the Salvias there are the Salvias of the Shaiva Siddhanta, the Advaita Shaiva of the Kashmir School, Pashupatas and a multitude of other sects which have their Tantras. If “Tantric” be used as meaning an adherent of the Tantra Shastra, then the word, in any particular case, is without definite meaning. A man to whom the application is given may be a worshipper of any of the Five Devatas (Surya, Ganesha, Vishnu, Shiva, Shakti) and of any of the various Sampradayas worshipping that Devata with varying doctrine and practice. The term is a confusing one, though common practice compels its use. So far as I know, those who are named, “Tantrics” do not themselves generally use this term but call themselves Shaktas, Salvias and the like, of whatever Sampradaya they happen to be.

Again Tantra is the name of only one class of Scripture followed by “Tantrics”. There are others, namely, Nigamas, Agamas, Yamalas, Damaras, Uddishas, Kakshaputas and so forth. None of these names are used to describe the adherents of these Shastras except, so far as I am aware, Agama in the use of the term Agamavadin, and Agamanta in the descriptive name of Agamanta Shaiva. I give later a list of these Scriptures as contained in the various Agamas. If we summarize them shortly under the term Tantra Shastra, or preferably Agama, then we have four main classes of Indian Scripture, namely, Veda (Samhita, Brahmana, Upanishad), Agama or Tantra Shastra, Purana, Smriti. Of these Shastras the authority of the Agama or Tantra Shastra has been denied in modern times. This view may be shown to be erroneous by reference to Shastras of admitted authority. It is spoken of as the Fifth Veda. Kulluka Bhatta, the celebrated commentator on Manu, says: “Shruti is twofold, Vaidik and Tantrik (Vaidiki tantriki caiva dvividha srutih lurtita)”. This refers to the Mantra portion of the Agamas. In the Great Vaishnava Shastra, the Srimad Bhagavata, Bhagavan says: “My worship is of the three kinds — Vaidik, Tantrik and Mixed (Mishra)” and that, in Kaliyuga, “Keshava is to be worshipped according to the injunction of Tantra.” The Devibhagavata speaks of the Tantra Shastra as a Vedanga. It is cited as authority in the Ashtavimshati Tattva of Raghunandana who prescribes for the worship of Durga as before him had done Shridatta, Harinatha, Vidyadhara and many others. Some of these and other references are given in Mahamahopadhyaya Yadaveshvara Tarkaratna’s Tantrer Pracinatva in the Sahitpa Samhita of Aswin 1317. The Tarapradipa and other Tantrik works say that in the Kali-yuga the Tantrika and not the Vaidika Dharma is to be followed. This objection about the late character and therefore unauthoritativeness of the Tantra Shastras generally (I do not speak of any particular form of it) has been taken by Indians from their European Gurus.

According to the Shakta Scriptures, Veda in its wide sense does not only mean Rig, Yajus, Sama, Atharva as now published but comprises these together with the generally unknown and unpublished Uttara Kanda of the Atharva Veda, called Saubhagya, with the Upanishads attached to this. Sayana’s Commentary is written on the Purva Kanda. These are said (though I have not yet verified she fact) to be 64 in number. Some of these, such as Advaitabhava, Kaula, Kalika, Tripura, Tara, Aruna Upanishads and Bahvricopanishad, Bhavanopanishad, I have published as the XI volume of Tantrik “texts. Aruna means “She who is red”. Redness ( (Lauhityam) is Vimarsha. (See Vol. XI, Tantrik Texts. Ed. A. Avalon.) I may also here refer my reader to the Kaulacarya Satyananda’s Commentary on the great Isha Upanishad. Included also in “Veda” (according to the same view) are the Nigamas, Agamas, Yamalas and Tantras. From these all other Shastras which explain the meaning (Artha) of Veda such as Purana and Smriti, also Itihasa and so forth are derived. All these Shastras constitute what is called a “Many millioned” (Shatakoti) Samhita which are developed, the one from the other as it were an unfolding series. In the Tantrik Sangraha called Sarvollasa by the Sarvavidyasiddha Sarvanandanatha the latter cites authority (Narayani Tantra) to show that from Nigama came Agama. Here I pause to note that the Sammohana says that Kerala Sampradaya is Dakshina and follows Veda (Vedamargastha), whilst Gauda (to which Sarvanandanatha belonged) is Vama and follows Nigama. Hence apparently the pre-eminence given to Nigama. He then says from Agama came Yamala, from Yamala the four Vedas, from Vedas the Puranas, from Puranas Smriti, and from Smriti all other Shastras. There are, he says, five Nigamas and 64 Agamas. Four Yamalas are mentioned, which are said to give the gross form (Sthularupa). As some may be surprised to learn that the four Vedas came from the Yamalas (i.e. were Antargata of the Yamalas) which literally means what is uniting or comprehensive, I subjoin the Sanskrit verse from Narayani Tantra.

Brahmayamalasambhutam samaveda-matam shive

Rudrayamalasamjata rigvedo paramo mahan

Vishnuyamalasambhuto yajurvedah kuleshvari

Shaktiyamalasambhutam atharva paramam mahat.

Some Tantras are called by opposing sects Vedavirud-dhani (opposed to Veda), which of course those who accept them deny, just as the Commentary of the Nityashodashikarnava speaks of the Pañcaratrin as Vedabhrashta. That some sects were originally Avaidika is probable, but in process of time various amalgamations of scriptural authority, belief and practice took place.

Whether we accept or not this theory, according to which the Agamas and kindred Shastras are given authority with the four Vedas we have to accept the facts. What are these?

As I have said, on examination the one body of Hinduism reveals as it were a double framework. I am now looking at the matter from an outside point of view which is not that of the Shakta worshipper. We find on the one hand the four Vedas with their Samhitas, Brahmanas, and Upanishads and on the other what has been called the “Fifth Veda,” that is Nigama, Agama and kindred Shastras and certain especially “Tantrik” Upanishads attached to the Saubhagya Kanda of the Atharvaveda. There are Vaidik and Tantrik Kalpa Sutras and Suktas such as the Tantrika Devi and Matsya Suktas. As a counterpart of the Brahma-sutras, we have the Shakti Sutras of Agastya. Then there is both Vaidik and “Tantrik” ritual such as (he ten Vaidik Samskaras and the Tantrik Samskaras, such as Abhisheka; Vaidik and Tantrik initiation (Upanayana and Diksha); Vaidik and Tantrik Gayatri; the Vaidik Om, the so-called “Tantrik” Bijas such as Hring; Vaidika. Guru and Deshika Guru and so forth. This dualism may be found carried into other matters as well, such as medicine, law, writing. So, whilst the Vaidik Ayurveda employed generally vegetable drugs, the “Tantriks” used metallic substances. A counterpart of the Vaidika Dharmapatni was the Shaiva wife; that is, she who is given by desire (Kama). I have already pointed out the counterparts of the Pañcatattva in the Vedas. Some allege a special form of Tantrik script at any rate in Gauda Desha and so forth.

What is the meaning of all this? It is not at present possible to give a certain answer. The subject has been so neglected and is so little known. Before tendering any conclusions with any certainty of their correctness, we must examine the Tantrik Texts which time has spared. It will be readily perceived, however, that if there be such a double frame as I suggest, it indicates that there were originally two sources of religion one of which (possibly in some respects the older) incorporated parts of, and in time largely superseded the other. And this is what the “Tantriks” impliedly allege in their views as to the relation of the four Vedas and Agamas. If they are not both of authority, why should such reverence be given to the Deshika Gurus and to Tantrik Diksha?

Probably, there were many Avaidika cults, not without a deep and ancient wisdom of their own, that is, cults outside the Vaidik religion (Vedabahya) which in the course of time adopted certain Vaidik rites such as Homa: the Vaidikas, in their own turn, taking up some of the Avaidika practices. It may be that some Brahmanas joined these so-called Anarya Sampradayas just as we find to-day Brahmanas officiating for low castes and being called by their name. At length the Shastras of the two cults were given at least equal authority. The Vaidik practice then largely disappeared, surviving chiefly both in the Smarta rites of to-day and as embedded in the ritual of the Agamas. These are speculations to which I do not definitely commit myself. They are merely suggestions which may be worth consideration when search is made for the origin of the Agamas. If they be correct, then in this, as in other cases, the beliefs and practices of the Soil have been upheld until to-day against the incoming cults of those “Aryas” who followed the Vaidik rites and who in their turn influenced the various religious communities without the Vaidik fold.

The Smartas of to-day represent what is generally called the Srauta side, though in these rites there are mingled many Pauranic ingredients. The Arya Samaja is another present-day representative of the old Vaidika Acara, mingled as it seems to me with a modernism, which is puritan and otherwise. The other, or Tantrik side, is represented by the general body of present-day Hinduism, and in particular by the various sectarian divisions of Salvias, Shaktas, Vaishnavas and so forth which go to its making.

Each sect of worshippers has its own Tantras. In a previous chapter I have shortly referred to the Tantras of the Shaivasiddhanta, of the Pañcaratra Agama, and of the Northern Saivaism of which the Malinivijapa Tantra sets the type. The old fivefold division of worshippers was, according to the Pañcopasana, Saura, Ganapatya, Vaishnava, Shaiva, and Shakta whose Mula Devatas were Surya, Ganapati, Vishnu, Shiva and Shakti respectively. At the present time the three-fold division, Vaishnava, Shaiva, Shakta, is of more practical importance, as the other two survive only to a limited extent to-day. In parts of Western India the worship of Ganesha is still popular and I believe some Sauras or traces of Sauras here and there exist, especially in Sind.

Six Amnayas are mentioned in the Tantras. (Shadamnayah). These are the six Faces of Shiva, looking East (Purvamnaya), South (Dakshinamnaya), West (Pashcim amnaya), North (Uttaramnaya), Upper (Urddhvamnaya), Lower and concealed (Adhamnaya). The six Amnayas are thus so called according to the order of their origin. They are thus described in the Devyagama cited in the Tantrarahasya (see also, with some variation probably due to corrupt text, Patala II of Samayacara Tantra): “(1) The face in the East (that is in front) is of pearl-like luster with three eyes and crowned by the crescent moon. By this face I (Shiva) revealed (the Devis) Shri Bhuvaneshvari, Triputa, Lalita, Padma, Shulini, Sarasvati, Tvarita, Nitya, Vajraprastarim, Annapurna, Mahalakshmi, Lakshmi, Vagvadini with all their rites and Mantras. (2) The Southern face is of a yellow color with three eyes. By this face I revealed Prasadasadashiva, Mahaprasadamantra, Dakshinamurti, Vatuka, Mañjughosha, Bhairava, Mritasanjivanividya, Mrityunjaya with their rites and Mantras. (3) The face in the West (that is at the back) is of the color of a freshly formed cloud. By this face I revealed Gopala, Krishna, Narayana, Vasudeva, Nrishimha, Vamana, Varaha, Ramacandra, Vishnu, Harihara, Ganesha, Agni, Yama, Surya, Vidhu (Candra) and other planets, Garuda, Dikpalas, Hanuman and other Suras, their rites and Mantras. (4) The face in the North is blue in color and with three eyes. By this face, I revealed the Devis, Dakshinakalika, Mahakali, Guhyakah, Smashanakalika, Bhadrakali, Ekajata, Ugratara, Taritni, Katyayani, Chhinnamasta, Nilasarasvati, Durga, Jayadurga, Navadurga, Vashuli, Dhumavati, Vishalakshi, Gauri, Bagalamukhi, Pratyangira, Matangi, Mahishamardini, their rites and Mantras. (5) The Upper face is white. By this face I revealed Shrimattripurasundari, Tripureshi, Bhairavi, Tripurabhairavi, Smashanabhairavi, Bhuvaneshibhairavi, Shatkutabhairavi, Annapurnabhairavi, Pañcami, Shodashi, Malini, Valavala, with their rites and Mantras. (6) The sixth face (Below) is lustrous of many colors and concealed. It is by this mouth that I spoke of Devatasthana, Asana, Yantra, Mala, Naivedya, Balidana, Sadhana, Purashcarana, Mantrasiddhi. It is called “Ishanamnaya.” The Samayacara Tantra (Ch. 2) says that whilst the first four Amnayas are for the Caturvarga or Dharma, Artha, Kama, Moksha, the upper (Urddhvamnaya) and lower (Adhamnaya) are for liberation only. The Sammohana Tantra (Ch. V) first explains Purvamnaya, Dakshinamnaya, Pashcimamnaya, Uttaramnaya, Urdhvamnaya according to what is called Deshaparyyaya. I am informed that no Puja of Adhamnaya is generally done but that Shadanvaya Shambhavas, very high Sadhakas, at the door of Liberation do Nyasa with this sixth concealed Face. It is said that Patala Amnaya is Sam-bhogayoga. The Nishkala aspect in Shaktikrama is for Purva, Tripura; for Dakshina, Saura, Ganapatya and Vaishnava; for Pashcima, Raudra, Bhairava; for Uttara, Ugra, Apattarini. In Shaivakarma the same aspect is for the first, Sampatprada and Mahesha; for the second, Aghora, Kalika and Vaishnava darshana; for the third, Raudra, Bhairava, Shaiva; for the fourth, Kubera, Bhairava, Saudrashaka; and for Urddhvamnaya, Ardhanarisha and Pranava. Niruttara Tantra says that the first two Amnayas contain rites for the Pashu Sadhaka (see as to the meaning of this and the other classes of Sadhakas, the Chapter on Pañcatattva ritual Purvamnayoditam karma Pashavam kathitam priye, and so with the next). The third or Pashcimamnaya is a combination of Pashu and Vira (Pashcimamnayajam karma Pashu-virasamashritam). Uttaramnaya is for Vira and Divya (Uttaramnayajam karma divpa-virashritam priye). The upper Amnaya is for the Divya (Urdhvamnayoditam karma divyabhavashritam priye). It adds that even the Divya does Sadhana in the cremation ground in Virabhava (that is, heroic frame: of mind and disposition) but he does such worship without Virasana. The Sammohana also gives a classification of Tantras according to the Amnayas as also special classifications, such as the Tantras of the six Amnayas according to Vatukamnaya. As only one Text of the Sammohana is available whilst I write, it is not possible to speak with certainty of accuracy as regards all these details.

Each of these divisions of worshippers have their own Tantras, as also had the Jainas and Bauddhas. Different sects had their own particular subdivisions and Tantras of which there are various classifications according to Krantas, Deshaparyaya, Kalaparyaya and so forth.

The Sammohana Tantra mentions 22 different Agamas including Cinagama (a Shakta form), Pashupata (a Shaiva form), Pañcaratra (a Vaishnava form), Kapalika, Bhairava, Aghora, Jaina, Bauddha; each of which is said there to contain a certain number of Tantras and Upatantras.

According to the Sammohana Tantra, the Tantras according to Kalaparyaya are the 64 Shakta Tantras, with 327 Upatantras, 8 Yamalas, 4 Damaras, 2 Kalpalatas and several Samhitas, Cudamanis (100) Arnavas, Puranas, Upavedas, Kakshaputas, Vimarshini and Cintamanis. The Shaiva class contains 32 Tantras with its own Yamalas, Damaras and so forth. The Vaishnava class contains 75 Tantras with the same, including Kalpas and other Shastras. The Saura class has Tantras with its own Yamalas, Uddishas and other works. And the Ganapatya class contains 30 Tantras with Upatantras, Kalpas and other Shastras, including one Damara and one Yamala. The Bauddha class contains Kalpadrumas, Kamadhenus, Suktas, Kramas, Ambaras, Puranas and other Shastras.

According to the Kularnava and Jñanadipa Tantras there are seven Acaras of which the first four, Veda, Vaishnava, Shaiva and Dakshina belong to Pashvacara; then comes Vama, followed by Siddhanta, in which gradual approach is made to Kaulacara the reputed highest. Elsewhere six and nine Acaras are spoken of and different kinds of Bhavas, Sabhava, Vibhava and Dehabhava and so forth which are referred to in Bhavacudamani.

An account of the Acaras is given in the Haratattvadidhiti [pp. 339-342. See in particular Vishvasara Tantra (Ch. 24) and Nitya Tantra and Pranatoshini. The first is the best account].

Vedacara is the lowest and Kaulacara the highest. (Kularnava Tantra II). Their characteristics are given in the 24th Patala of Vishvasara Tantra. The first four belong to Pashvacara (see Chapter on Shakta Sadhana) and the last three are for Vira and Divya Sadhakas. Summarizing the points of the Vishvasara: a Sadhaka in Vedacara should carry out the prescriptions of the Veda, should not cohabit with his wife except in the period following the courses. He should not eat fish and meat on the Parva days. He should not worship the Deva at night. In Vaishnavacara he follows injunctions (Niyama) of Vedacara. He must give up eating of flesh (Nitya Tantra says he must not kill animals), avoid sexual intercourse and even the talk of it. This doubtless means a negation of the Vira ritual. He should worship Vishnu. This Acara is distinguished from the last by the great endurance of Tapas and the contemplation of the Supreme everywhere. In Shaivacara, Vedacara is prescribed with this difference that there must be no slaughter of animals and meditation is on Shiva. Dakshinacara is said to have been practiced by Rishi Dakshinamurti and is therefore so called. This Acara is preparatory for the Vira and Divya Bhavas. Meditation is on the Supreme Ishvari after taking Vijaya (Hemp). Japa of Mantra is done at night. Siddhi is attained by using a rosary of human bone (Mahshankha) at certain places including a Shaktipitha. Vamacara is approved for Viras and Divyas. One should be continent (Brahmacari) at day and worship with the Pañcatattva at night. (“Pañcatattvakramenaiva ratrau devim prapujayet”). The statement of Nitya (Pañcatattvanukalpena ratrau deving prapujayet) is, if correctly reported, I think incorrect. This is Vira Sadhana and the Vira should generally only use substitutes when the real Tattvas cannot be found. Cakra worship is done. Siddhi is destroyed by revelation thereof; therefore the Vama path is hidden. The Siddhantacari is superior to the last by his knowledge “hidden in the Vedas, Shastras and Puranas like fire in wood, by his freedom from fear of the Pashu, by his adherence to the truth, and by his open performance of the Pañcatattva ritual. Open and frank, he cares not what is said.” He offers the Pancatattvas openly. Then follows a notable passage. “Just as it is not blameable to drink openly in the Sautramani Yajña (Vaidik rite), so in Siddhantacara wine is drunk openly. As it is not blameable to kill horses in the Ashvamedha Yajña (Vaidik rite), so no offense is committed in killing animals in this Dharma.” Nitya Tantra says that an article, be it pure or impure, becomes pure by purification. Holding a cup made of human skull, and wearing the Rudraksha, the Siddhantacari moves on earth in the form of Bhairava Himself. The knowledge of the last Acara, that of the Kaula, makes one Shiva. Just as the footprint of every animal disappears in that of the elephant, so every Dharma is lost in the greatness of Kuladharma. Here there are no injunctions or prohibitions, no restriction as to time or place, in fact no rule at all. A Kaula is himself Guru and Sadashiva and none are superior to him. Kaulas are of three classes, inferior (the ordinary or Prakrita Kaula), who is ever engaged in ritual such as Japa, Homa, Puja, follows Viracara (with Pañcatattva) and strives to attain the highland of knowledge; middling is the Kaula who does Sadhana with Pañcatattva, is deeply immersed in meditation (Dhyana) and Samadhi; superior, the Kaula who “Oh Mistress of the Kaulas sees the imperishable, and all-pervading Self in all things and all things in the Self.” He is a good Kaula who makes no distinction between mud and sandalpaste, gold and straw, a home and the cremation ground. He is a superior Kaula who meditates on the Self with the self, who has equal regard for all, who is full of contentment, forgiveness and compassion. Nitya Tantra (Patala III) says that Kaulas move about in various shapes, now as an ordinary man of the world adhering to social rules (Shishta), at other times as one who has fallen therefrom (Bhrashta). At other times, he seems to be as weird and unearthly as a ghost (Bhuta). Kaulacara is, it says, the essence which is obtained from the ocean of Veda and Agama after churning it with the staff’ of knowledge.

In a modern account of the Acaras (see Sanatana — sadhana-Tattva or Tantra-rahashya by Saccidananda Svami) it is said that some speak of Aghoracara and Yogacara as two further divisions between the last but one and last. However this may be, the Aghoras of to-day are a separate sect who, it is alleged, have degenerated into mere eaters of corpses, though Aghora is said to only mean one who is liberated from the terrible (Ghora ) Samsara. In Yogacara was learnt the upper heights of Sadhana and the mysteries of Yoga such as the movements of the Vayu in the bodily microcosm (Kshudravrahmanda), the regulation of which controls the inclinations and propensities (Vritti), Yogacara is entered by Yoga-diksha and achievement in Ashtangayoga qualifies for Kaulacara. Whether there were such further divisions I cannot at present say. I prefer for the time being to follow the Kularnava. The Svami’s account of these is as follows: Vedacara which consists in the daily practice of the Vaidik rites (with, I may add, some Tantrik observances) is the gross body (Sthula-deha) which comprises within it all the other Acaras, which are as it were its subtle body (Sukshma-deha) of various degrees. The worship is largely of an external character, the object of which is to strengthen Dharma. This is the path of action (Kriyamarga). This and some other observations may be a modern reading of the old facts but are on the whole, I think, justified. The second stage of Vaishnavacara is the path of devotion (Bhaktimarga) and the aim is union of devotion with faith previously acquired. The worshipper passes from blind faith to an understanding of the supreme protecting Energy of the Brahman, towards which his devotion goes forth. With an increasing determination to uphold Dharma and to destroy Adharma, the Sadhaka passes into the third stage or Shaivacara which the author cited calls the militant (Kshattriya) stage, wherein to love and mercy are added strenuous striving and the cultivation of power. There is union of faith, devotion, and inward determination (Antarlaksha). Entrance is here made upon the path of knowledge (Jñanamarga). Following this is the fourth stage or Dakshinacara, which originally and in Tantra Shastra does not mean “right-hand worship” but according to the author cited is the Acara “favorable” to the accomplishment of the higher Sadhana of which Dakshina-Kalika is Devi. (The Vishvasara already cited derives the word from Dakshinamurthi muni, but Dakshina in either case has the same meaning. Daksinakali is a Devi of Uttaramnaya and approach is here made to Vira rituals.) This stage commences when the worshipper can make Dhyana and Dharana of the threefold Shakti of the Brahman (Iccha, Kriya, Jñana) and understands the mutual connection of the three and of their expression as the Gunas, and until he receives the rite of initiation called Purnabhisheka. At this stage the Sadhaka is Shakta and qualified for the worship of the threefold Shakti of Brahman (Brahma, Vishnu, Maheshvara). He worships the Adya-Shakti as Dakshina-Kalika in whom are united the three Shaktis. The aim of this stage is the union of faith, devotion, and determination with a knowledge of the threefold energies. (Passage is thus made from the Deva-aspect to the Deva-whole.) Up to this stage the Sadhaka has followed Pravritti Marga, or the outgoing path, the path of worldly enjoyment, albeit curbed by Dharma. The Sadhaka now, upon the exhaustion of the forces of the outward current, makes entry on the path of return (Nivritti-Marga). As this change is one of primary importance, some have divided the Acaras into the two broad divisions of Dakshinacara (including the first four) and Vamacara (including the last three). Strictly, however, the first three can only be thus included in the sense that they are preparatory to Dakshinacara proper and are all in the Pravritti Marga and are not Vamacara. It is thus said that men are born into Dakshinacara but are received by initiation into Vamacara. As Dakshinacara does not mean “right-hand worship” so Vamacara does not mean, as is vulgarly supposed, “left-hand worship”. “Left-hand” in English has a bad sense and it is not sense to suppose that the Shastra, which prescribes this Acara, itself gives it a bad name. Vama is variously interpreted. Some say it is the worship in which woman (Vama) enters, that is Lata-sadhana. Vama, this author says, means “adverse” that is the stage adverse to the Pravritti, which governs in varying degrees the previous Acaras. For, entry is here made on the Nivritti path of return to the Source of outgoing. (In this Acara also there is worship of the Vama Devi.) In Vamacara the Sadhaka commences to directly destroy Pravritti and, with the help of the Guru, to cultivate Nivritti. The help of the Guru throughout is necessary. It is comparatively easy to lay down rules for the Pravritti Marga but nothing can be achieved in Vama-cara without the Guru’s help. Some of the disciplines are admittedly dangerous and, if entered upon without authority and discretion, will probably lead to abuse. The method of the Guru at this stage is to use the forces of Pravritti in such a way as to render them self-destructive. The passions which bind (notably the fundamental instincts for food, drink, and sexual satisfaction) may be it is said so employed as to act as forces whereby the particular life, of which they are the strongest physical manifestation, is raised to the universal life. Passion which has hitherto run downward and outwards (often to waste) is directed inwards and upwards and transformed to power. But it is not only the lower physical desires of eating, drinking, and sexual intercourse which must be subjugated. The Sadhaka must at this stage commence (the process continues until the fruit of Kaulacara is obtained) to cut off all the eight bonds (Pasha) which have made him a Pashu, for up to and including Dakshinacara is Pashu worship. These Pasha, bonds or “afflictions”, are variously enumerated but the more numerous classifications are merely elaborations of the smaller divisions. Thus, according to the Devi-Bhagavata, Moha is ignorance or bewilderment, and Mahamoha is the desire for worldly pleasure which flows from it. The Kularnava Tantra mentions eight primary bonds, Daya (that is pity as the feeling which binds as opposed to divine compassion or Karuna), Moha (ignorance), Lajja (shame, which does not mean that a man is to be a shameless sinner but weak worldly shame of being looked down upon, of infringing conventions and so forth), Family (Kula, which ceases to be a tie), Shila (here usage, convention) and Varna (caste; for the enlightened is beyond all its distinctions). When, to take the Svami’s example, Shri Krishna stole the clothes of the bathing Gopis or milkmaids and cowherds and made them approach Him naked, He removed the artificial coverings which are imposed on man in the Samsara. The Gopis were eight, as are the Bonds, and the errors by which the Jiva is misled are the clothes which Krishna stole. Freed of these the Jiva is liberated from all bonds arising from his desires, family and society. Formerly it was sufficient to live in worldly fashion according to the morality governing life in the world. Now the Sadhaka must go further and transcend the world, or rather seek to do so. He rises by those things which are commonly the cause of fall. When he has completely achieved his purpose and liberated himself from all bonds, he reaches the stage of Shiva (Shivatva). It is the aim of the Nivritti Sadhana to liberate man from the bonds which bind him to the Samsara, and to qualify the Vira Sadhaka, through Rajasika Upasana (see Chapter on Pañcatattva) of the highest grades of Sadhana in which the Sattvika Guna predominates. He is then Divya or divine. To the truly Sattvik, there is neither attachment, fear nor disgust (Ghrina). What is thus commenced in Vamacara, is gradually completed by the rituals of Siddhantacara and Kaulacara. In the last three Acaras the Sadhaka becomes more and more freed from the darkness of Samsara and is attached to nothing, hates nothing, is ashamed of nothing (really shameful acts being ex hypothesi below his acquired stage), and has freed himself of the artificial bonds of family, caste, and society. He becomes an Avadhuta, that is, one who has “washed off” everything and has relinquished the world. Of these, as stated later, there are several classes. For him there is no rule of time or place. He becomes, like Shiva himself, a dweller in the cremation ground (Smashana). He attains Brahmajñana or the Gnosis in perfect form. On receiving Mahapurnadiksha, he performs his own funeral rites and is dead to the Samsara. Seated alone in some quiet place, he remains in constant Samadhi (ecstasy), and attains it in its highest or Nirvikalpa form. The Great Mother, the Supreme Prakriti, Mahashakti dwells in his heart which is now the inner cremation ground wherein all passions have been burnt away. He becomes a Paramahamsa who is liberated whilst yet living (Jivanmukta).

From the above it will be seen that the Acaras are not various sects in the European sense, but stages in a continuous process through which the Sadhaka must pass before he reaches the supreme state of the highest Kaula (for the Kaulas are of differing degrees). Passing from the gross outer body of Vedacara, he learns its innermost core of doctrine, not expressed but latent in it. These stages need not be and are not ordinarily passed through by each Jiva in the course of a single life. On the contrary they are as a rule traversed in the course of a multitude of births, in which case the weaving of the spiritual garment is recommenced where, in a previous birth, it was dropped on death. In one life the Sadhaka may commence at any stage. If he is a true Kaula now it is because in previous births he has by Sadhana in the preliminary stages won his entrance into it. Knowledge of Shakti is, as the Niruttara Tantra says, acquired after many births; and according to the Mahanirvana Tantra it is by merit acquired in previous births that the mind is inclined to Kaulacara.

Kauladharma is in no wise sectarian but on the contrary claims to be the head of all sects. It is said “at heart a Shakta, outwardly a. Shaiva, in gatherings a Vaishnava (who are wont to gather together for worship in praise of Hari) in thus many a guise the Kaulas wander on earth.”

Antah-shaktah bahih-shaivah sabhayam vaishnava matah

Nana-rupadharah Kaulah vicaranti mahitale.

The saying has been said to be an expression of this claim which is I think involved in it. It does however also I think indicate secrecy, and adaptability to sectarian form, of him who has pierced to the core of that which all sects in varying, though partial, ways present. A Kaula is one who has passed through these and other stages, which have as their own inmost doctrine (whether these worshippers know it or not) that of Kaulacara. It is indifferent what the Kaula’s apparent sect may be. The form is nothing and everything. It is nothing in the sense that it has no power to narrow the Kaula’s inner life. It is everything in the sense that knowledge may infuse its apparent limitations with an universal meaning. A man may thus live in all sects, without their form being ever to him a bond.

In Vaidik times there were four Ashramas, that is, states and stages in the life of the Arya, namely (in their order) that of the chaste student (Brahmacarya), secular life as a married house-holder (Grihastha), the life of the forest recluse with his wife in retirement from the world (Vanaprastha), lastly that of the beggar (Bhikshu or Avadhuta), wholly detached from the world, spending his time in meditation on the Supreme Brahman in preparation for shortly coming death. All these four were for the Brahmana caste, the first three for the Kshattriya, the first two for the Vaishya and for the Shudra the second only (Yogayajñavalkpa, Ch. I). As neither the conditions of life nor the character, capacity and powers of the people of this age allow of the first and third Ashrama, the Mahanirvana Tantra states (VIII. 8) that in the Kali age there are only two Ashramas, namely, the second and last, and these are open to all castes indiscriminately (ib. 12). The same Tantra (XIV. 141 et seq.) speaks of four classes of Kulayogis or Avadhutas namely the Shaivavadhuta and Brahmavadhuta, which are of two kinds, imperfect (Apurna) and perfect (Purna). The first three have enjoyment and practice Yoga. The fourth or Paramahamsa should be absolutely chaste and should not touch metal. He is beyond all household duties and caste, and ritual, such as the offering of food and drink to Devata. The Bhairavadamara classes the Avadhuta into (a) Kulavadhuta, (b) Shaivavadhuta, (c) Brahmavadhuta, (d) Hamsavadhuta. Some speak of three divisions of each of the classes Shaivavadhuta and Brahmavadhuta (see pp. 32-33 of Introduction to Tantra Shastra). The Shaivavadhutas are not, either, from a Western or Shastric standpoint, as high as the Brahmavadhuta. The lowest of the last class can have intercourse only with the own wife (Shvakiya Shakti as opposed to the Shaiva Shakti); the middling has ordinarily nothing to do with any Shakti, and the highest must under no circumstance touch a woman or metal, nor does he practice any rites or keep any observances.

The main divisions here are Vedacara, Dakshinacara and Vamacara. Vedacara is not Vaidikacara, that is, in the Srauta sense, for the Srauta Vaidikacara appears to be outside this sevenfold Tantrik division of which Vedacara is the Tantrik counterpart. For it is Tantrik Upasana with Vaidik rites and mantras, with (I have been told) Agni as Devata. As a speculation we may suggest that this Acara was for those not Adhikari for what is called the Srauta Vaidikacara. The second and third belong and lead up to the completed Dakshinacara. This is Pashvacara. Vama-cara commences the other mode of worship, leading up to the completed Kaula, the Kaulavadhuta, Avadhuta, and Divya. Here, with the attainment of Brahmajñana, we reach the region which is beyond all Acaras which is known as Sveccacara. All that those belonging to this state do or touch is pure. In and after Vamacara there is eating and drinking in, and as part of, worship and Maithuna. After the Pashu there is the Vira and then the Divya. Pashu is the starting point, Vira is on the way and Divya is the goal. Each of the sects has a Dakshina and Vama division. It is commonly thought that this is peculiar to Shaktas: but this is not so. Thus there are Vama, Ganapatyas and Vaishnavas and so forth. Again Vamacara is itself divided again into a right and left side. In the former wine is taken in a cup of stone or other substance, and worship is with the Svakiya-Shakti or Sadhaka’s own wife; in the latter and more advanced stage drinking is done from a skull and worship may be with Parastri, that is, some other Shakti. In the case however of some sects which belong to the Vama-cara division, whilst there is meat and wine, there is, I am told, no Shakti for the members are chaste (Brahmacari). So far as I can ascertain these sects which are mentioned later seem to belong to the Shaiva as opposed to the Shakta group.

The Tantrik Samgraha called Shaktanandatarangini by Brahmananda Svami says (Ch. 2) that Agama is both Sadagama and Asadagama and that the former alone is Agama according to the primary meaning of the word (Sadagama eva agamashabdasya mukhyatvat). He then says that Shiva in the Agama Samhita condemns the Asadagama saying “Oh Deveshi, men in the Kali age are generally of a Rajasik and Tamasik disposition and being addicted to forbidden ways deceive many others. Oh Sureshvari, those who in disregard of their Varnashrama Dharma offer to us flesh, blood and wine become Bhutas, Pretas, and Brahmarakshasas,” that is, various forms of evil spirits. This prohibits such worship as is opposed to Varnashramadharma. It is said, however, by the Vamacaris, who take consecrated wine and flesh as a Yajña, not to cover their case.

It is not uncommonly thought that Vamacara is that Acara into which Vama or woman enters. This is true only to a, certain extent: that is, it is a true definition of those Sadhakas who do worship with Shakti according to Vamacara rites. But it seems to be incorrect, in so far as there are, I am told, worshippers of the Vamacara division who are chaste (Brahmacari). Vamacara means literally “left” way, not “left-handed” in the English sense which means what is bad. As the name is given to these Sadhakas by themselves it is not likely that they would adopt a title which condemns them. What they mean is that this Acara is the opposite of Dakshinacara. Philosophically it is more monistic. It is said that even in the highest Siddhi of a Dakshinacari “there is always some One above him”; but the fruit of Vamacara and its subsequent and highest stages is that the Sadhaka “becomes the Emperor Himself”. The Bhava differs, and the power of its method compared with Dakshinacara is said to be that between milk and wine.

Moreover it is to be noted that the Devi whom they worship is on the left of Shiva. In Vamacara we find Kapalikas, Kalamukhas, Pashupatas, Bhandikeras, Digambaras, Aghoras, followers of Cinacara and Kaulas generally who are initiated. In some cases, as in that of the advanced division of Kaulas, worship is with all five Tattvas (Pañcatattvas). In some cases there is Brahmacarya as in the case of Aghora and Pashupata, though these drink wine and eat flesh food. Some Vamacaris, I am informed, never cease to be chaste (Brahmacari), such as Oghada Sadhus worshippers of Batuka Bhairava, Kanthadhari and followers of Gorakshanatha, Sitanatha and Matsyendranatha. In Nilakrama there is no Maithuna. In some sects there are differing practices. Thus, I am told, amongst the Kalamukhas, the Kalaviras only worship Kumaris up to the age of nine, whereas the Kamamohanas worship with adult Shaktis.

Some advanced members of this (in its general sense) Vamacara division do not, I am informed, even take wine and meat. It is said that the great Vamacari Sadhaka Raja Krishnacandra of Nadia, Upasaka of the Chinnamasta Murti, did not take wine. Such and similar Sadhakas have passed beyond the preliminary stage of Vamacara, and indeed (in its special sense) Vamacara itself. They may be Brahma Kaulas. As regards Sadhakas generally it is well to remember what the Mahakala Samhita, the great Shastra of the Madhyastha Kaulas, says in the 11th Ullasa called Sharira-yoga-kathanam: “Some Kaulas there are who seek the good of this world (Aihikarthadhritatmanah). So also the Vaidikas enjoy what is here (Aihikartham kamayante: as do, I may interpose, the vast bulk of present humanity) and are not seekers of liberation (Amrite ratim na kurvanti). Only by Nishkamasadhana is liberation attained.”

The Pañcatattva are either real (Pratyaksha. “Idealizing” statements to the contrary are, when not due to ignorance, false), substitutional (Anukalpa) or esoteric (Divyatattva). As regards the second, even a vegetarian would not object to “meat” which is in fact ginger, nor the abstainer to “wine” which is coconut water in a bell-metal vessel. As for the Esoteric Tattva they are not material articles or practices, but the symbols for Yogic processes. Again some notions and practices are more moderate and others extreme. The account given in the Mahanirvana of the Bhairavi and Tattva Cakras may be compared with some more unrestrained practice; and the former again may be contrasted with a modern Cakra described in the 13th Chapter of the Life of Bejoy Krishna Gosvami by Jagad-bandhu Maitra. There a Tantrika Siddha formed a Cakra at which the Gosvami was present. The latter says that all who were there, felt as if the Shakti was their own Mother who had borne them, and the Devatas whom the Cakreshvara invoked appeared in the circle to accept the offerings. Whether this is accepted as a fact or not, it is obvious that it was intended to describe a Cakra of a different kind from that of which we have more commonly heard. There are some practices which are not correctly understood; there are some principles which the bulk of men will not understand; for to so understand there must be besides knowledge that undefinable Bhava, the possession of which carries with it the explanation which no words can give. I have dealt with this subject in the Chapter on the Pañcatattva. There are expressions which do not bear their surface meaning. Gomamhsa-bhakshana is not “beef-eating” but putting the tongue in the root of the throat. What some translate as “Ravishing the widow” refers not to a woman but to a process in Kundalini Yoga and so forth. Lastly and this is important: a distinction is seldom, if ever, made between Shastric principles and actual practice, nor is count taken of the conditions properly governing the worship and its abuse. It is easy to understand that if Hinduism has in general degenerated, there has been a fall here. It is, however, a mistake to suppose that the sole object of these rites is enjoyment. It is not necessary to be a “Tantrik” for that. The moral of all this is, that it is better to know the facts than to make erroneous generalizations. There are said to be three Krantas or geographical divisions of India, of which roughly speaking the North-Eastern portion is Vishnukranta, the North-Western Rathakranta and the remaining and Southern portion is Ashvakranta. According to the Shaktamarigala and Mahasiddhisara Tantras, Vishnukranta (which includes Bengal) extends from the Vindhya range to Chattala or Chittagong. From Vindhya to Tibet and China is Rathakranta. There is then some difference between these two Tantras as to the position of Ashvakranta. According to the first this last Kranta extends from the Vindhya to the sea which perhaps includes the rest of India. According to the Mahasiddhisara Tantra it extends from the Karatoya River to a point which cannot be identified with certainty in the text cited, but which may be Java. To each of these 64 Tantras have been assigned. One of the questions awaiting solution is whether the Tantras of these three geographical divisions are marked by both doctrinal and ritual peculiarities and if so what they are. This subject has been referred to in the first part of the Principles of Tantra wherein a list of Tantras is given.

In the Shakta division there are four Sampradayas, namely, Kerala, Kashmira, Gauda and Vilasa, in each of which there is both outer and inner worship. The Sammohana Tantra gives these four Sampradayas, also the number of Tantras, not only in the first three Sampradayas, but in Cina and Dravida. I have been informed that out of 56 Deshas (which included besides Hunas, places outside India, such as Cina, Mahacina, Bhota, Simhala), 18 follow Gauda extending from Nepala to Kalinga and 19 follow Kerala extending from Vindhyacala to the Southern Sea, the remaining countries forming part of the Kashmira Desha; and that in each Sampradaya there are Paddhatis such as Shuddha, Gupta, Ugra. There is variance in Devatas and Rituals some of which are explained in the Tarasukta and Shaktisamgama Tantra.

There are also various Matas such as Kadi Mata, called Viradanuttara of which the Devata is Kali (see Introduction to Tantraraja Tantra, A Short Analysis); Hadi Mata called Hamsaraja of which Tripurasundari is Devata and Kahadi Mata the combination of the two of which Tara is Devata that is Nilasarasvati. Certain Deshas are called Kadi, Hadi, Kahadi Deshas and each Mata has several Amnayas. It is said that the Hamsatara Mahavidya is the Sovereign Lady of Yoga whom Jainas call Padmavati, Shaktas Shakti, Bauddhas Tara, Cina Sadhakas Mihogra, and Kaulas Cakreshvari. The Kadis call her Kali, the Hadis Shrisundari and the Kadi-Hadis Hamsah. Volumes VIII and XII of “Tantrik Texts” contain that portion of the Tantraraja which belongs to Kadi Mata and in the English Introduction, mentioned above, I have dealt with this subject.

Gauda Sampradaya considers Kadi the highest Mata, whilst Kashmira and Kerala worship Tripura and Tara. Possibly there may have been originally Deshas which were the exclusive seats of specific schools of Tantra, but later and at present, so far as they exist, this cannot be said. In each of the Deshas different Sampradayas may be found, though doubtless at particular places, as in Bengal, particular sects may be predominant.

In my opinion it is not yet possible to present, with both accuracy and completeness, the doctrine and practice of any particular Tantrik School, and to indicate wherein it differs from other Schools. It is not possible at present to say fully and precisely who the original Shaktas were, the nature of their sub-divisions and of their relation to, or distinction from, some of the Shaiva group. Thus the Kaulas are generally in Bengal included in the Brahmajñani Shakta group but the Sammohana in one passage already cited mentions Kaula and Shakta separately. Possibly it is there meant to distinguish ordinary Shaktas from the special group called Kaula Shaktas. In Kashmir some Kaulas, I believe, call themselves Shaivas. For an answer to these and other questions we must await a further examination of the texts. At present I am doing clearing of mud (Pankoddhara) from the tank, not in the expectation that I can wholly clear away the mud and weeds, but with a desire to make a beginning which others may complete.

He who has not understood Tantra Shastra has not understood what “Hinduism” is as it exists to-day. The subject is an important part of Indian culture and therefore worth study by the duly qualified. What I have said should be sufficient to warn the ignorant from making rash generalizations. At present we can say that he who worships the Mantra and Yantra of Shakti is a Shakta, and that there were several Sampradayas of these worshippers. What we can, and should first do, is to study the Shakta Darshana as it exists to-day, working back from the known to the unknown. What I am about to describe is the Shakta faith as it exists to-day, that is Shaktivada, not as something entirely new but as the development and amalgamation of the various cults which were its ancestors.

Summarizing Shakta doctrine we may first affirm that it is Advaitavada or Monism. This we might expect seeing that it flourished in Bengal which, as the old Gauda Desha, is the Guru both of Advaitavada and of Tantra Shastra. From Gauda came Gaudapadacarya, Madhusudana Sarasvati, author of the great Advaitasiddhi, Ramacandratirthabharati, Citsukhacarya and others. There seems to me to be a strong disposition in the Brahmaparayana Bengali temperament towards Advaitavada. For all Advaitins the Shakta Agama and Advaita Shaivagama must be the highest form of worship. A detailed account of the Advaita teachings of the Shaktas is a matter of great complexity and of a highly esoteric character, beyond the scope of this paper. I may here note that the Shakta Tantras speak of 94 Tattvas made up of 10, 12 and 16 Kalas of Fire, Sun and Moon constituting the Kamakala respectively; and 19 of Sadashiva, 6 of Ishvara, 10 each of Rudra, Vishnu and Brahma. The 51 Kalas or Matrikas which are the Sukshmarupa of the 51 letters (Varna) are a portion of these 94. These are the 51 coils of Kundali from Bindu to Shrimatrikotpatti-Sundari mentioned in my Garland of Letters or Studies on the Mantra Shastra. These are all worshipped in the wine jar by those Shaktas who take wine. The Shastras also set out the 36 Tattvas which are common to Shaktas and Salvias; the five Kalas which are Samanya to the Tattvas, namely, Nivritti, Pratishtha, Vidya, Shanta, Shantyatita, and the Shadadhva, namely, Varna, Pada, and Mantra, Kala, Tattva, Bhuvana, which represent the Artha aspect and the Shabda aspect respectively. (See Garland of Letters.)

To pass to more popular matters, a beautiful and tender concept of the Shaktas is the Motherhood of God, that is, God as Shakti or the Power which produces, maintains and withdraws the universe. This is the thought of a worshipper. Though the Sammohana Tantra gives high place to Shamkara as conqueror of Buddhism (speaking of him as a manifestation of Shiva and identifying his four disciples and himself with the five Mahapretas), the Agamas as Shastras of worship do not teach Mayavada as set forth according to Shamkara’s transcendental method. Maya to the Shakta worshipper is not an unconscious something, not real, not unreal, not real-unreal, which is associated with Brahman in its Ishvara aspect, though it is not Brahman. Brahman is never associated with anything but Itself. Maya to the Shakta is Shakti veiling Herself as Consciousness, but which, as being Shakti, is Consciousness. To the Shakta all that he sees is the Mother. All is Consciousness. This is the standpoint of Sadhana. The Advaitins of Shamkara’s School claim that their doctrine is given from the standpoint of Siddhi. I will not argue this question here. When Siddhi is obtained there will be no argument. Until that event Man is, it is admitted, subject to Maya and must think and act according to the forms which it imposes on him. It is more important after all to realize in fact the universal presence of the Divine Consciousness, than to attempt to explain it in philosophical terms.

The Divine Mother first appears in and as Her worshipper’s earthly mother, then as his wife; thirdly as Kalika, She reveals Herself in old age, disease and death. It is She who manifests, and not without a purpose, in the vast outpouring of Samhara Shakti which was witnessed in the great world-conflict of our time. The terrible beauty of such forms is not understood. And so we get the recent utterance of a Missionary Professor at Madras who being moved to horror at the sight of (I think) the Camundamurti called the Devi a “She-Devil”. Lastly She takes to Herself the dead body in the fierce tongues of flame which light the funeral pyre.

The Monist is naturally unsectarian and so the Shakta faith, as held by those who understand it, is free from a narrow sectarian spirit.

Nextly it, like the other Agamas, makes provision for all castes and both sexes. Whatever be the true doctrine of the Vaidikas, their practice is in fact marked by exclusiveness. Thus they exclude women and Shudras. It is easy to understand why the so-called Anarya Sampradayas did not do so. A glorious feature of the Shakta faith is the honor which it pays to woman. And this is natural for those who worship the Great Mother, whose representative (Vigraha) all earthly women are. Striyo devah striyah pranah. “Women are Devas; women are life itself,” as an old Hymn in the Sarvollasa has it. It is because Woman is a Vigraha of the Amba Devi, Her likeness in flesh and blood, that the Shakta Tantras enjoin the honor and worship of women and girls (Kumaris), and forbid all harm to them such as the Sati rite, enjoining that not even a female animal is to be sacrificed. With the same solicitude for women, the Mahanirvana prescribes that even if a man speaks rudely (Durvacyam kathayan) to his wife, he must fast for a whole day, and enjoins the education of daughters before their marriage. The Moslem Author of the Dabistan (ii. 154. Ed. 1843) says “The Agama favors both sexes equally. Men and women equally compose mankind. This sect hold women in great esteem and call them Shaktis and to ill-treat a Shakti, that is, a woman, is a crime”. The Shakta Tantras again allow of women being Guru, or Spiritual Director, a reverence which the West has not (with rare exceptions) yet given them. Initiation by a Mother bears eightfold fruit. Indeed to the enlightened Shakta the whole universe is Stri or Shakti. “Aham stri” as the Advabhavano Upanishad says. A high worship therefore which can be offered to the Mother to-day consists in getting rid of abuses which have neither the authority of ancient Shastra, nor of modern social science and to honor, cherish, educate and advance women (Shakti). Striyo devah striyah pranah. Gautamiya Tantra says Sarvavarnadhikarashca narinam yogya eva ca; that is, the Tantra Shastra is for all castes and for women; and the Mahanirvana says that the low Kaula who refuses to initiate a Candala or Yavana or a woman out of disrespect goes the downward path. No one is excluded from anything except on the grounds of a real and not artificial or imagined incompetency.

An American Orientalist critic, in speaking of “the worthlessness of Tantric philosophy”, said that it was “Religious Feminism run mad,” adding “What is all this but the feminisation of orthodox Vedanta? It is a doctrine for suffragette Monists: the dogma unsupported by any evidence that the female principle antedates and includes the male principle, and that this female principle is supreme Divinity.” The “worthlessness” of the Tantrik philosophy is a personal opinion on which nothing need be said, the more particularly that Orientalists who, with insufficient knowledge, have already committed themselves to this view are not likely to easily abandon it. The present criticism, however, in disclosing the grounds on which it is based, has shown that they are without worth. Were it not for such ignorant notions, it would be unnecessary to say that the Shakta Sadhaka does not believe that there is a Woman Suffragette or otherwise, in the sky, surrounded by the members of some celestial feminist association who rules the male members of the universe. As the Yamala says for the benefit of the ignorant “neyam yoshit na ca puman na shando na jadah smritah”. That is, God is neither female, male, hermaphrodite nor unconscious thing. Nor is his doctrine concerned with the theories of the American Professor Lester Ward and others as to the alleged pre-eminence of the female principle. We are not here dealing with questions of science or sociology. It is a common fault of western criticism that it gives material interpretations of Indian Scriptures and so misunderstands it. The Shakta doctrine is concerned with those Spiritual Principles which exist before, and are the origin of, both men and women. Whether, in the appearance of the animal species, the female “antedates” the male is a question with which it is not concerned. Nor does it say that the “female principle” is the supreme Divinity. Shiva the “male” is co-equal with Shivé the “female,” for both are one and the same. An Orientalist might have remembered that in the Samkhya, Prakriti is spoken of as “female,” and Purusha as “male”. And in Vedanta, Maya and Devi are of the feminine gender. Shakti is not a male nor a female “person,” nor a male nor a female “principle,” in the sense in which sociology, which is concerned with gross matter, uses those terms. Shakti is symbolically “female” because it is the productive principle. Shiva in so far as He represents the Cit or consciousness aspect, is actionless (Nishkriya), though the two are inseparably associated even in creation. The Supreme is the attributeless (Nirguna) Shiva, or the neuter Brahman which is neither “male” nor “female”. With such mistaken general views of the doctrine, it was not likely that its more subtle aspects by way of relation to Shamkara’s Mayavada, or the Samkya Darshana should be appreciated. The doctrine of Shakti has no more to do with “Feminism” than it has to do with “old age pensions” or any other sociological movement of the day. This is a good instance of those apparently “smart” and cocksure judgments which Orientalists and others pass on things Indian. The errors would be less ridiculous if they were on occasions more modest as regards their claims to know and understand. What is still more important, they would not probably in such cases give unnecessary ground for offense.

The characteristic features of Shakta-dharma are thus its Monism; its concept of the Motherhood of God; its un-sectarian spirit and provisions for Shudras and women, to the latter of whom it renders high honor, recognizing that they may be even Gurus; and lastly its Sadhana skillfully designed to realize its teachings.

As I have pointed out on many an occasion this question of Sadhana is of the highest importance, and has been in recent times much overlooked. It is that which more than anything else gives value to the Agama or Tantra Shastra. Mere talk about religion is only an intellectual exercise. Of what use are grand phrases about Atma on the lips of those who hate and injure one another and will not help the poor. Religion is kindness. Religion again is a practical activity. Mind and body must be trained. There is a spiritual as well as a mental and physical gymnastic. According to Shakta doctrine each man and woman contains within himself and herself a vast latent magazine of Power or Shakti, a term which comes from the root “Shak” to be able, to have force to do, to act. They are each Shakti and nothing but Shakti, for the Svarupa of Shakti, that is, Shakti as it is in itself is Consciousness, and mind and body are Shakti. The problem then is how to raise and vivify Shakti. This is the work of Sadhana in the Religion of Power. The Agama is a practical philosophy, and as the Bengali friend and collaborator of mine, Professor Pramathanatha Mukhyopadhyaya, whom I cite again, has well put it, what the intellectual world wants to-day is the sort of philosophy which not merely argues but experiments. This is Kriya. The form which Sadhana takes necessarily varies according to faith, temperament and capacity. Thus, amongst Christians, the Catholic Church, like Hinduism, has a full and potent Sadhana in its sacraments (Samskara), temple (Church), private worship (Puja, Upasana) with Upacara “bell, light and incense” (Ghanta, Dipa, Dhupa), Images or Pratima (hence it has been called idolatrous), devotional rites such as Novenas and the like (Vrata), the threefold “Angelus” at morn, noon and evening (Samdhya), rosary (Japa), the wearing of Kavacas (Scapulars, Medals, Agnus Dei), pilgrimage (Tirtha), fasting, abstinence and mortification (Tapas), monastic renunciation (Samnyasa), meditation (Dhyana), ending in the union of mystical theology (Samadhi) and so forth. There are other smaller details such for instance as Shanti-abhisheka (Asperges) into which I need not enter here. I may, however, mention the Spiritual Director who occupies the place of the Guru; the worship (Hyperdulia) of the Virgin-Mother which made Svami Vivekananda call the Italian Catholics, Shaktas; and the use of wine (Madya) and bread (corresponding to Mudra) in the Eucharist or Communion Service. Whilst, however, the Blessed Virgin evokes devotion as warm as that which is here paid to Devi, she is not Devi for she is not God but a creature selected as the vehicle of His incarnation (Avatara). In the Eucharist the bread and wine are the body and blood of Christ appearing under the form or “accidents” of those material substances; so also Tara is Dravamayi, that is, the “Saviour in liquid form”. (Mahanirvana Tr. xi. 105-107.) In the Catholic Church (though the early practice was otherwise) the laity no longer take wine but bread only, the officiating priest consuming both. Whilst however the outward forms in this case are similar, the inner meaning is different. Those however who contend that eating and drinking are inconsistent with the “dignity” of worship may be reminded of Tertullian’s saying that Christ instituted His great sacrament at a meal. These notions are those of the dualist with all his distinctions. For the Advaitin every function and act may be made a Yajña. Agape or “Love Feasts,” a kind of Cakra, were held in early times, and discontinued as orthodox practice, on account of abuses to which they led; though they are said still to exist in some of the smaller Christian sects of the day. There are other points of ritual which are peculiar to the Tantra Shastra and of which there is no counterpart in the Catholic ritual such as Nyasa and Yantra. Mantra exists in the form of prayer and as formulae of consecration, but otherwise the subject is conceived of differently here. There are certain gestures (Mudra) made in the ritual, as when consecrating, blessing, and so forth, but they are not so numerous or prominent as they are here. I may some day more fully develop these interesting analogies, but what I have said is for the present sufficient to establish the numerous similarities which exist between the Catholic and Indian Tantrik ritual. Because of these facts the “reformed” Christian sects have charged the Catholic Church with “Paganism”. It is in fact the inheritor of very ancient practices but is not necessarily the worse for that. The Hindu finds his Sadhana in the Tantras of the Agama in forms which his race has evolved. In the abstract there is no reason why his race should not modify these forms of Sadhana or evolve new ones. But the point is that it must have some form of Sadhana. Any system to be fruitful must experiment to gain experience. It is because of its powerful sacraments and disciplines that in the West the Catholic Church has survived to this day, holding firm upon its “Rock” amid the dissolving sects, born of what is called the “Reform”. It is likely to exist when these, as presently existing sects, will have disappeared. All things survive by virtue of the truth in them. The particular truth to which I here refer is that a faith cannot be maintained by mere hymn-singing and pious addresses. For this reason too Hinduism has survived.

This is not necessary to say that either of these will, as presently existing forms, continue until the end of time. The so-called Reformed or Protestant sects, whether of West or East, are when viewed in relation to man in general, the imperfect expression of a truth misunderstood and misapplied, namely, that the higher man spiritually ascends, the less dependent is he on form. The mistake which such sects make is to look at the matter from one side only, and to suppose that all men are alike in their requirement. The Agama is guilty of no such error. It offers form in all its fullness and richness to those below the stage of Yoga, at which point man reaches what the Kularnava Tantra calls the Varna and Ashrama of Light (Jyotirvarnashrami), and gradually releases himself from all form that he may unite his self with the Formless One. I do not know which most to admire — the colossal affirmations of Indian doctrine, or the wondrous variety of the differing disciplines, which it prescribes for their realization in fact.

The Buddhists called Brahmanism Shilavrataparamarsha, that is, a system believing in the efficacy of ritual acts. And so it is, and so at length was Buddhism, when passing through Mahayana it ended up with the full Tantrik Sadhana of the Vajrayana School. There are human tendencies which cannot be suppressed. Hinduism will, however, disappear, if and when Sadhana (whatever be its form) ceases; for that will be the day on which it will no longer be something real, but the mere subject of philosophical and historical talk. Apart from its great doctrine of Shakti, the main significance of the Shakta Tantra Shastra lies in this, that it affirms the principle of the necessity of Sadhana and claims to afford a means available to all of whatever caste and of either sex whereby the teachings of Vedanta may be practically realized.

But let no one take any statement from any one, myself included, blindly, without examining and testing it. I am only concerned to state the facts as I know them. It is man’s prerogative to think. The Sanskrit word for “man” comes from the root man “to think”. Those who are Shaktas may be pleased at what I have said about their faith. It must not, however, be supposed that a doctrine is necessarily true simply because it is old. There are some hoary errors. As for science, its conclusions shift from year to year. Recent discoveries have so abated its pride that it has considerably ceased to give itself those pontifical airs which formerly annoyed some of us. Most will feel that if they are to bow to any Master it should be to a spiritual one. A few will think that they can safely walk alone. Philosophy again is one of the noblest of life’s pursuits, but here too we must examine to see whether what is proposed for our acceptance is well founded. The maxim is current that there is nothing so absurd but that it has been held by some philosopher or another. We must each ourselves judge and choose, and if honest, none can blame our choice. We must put all to the test. We may here recollect the words of Shruti — “Shrotavyah, Mantavyah, Nididhyasitavyah,” — “listen, reason and ponder”; for as Manu says “Yastarke-nanusandhatte sa dharmam veda, netarah” — “He who by discussion investigates, he knows Dharma and none other.” Ultimately there is experience alone which in Shakta speech is Saham — “She I am”.


I have referred to the Vaidik and Agamic strands in Indian Dharma. I wish to add some weighty remarks made by the well-known Vedantic Monthly The Prabuddha Bharata (Mayavati, U. P., July 1914). They were elicited by the publication of Arthur Avalon’s Principles of Tantra. After pointing out that a vindication of the Tantras rebounds directly to the benefit of Hinduism as a whole, for Tantrikism in its real sense is nothing but the Vedic religion struggling with wonderful success to reassert itself amidst all those new problems of religious life and discipline which historical events and developments have thrust upon it, and after referring to the Introduction to that work, the author of the review wrote as follows:

“In this new publication, the most noteworthy feature of this new Introduction he has written for the Tantra-tattva is his appreciative presentation of the orthodox views about the antiquity and the importance of the Tantras, and it is impossible to overestimate the value of this presentation.

“For hitherto all theories about the origin and the importance of the Tantras have been more or less prejudiced by a wrong bias against Tantrikism which some of its own later sinister developments were calculated to create. This bias has made almost every such theory read either like a. condemnation or an apology. All investigation being thus disqualified, the true history of Tantrikism has not yet been written; and we find cultured people mostly inclined either to the view that Tantrikism originally branched off from the Buddhistic Mahayana or Vajrayana as a cult of some corrupted and self-deluded monastics, or to the view that it was the inevitable dowry which some barbarous non-Aryan races brought along with them into the fold of Hinduism. According to both these views, however, the form which this Tantrikism — either a Buddhistic development or a barbarous importation — has subsequently assumed in the literature of Hinduism, is its improved edition as issuing from the crucibles of Vedic or Vedantic transformation. But this theory of the curious co-mingling of the Vedas and Vedanta with Buddhistic corruption or with non-Aryan barbarity is perfectly inadequate to explain the all-pervading influence which the Tantras exert on our present-day religious life. Here it is not any hesitating compromise that we have got before us to explain, but a bold organic synthesis, a legitimate restatement of the Vedic culture for the solution of new problems and new difficulties which signalized the dawn of a new age.

“In tracing the evolution of Hinduism, modern historians take a blind leap from Vedic ritualism direct to Buddhism, as if to conclude that all those newly formed communities, with which India had been swarming all over since the close of the fateful era of the Kurukshetra war and to which was denied the right of Vedic sacrifices, the monopoly of the higher three-fold castes of pure orthodox descent, were going all the time without any religious ministrations. These Aryanized communities, we must remember, were actually swamping the Vedic orthodoxy, which was already gradually dwindling down to a helpless minority in all its scattered centers of influence, and was just awaiting the final blow to be dealt by the rise of Buddhism. Thus the growth of these new communities and their occupation of the whole land constituted a mighty event that had been silently taking place in India on the outskirts of the daily shrinking orthodoxy of Vedic ritualism, long before Buddhism appeared on the field, and this momentous event our modern historians fail to take due notice of either it may be because of a curious blindness of self-complacency or because of the dazzle which the sudden triumph of Buddhism and the overwhelming mass of historical evidences left by it create before their eyes. The traditional Kali Yuga dates from the rise of these communities and the Vedic religious culture of the preceding Yuga underwent a wonderful transformation along with a wonderful attempt it made to Aryanize these rising communities.

“History, as hitherto understood and read, speaks of the Brahmins of the Buddhistic age — their growing alienation from the Jñana-kanda or the Upanishadic wisdom, their impotency to save the orthodox Vedic communities from the encroachments of the non-Vedic hordes and races, their ever-deepening religious formalism and social exclusiveness. But this history is silent on the marvelous feats which the Upanishadic sects of anchorites were silently performing on the outskirts of the strictly Vedic community with the object of Aryanizing the new India that was rising over the ashes of the Kurukshetra conflagration. This new India was not strictly Vedic like the India of the bygone ages, for it could not claim the religious ministrations of the orthodox Vedic Brahmins and could not, therefore, perform Yajñas like the latter. The question, therefore, is as to how this new India became gradually Aryanized, for Aryanization is essentially a spiritual process, consisting in absorbing new communities of men into the fold of the Vedic religion. The Vedic ritualism that prevailed in those days was powerless, we have seen, to do anything for these new communities springing up all over the country. Therefore, we are obliged to turn to the only other factor in Vedic religion besides the Karma-kanda for an explanation of those changes which the Vedic religion wrought in the rising communities in order to Aryanize them. The Upanishads represent the Jñana-kanda of the Vedic religion and if we study all of them, we find that not only the earliest ritualism of Yajñas was philosophized upon the earlier Upanishads, but the foundation for a new, and no less elaborate, ritualism was fully laid in many of the later Upanishads. For example, we study in these Upanishads how the philosophy of Pañca-upasana (five-fold worship, viz., the worship of Shiva, Devi, Sun, Ganesha and Vishnu) was developed out of the mystery of the Pranava (“Om”). This philosophy cannot be dismissed as a post-Buddhistic interpolation, seeing that some features of the same philosophy can be clearly traced even in the Brahmanas (e.g., the discourse about the conception of Shiva).

“Here, therefore, in some of the later Upanishads we find recorded the attempts of the pre-Buddhistic recluses of the forest to elaborate a post-Vedic ritualism out of the doctrine of the Pranava and the Vedic theory of Yogic practices. Here in these Upanishads we find how the Bija-mantras and the Shatcakra of the Tantras were being originally developed, for on the Pranava or Udgitha had been founded a special learning and a school of philosophy from the very earliest ages and some of the “spinal” centers of Yogic meditation had been dwelt upon in the earliest Upanishads and corresponding Brahmanas. The Upakaranas of Tantrik worship, namely, such material adjuncts as grass, leaves, water and so on, were most apparently adopted from Vedic worship along with their appropriate incantations. So even from the Brahmanas and the Upanishads stands out in clear relief a system of spiritual discipline — which we would unhesitatingly classify as Tantrik — having at its core the Pañca-upasana and around it a fair round of rituals and rites consisting of Bija-mantras and Vedic incantations, proper meditative processes and proper manipulation of sacred adjuncts of worship adopted from the Vedic rites. This may be regarded as the earliest configuration which Tantrik-ism had on the eve of those silent but mighty social upheavals through which the Aryanization of vast and increasing multitudes of new races proceeded in pre-Buddhistic India and which had their culmination in the eventful centuries of the Buddhistic coup de grace.

“Now this pre-Buddhistic Tantrikism, perhaps, then recognized as the Vedic Pañca-upasana, could not have contributed at all to the creation of a new India, had it remained confined completely within the limits of monastic sects. But like Jainism, this Pañca-upasana went forth all over the country to bring ultra-Vedic communities under its spiritual ministrations. Even if we inquire carefully into the social conditions obtaining in the strictly Vedic ages, we find that there was always an extended wing of the Aryanized society where the purely Vedic Karma-kanda could not be promulgated, but where the molding influence of Vedic ideals worked through the development of suitable spiritual activities. It is always to the Jñana-kanda and the monastic votaries thereof, that the Vedic religion owed its wonderful expansiveness and its progressive self-adaptability, and every religious development within the Vedic fold, but outside, the ritualism of Homa sacrifices, is traceable to the spiritual wisdom of the all renouncing forest recluses. This ‘forest’ wisdom was most forcibly brought into requisition when after the Kurukshetra a new age was dawning with the onrush and upheaval of non-Aryan and semi-Aryan races all over India — an echo of which may be found in that story of the Mahabharata where Arjuna fails to use his Gandiva to save his protégés from the robbery of the non-Aryan hordes.

“The greatest problem of the pre-Buddhistic ages was the Aryanization of the new India that rose and surged furiously from every side against the fast-dwindling centers of the old Vedic orthodoxy struggling hard, but in vain, by social enactments to guard its perilous insulation. But for those religious movements, such as those of the Bhagavatas, Shaktas, Sauryas, Shaivas, Ganapatyas and Jainas, that tackled this problem of Aryanization most successfully, all that the Vedic orthodoxy stood for in the real sense would have gradually perished without trace. These movements, specially the five cults of Vedic worship, took up many of the non-Aryan races and cast their life in the mold of the Vedic spiritual ideal, minimizing in this way the gulf that existed between them and the Vedic orthodoxy and thereby rendering possible their gradual amalgamation. And where this task remained unfulfilled owing to the mold proving too narrow still to fit into the sort of life which some non-Aryan races or communities lived, there it remained for Buddhism to solve the problem of Aryanization in due time. But still we must remember that by the time Buddhism made its appearance, the pre-Buddhistic phase of Tantrik worship had already established itself in India so widely and so firmly that instead of dislodging it by its impetuous onset — all the force of which, by the bye, was mainly spent on the tattering orthodoxy of Vedic ritualism — Buddhism was itself swallowed up within three or four centuries by its perhaps least suspected opponent of this Tantrik worship and then wonderfully transformed and ejected on the arena as the Mahayana.

“The publication of these two volumes is an event of great interest and importance. The religious beliefs of the modern Hindus have been represented to English readers from various points of view, but the peculiar mold into which they have been sought to be cast in comparatively modern centuries has not received adequate attention. The exponents of the religion of modern Hindus take cognizance more of the matter and source of their beliefs than of the change of form they have been undergoing through the many centuries. The volumes under review, as well as other publications brought out by Arthur Avalon, serve to carry this important question of form to such a prominence as almost makes it obligatory for every exhaustive exposition of Hindu doctrines in future to acknowledge and discriminate in them the formative influences of the Tantrik restatement. In the Tantratattva, the presentation and vindication of the Hindu religious beliefs and practices avowedly and closely follow the methodology of the Tantras, and the learned pundit has fully succeeded in establishing the fact that what lies behind these beliefs and practices is not mere prejudice or superstition but a system of profound philosophy based on the Vedas. Every student of modern Hinduism should acquaint himself with this, namely, its immediate background of Tantrik philosophy and ritualism.

“The Hindu religious consciousness is like a mighty Ganges emerging from the Himalayas of Vedic wisdom, receiving tributaries and sending out branch streams at many points in its course. And though the nature of the current, its color, velocity or uses may vary at different places, the Ganges is the same Ganges whether at Hardwar, Allahabad or Calcutta. The stream is not only one but it has also its one main channel in spite of all the many tributaries and branches. And the whole of the stream is sacred, though different sects may choose special points and confluences as of special sanctity to themselves, deriving inspiration thence for their special sectarian developments. Now, though the rise of Tantrik philosophy and ritualism created in former times new currents and back-waters along the stream of Hinduism, it was essentially an important occurrence in the main stream and channel; and instead of producing a permanent bifurcation in that stream, it coalesced with it, coloring and renovating, more or less, the whole tenor of the Hindu religious consciousness. As a result, we find Tantrik thought and sentiment equally operative in the extreme metaphysical wing of Hinduism as well as in its lower matter-of-fact phases.

This actual permeation of Hindu religious consciousness by Tantrik thought and sentiment should receive the fullest recognition at the hands of every up-to-date exponent. His predecessors of former generations might have to strengthen their advocacy of Tantrik doctrines by joining issue with the advocates of particular phases of Hindu religion and philosophy. But the present epoch in the history of our religious consciousness is pre-eminently an epoch of wonderful synthetic mood of thought and sentiment, which is gradually pervading the Hindu religious consciousness ever since Shri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa embodied in himself its immediate possibilities, to find in the literature that is being so admirably provided for English readers by Arthur Avalon an occasional tendency to use Tantrik doctrines as weapons for combating certain phases of Hindu belief and practice. This tendency seems to betray quite a wrong standpoint in the study of the Tantras, their relation to other Scriptures and their real historical significance.”

Chapter Seven
Is Shakti Force?

There are some persons who have thought, and still think, that Shakti means force and that the worship of Shakti is the worship of force. Thus Keshub Chunder Sen (New Dispensation, p. 108), wrote:

Four centuries ago the Shaktas gave way before the Bhaktas. Chaitanya’s army proved invincible, and carried all Bengal captive. Even to-day his gospel of love rules as a living force, though his followers have considerably declined both in faith and in morals. Just the reverse of this we find in England and other European countries. There the Shaktas are driving the Bhaktas out of the field. Look at the Huxleys, the Tyndalls and the Spencers of the day. What are they but Shaktas, worshippers of Shakti or Force? The only Deity they adore, if they at all adore one, is the Prime Force of the universe. To it they offer dry homage. Surely then the scientists and materialists of the day are a sect of Shakti-worshippers, who are chasing away the true Christian devotees who adore the God of Love. Alas! for European Vaishnavas; they are retreating before the advancing millions of Western Shaktas. We sincerely trust, however, the discomfiture of devotion and Bhakti will be only for a time, and that a Chaitanya will yet arise in the West, crush the Shaktas, who only recognize Force as Deity and are sunk in carnality and voluptuousness, and lead natures into the loving faith, spirituality, simplicity, and rapturous devotion of the Vaishnava.

Professor Monier Williams (“Hinduism”) also called it a doctrine of Force.

Recently the poet Rabindranath Tagore has given the authority of his great name to this error (Modern Review, July, 1919). After pointing out that Egoism is the price paid for the fact of existence and that the whole universe is assisting in the desire that the “I” should be, he says that man has viewed this desire in two different ways, either as a whim of Creative Power, or a joyous self-expression of Creative Love. Is the fact then of his being, he asks, a revealment of Force or of Love? Those who hold to the first view must also, he thinks, recognize conflict as inevitable and eternal. For according to them Peace and Love are but a precarious coat of armor within which the weak seek shelter, whereas that which the timid anathematize as unrighteousness, that alone is the road to success. “The pride of prosperity throws man’s mind outwards and the misery and insult of destitution draws man’s hungering desires likewise outwards. These two conditions alike leave man unashamed to place above all other gods, Shakti the Deity of Power — the Cruel One, whose right hand wields the weapon of guile. In the politics of Europe drunk with Power we see the worship of Shakti.”

In the same way the poet says that in the days of their political disruption, the cowed and down-trodden Indian people through the mouths of their poets sang the praises of the same Shakti. “The Chandi of Kavikangkan and of the Annadamangala, the Ballad of Manasa, the Goddess of Snakes, what are they but Paeans of the triumph of Evil? The burden of their song is the defeat of Shiva the good at the hands of the cruel deceitful criminal Shakti.” “The male Deity who was in possession was fairly harmless. But all of a sudden a feminine Deity turns up and demands to be worshipped in his stead. That is to say that she insisted on thrusting herself where she had no right. Under what title? Force! By what method? Any that would serve.”

The Deity of Peace and Renunciation did not survive. Thus he adds that in Europe the modern Cult of Shakti says that the pale anaemic Jesus will not do. But with high pomp and activity Europe celebrates her Shakti worship.

“Lastly the Indians of to-day have set to the worship Europe’s Divinity. In the name of religion some are saying that it is cowardly to be afraid of wrong-doing. Both those who have attained worldly success, and those who have failed to attain it are singing the same tune. Both fret at righteousness as an obstacle which both would overcome by physical force.” I am not concerned here with any popular errors that there may be. After all, when we deal with a Shastrik term it is to the Shastra itself that we must look for its meaning. Shakti comes from the root Shak “to be able,” “to do”. It indicates both activity and capacity therefor. The world, as word, is activity. But when we have said that, we have already indicated that it is erroneous to confine the meaning of the term Shakti to any special form of activity. On the contrary Shakti means both power in general and every particular form of power. Mind is a Power: so is Matter. Mind is constantly functioning in the form of Vritti; Reasoning, Will and Feeling (Bhava) such as love, aversion and so forth are all aspects of Mind-power in its general sense. Force is power translated to the material plane, and is therefore only one and the grossest aspect of Shakti or power. But all these special powers are limited forms of the great creative Power which is the Mother (Ambika) of the Universe. Worship of Shakti is not worship of these limited forms but of the Divine will, knowledge and action, the cause of these effects. That Mahashakti is perfect consciousness (Cidrupini) and Bliss (Anandamayi) which produces from Itself the contracted consciousness experiencing both pleasure and pain. This production is not at all a “whim”. It is the nature (Svabhava) of the ultimate.

Bliss is Love (Niratishayapremaspadatvam anandatvam). The production of the Universe is according to the Shakta an act of love, illustrated by the so-called erotic imagery of the Shastra. The Self loves itself whether before, or in, creation. The thrill of human love which continues the life of humanity is an infinitesimally small fragment and faint reflection of the creative act in which Shiva and Shakti join to produce the Bindu which is the seed of the Universe.

I quite agree that the worship of mere Force is Asurik and except in a transient sense futile. Force, however, may be moralized by the good purpose which it serves. The antithesis is not rightly between Might and Right but between Might in the service of Right and Might in the service of Wrong. To worship force merely is to worship matter. He however who worships the Mother in Her Material forms (Sthularupa) will know that She has others, and will worship Her in all such forms. He will also know that She is beyond all limited forms as that which gives being to them all. We may then say that Force is a gross form of Shakti, but Shakti is much more than that “here” (Iha) and the infinite Power of Consciousness “there” (Amutra). This last, the Shakti of worship, is called by the Shastra the Purnahambhava or the experience “All I am”.

Chapter Eight
Cinacara (Vashishtha and Buddha)

It has been the subject of debate whether the Tantrik Pañcatattva ritual with wine and so forth is a product of Buddhism, and whether it is opposed to Vaidika Dharma. Some have supposed that these rites originally came from yellow Asia, penetrated into India where they received its impress, and again made their way to the north to encounter earlier original forms. I have elsewhere put forward some facts which suggest that these rites may be a continuance, though in another form, of ancient Vaidik usage in which Soma, Meat, Fish and Purodasa formed a part. Though there are some Maithuna rites in the Vedas it is possible that the Bengal Shakta ritual in this respect has its origin in Cinacara. Possibly the whole ritual comes therefrom. I have spoken of Bengal because we should distinguish it from other forms of Shakta worship. The matter is so obscure at present that any definite affirmation as to historical origins lacks justification. Most important however in the alleged Buddhist connection is the story of Vashishtha to be found in the Tantras. He is said to have gone to Mahacina (Tibet), which, according to popular belief, is half way to Heaven. Mahadeva is said to be visible at the bottom of the Manasarova Lake near Kailasa. Some of the Texts bearing on it have been collected in the Appendix to the edition of the Tara Tantra which has been published by the Varendra Anusandhana Samiti. The Tara Tantra opens (l. 2) with the following question of Devi Tara or Mahanila-Sarasvati: “Thou didst speak of the two Kula-bhairavas, Buddha and Vashishtha. Tell me by what Mantra they became Siddha’. The same Tantra (IV. 10) defines a Bhairava as follows: “He who purifies these five (i.e., Pañcatattva) and after offering the same (to the Devata) partakes thereof is a Bhairava.” Buddha then is said to be a Kula-bhairava. It is to be noted that Buddhist Tantriks who practice this ritual are accounted Kaulas. Shiva replied, “Janardana (Vishnu) is the excellent Deva in the form of Buddha (Buddharupi).” It is said in the Samayacara Tantra that Tara and Kalika, in their different forms, as also Matangi, Bhairavi, Chhinnamasta, and Dhumavati belong to the northern Amnaya. The sixth Chapter of the Sammohana Tantra mentions a number of Scriptures of the Bauddha class, together with others of the Shakta, Shaiva, Vaishnava, Saura and Ganapatya classes.

Vashishtha is spoken of in the XVII Chapter of the Rudrayamala and the 1st Patala of the Brahmayamala. The following is the account in the former Tantrik Scripture:

Vashishtha, the self-controlled, the son of Brahma, practiced for ages severe austerities in a lonely spot. For six thousand years he did Sadhana, but still the Daughter of the Mountains did not appear to him. Becoming angry he went to his father and told him his method of practice. He then said, “Give me another Mantra, Oh Lord! since this Vidya (Mantra) does not grant me Siddhi (success); otherwise in your presence I shall utter a terrible curse.”

Dissuading him Brahma said, “Oh son, who art learned in the Yoga path, do not do so. Do thou worship Her again with wholehearted feeling, when She will appear and grant you boons. She is the Supreme Shakti. She saves from all dangers. She is lustrous like ten million suns. She is dark blue (Nila). She is cool like ten million moons. She is like ten million lightning-flashes. She is the spouse of Kala (Kalakamini). She is the beginning of all. In Her there is neither Dharma nor Adharma. She is in the form of all. She is attached to pure Cinacara (Shuddhacinacararata). She is the initiator (Pravarttika) of Shakticakra. Her greatness is infinitely boundless. She helps in the crossing of the ocean of the Samsara. She is Buddheshvari (possibly Buddhishvari, Lord of Buddhi). She is Buddhi (intelligence) itself (Buddhirupa). She is in the form of the Atharva branch of the Vedas (Atharvavedashakhini). Numerous Shastric references connect the Tantra Shastra with the Atharvaveda. (See in this connection my citation from Shaktisangama Tantra in Principles of Tantra.) She protects the beings of the worlds. Her action is spread throughout the moving and motionless. Worship Her, my son. Be of good cheer. Why so eager to curse? Thou art the jewel of kindness. Oh, son, worship Her constantly with thy mind (Cetas). Being entirely engrossed in Her, thou of a surety shalt gain sight of Her.”

Having heard these words of his Guru and having bowed to him again and again the pure one (Vashishtha), versed in the meaning of Vedanta, betook himself to the shore of the ocean. For full a thousand years he did Japa of Her Mantra. Still he received no message (Adesha). Thereupon the Muni Vashishtha grew angry, and being perturbed of mind prepared to curse the Mahavidya (Devi). Having sipped water (Acamana) he uttered a great and terrible curse. Thereupon kuleshvari (Lady of the Kaulas) Mahavidya appeared before the Muni.

She who dispels the fear of the Yogins said, “How now Vipra (Are Vipra), why have you terribly cursed without cause? Thou dost not understand My Kulagama nor knowest how to worship. How by mere Yoga practice can either man or Deva get sight of My Lotus-Feet. My worship (Dhyana) is without austerity and pain. To him who desires My Kulagama, who is Siddha in My Mantra, and knows My pure Vedacara, My Sadhana is pure (Punya) and beyond even the Vedas (Vedanamapyagocara). (This does not mean unknown to the Vedas or opposed to them but something which surpasses the Vaidik ritual of the Pashu. This is made plain by the following injunction to follow the Atharvaveda.) Go to Mahacina (Tibet) and the country of the Bauddhas and always follow the Atharvaveda (Bauddha deshe’ tharvaveda Mahacine sada braja). Having gone there and seen My Lotus-Feet which are Mahabhava (the great blissful feeling which in Her true nature She is) thou shalt, Oh Maharisi, become versed in My Kula and a great Siddha”.

Having so said, She became formless and disappeared in the ether and then passed through the ethereal region. The great Rishi having heard this from the Mahavidya Sarasvati went to the land of China where Buddha is established (Buddhapratishthita). Having repeatedly bowed to the ground, Vashishtha said, “Protect me, Oh Mahadeva who art the Imperishable One in the form of Buddha (Buddharupa). I am the very humble Vashishtha, the son of Brahma. My mind is ever perturbed. I have come here (Cina) for the Sadhana of the Mahadevi. I know not the path leading to Siddhi. Thou knowest the path of the Devas. Seeing however thy way of life (Acara) doubts assail my mind (Bhayani santi me hridi: because he saw the (to him) extraordinary ritual with wine and woman). Destroy them and my wicked mind which inclines to Vaidik ritual (Vedagamini; that is, the ordinary Pashu ritual). Oh Lord in Thy abode there are ever rites which are outside Veda (Vedavavahishkrita: that is, the Vaidik ritual and what is consistent with Veda as Vashishtha then supposed). How is it that wine, meat, woman (Angana) are drunk, eaten and enjoyed by naked (Digambara) Siddhas who are high (Vara), and awe-inspiring (Raktapanodyata). They drink constantly and enjoy (or make enjoy) beautiful women (Muhurmuhuh prapivanti ramayanti varanganam). With red eyes they are ever exhilarated and replete with flesh and wine (Sadamangsasavaih purnah). They are powerful to favor and punish. They are beyond the Vedas (Vedasyagocarah). They enjoy wine and women (Madyastrisevane ratah)” (Vashishtha merely saw the ritual surface).

Thus spoke the great Yogi having seen the rites which are outside the Veda (Veda-vahishkrita. v. ante). Then bowing low with folded hands he humbly said, “How can inclinations such as these be purifying to the mind? How can there be Siddhi without Vaidik rites?”

Manah-pravrittireteshu katham bhavati pavani

Kathang va jayate siddhir veda karyyang vina prabho.

Buddha said, “Oh Vashishtha, listen the while I speak to thee of the excellent Kula path, by the mere knowing of which one becomes in a short time like Rudra Himself. I speak to thee in brief the Agama which is the essence of all and which leads to Kulasiddhi. First of all, the Vira (hero) should be pure (Shuci). Buddha here states the conditions under which only the rites are permissible. His mind should be penetrated with discrimination (Viveka) and freed of all Pashubhava (state of an uninitiate Pashu or animal man). Let him avoid the company of the Pashu and remain alone in a lonely place, free from lust, anger and other passions. He should constantly devote himself to Yoga practice. He should be firm in his resolve to learn Yoga; he should ever tread the Yoga path and fully know the meaning of the Veda (Vedarthanipuno mahan). In this way the pious one (Dharmatma) of good conduct and largeness of heart (Audarya) should, by gradual degrees, restrain his breath, and through the path of breathing compass the destruction of mind. Following this practice the self-controlled (Vashi) becomes Yogi. In slow degrees of practice the body firstly sweats. This is the lowest stage (Adhama). The next is middling (Madhyama). Here there is trembling (Kampa). In the third or highest (Para) stage one is able to levitate (Bhumityaga). By the attainment of Siddhi in Pranayama one becomes a master in Yoga. Having become a Yogi by practice of Kumbhaka (restraint of breath) he should be Mauni (given over to silence) and full of intent, devotion (Ekanta-bhakti) to Shiva, Krishna and Brahma. The pure one should realize by mind, action, and speech that Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva are restless like the moving air (Vayavigaticancalah). Quaere. Perhaps the transient nature of these Devatas, as compared with the supreme Shakti, is indicated. The man of steady mind should fix it on Shakti, who is consciousness (Cidrupa). Thereafter the Mantrin should practice Mahavirabhava (the feeling of the great hero) and follow the Kula path, the Shakti-cakra, the Vaishnava Sattvacakra and Navavigrah and should worship Kulakatyayani, the excellent one, the Pratyaksha Devata (that is, the Deity who responds to prayer) who grants prosperity and destroys all evil. She is consciousness (Cidrupa), She is the abode of knowledge (Jñana) and is Consciousness and Bliss, lustrous as ten million lightnings, of whom all Tattvas are the embodiment, who is Raudri with eighteen arms, fond of wine and mountains of flesh (the text is Shivamangsacalapriyam, but the first word should be Sura). Man should do Japa of the Mantra, taking refuge with Her, and following the Kula path. Who in the three worlds knows a path higher than this? By the grace gained therein, the great Brahma Himself became the Creator, and Vishnu, whose substance is Sattva-guna, the object of adoration of all, highly deserving of worship, the great, and Lord of Yajurveda, became able to protect. By it Hara the Lord of Viras, the wrathful one, Lord of wrath and of mighty power, became the Destroyer of all. By the grace of Virabhava the Dikpalas (Protectors of the quarters) became like unto Rudra. By a month’s practice power to attract (Akarshanasiddhi) is attained. In two months one becomes the Lord of Speech. In four months one becomes like unto the Dikpalas, in five months one becomes the five arrows (probably masters the five Tanmatras), and in six months he becomes Rudra Himself. The fruit of this method (Acara) is beyond all others. This is Kaulamarga. There is nothing which surpasses it. If there be Shakti, the Vipra becomes a complete Yogi by six months’ practice. Without Shakti even Shiva can do nought. What then shall we say of men of small intelligence”.

Having said this, He whose form is Buddha (Buddharupi) made him practice Sadhana. He said, “Oh Vipra, do thou serve Mahashakti. Do thou practice Sadhana with wine (Madyasadhana) and thus shalt thou get sight of the Lotus Feet of the Mahavidya.” Vashishtha having heard these words of the Guru and meditating on Devi Sarasvati went to the Kulamandapa to practice the wine ritual (Madirasadhana) and having repeatedly done Sadhana with wine, meat, fish, parched grain and Shakti he became a complete Yogi (Purnayogi).

A similar account is given in the Brahmayamala. There are some variants however. Thus while in the Rudrayamala, Vashishtha is said to have resorted to the shore of the ocean, in the Brahmayamala he goes to Kamakhya, the great Tantrik Pitha and shrine of the Devi. (The prevalence of Her worship amongst the Mongolian Assamese is noteworthy.) It may be here added that this Yamala states that, except at time of worship, wine should not be taken nor should the Shakti be unclothed. By violation of these provisions life, it says, is shortened, and man goes to Hell.

According to the account of the Brahmayamala, Vashishtha complaining of his ill-success was told to go to the Blue Mountains (Nilacala) and worship parameshvari near Kamakhya (Karma in Assam). He was told that Vishnu in the form of Buddha (Buddharupi) alone knew this worship according to Cinacara. Devi said, “without Cinacara you cannot please Me. Go to Vishnu who is Udbodharupi (illumined) and worship Me according to the Acara taught by Him.” Vashishtha then went to Vishnu in the country Mahacina, which is by the side of the Himalaya (Himavatparshve), a country inhabited by great Sadhakas and thousands of beautiful and youthful women whose hearts were gladdened with wine, and whose minds were blissful with enjoyment (Vilasa). They were adorned with clothes which inspired love (Shringaravesha) and the movement of their hips made tinkle their girdles of little bells. Free of both fear and prudish shame they enchanted the world. They surround Ishvara and are devoted to the worship of Devi. Vashishtha wondered greatly when he saw Him in the form of Buddha (Buddharupi) with eyes drooping from wine. “What” he said, “is Vishnu doing in His Buddha form? This map (Acara) is opposed to Veda (Vedavadaviruddha). I do not approve of it (Asammato mama).” Whilst so thinking, he heard a voice coming from the ether saying, “Oh thou who art devoted to good acts, think not like this. This Acara is of excellent result in the Sadhana of Tarini. She is not pleased with anything which is the contrary of this. If thou dost wish to gain Her grace speedily, then worship Her according to Cinacara.” Hearing this voice, Vashishtha’s hairs stood on end and he fell to the ground. Being filled with exceeding joy he prayed to Vishnu in the form of Buddha (Buddharupa). Buddha, who had taken wine, seeing him was greatly pleased and said, “Why have you come here?” Vashishtha bowing to Buddha told him of his worship of Tarini. Buddha who is Hari and full of knowledge (Tattvajñana) spoke to him of the five Makaras (M: that is, the five commencing with the letter M are Madya, or wine and so forth) which are in Cinacara (Majnanam Cinacaradikaranam) saying that this should not be disclosed (a common injunction as regards this ritual and renders it from the opponents’ standpoint suspect). “By practicing it thou shalt not again sink into the ocean of being. It is full of knowledge of the Essence (Tattvajñana) and gives immediate liberation (Mukti).” He then goes on to explain a principal feature of this cult, namely, its freedom from the ritual rules of the ordinary worship above which the Sadhaka has risen. It is mental worship. In it bathing, purification, Japa, and ceremonial worship is by the mind only. (No outward acts are necessary; the bathing and so forth is in the mind and not in actual water, as is the case in lower and less advanced worship.) There are no rules as to auspicious and inauspicious times, or as to what should be done by day and by night. Nothing is pure or impure (there is no ritual defect of impurity) nor prohibition against the taking of food. Devi should be worshipped even though the worshipper has had his food, and even though the place be unclean. Woman who is Her image should be worshipped (Pujanam striya) and never should any injury be done to her (Stridvesho naiva kartavyah).

Are we here dealing with an incident in which Sakyamuni or some other Buddha of Buddhism was concerned?

According to Hindu belief the Ramayana was composed in the Treta age, and Vashishtha was the family priest of Dasharatha and Rama (Adikanda VII. 4, 5, VIII. 6), Ayodhya-kanda V. 1). The Mahabharata was composed in Dvapara. Krishna appeared in the Sandhya between this and the Kali-yuga. Both Kurukshetra and Buddha were in the Kali age. According to this chronology, Vashishtha who was the Guru of Dasharatha was earlier than Sakyamuni. There were, however, Buddhas before the latter. The text does not mention Sakyamuni or Gautama Buddha. According to Buddhistic tradition there were many other Buddhas before him such as Dipankara “The Luminous One,” Krakuccanda and others, the term Buddha being a term applicable to the enlightened, whoever he be. It will no doubt be said by the Western Orientalist that both these Yamalas were composed after the time of Sakyamuni. But if this be so, their author or authors, as Hindus, would be aware that according to Hindu Chronology Vashishtha antedated Sakyamuni. Apart from the fact of there being other Buddhas, according to Hinduism “types” as distinguished from “forms” of various things, ideas, and faiths, are persistent, though the forms are variable, just as is the case with the Platonic Ideas or eternal archetypes. In this sense neither Veda, Tantra-Shastra nor Buddhism had an absolute beginning at any time. As types of ideas or faiths they are beginningless (Anadi), though the forms may have varied from age to age, and though perhaps some of the types may have been latent in some of the ages. If the Vedas are Anadi so are the Tantra-shastras. To the Yogic vision of the Rishi which makes latent things patent, variable forms show their hidden types. Nothing is therefore absolutely new. A Rishi in the Treta Yuga will know that which will apparently begin in Kali or Dvapara but which is already really latent in his own age. Vishnu appears to his vision as the embodiment of that already latent, but subsequently patent, cult. Moreover in a given age, what is latent in a particular land (say Aryavarta) may be patent in another (say Mahacina). In this way, according to the Hindu Shastra, there is an essential conservation of types subject to the conditions of time, place, and person (Deshakalapatra). Moreover, according to these Shastras, the creative power is a reproducing principle. This means that the world-process is cyclic according to a periodic law. The process in one Kalpa is substantially repeated in another and Vashishtha, Buddha, and the rest appeared not only in the present but in previous grand cycles or Kalpas. Just as there is no absolute first beginning of the Universe, so nothing under the sun is absolutely new. Vashishtha, therefore, might have remembered past Buddhas, as he might have foreseen those to come. In Yogic vision both the past and the future can project their shadows into the present. Every Purana and Samhita illustrates these principles of Yogic intuition backwards and forwards. To the mind of Ishvara both past and future are known. And so it is to such who, in the necessary degree, partake of the qualities of the Lord’s mind. The date upon which a particular Shastra is compiled is, from this viewpoint, unimportant. Even a modern Shastra may deal with ancient matter. In dealing with apparent anachronisms in Hindu Shastra, it is necessary to bear in mind these principles. This of course is not the view of “Oriental scholars” or of Indians whom they have stampeded into regarding the beliefs of their country as absurd. It is however the orthodox view. And as an Indian friend of mine to whose views I have referred has said, “What the Psychic research society of the West is conceding to good ‘mediums’ and ‘subjects’ cannot be withheld from our ancient supermen — the Rishis.”

The peculiar features to be noted of this story are these. Vashishtha must have known what the Vedas and Vaidik rites were, as ordinarily understood. He is described as Vedantavit. Yet he was surprised on seeing Cinacara rites and disapproved of them. He speaks of it as “outside Veda” (Vedavahishkrita) and even opposed to it (Vedavadaviruddha). On the other hand the connection with Veda is shown, in that the Devi who promulgates this Acara is connected with the Atharvaveda, and directs Vashishtha always to follow that Veda, and speaks of the Acara not as being opposed to, but as something so high as to be beyond, the ordinary Vaidik ritual (Vedanamapyagocarah). He is to be fully learned in the import of Veda (Vedarthanipuno). It was by the grace of the doctrine and practice of Cinacara that Vishnu became the Lord of Yajurveda. The meaning there fore appears to be, that the doctrine and practice lie implicit in the Vedas, but go beyond what is ordinarily taught. Vishnu therefore says that it is not to be disclosed. What meaning again are we to attach to the word Visnubuddharupa? Buddha means “enlightened” but here a particular Buddha seems indicated, though Vishnu is also spoken of as Udbodharupi and the Devi as Buddheshvari. The Tara Tantra calls him a Kulabhairava. As is well known, Buddha was an incarnation of Vishnu. Vashishtha is told to go to Mahacina by the Himalaya and the country of the Bauddhas (Bauddhadesh). The Bauddhas who follow the Pañcatattva ritual are accounted Kaulas. It is a noteworthy fact that the flower of the Devi is Jaba, the scarlet hibiscus or China rose. As the last name may indicate it is perhaps not indigenous to India but to China whence it may have been imported possibly through Nepal. This legend, incorporated as it is in the Shastra itself, seems to me of primary importance in determining the historical origin of the Pañcatattva ritual.

Chapter Nine
The Tantra Shastras in China

Adopting for the purpose of this essay, and without discussion as to their accuracy, the general views of Orientalists on chronology and the development of the Buddhistic schools, the history of the Buddhistic Tantra is shortly as follows. The Mahayana (which commenced no one knows exactly when) was represented in the first and second centuries by the great names of Ashvaghosha and Nagarjuna. Its great scripture is the Prajñaparamita. Its dominance under the protection of Kanishka marks the first steps towards metaphysical, theistic, and ritualistic religion, a recurring tendency amongst men to which I have previously referred. In the second half of the first century A.D., Buddhism, apparently in its Mahayana form, spread to China, and thence to Korea, then to Japan in sixth century A.D. and to Tibet in the seventh. Some time between the 4th and 5th centuries AD Asanga, a Buddhist monk of Gandhara, is said to have promulgated the Buddhist Yogacara which, as its name imports, was an adaptation of the Indian Patañjali’s Yoga Darshana. Dr. Waddell says that “this Yoga parasite (most Europeans dislike what they understand of Yoga) containing within itself the germs of Tantrism” soon developed “monster out-growths” which “cankered” “the little life of purely Buddhistic stock” in the Mahayana, which is itself characterized as merely “sophistic nihilism”. Whatever that may mean, it certainly has the air of reducing the Mahayana to nothingness. We are then told that at the end of the sixth century “Tantrism or Sivaic mysticism (a vague word) with its worship of female energies (Shakti) and Fiendesses began to tinge both Hinduism and Buddhism, the latter of which “became still more debased with silly contemptible mummery of unmeaning jargon, gibberish, charmed sentences (Dharani) and magic circles (Mandala)” in the form of the “Vehicle” called Mantrayana alleged to have been founded by Nagarjuna who received it from the Dhyani Buddha Vairocana through the Bodhisattva Vajrasattva at the “Iron tower” in Southern India. Continuing he says “that on the evolution in the tenth century of the demoniacal Buddhas of the Kalacakra (system) the Mantrayana developed into the Vajrayana “the most depraved form of Buddhist doctrine” wherein the “Devotee” endeavors with the aid of the “Demoniacal Buddhas” and of “Fiendesses” (Dakini) “to obtain various Siddhis”. The missionary author, the Rev. Graham Sandberg, who is so little favorable to Buddhism that he can discover (p. 260) in it “no scheme of metaphysics or morality which can be dignified with the title of an ethical system,” when however speaking of this “most depraved form” in a short Chapter on the Tantras and Tantrik rites “Tibet and the Tibetans,” 218) says that this new vehicle (Ngag-kyi Thegpa) did not profess to supersede the time-honored Vajrayana (Dorje-Thegpa) but it claimed “by its expanded mythological scheme and its fascinating and even sublime mystic conceptions to crystallize the old Tantrik methods into a regular science as complicated as it was resourceful.” We are all naturally pleased at finding resemblances in other doctrines to teachings of our own, and so the reverend author, after pointing out that a leading feature of the Kalacakra (Dus-Kyi-khorlo) was the evolution of the idea of a Supreme Personal Being, says that “many fine and distinctively theistic characteristics of the Deity, His disposition, purity, fatherliness, benevolence and isolated power are set out in the Kalacakra treatises.” But he is, as we might expect, of the opinion that this was only an effort towards the real thing, probably influenced by the fact of Christian and Mohamedan teaching. We commonly find that a Semitic source is alleged for what cannot be denied to be good in Hinduism, or its child Buddhism. One wonders however how the “demoniacal Buddhas” and “Fiendesses” work themselves into this be-praised effort to teach Christian ideas. At the risk of straying from my subject, I may point out that in Buddhism the Devatas are given both peaceful (Zhi) and wrathful (Khro) aspects. The latter denotes the terrible (what in India is called Bhairava) aspects of the Divinity, but does not change Him or her into a Demon, at least in Buddhist or Indian belief. Even to the Christian, God has both a terrible and a benign aspect. It is true that some of the representations of the former aspect in Northern Buddhism are, to most Westerns, demoniac in form, but that is the way the Tibetan mind works in endeavoring to picture the matter for itself, as the Hindus do with their Devis, Kali, Chinnamasta and Candi. Another and artistically conceived idea of Bhairava is pictured in a beautiful Indian Kangra painting in my possession in which a smoldering restrained wrath, as it were a lowering dark storm-cloud, envelopes the otherwise restrained face and immobile posture of the Devata. As regards the esoteric worship of Dakinis I have said a word in the Foreword to the seventh volume of my Tantrik Texts. Without having recourse to abuse, we can better state the general conclusion by saying that the Tantrik cult introduced a theistical form of organized worship with prayers, litanies, hymns, music, flowers, incense, recitation of Mantra ( Japa), Kavacas or protectors in the form of Dharanis, offerings, help of the dead: in short, with all practical aids to religion for the individual together with a rich and pompous public ritual for the whole body of the faithful.

For the following facts, so far as China is concerned, I am indebted in the main to the learned work of the Jesuit Father L. Wieger Histoire des Croyances Religieuses et des Opinions Philosophiques en Cine (Paris Challamel 1917). The author cited states that Indian Tantrism “the school of efficacious formula” developed in China in the seventh and eighth centuries of our era, as a Chinese adaptation of the old Theistic Yoga of Patañjali (Second century B.C.) recast by Samanta Bhadra, “and fixed in polytheistic (?) form” by Asamgha (circ. 400 AD or as others say 500 AD). A treatise of the latter translated into Chinese in 647 AD had but little success. But in 716 the Indian Shubhakara came to the Chinese Court, gained the support of the celebrated Tchang-soei, known under his monastic name I-hing to whom he taught Indian doctrine, the latter in return giving aid by way of translations. Shubhakara, in the Tantrik way, thought that the Buddhist Monks in China were losing their time in mere philosophizing since (I cite the author mentioned) the Chinese people were not capable of abstract speculations. Probably Shubhakara, like all of his kind, was a practical man, who recognized, as men of sense must do, that in view of the present character of human nature, religion must be organized and brought to the people in such a form as will be fruitful of result. Metaphysical speculations count with them for little either in China or elsewhere. Shubhakara and his school taught the people that “man was not like the Banana a fruit without kernel”. His body contained a Soul. A moral life was necessary, for after death the Soul was judged and if found wicked was cast into Hell. But how was man to guard against this and the evil spirits around him? How was he to secure health, wealth, pardon for his sins, good being in this world and the hereafter? The people were then taught the existence of Divine Protectors, including some forms of Hindu Divinities as also the manner in which their help might be invoked. They were instructed in the use of Mantras, Dharanis, and Mudras the meaning of which is not explained by Dr. Waddell’s definition “certain distortions of the fingers”. They were taught to pray, to make offerings, and the various other rituals everywhere to be found in Tantra Shastra. Father Wieger says that pardon of sins and saving from the punishment of Hell was explained by the Chinese Tantriks of this school not as a derogation from justice, but as the effect of the appeal to the Divine Protector which obtained for the sinful man a fresh lease of life, a kind of respite during which he was enabled to redeem himself by doing good in place of expiating his sins by torture in Hell. The devout Tantrik who sought after his death to be born in the heaven of such and such Buddha, obtained his wish. Sinners who had done nothing for themselves might be helped even after their death by the prayers of relatives, friends and priests. The devotion of the Tantriks for the salvation of the deceased was very great. “Let us suppose” says one of the Texts “that a member of your family is thrown in prison. What will you not do to relieve him there, or to get him out from it. In the same way, we must act for the dead who are in the great Prison of Hell.” Prayer and charity with the view to aid them is accounted to their merit. Above all it is necessary to obtain the aid of the priests who deliver these bound souls by the ritual ad hoc, accompanied by music which forms an important part of the Buddhist Tantrik rites. The resemblance of all this to the Catholic practice as regards the souls in purgatory is obvious. As in the Indian Compendia, such as the Tantrasara, there were prayers, Mantras and Dharanis to protect against every form of evil, against the bad Spirits, wild beasts, natural calamities, human enemies, and so forth, which were said to be effective, provided that they were applied in the proper disposition and at the right time and in the right manner. But more effective than all these was the initiation with water (Abhisheka). For innumerable good Spirits surround the initiates in all places and at all times so that no evil touches them. It was recommended also to carry on the body the written name of one’s protector (Ishtadevata) or one of those signs which were called “Transcendent seals, conquerors of all Demons”. This practice again is similar to that of the use by the Indian Tantriks of the Kavaca, and to the practice of Catholics who wear scapulars, “Agnus Dei”, and consecrated medals. In order to encourage frequent invocations, as also to count them, the Buddhist Tantriks had Buddhistic chaplets like the Indian Mala and Catholic Rosary. The beads varied from 1,080 (Quaere 1008) to 27. In invoking the Protectors the worshipper held firmly one bead with four fingers (the thumb and first finger of both hands) and then centered his mind on the formula of invocation. Carried on the body, these Rosaries protected from every ill, and made all that one said, a prayer. To use the Indian phrase all that was then said, was Mantra.

Tantricism was reinforced on the arrival in 719 A.D. of two Indian Brahmanas, Vajrabodhi and Amogha. The demand for Tantras then became so great that Amogha was officially deputed by the Imperial Government to bring back from India and Ceylon as many as he could. Amogha who was the favorite of three Emperors holding the rank of minister and honored with many titles lived till 774. He made Tantricism the fashionable sect. Father Wieger says that in the numerous works signed by him, there is not to be found any of those rites, Indian or Tibetan, which come under the general term Vamacara, which includes worship with wine and women. He has it from Buddhist sources that they deplore the abuses which as regards this matter have taken place in India. In the state of decadence witnessed to-day there largely remains only a liturgy of invocations accompanied by Mudra and Music, with lanterns and flags from which Bonzes of low degree making a living when called upon by householders to cure the sick, push their business and so forth. Amogha, however, demanded more of those who sought initiation. In the Indian fashion he tested (Pariksha) the would-be disciple and initiated only those who were fit and had the quality of Vajra. To such only was doubtless confided the higher esoteric teachings and ritual. Initiation was conferred by the ritual pouring of water on the head (Abhisheka), after a solemn act of contrition and devotion.

The following is a description of the rite of initiation (Abhisheka). I t is the Buddha who speaks. “Just as an imperial prince is recognized as he who shall govern so my disciples, tested and perfectly formed, are consecrated with water. For the purpose of this ceremony one places on a height, or at least on rising ground, a platform seven feet in diameter strewn with flowers and sprinkled with scented water. Let silence be kept all around. Persian incense is burnt. Place a mirror of bronze and seven arrows to keep away demoniac spirits. The candidate who has been previously prepared by a rigorous abstinence, fully bathed and clad in freshly washed garments kneels on the platform and listens to a lecture explaining the meaning of the rite. His right shoulder is uncovered and his two hands joined. He forms interiorly the necessary intention. Then the Master of the ceremony, holding him firmly by the right hand, pours with the left on the head of the candidate for initiation the ritual water.” This initiation made the Chela a son of Buddha and a depository of the latter’s doctrine, for the Tantras were deemed to represent the esoteric teaching of the Buddha, just as in India they contain the essence of all knowledge as taught by Shiva or Devi.

The initiates of Amogha were distinguished by their retired life and secret practices, which gained for them the name of “School of Mystery”. It transpired that they were awaiting a Saviour in a future age. This rendered them suspect in the eye of Government who thought that they were perhaps a revolutionary society. The sect was accordingly forbidden. But this did not cause it to disappear. On the contrary, for as the Reverend Father says, in China (and we may add elsewhere) the forbidden fruit is that which is of all the most delicious. The lower ranks avoided this higher initiation and largely lapsed into mechanical formalism, and the true adepts wrapt themselves in a mystery still more profound, awaiting the coming of the future Buddha Maitreya, who, they taught, had inspired Asangha with the doctrine they held. Father Wieger says that their morality is severe and their life very austere. (Leur morale est sévére, leur vie trés austére.) There is a hierarchy of teachers who visit the households at appointed intervals, always after nightfall, leaving before daybreak and supported by the alms of those whom they thus teach. The learned missionary author adds that Tantrik adepts of this class are often converted to Christianity and quickly become excellent Christians “since their morals are good and they have a lively belief in the supernatural”. (“Leurs moeurs ayant été bonnes et leur croyance au surnaturel étant trés vive.”)

Here I may note on the subject of Dharanis, that it has been said that these were only introduced into China during the Tang Dynasty. Father Wieger, however, (p. 385) says that an authentic Riddhi-mantra is to be found in translations made by Leou-Keatch’an in the second century AD Buddha is said to have announced to Ananda, who accompanied him, that five hundred years after his Nirvana, a sect of magicians (whom the author calls Shivaite Tantriks) would be the cause of the swarming of evil spirits. Instructions were then given for their exorcism. This puts the “Shivaites” far back.

Chapter Ten
A Tibetan Tantra

[This Chapter is an admirably understanding review (reprinted from The Theosophist of July 1919) by Mr. Johan Van Manen, the Tibetan scholar. It was written on the seventh volume of Tantrik Texts which contains the first Tibetan Tantra to be published. The Tantra which was selected for the series was the Shricakra-Sambhara, because the Editor happened to have manuscripts of this and other works of the same school.]

All lovers of Indian philosophy are familiar with the magnificent series of works on the Tantra which, under the general editorship of “Arthur Avalon,” have seen the light within the last few years. Some, 15 volumes, either texts, translations, or studies, have hitherto been published, and the titles of a number of further works are announced as in preparation or in the press. Just now a new volume has been added to the series, constituting Vol. VII of the “Texts,” and this book is undoubtedly one of the most interesting of all those hitherto issued.

Up till now the series has only dealt with works and thoughts originally written down in Sanskrit; this new volume goes further afield and brings us the text and translation of a Tibetan work, dealing with the same subject the whole series is intended to study. Tibetan Tantrism is undoubtedly a development of its Indian prototype, and at a further stage of our knowledge of the whole subject, the historical development of this school of thought will be, no doubt, studied minutely. Though this present volume brings valuable material towards such an historical study, our knowledge of the Tantra under this aspect is as yet far too limited to enable us to say much about this side of the questions raised by its publication or to find a place for it in the present review of the work. What is more urgent now is to examine this book as it stands, to try to define the general trend of its contents, and to attempt to value it generally in terms of modern speech and thought. In our discussion of the book, therefore, we shall not concern ourselves with questions of technical scholarship at all, but attempt to go to the heart of the subject in such a manner as might be of interest to any intelligent man attracted towards philosophical and religious thought. And it is perhaps easier to do so with the present work than with many others in the series to which it belongs, for more than these others this work makes an appeal to the intellect direct, and proves very human and logical, so as to evoke a response in even such readers as are not prepared by a detailed knowledge of system and terminology, to disentangle an elaborate outer form from the inner substance. It is true that here also, every page and almost every line bristles with names and terms, but the thought connecting such terms is clear, and these, serving much the purposes of algebraical notations in mathematical formulae, can be easily filled in by any reader with values derived from his own religious and philosophical experience.

The Tantras have, often, not been kindly spoken of. It has been said that they have hitherto played, in Indology, the part of a jungle which everybody is anxious to avoid. Still stronger, a great historian is quoted as having said that it would be “the unfortunate lot of some future scholar to wade through the disgusting details of drunkenness and debauchery which were regarded as an essential part of their religion by a large section of the Indian community not long ago” And Grünwedel, speaking especially of the Tibetan Tantras (Mythology, p. 106), from the immense literature of which as yet nothing had been translated, says: “To work out these things will be, indeed, a sacrficium intellectus, but they are, after all, no more stupid than the Brahmanas on which so much labor has been spent.” But here we have the first translation into a European language of one of these Tantrik texts; and far from being obscene or stupid, it strikes us as a work of singular beauty and nobility, and as a creation of religious art, almost unique in its lofty grandeur. It is so totally unlike any religious document we are acquainted with, that it is almost inconceivable that this is only a brief specimen, a first specimen, made accessible to the general public, of a vast literature of which the extent (as existing in Tibet) cannot yet even be measured. Yet, in saying that the nature of our book is unique, we do not mean to imply that close analogies cannot be found for it in the religious literatures and practices of the world. Such an aloofness would be rather suspicious, for real religious experience is, of course, universal, and, proceeding from the same elements in the human heart, and aspiring to the same ends, must always show kinship in manifestation. Yet this Tibetan product has a distinctive style of its own, which singles it out in appearance as clearly, let us say, as the specific character of Assyrian or Egyptian art is different from that of other styles.

When we now proceed to examine the document before us, at the outset a verdict of one of the critics of Tantrism comes to our mind, to the effect that the Tantra is perhaps the most elaborate system of auto-suggestion in the world. This dictum was intended as a condemnation; but though accepting the verdict as correct, we ourselves are not inclined to accept, together with it, the implied conclusion. Auto-suggestion is the establishment of mental states and moods from within, instead of as a result of impressions received from without. Evidently there must be two kinds of this auto-suggestion, a true and a false one. The true one is that which produces states of consciousness corresponding to those which may be produced by realities in the outer world, and the false one is that which produces states of consciousness not corresponding to reactions to any reality without. In the ordinary way the consciousness of man is shaped in response to impressions from without, and so ultimately rests on sensation, but theoretically there is nothing impossible in the theory that these “modifications of the thinking principle” should be brought about by the creative will and rest rather on imagination and intuition than on sensation. This theory has not only been philosophically and scientifically discussed, but also practically applied in many a school of mysticism or Yoga. If I remember well, there is a most interesting book by a German (non-mystic) Professor, Staudenmeyer, dealing with this subject, under the title of Magic as an Experimental Science (in German), and the same idea seems also to underlie Steiner’s theory of what he calls “imaginative clairvoyance”. In Christian mysticism this has been fully worked out by de Loyola in his “Spiritual Exercises” as applied to the Passion of the Christ. In what is now-a-days called New Thought, this principle is largely applied in various manners. In our book we find it applied in terms of Tantrik Buddhism with a fullness and detail surpassing all other examples of this type of meditation. In order to present the idea in such a way that it may look plausible in itself, we have first to sketch out the rationale underlying any such system. This is easily done.

We can conceive of this universe as an immense ocean of consciousness or intelligence in which the separate organisms, human beings included, live and move and have their being. If we conceive of this mass of consciousness as subject to laws, analogous to those of gravity, and at the same time as being fluidic in nature, then the mechanism of all intellectual activity might well be thought of, in one of its aspects, as hydraulic in character. Let any organism, fit to be a bearer of consciousness, only open itself for the reception of it, and the hydraulic pressure of the surrounding sea of consciousness will make it flow in, in such a form as the construction of the organism assumes. The wave and the sea, the pot and the water, are frequent symbols in the East, used to indicate the relation between the all-consciousness and the individual consciousness. If the human brain is the pot sunk in the ocean of divine consciousness, the form of that pot will determine the form which the all-consciousness will assume within that brain.

Now imagination, or auto-suggestion, may determine that form. Through guess, intuition, speculation, tradition, authority, or whatever the determinant factor may be, any such form may be chosen. The man may create any form, and then, by expectancy, stillness, passivity, love, aspiration or whatever term we choose, draw the cosmic consciousness within him, only determining its form for himself, but impersonally receiving the power which is not from himself, but from without. The process is like the preparation of a mold in which molten metal is to be cast, with this difference, that the metal cast into the mold is not self-active and alive, and not ever-present and pressing on every side, as the living consciousness is which constitutes our universe.

We may take an illustration from the mechanical universe. This universe is one seething mass of forces in constant interplay. The forces are there and at work all the time, but only become objectified when caught in suitable receivers. The wind-force, if not caught by the arms of the windmill, the forces of stream or waterfall, if not similarly gathered in a proper mechanism, disperse themselves in space and are not focused in and translated into objective units of action. So with the vibrations sent along the wire, in telegraphic or telephonic communication, or with the other vibrations sent wirelessly. In a universe peopled with intelligences, higher beings, gods, a whole hierarchy of entities, from the highest power and perfection to such as belong to our own limited class, constant streams of intelligence and consciousness must continuously flash through space and fill existence. Now it seems, theoretically indeed, very probable, assuming that consciousness is one and akin in essence, that the mechanical phenomenon of sympathetic vibration may be applied to that consciousness as well as to what are regarded as merely mechanical vibrations. So, putting all the above reasonings together, it is at least a plausible theory that man, by a process of auto-suggestion, may so modify the organs of his consciousness, and likewise attune his individual consciousness in such a way, as to become able to enter into a sympathetic relation with the forces of cosmic consciousness ordinarily manifesting outside him and remaining unperceived, passing him as it were, instead of being caught and harnessed. And this is not only a theory, but more than that — a definite statement given as the result of experience by mystics and meditators of all times and climes.

Now we may ask: how has this method been applied in our present work? A careful analysis of its contents makes us discover several interesting characteristics. First of all we have to remember that our text presupposes a familiarity with the religious conceptions, names, personalities and philosphical principles of Northern Buddhism, which are all freely used in the composition. What is strange and foreign in them to the Western reader is so only because he moves in unfamiliar surroundings. But the character of the composition is one which might be compared to such analogous Western productions (with great differences, however) as the Passion Play at Oberammergau or the mediaeval mystery-plays. Only, in some of the latter the historical element predominates, whilst in the Tibetan composition the mythological element (for want of a better word) forms the basis and substance. In other words, in this ritual of meditation the Gods, Powers and Principles are the actors, and not, historical or symbolical personages of religious tradition. Secondly the play is enacted in the mind, inwardly, instead of on the scene, outwardly. The actors are not persons, but conceptions.

First, the meditator has to swing up his consciousness to a certain pitch of intensity, steadiness, quiet, determination and expectancy. Having tuned it to the required pitch, he fixes it on a simple center of attention which is to serve as a starting-point or gate through which his imagination shall well up as the water of a fountain comes forth through the opening of the water-pipe. From this central point the mental pictures come forth. They are placed round the central conception. From simple to complex in orderly progression the imaginative structure is elaborated. The chief Gods appear successively, followed by the minor deities. Spaces, regions, directions are carefully determined. Attributes, colors, symbols, sounds are all minutely prescribed and deftly worked in, and explications carefully given. A miniature world is evolved, seething with elemental forces working in the universe as cosmic forces and in man as forces of body and spirit. Most of the quantities on this elaborate notation are taken from the body of indigenous religious teaching and mythology. Some are so universal and transparent that the non-Tibetan reader can appreciate them even without a knowledge of the religious technical terms of Tibet. But anyhow, an attentive reading and re-reading reveals something, even to the outsider, of the force of this symbological structure, and makes him intuitively feel that here we are assisting in the unfolding of a grand spiritual drama, sweeping up the mind to heights of exaltation and nobility.

As to the terminological side of the text, the Editor’s abundant notes prove as valuable as useful. They may disturb the elevated unity of the whole at first, but after some assiduous familiarizing, lead to fuller and deeper comprehension. Even a single reading is sufficient to gain the impression that a stately and solemn mental drama is enacted before us with an inherent impressiveness which would attach, for instance to a Christian, to the performance of a ritual in which all the more primary biblical persons, human and superhuman, were introduced, in suitable ways, as actors. And the superlative cleverness of this structure! Starting from a single basic note, this is developed into a chord, which again expands into a melody, which is then elaborately harmonized. Indeed the meditation is in its essence both music and ritual. The initial motives are developed, repeated, elaborated, and new ones introduced. These again are treated in the same way. A symphony is evolved and brought to a powerful climax, and then again this full world of sound, form, meaning, color, power is withdrawn, limited, taken back into itself, folded up and dissolved, turned inwards again and finally returned into utter stillness and rest, into that tranquil void from which it was originally evoked and which is its eternal mother. I do not know of any literature which in its nature is so absolutely symphonic, so directly akin to music, as this sample of a Tibetan meditational exercise. And curiously enough, it makes us think of another manifestation of Indian religious art, for in words this document is akin to the Indian temple decoration, especially the South Indian gopura, which in its endless repetitions and elaborations seems indeed instinct with the same spirit which has given birth to this scheme of imagination taught in these Tantras. Only, in stone or plaster, the mythological host is sterile and immovable, whilst, as created in the living mind, the similar structure partakes of the life of the mind within and without. The sculptural embodiment is, therefore, serviceable to the less evolved mind. The Tantra is for the religious thinker who possesses power.

But we said that our meditational structure was also akin to ritual. What we mean by this is that all the figures and images evoked in the mind in this meditation are, after all, only meant, as the words, vestures and gestures in a ritual, to suggest feelings, to provoke states of consciousness, and to furnish (if the simile be not thought too pathetic) pegs to hang ideas upon.

Like as a fine piece of music, or a play, can only be well rendered when rehearsed over and over again, and practiced so that the form side of the production becomes almost mechanical, and all power in the production can be devoted to the infusion of inspiration, so can this meditation only be perfectly performed after untold practice and devotion. It would be a totally mistaken idea to read this book as a mere piece of literature, once to go through it to see what it contains, and then to let it go. Just as the masterpieces of music can be heard hundreds of times, just as the great rituals of the world grow in power on the individual in the measure with which he becomes familiar with them and altogether identifies himself with the most infinitely small minutiae of their form and constitution, so this meditation ritual is one which only by repetition can be mastered and perfected. Like the great productions of art or nature, it has to “grow” on the individual.

This meditational exercise is not for the small, nor for the flippant, nor for those in a hurry. It is inherently an esoteric thing, one of those teachings belonging to the regions of “quiet” and “tranquillity” and “rest” of Taoistic philosophy. To the ignorant it must be jabber, and so it is truly esoteric, hiding itself by its own nature within itself, though seemingly open and accessible to all. But in connection with this meditation we do not think of pupils who read it once or twice, or ten times, or a hundred, but of austere thinkers who work on it as a life-work through laborious years of strenuous endeavor. For, what must be done to make this meditation into a reality? Every concept in it must be vivified and drenched with life and power. Every god in it must be made into a living god, every power manipulated in it made into a potency. The whole structure must be made vibrant with forces capable of entering into sympathetic relation with the greater cosmic forces in the universe, created in imitation on a lower scale within the individual meditator himself. To the religious mind the universe is filled with the thoughts of the gods, with the powers of great intelligences and consciousnesses, radiating eternally through space and really constituting the world that is. “The world is only a thought in the mind of God.” It must take years of strenuous practice even to build up the power to visualize and correctly produce as an internal drama this meditation given in our book. To endow it with life and to put power into this life is an achievement that no small mind, no weak devotee, can hope to perform. So this meditation is a solemn ritual, like the Roman Catholic Mass; only it is performed in the mind instead of in the church, and the mystery it celebrates is an individual and not a general sacrament.

In what we have said above we have tried to give some outlines of the chief characteristics of this remarkable work, now brought within the reach of the general reading public, and especially of benefit to those among them interested in the study of comparative religion along broad lines. We owe, indeed, a debt of gratitude to Arthur Avalon, whose enthusiasm for and insight into the Indian religious and philosophical mind have unearthed this particular gem for us. We may be particularly grateful that his enthusiasm has not set itself a limit, so as to prevent him from dealing with other than Sanskrit lore alone, and from looking for treasure even beyond the Himalayas. In this connection we may mention that it is his intention to maintain this catholic attitude, for he is now taking steps to incorporate also an important Japanese work on the Vajrayana in his Tantrik series. As far as this first Tibetan text is concerned, the choice has been decidedly happy, and he has been no less fortunate in having been able to secure a competent collaborator to undertake the philological portion of the work, the translating and editing labor. The result of thus associating himself with a capable indigenous scholar to produce the work, has been a great success, a production of practical value which will undoubtedly not diminish in all essentials for a long time to come. For not only is this particular work in and for itself of interest, with a great beauty of its own; it has another value in quite other directions than those connected with the study of meditation or of religious artistic creation.

The work furnishes a most important key to a new way of understanding many phases and productions of Indian philosophy. The projection of the paraphernalia of Hindu mythology inwards into the mind as instruments of meditation, the internalizing of what we find in the Puranas or the Epic externalized as mythology, has seemed to me to throw fresh and illuminating light on Indian symbology. To give an illustration: In this Tantra we find an elaborate manipulation of weapons, shields, armor, as instruments for the protection of the consciousness. Now all these implements figure, for instance, largely and elaborately in such a work as the Ahirbudhnya Samhita, of which Dr. Schrader has given us a splendid summary in his work, Introduction to the Pañcaratra. But in the Pañcaratra all these implements are only attributes of the gods. In our text we find a hint as to how all these external mythological data can also be applied to and understood as internal workings of the human consciousness, and in this light Indian mythology assumes a new and richer significance. I do not want to do more here than hint at the point involved, but no doubt any student of Hindu mythology who is also interested in Hindu modes of thought, in the Hindu Psyche, will at once see how fruitful this idea can be.

One of the riddles of Indian thought is that its symbology is kinetic and not static, and eludes the objective formality of Western thought. That is why every Hindu god is another, who is again another, who is once more another. Did not Kipling say something about “Kali who is Parvati, who is Sitala, who is worshipped against the small-pox”? So also almost every philosophical principle is an “aspect” of another principle, but never a clear-cut, well-circumscribed, independent thing by itself. Our text goes far towards giving a hint as to how all these gods and principles, which in the Puranas and other writings appear as extra-human elements, may perhaps also be interpreted as aspects of the human mind (and even human body) and become a psychological mythology instead of a cosmic one.

The idea is not absolutely new, but has been put forward by mystics before. The Cherubinic Wanderer sang that it would be of no avail to anyone, even if the Christ were born a hundred times over in Bethlehem, if he were not born within the man himself. It has been said of the Bhagavad-Gita that it is in one sense the drama of the soul, and that meditation on it, transplanting the field of Kurukshetra within the human consciousness, may lead to a direct realization of all that is taught in that book, and to a vision of all the glories depicted therein. That idea is the same as that which is the basis of our text. Its message is: “Create a universe within, in order to be able to hear the echoes of the universe without, which is one with that within, in essence.” If seers, occultists, meditators really exist, they may be able to outline the way and method by which they themselves have attained. So it was with de Loyola and his “Spiritual Exercises,” and there is no reason why it should not be the same with the book we are discussing here.

As to how far we have here a result of practical experience, or only an ingenious theory, a great “attempt,” as it were, we will not and cannot decide. To make statements about this needs previous experiment, and we have only read the book from the outside, not lived its contents from within. But however this may be, even such an outer reading is sufficient to reveal to us the grandeur of the conception put before us, and to enable us to feel the symphonic splendor of the creation as a work of religio-philosophic art; and that alone is enough to enable us to judge the work as a masterpiece and a document of first-class value in the field of religious and mystical literature. The form is very un-Western indeed and in many ways utterly unfamiliar and perhaps bewildering. But the harmony of thought, the greatness of the fundamental conceptions, the sublimity of endeavor embodied in it, are clear; and these qualities are certainly enough to gain for it admirers and friends — perhaps here and there a disciple — even in our times so badly prepared to hear this Tibetan echo from that other world, which in many ways we in the West make it our strenuous business to forget and to discount.

Chapter Eleven
Shakti in Taoism

The belief in Shakti or the Divine Power as distinguished from the Divine Essence (Svarupa), the former being generally imagined for purposes of worship as being in female form, is very ancient. The concept of Shakti in Chinese Taoism is not merely a proof of this (for the Shakti notion is much older) but is an indication of the ancient Indian character of the doctrine. There are some who erroneously think, the concept had its origin in “Sivaic mysticism,” having its origin somewhere in the sixth century of our era. Lao-tze or the “old master” was twenty years senior to Confucius and his life was said to have been passed between 570-490 B.C. A date commonly accepted by European Orientalists as that of the death of Buddha (Indian and Tibetan opinions being regarded, as “extravagant”) would bring his life into the sixth century s.c., one of the most wonderful in the world’s history. Lao-tze is said to have written the Tao-tei-king, the fundamental text of Taoism. This title means Treatise on Tao and Tei. Tao which Lao-tze calls “The great” is in its Sanskrit equivalent Brahman and Tei is Its power or activity or Shakti. As Father P. L. Wieger, S. J., to whose work (Histoire des Croyances Religieuses et des Opinions Philosophiques en Chine, p. 143 et seg. 1917) I am here indebted, points out, Lao-tze did not invent Taoism no more than Confucius (557-419 B.C.) invented Confucianism. It is characteristic of these and other Ancient Eastern Masters that they do not claim to be more than “transmitters” of a wisdom older than themselves. Lao-tze was not the first to teach Taoism. He had precursors who, however, were not authors. He was the writer of the first book on Taoism which served as the basis for the further development of the doctrine. On this account its paternity is attributed to him. There was reference to this doctrine it is said in the official archives (p. 743). The pre-Taoists were the analysts and astrologers of the Tcheou. Lao-tze who formulated the system was one of them (ib. 69). The third Ministry containing these archives registered all which came from foreign parts, as Taoism did. For as Father Wieger says, Taoism is in its main lines a Chinese adaptation of the contemporary doctrine of the Upanishads (“or le Taoisme est dans ses grandes lignes une adaptation Chinoise de la doctrine Indienne contemporaine des Upanisads”). The actual fact of importation cannot in default of documents be proved but as the learned author says, the fact that the doctrine was not Chinese, that it was then current in India, and its sudden spread in China, creates in favor of the argument for foreign importation almost a certain conclusion. The similarity of the two doctrines is obvious to any one acquainted with that of the Upanishads and the doctrine of Shakti. The dualism of the manifesting Unity (Tao) denoted by Yin-Yang appears for the first time in a text of Confucius, a contemporary of Lao-tze, who may have informed him of it. All Chinese Monism descends from Lao-tze. The patriarchal texts were developed by the great Fathers of Taoism Lie-tzeu and Tchong-tzeu (see “Les Péres du systéme Taoiste” by the same author) whom the reverend father calls the only real thinkers that China has produced. Both were practically prior to the contact of Greece and India on the Indus under Alexander. The first development of Taoism was in the South. It passed later to the North where it had a great influence.

According to Taoism there was in the beginning, is now, and ever will be an ultimate Reality, which is variously called Huan the Mystery, which cannot be named or defined, because human language is the language of limited beings touching limited objects, whereas Tao is imperceptible to the senses and the unproduced cause of all, beyond which there is nothing: Ou the Formless, or Tao the causal principle, the unlimited inexhaustible source from which all comes, (“Tao le principe parceque tout derive de lui”) Itself proceeds from nothing but all from It. So it is said of Brahman that It is in Itself beyond mind and speech, formless and (as the Brahmasutra says) That from which the Universe is born, by which it is maintained and into which it is dissolved. From the abyss of Its Being, It throws out all forms of Existence and is never emptied. It is an infinite source exteriorizing from Itself all forms, by Its Power (Tei). These forms neither diminish nor add to Tao which remains ever the same. These limited beings are as a drop of water in Its ocean. Tao is the sum of, and yet as infinite, beyond all individual existences. Like Brahman, Tao is one, eternal, infinite, self-existent, omnipresent, unchanging (Immutable) and complete (Purna). At a particular moment (to speak in our language for It was then beyond time) Tao threw out from Itself Tei Its Power (Vertu or Shakti) which operates in alternating modes called Yin and Yang and produces, as it were by condensation of its subtlety (Shakti ghanibhuta), the Heaven and Earth and Air between, from which come all beings. The two modes of Its activity, Yin and Yang, are inherent in the Primal That, and manifest as modes of its Tei or Shakti. Yin is rest, and therefore after the creation of the phenomenal world a going back, retraction, concentration towards the original Unity (Nivritti), whereas Yang is action and therefore the opposite principle of going forth or expansion (Pravritti). These modes appear in creation under the sensible forms of Earth (Yin) and Heaven (Yang). The one original principle or Tao, like Shiva and Shakti, thus becomes dual in manifestation as Heaven-Earth from which emanate other existences. The state of Jinn is one of rest, concentration and imperceptibility which was the own state (Svarupa) of Tao before time and things were. The state of fang is that of action, expansion, of manifestation in sentient beings and is the state of Tao in time, and that which is in a sense not Its true state (“L’etat Yin de concentration, de repos, d’imperceptibilité, qui fut celui du Principe avant le temps, est son êtat propre. L’etat Yang d’expansion et d’action, de manifestation dans les êtres sensibles, est son êtat dans le temps, en quelque sorte impropre”). All this again is Indian. The primal state of Brahman or Shiva-Shakti before manifestation is that in which It rests in Itself (Svarupa-vishranti), that is, the state of rest and infinite formlessness. It then by Its Power (Shakti) manifests the universe. There exists in this power the form of two movements or rhythms, namely, the going forth or expanding (Pravritti) and the return or centering movement (Nivritti). This is the Eternal Rhythm, the Pulse of the universe, in which it comes and goes from that which in Itself, does neither. But is this a real or ideal movement? According to Father Wieger, Taoism is a realistic and not idealistic pantheism in which Tao is not a Conscious Principle but a Necessary Law, not Spiritual but Material, though imperceptible by reason of its tenuity and state of rest. (“Leur systéme est un pantheisme realiste, pas ideâliste. Au commencement était un étre unique non pas intelligent mais loi fatale, non spirituel mais matériel, imperceptible a force de tenuité, d’ abord immobile.”) He also calls Heaven and Earth unintelligent agents of production of sentient beings. (Agent non-intelligents de la production de tous les étres sensibles.) I speak with all respect for the opinion of one who has made a special study of the subject which I have not so far as its Chinese aspect is concerned. But even if, as is possible, at this epoch the full idealistic import of the Vedanta had not been developed, I doubt the accuracy of the interpretation which makes Tao material and unconscious. According to Father Wieger, Tao prolongates Itself. Each being is a prolongation (Prolongement) of the Tao, attached to it and therefore not diminishing It. Tao is stated by him to be Universal Nature, the sum (Samashti) of all individual natures which are terminal points (Terminaisons) of Tao’s prolongation. Similarly in the Upanishads, we read of Brahman producing the world from Itself as the spider produces the web from out of itself. Tao is thus the Mother of all that exists (“la mére de tout ce qui est”). If so, it is the Mother of mind, will, emotion and every form of consciousness. How are these derived from merely a” material” principle? May it not be that just as the Upanishads use material images to denote creation and yet posit a spiritual conscious (though not in our limited sense) Principle, Lao-tze, who was indebted to them, may have done the same. Is this also not indicated by the Gnostic doctrine of the Taoists? The author cited says that to the cosmic states of Yin and Yang correspond in the mind of man the states of rest and activity. When the human mind thinks, it fills itself with forms or images and is moved by desires. Then it perceives only the effects of Tao, namely, distinct sentient beings. When on the contrary the action of the human mind stops and is fixed and empty of images of limited forms, it is then the Pure Mirror in which is reflected the ineffable and unnamable Essence of Tao Itself, of which intuition the Fathers of Taoism speak at length. (“Quand an contraire l’esprit humain est arrêtê est vide et fixe, alors miroir net et pur, il mire l’essence ineffable et innomable du Principe lui-meme. Les Pêres nous parleront au long de cette intuition.”) This common analogy of the Mirror is also given in the Kamakalavilasa (v. 4) where it speaks of Shakti as the pure mirror in which Shiva reflects Himself pratiphalati vimarsha darpane vishade). The conscious mind does not reflect a material principle as its essence. Its essence must have the principle of consciousness which the mind itself possesses. It is to Tei, the Virtue or Power which Tao emits from Itself (“ce Principe se mit a êmettre Tei sa vertu”) that we should attribute what is apparently unconscious and material. But the two are one, just as Shiva the possessor of power (Shaktiman) and Shakti or power are one, and this being so distinctions are apt to be lost. In the same way in the Upanishads statements may be found which have not the accuracy of distinction between Brahman and its Prakriti, which we find in later developments of Vedanta and particularly in the Shakta form of it. Moreover we are here dealing with the One in Its character both as cause and as substance of the World Its effect. It is of Prakriti-Shakti and possibly of Tei that we may say that it is an apparently material unconscious principle, imperceptible by reason of its tenuity and (to the degree that it is not productive objective effect) immobile. Further Wieger assures us that all contraries issue from the same unchanging Tao and that they are only apparent (“Toute contrariété n’est qu’ apparente”). But relative to what? He says that they are not subjective illusions of the human mind, but objective appearances, double aspects of the unique Being, corresponding to the alternating modalities of Yin and Yang. That is so. For as Shamkara says, external objects are not merely projections of the individual human mind but of the cosmic mind, the Ishvari Shakti.

We must not, of course, read Taoism as held in the sixth century B.C. as if it were the same as the developed Vedanta of Shamkara who, according to European chronology, lived more than a thousand years later. But this interpretation of Vedanta is an aid in enabling us to see what is at least implicit in earlier versions of the meaning of their common source — the Upanishads. As is well known, Shamkara developed their doctrine in an idealistic sense, and therefore his two movements in creation are Avidya, the primal ignorance which produces the appearance of the objective universe, and Vidya or knowledge which dispels such ignorance, ripening into that Essence and Unity which is Spirit-Consciousness Itself. Aupanishadic doctrine may be regarded either from the world or material aspect, or from the non-world and spiritual aspect. Men have thought in both ways and Shamkara’s version is an attempt to synthesize them.

The Taoist master Ki (Op. cit., 168) said that the celestial harmony was that of all beings in their common Being. All is one as we experience in deep sleep (Sushupti). All contraries are sounds from the same flute, mushrooms springing from the same humidity, not real distinct beings but differing aspects of the one universal “Being”. “I” has no meaning except in contrast with “you” or “that”. But who is the Mover of all? Everything happens as if there were a real governor. The hypothesis is acceptable provided that one does not make of this Governor a distinct being. He (I translate Father Wieger’s words) is a tendency without palpable form, the inherent norm of the universe, its immanent evolutionary formula. The wise know that the only Real is the Universal Norm. The unreflecting vulgar believe in the existence of distinct beings. As in the case of the Vedanta, much misunderstanding exists because the concept of Consciousness differs in East and West as I point out in detail in the essay dealing with Cit-Shakti.

The space between Heaven and Earth in which the Power (Vertu, Shakti, Tei) is manifested is compared by the Taoists to the hollow of a bellows of which Heaven and Earth are the two wooden sides; a bellow which blows without exhausting itself. The expansive power of Tao in the middle space is imperishable. It is the mysterious Mother of all beings. The come and go of this mysterious Mother, that is, the alternating of the two modalities of the One, produce Heaven and Earth. Thus acting, She is never fatigued. From Tao was exteriorized Heaven and Earth. From Tao emanated the producing universal Power or Shakti, which again produced all beings without self-exhaustion or fatigue. The one having put forth its Power, the latter acts according to two alternating modalities of going forth and return. This action produces the middle air or Ki which is tenuous Matter, and through Yin and Yang, issue all gross beings. Their coming into existence is compared to an unwinding (Dévidage) from That or Tao, as it were a thread from reel or spool. In the same way the Shakta Tantra speaks of an “uncoiling.” Shakti is coiled (Kundalini) round the Shiva-point (Bindu), one with It in dissolution. On creation She begins to uncoil in a spiral line movement which is the movement of creation. The Taoist Father Lieu-tze analyzed the creative movement into the following stages: “The Great Mutation” anterior to the appearance of tenuous matter (Movement of the two modalities in undefined being), “the Great Origin” or the stage of tenuous matter, “the Great Commencement” or the stage of sensible matter, “the Great Flux” or the stage of plastic matter and actual present material compounded existences. In the primitive stage, when matter was imperceptible, all beings to come were latent in an homogeneous state.

I will only add as bearing on the subject of consciousness that the author cited states that the Taoists lay great stress on intuition and ecstasy which is said to be compared to the unconscious state of infancy, intoxication, and narcosis. These comparisons may perhaps mislead just as the comparison of the Yogi state to that of a log (Kashthavat) misled. This does not mean that the Yogi’s consciousness is that of a log of wood, but that he no more perceives the external world than the latter does. He does not do so because he has the Samadhi consciousness, that is, Illumination and true being Itself. He is one then with Tao and Tei or Shakti in their true state.

Chapter Twelve
Alleged Conflict of Shastras

A NOT uncommon modern criticism upon the Indian Shastras is that they mutually conflict. This is due to a lack of knowledge of the doctrine of Adhikara and Bhumika, particularly amongst Western critics, whose general outlook and mode of thought is ordinarily deeply divergent from that which has prevailed in India. The idea that the whole world should follow one path is regarded by the Hindus as absurd, being contrary to Nature and its laws. A man must follow that path for which he is fit, that is, for which he is Adhikari. Adhikara or competency literally means “spreading over” that is “taking possession of”. What is to be known (Jñatavya), done (Kartavya), acquired (Praptavya) is determined not once and generally for all, but in each case by the fitness and capacity therefor of the individual. Each man can know, do, and obtain not everything, nor indeed one common thing, but that only of which he is capable (Adhikari). What the Jiva can think, do, or obtain, is his competency or Adhikara, a profound and practical doctrine on which all Indian teaching and Sadhana is based. As men are different and therefore the Adhikara is different, so there are different forms of teaching and practice for each Adhikara. Such teaching may be Srauta or Ashrauta. Dealing here with the first, it is said of all Vidyas the Lord is Ishana, and that these differing forms are meant for differing competencies, though all have one and the same object and aim. This has been well and concisely worked out by Bhaskararaya, the Commentator on Tantrik and Aupanishadic Texts in his Bhashya upon the Nityashodashikarnava, which is, according to him, a portion of the great Vamakeshvara Tantra. The second portion of the Nityasohdashkarnava is also known as the Yoginihridaya. These valuable Tantrik Texts have been published as the 56th Volume of the Poona Anandashrama Series which includes also (Vol. 69) the Jñanarnava Tantra. The importance of the Vamakeshvara is shown by the fact that Bhaskararaya claims for it the position of the independent 65th Tantra which is mentioned in the 31st verse of the Anandalahari. Others say that the Svatantra there spoken of, is the Jñanarnava Tantra, and others again are of the opinion that the Tantraraja is the great independent Tantra of which the Anandalahari (ascribed to Shrimadacaryabhagavatpada, that is, Shamkaracarya) speaks. Bhaskararaya who lived in the first half of the eighteenth century gives in his Commentary the following exposition:

In this world all long for happiness which is the sole aim of man. Of this there is no doubt. This happiness again is of two kinds, namely, that which is produced and transient (Kritrima) and that which is unproduced and enduring (Akritrima), called respectively Desire (Kama) and Liberation (Moksha). Dharma procures happiness of both kinds, and Artha helps to the attainment of Dharma. These therefore are desired of all. There are thus four aims of man (Purusharthas) which though, as between themselves, different, are yet intimately connected, the one with the other. The’ Kalpasutra says that self-knowledge is the aim and end of man (Svavimarshah purusharthah). This is said of Liberation as being the highest end, since it alone gives real and enduring happiness. This saying, however, does not raise any contradiction. For, each of the four is to be had by the Jñana and Vijñana appropriate for such attainment. These (Purusharthas) are again to be attained according to the capacity of the individual seeking them (Tadrisa-tadrisha-cittaikasadhyani). The competency of the individual Citta depends again on the degree of its purity.

The very merciful Bhagavan Parameshvara desirous of aiding men whose mind and disposition (Citta) differ according to the results produced by their different acts, promulgated different kinds of Vidya which, though appearing to be different as between themselves, yet have, as their common aim, the highest end of all human life, that is, Liberation.

Shruti also says (Nrisimhapurvatapani Up. I-6; Mahanarayana Up. XVII-5): “Of all Vidyas the Lord is Ishana” (Ishanah sarvavidyanam) and (Sveta. Up. VI-18) “I who desire liberation seek refuge in that Deva who creates Brahma who again reveals the Vedas and all other learning” (Yo Brahmanam vidadhati purvam yo vai vedamshca prahinoti). The particle “ca” impliedly signifies the other Vidyas collectively. We also find it said in furtherance of that statement: “To him the first born He gave the Vedas and Puranas.” Smriti also states that the omniscient Poet (Kavi), Carrier of the Trident (Shiva shulapani), is the first Promulgator of these eighteen Vidyas which take differing paths (Bhinnavartma). It follows that, inasmuch as Paramashiva, the Benefactor of the Worlds, is the Promulgator of all Vidyas, they are all authoritative, though each is applicable for differing classes of competency (Adhikaribhedena). This has been clearly stated in Sutasmhita and similar works.

Capacity (Adhikara) is (for example) of this kind. The unbeliever (Nastika i.e., in Veda) has Adhikara in Darshanas such as Arhata (Jaina) and the like. Men of the first three castes have Adhikara in the path of Veda. Similarly the Adhikara of an individual varies according to the purity of his Citta. For we see that the injunctions relating to Dharma vary according to Ashrama and caste (Varna-bheda). Such texts as praise any particular Vidya are addressed to those who are Adhikari therein, and their object is to induce them to follow it. Such texts again as disparage any Vidya are addressed to those who are not Adhikari therein, and their object is to dissuade them from it. Nor again should these words of blame (or praise) be taken in an absolute sense, that is otherwise than relatively to the person to whom they are addressed.

Yani tattad vidyaprashamsakani vacanani tani tattadadhikarinam pratyeva pravartakani. Yani ca tannindakani tani tattadan-adhikarinam prati nivartakani. Na punarnahi nindanyayena vidheya-stavakani

(Bhaskararaya’s Introductory Commentary to Nityasodashikarnava Tantra, p. 2).

In early infancy, parents and guardians encourage the play of the child in their charge. When the age of study is reached, the same parents and guardians chastise the child who inopportunely plays. This we all see. A male of the three higher castes should, on the passing of the age of play, learn his letters and then metre (Chhandas) in order to master language. The Agni Purana has many texts such as “Faultless is a good Kavya”; all of which encourage the study of Kavya. We also come across prohibitions such as “He who has mastered the subject should avoid all discussion relating to Kavya”. When the object to be gained by the study of Kavya is attained and competency is gained for the next higher stage (Uttarabhumika), it is only a harmful waste of time to busy oneself with a lower stage (Purvabhumika), in neglect of that higher stage for the Sadhana of which one has become competent. This is the meaning of the prohibition. Again the injunction is to study Nyayashastra so as to gain a knowledge of the Atma as it is, and other than as it appears in the body and so forth. The texts are many such as “By reasoning (Shungga) seek the Atma”. Shungga=Hetu=Avayavasamudayatmakanyaya, that is Logic with all its five limbs. When it is known that the Atma as such is other than the body, is separate from the body and so forth, and the means which lead to that knowledge are mastered, then man is prohibited from occupying himself with the subject of the former stage (Purvabhumika) by such texts as “Anvikshiki and Logic (Tarkavidya) are useless” (Anvikshikim tarkavidyamanurakto nirarthikam). Injunctions such as “The wise should practice Dharma alone (Dharmam evacaret prajnah)” urge man towards the next stage (Uttarabhumika). The study of the Purvamimamsa and the Karmakanda in the Vedas is useful for this purpose. When by this means Dharma, Artha and Kama are attained, there arises a desire for the fourth Purushartha (Liberation or Moksha). And therefore to sever men from the former stage (Purvabhumika) there are texts which deprecate Karma such as (Mund. Up. 1-2, 12) “By that which is made cannot be attained that which is not made” (Nastyakritah kritena). Vashishtha says that these (earlier stages) are seven and that all are stages of ignorance (Ajñanabhumika). Beyond these are stages of Jñana. For the attainment of the same there are injunctions relating to Brahmajñana which lead on to ‘the next higher stage, such as (Mund. Up. I. 2, 12) “He should go to the Guru alone” (Sa gurum evabhigacchet), “Listen (Br. Ar. II. 4, 5, IV. 5, 6), oh Maitreyi, the Atma should be realized” (Atma va are drashtavyah). Some say that the Jñanabhumikas are many and rely on the text “The wise say that the stages of Yoga are many”. The holy Vashishtha says that there are seven, namely, Vividisha (desire to know), Vicarana (reflection), Tanumanasa (concentration), Sattvapatti (commencement of realization), Asamshakti (detachment), Padarthabhavini (realization of Brahman only) and Turyaga (full illumination in the fourth state). The meaning of these is given in, and should be learnt from, the Jñanashastra of Vashishtha.

These terms are also explained in Brahmananda’s Commentary on the Hathayoga Pradipika (1-3). His account differs from that of Bhaskararaya as regards the name of the first Bhumika which he calls Jñanabhumi or Subheccha and the sixth is called by him Pararthabhavini and not Padarthabhavini. The sense in either case is the same. According to Brahmananda, Jñanabhumi is the initial stage of Yoga characterized by Viveka, Vairagya, and the six Sadhanas beginning with Sama and leading to Mumuksha. Vicarana is Shravana and Manana (Shravanamananatmika). Tanuminasa=Nididhyasana when the mind, the natural characteristic of which is to wander, is directed towards its proper Yoga-object only. These three preliminary stage are known as Sadhanabhumika. The fourth stage Sattvapatti is Samprajñatayogabhumika. The mind having been purified by practice in the three preceding Bhumikas the Yogi commences to realize and is called Brahmavit. The last three stages belong to Asamprajñatayoga. After attainment of Sattvapatti Bhumika, the Yogi reaches the fifth stage called Asamshakti. Here he is totally detached and in the state of wakening (Vyuttishthate). As such he is called Brahmavid-vara. At the sixth, or Pararthabhavini Bhumika he meditates on nothing but Parabrahman (Parabrahmatiriktam na bhavayati). He is supremely awakened (Paraprabodhita) and is awake (Vyuttishta). He is then called Brahmavid-vanyan. In the last or seventh stage (Turyyaga) he is Brahmavidvarishta, and then truly attains illumination in itself (Svatahparato va vyutthanam prapnoti).

The Upanishads and Uttaramimamsa are helpful for this purpose (Upayogi) and should therefore be studied,

Brahmajñana again is of two kinds: namely, Seabed and Aparokshanubhavarupa. Understanding of the meaning of Shastra (Shashtradrishti), the word of the Guru (Gurorvakyam) and certainty (Nishcaya) of the unity of the individual self (Sva) and the Atma. are powerful to dispel inward darkness, but not the mere knowledge of words (Shabdabodha); (See Yogavashishtha, Utpatti, Kh. IX. 7-16). Therefore, when the Shabdabhumika is attained one should not waste one’s time further at this stage, and there are texts which prohibit this. Thus (Br. Ar. III, 5-1) “Having become indifferent to learning let him remain simple as in childhood” (Pandityannirvidya balyena tishthaset).

Between the second and third of the seven stages (Bhumika) there is the great stage Bhakti. Bhaktimimamsa (e.g., Narada Sutra, Sanatsujatiya) is helpful and should be studied. Bhakti continues to the end of the fifth Bhumika. When this last is attained the Sadhaka gains the fifth stage which is Aparokshanubhavarupa. This is Jivanmukti; Following closely upon this is Videhakaivalya. In the text “From Jñana alone Kaivalya comes (Jñanad eva tu kaivalyam), the word Jñana signifies something other and higher than Anubhava (Anubhavaparatva). In Nyaya and other Shastras it is stated that Moksha will be attained by mastery in such particular Shastra, but that is merely a device by which knowledge of the higher stage is not disclosed. This is not blameworthy because its object is to remove the disinclination to study such Shastra by reason of the delay thereby caused in the attainment of Purushartha (which disinclination would exist if the Sadhaka knew that there was a higher Shastra than that which he was studying). There are texts such as “By Karma alone (eva) is achievement” (Karmanaiva tu samsiddhih); “Him whom he selects hp him he is attainable” (Yamevaisha vrinnute tena labhyah). The word “eva” refers to the Bhumika which is spoken of and prohibits Sadhana for the attainment of fruit which can only be gained by mastery of, or competency in (Adhikara), the next higher Bhumika (Uttarabhumika). The words do not deny that there is a higher stage (Bhumika). The word alone (eva) in “Jñanad eva tu” (“from Jñana alone”) indicates, however, that there is a stage of Sadhana subsequent to that here spoken of. There is thus no conflict between the Rishis who are teachers of the different Vidyas. Each one of these Bhumikas has many sub-divisions (Avantara-bhumika) which cannot be altogether separated the one from the other, and which are only known by the discerning through experience (Anubhava). So it has been said: “Oh Raghava, I have spoken to thee of the seven States (Avastha) of ignorance (Ajñana). Each one is hundred fold (that is many) and yields many fruits (Nanavibhavarupim). Of these many Bhumikas, each is achieved by Sadhana through many births. When a man by great effort prolonged through countless lives, and according to the regular order of things (Kramena), gains a full comprehension of the Bhumika in which he has certain knowledge of the Shabdatattva of Parabrahman, he ceases to have any great attachment to or aversion for, Samsara and this is a form of excellent Cittashuddhi. Such an one is qualified for the path of Devotion (Bhakti).” For, it has been said: “Neither indifferent (Nirvinna) nor attached; for such an one Bhaktiyoga grants achievement (Siddhida).”

Bhakti again is of two kinds: Gauni (secondary) and Para (supreme). The first comprises Dhyana, Arcana, Japa, Namakirtana and the like of the Saguna Brahman. Parabhakti is special” state (Anuragavishesharupa) which is the product of these. The first division of Bhakti includes several others (Avantara-Cumika). The first of these is Bhavanasiddhi illustrated by such texts “Let him meditate on woman as fire” (Yoshamagnim dhyayita). The second is worship (Upasti’) as directed in such texts (Chha. Up. III. 18-1) as “Mano brahmetyupasita”. The third is Ishvaropasti (worship of the Lord). Since the aspects of the Lord vary according as He is viewed as Surya, Ganesha, Vishnu, Rudra, Parashiva and Shakti, the forms of worship belong to different Bhumikas. The forms of Shakti again are endless such as Chhaya, Ballabha, Lakshmi and the like. In this manner, through countless ages all these Bhumikas are mastered, when there arises Gaunabhakti for Tripurasundari. On perfection of this there is Parabhakti for Her. This is the end, for it has been said (Kularnava Tantra, III. 82): “Kaulajñana is revealed for him whose Citta has been fully purified, Arka, Ganapatya, Vaishnava, Shaiva, Daurga (Shakta) and other Mantras in their order.” Bhaskararaya also quotes the statement in the Kularnava Tantra (II, 7, 8): “Higher than Vedacara is Vaishnavacara, higher than Vaishnavacara is Shaivacara, higher than Shaivacara is Dakshinacara, higher than Dakshinacara is Vamacara, higher than Vamacara is Siddhantacara, higher than Siddhantacara is Kaulacara than which there is nothing higher nor better.”

Many original texts might be cited relative to the order of stages (Bhumikakrama) but which are not quoted for fear of prolixity. Some of these have been set out in Saubhagyabhaskara, (that is, Bhaskararaya’s Commentary on the Lalitasahasranama). The Sundari tapanipancaka, Bhavanopanishad, Kaulopanishad, Guhyopanishad, Mahopanishad, and other Upanishads (Vedashirobhaga) describe in detail the Gauni Bhakti of Shri Mahatripurasundari and matter relating thereto. The Kalpasutras of Ashvalayana and others, the Smritis of Manu and others come after the Purvakanda) of the Veda. In the same way the Kalpasutras of Parashurama and others and the Yamalas and other Tantras belong to the latter part of the Veda or the Upanishadkanda. The Puranas relate to, and follow both, Kandas. Therefore the authority of the Smritis, Tantras, and Puranas is due to their being based on Veda (Smrititantra puranam vedamulakatvenaiva pramanyam). Those which seem (Pratyaksha) opposed to Shruti (Shrutiviruddha) form a class of their own and are without authority and should not be followed unless the Veda (Mulashruti) is examined (and their conformity with it established). There are some Tantras, however, which are in every way in conflict with Veda (Yanitu sarvamshena vedaviruddhanyeva). They are some Pashupata Shastras and Pañcaratra. They are not for those who are in this Bhumika (i.e., Veda Pantha). He who is qualified for rites enjoined in Shruti and Smriti (Shrautasmartakarmadhikara) is only Adhikari for these (Pashupata and Pañcaratra) if by reason of some sin (Papa) he falls from the former path. It has therefore been said: “The Lord of Kamala (Vishnu) spoke the Pañcaratras, the Bhagavata, and that which is known as Vaikhanasa (Vaikhanasabhidhama form of Vaishnavism) for those who have fallen away from the Vedas (Vedabhrashta).” The following Texts relate only to some of the Shastras of the classes mentioned. So we have the following: “He who has fallen from Shruti, who is afraid of the expiatory rites (Prayashcitta) prescribed therein, should seek shelter in Tantra so that by degrees he may be qualified for Shruti (Shruti-siddhyar-tham).” Though the general term “Tantra” is employed, particular Tantras (that is, those opposed to Shruti or Ashrauta) are here meant. The Adhikarana (Sutra) Patyurasamanjasyat (II: 2. 37) applies to Tantras of this class. The Agastya and other Tantras which describe the worship of Rama, Krishna, Nrisimha, Rudra, Parashiva, Sundari (Shakti) and others evidently derive from the Ramatapani and other Upanishads. There is therefore no reason to doubt but that they are authoritative.

Worship (Upasti) of Sundari Shakti is of two kinds: Bahiryaga or outer, and Antaryaga or inner, worship. Antaryaga is again of three kinds: Sakala, Sakala-Nishkala, and Nishkala, thus constituting four Bhumikas. As already stated, the passage is from a lower to a higher and then to a yet higher Bhumika. Five forms of Bahiryaga are spoken of, namely, Kevala, Yamala, Mishra, Cakrayuk and Virashamkara which have each five divisions under the heads Abhigamana and others and Daurbodhya and others in different Tantras. Bahiryaga with these distinctions belongs to one and the same Bhumika. Distinctions in the injunctions (Vyavastha) depend entirely on differences as to place, time, and capacity, and not on the degree of Cittashuddhi (Na punashcittashuddhibhedena). On the other hand injunctions given according to difference of Bhumika, which is itself dependent on the degree of purity of the Citta, are mandatory.

To sum up the reply to the question raised by the title of this paper: The Shastras are many and are of differing form. But Ishvara is the Lord of all the Vidyas which are thus authoritative and have a common aim. The Adhikara of men varies. Therefore so does the form of the Shastra. There are many stages (Bhumika) on the path of spiritual advance. Man makes his way from a lower to a higher Bhumika. Statements in any Shastra which seem to be in conflict with some other Shastra must be interpreted with reference to the Adhikara of the persons to whom they are addressed. Texts laudatory of any Vidya are addressed to the Adhikari therein with the object of inducing him to follow it. Texts in disparagement of any Vidya are addressed to those who are not Adhikari therein, either because he has not attained, or has surpassed, the Bhumika applicable, and their object is to dissuade them from following it. Neither statements are to be taken in an absolute sense, for what is not fit for one may be fit for another. Evolution governs the spiritual as the physical process, and the truth is in each case given in that form which is suitable for the stage reached. From step to step the Sadhaka rises, until having passed through all presentments of the Vaidik truth which are necessary for him, he attains the Vedasvarupa which is knowledge of the Self.

These ancient teachings are in many ways very consonant with what is called the “modernist” outlook. Thus, let it be noted that there may be (as Bhaskararaya says) Adhikara for Ashrauta Shastra such as the Arhata, and there is a Scripture for the Vedabhrashta. These, though non-Vaidik, are recognized as the Scriptures of those who are fitted for them. This is more than the admission, that they are the Scriptures in fact of such persons. The meaning of such recognition is brought out by an incident some years ago. An Anglican clergyman suggested that Mohamedanism might be a suitable Scripture for the Negro who was above “fetichism” but not yet fit to receive Christian teaching. Though he claimed that the latter was the highest and the most complete truth, this recognition (quite Hindu in its character) of a lower and less advanced stage, brought him into trouble. For those who criticized him gave no recognition to any belief but their own. Hinduism does not deny that other faiths have their good fruit. For this reason, it is tolerant to a degree which has earned it the charge of being “indifferent to the truth”. Each to his own. Its principles admit q, progressive revelation of the Self to the self, according to varying competencies (Adhikara) and stages (Bhumika) of spiritual advance. Though each doctrine and practice belongs to varying levels, and therefore the journey may be shorter or longer as the case may be, ultimately all lead to the Vedasvarupa or knowledge of the Self, than which there is no other end. That which immediately precedes this complete spiritual experience is the Vedantik doctrine and Sadhana for which all others are the propaedeutic. There is no real conflict if we look at the stage at which the particular instructions are given. Thought moves by an immanent logic from a less to a more complete realization of the true nature of the thinker. When the latter has truly known what he is, he has known what all is. Vedayite iti Vedah. “Veda is that by which what is, and what is true, is made known.”

Whilst the Smritis of the Seers vary and therefore only those are to be accepted which are in conformity with the Standard of true experience or Veda, it is to be remembered that because a Seer such as Kapila Adividvan (upon whose Smriti or experience that Samkhya is assumed to be founded) teaches Dvaitavada, it does not (in the Hindu view) follow that he had not himself reached a higher stage, such as Advaitavada is claimed to be. A Seer may choose to come down to the level of more ordinary people and teach a Dvaitavada suited to their capacity (Adhikara). If all were to teach the highest experience there would be none to look after those who were incapable of it, and who must be led up through the necessary preliminary stages. Samkhya is the science of analysis and discrimination, and therefore the preparation for Vedanta which is the science of synthesis and assimilation. Kapila, Gautama and Kanada mainly built on reason deepened and enlarged, it may be, by Smriti or subjective experience. We do not find in them any complete synthesis of Shruti. A general appeal is made to Shruti and a few texts are cited which accord with what (whether it was so in fact to them or not) is in fact a provisionally adopted point of view. They concentrate the thoughts and wills of their disciples on them, withholding (if they themselves have gone further) the rest, as not at present suited to the capacity of the Shishya, thus following what Shamkara calls Arundhatidarshana-nyaya. Nevertheless the higher truth is immanent in the lower. The Differential and Integral Calculus are involved in elementary Algebra and Geometry because the former generalize what the latter particularize. But the teacher of elementary Mathematics in the lower forms of a school would only confound his young learners if he were to introduce such a general theorem (as say Taylor’s) to them. He must keep back the other until the time is ripe for them. Again the great Teachers teach whole-heartedness and thoroughness in both belief and action, without which the acceptance of a doctrine is useless. Hence a teacher of Dvaitavada, though himself Advaitadarshi, presents Dvaita to the Adhikari Shishya in such a forcible way that his reason may be convinced and his interest may be fully aroused. It is useless to say to a Sadhaka on the lower plane: “Advaita is the whole truth. Dvaita is not; but though it is not, it is suited to your capacity and therefore accept it.” He will of course say that he does not then want Dvaita, and being incapable of understanding Advaita, will lose himself. This, I may observe, one of the causes of Skepticism to-day. In the olden time it was possible to teach a system without anything being known of that which was higher. But with printing of books some people learn that all is Maya, that Upasana is for the “lower” grades and so forth, and, not understanding what all this means, are disposed to throw Shastric teaching in general overboard. This they would not have done if they had been first qualified in the truth of their plane and thus become qualified to understand the truth of that which is more advanced. Until Brahma-sakshatkara, all truth is relative. Hence, Bhagavan in the Gita says: “Na buddhi-bhedam janayed ajñanam karma sanginam.” Tradition supports these views. Therefore Vyasa, Kapila, Gautama, Jaimini, Kanada and others have differently taught, though they may have possibly experienced nearly similarly. Jaimini in his Purva Mimamsa differs in several respects from Vyasa or Badarayana in his Uttara-Mimamsa though he was the disciple of the latter. Vyasa is Advaita-darshi in Vedanta but Dvaita-darshi in Yoga-bhashya. Is it to be supposed, that the Shishya was Anadhikari, and that his Guru, therefore, withheld the higher truth from him, or was the Guru jealous and kept his Shishya in actions, withholding Brahma-jñana?

A Rishi who has realized Advaita may teach Ayurveda or Dhanuveda. He need not be Sthula-darshi, because he teaches Sthula-vishaya. Again Shastras may differ, because their standpoint and objective is different. Thus the Purva-mimamsa deals with Dharma-jignasa, stating that Veda is practical and enjoins duties, so that a Text which does not directly or indirectly mean or impose a duty is of no account. The Uttara-mimamsa, on the other hand, deals with Brahma-jignasa and therefore in the Sutra ‘Tattu samanvayat’ it is laid down that a Mantra is relevant, though it may not impose a duty (“Do this or do not do this”) but merely produces a Jñana (Know this, “That Thou art”). The difference in interpretation is incidental to difference in standpoint and objective. The same remarks apply to the various forms of Advaita such as Vishishtadvaita, Shuddhadvaita; between the Shaktivada of the Shakta Agama and Vivarttavada. In some Shastras stress is laid on Karma, in others on Bhakti, and yet in others on Jñana as in the case of Mayavada. But though the emphasis is differently placed, each is involved in the other and ultimately, meet and blend. The Mahimnastava says: “Though men, according to their natures, follow differing paths, Thou art the end of all, as is the ocean of all the rivers which flow thereto.” Madhusudana Sarasvati commenting on this, has written his Prasthanabheda, the reconciliation of varying doctrines. To-day the greatest need in these matters is (for those who are capable of understanding) the establishment of this intellectual and spiritual Whole (Purna). The Seers who live in the exalted Sphere of Calm, understand the worth and significance of each form of spiritual culture as also their Synthesis, and to the degree that lesser minds attain this level to this extent they will also do so. Whilst the lower mind lives in a section of the whole fact and therefore sees difference and conflict, the illumined who live in and have in varying degrees experience of the Fact itself, see all such as related parts of an Whole.

Chapter Thirteen

The Sarvollasa, a copy of which came into my possession some three years ago, is a rare MS. It is a Samgraha by the Sarvavidyasiddha Sarvanandanatha who, though celebrated amongst the Bengal followers of the Agama, is I should think, almost unknown to the general public. There is a life in Sanskrit of Sarvanandanatha entitled Sarvanandataramgini by his son Shivanatha in which an account of the attainment of his Siddhi is given and I am indebted in respect of this article to a short unpublished memoir by Sj. Dinesha Candra Bhattacaryya, formerly Research Scholar, who as a native of Tipperah has had the desire to see Sarvanandanatha’s place in the History of the so-called “Tantricism” in Bengal duly recognized.

It is said that Sarvananda had striven for Siddhi for seven previous births and a verse preserves the names of the places where he died in these successive lives. His grandfather Vasudeva originally lived at Purvasthali in the Burdwan district but was led by a divine call to Mehar in Tipperah where in ages past Matanga Muni had done Tapas. A deep hole is still shown as being of Matanga’s time. It is also said that round about the place where Sarvanandanatha performed his Shavasadhana, adept Sadhakas even now discover the hidden Linga established by Matanga marked out by equally hidden barriers or Kilakas.

Vasudeva then went to Kamakhya where he died after undergoing severe Tapas. He left his son at Mehar who himself afterwards had a son, the grandson of Vasudeva. In fact it is said that the grandfather Vasudeva was reborn as the son of his own son, that is, as Sarvananda. In early life the latter was stupid and illiterate. He was sharply rebuked by the local Rajah for his ignorance in proclaiming a New Moon day to be Full Moon day. Being severely punished by his relatives he determined to begin his letters and went out to search for the necessary palm-leaves. There in the jungle he met a Samnyasi, who was Mahadeva himself in that form and who whispered in his ears a Mantra and gave him certain instructions. His servant Puna was an advanced Sadhaka, who had been psychically developed under Vasudeva. Puna separating the subtle (Sukshmadeha) from the gross body, served as a corpse on the back of which Sarvananda performed Shavasadhana and attained Siddhi that same new moon night on which to the amazement of all a perfect moon shone over Mehar. This full moon episode is popularly the most famous of Sarvananda’s wonders.

Some time after Sarvananda left Mehar after having given utterance to the curse that his own family would die out in the 22nd, and that of the local chief in the 15th generation. This last announcement is said to have come true as the Rajah’s descendant in the fifteenth generation actually died without issue, though the family survives through his adopted son. Sarvananda started for Benares but stopped at Senhati in Jessore where he was compelled to marry again and where he lived for some years. His place of worship at Senhati is still shown. At the age of 50 he went to Benares with his servant Puna and nephew Sadananda. At Benares the Shaiva Dandins were then, as now, predominant. He quarreled with them, or they with him, on account of his doctrines and practice.

In return for their treatment of him, he to their awe and possibly disgust, converted (so it is said) their food into meat and wine. Of course the Benares Dandins, as is usual in such cases, give a different account of the matter. Their tradition is that, after a Shastric debate, Sarvananda was convinced by the Dandins that the Siddhi which he boasted of was no real Siddhi at all and was then made a convert to their own doctrines, which is the most satisfactory of all results for the men of piety who wrangle with others and try to make them come over to their views. It is worthy of note how quarrelsome in all ages many of the pious and wonder-workers have been. But perhaps we do not hear so much of the quieter sages who lived and let others live, diffusing their views not amongst those who were satisfied with what they knew or thought they knew, but among such as had not found and therefore sought.

After this event Sarvananda disappeared from Benares which rather points to the fact that the Dandins did not acquire a distinguished adversary for their community. Tradition is silent as to what happened to him later and as to the date and place of his end.

Sj. Dinesh Chandra Bhattacarya has made for me a calculation as to the date of Sarvananda’s Siddhi which fell on a Pausha Samkranti corresponding to Caturdasi or Amavasya falling on a Friday. Between 1200 and 1700 A.D. there are three dates on which the above combination took place, viz., 1342, 1426 and 1548 A.D. The first date is toe early as 15 or 16 generations, to which his family descends at present, does not carry us so far back. The last date seems too late. For according to tradition Janakivallabha Gurvvacarya, himself a famous Siddha, and fifth in descent from Sarvananda, was a contemporary of one of the “twelve Bhuiyas” of Bengal late in the reign of Akbar (circ. 1600 A.D.). The date 1426 A.D. is therefore adopted. It will thus appear that he lived about a century before the three great Bengal Tantrikas, namely, Krishnananda, Brahmananda and Purnananda, all of whom are of the 16th century. But this calculation has still to be verified by data culled from an examination of the Sarvollasa such as the authorities which its author cites.

This last work, I am told, is that by which he is best known. Two other short Tantrika works are ascribed to a Sarvananda though whether it is the same Siddha is not certain. There is, I am told, a Navarnapujapaddhati by Sarvanandanatha in a MS dated 1668 Vikramabda in the Raghunath Temple Library in Kashmir, and another work the Tripurarcanadipika is reported from the Central Provinces.

As is usual in such cases there is a legend that Sarvananda is still living by Kayavyuha in some hidden resort of Siddha-purushas. The author of the memoir, from which I quote, tells of a Sadhu who said to my informant that some years ago he met Sarvanandanatha in a place called Campakaranya but only for a few minutes, for the Sadhu was himself miraculously wafted elsewhere.

Some very curious reading of deep interest to the psychologist, the student of psychic phenomena and the historian of religions is to be found in the stories which are told of Sadhus and Siddhas of Sarvananda’s type who, whether they did all that is recounted of them or not, yet lived so strangely, as for instance, to take another case, that of Brahmananda the author of the Shaktanandatarangini who going in his youth in quest of a prostitute, found in the house he entered and in the woman who came to him his own mother, herself the victim of a Mussulman ravisher. It was the horror of this encounter which converted his mind and led him to become a Sadhu, during which life he did Dhyana in the body of a dead and rotting elephant and the other things related of him. They await collection. But when their value has been discovered possibly these traditions may have disappeared. Even if all the facts related of these Sadhus and Siddhas were the work of imagination (and whilst some of them may be so, others are in all probability true enough) they are worth preservation as such. The history of the human mind is as much a fact as anything which is reverenced because it is “objective”. This last class of fact is generally only the common experience. It is attractive, yet sometimes fearsome, to follow the mind’s wanderings both in the light and in that curious dark, which only explorers in these paths know. If one does not lose one’s way (and in this lies a peril) we emerge with a confidence in ourselves at having passed a test — a confidence which will serve our future. In any case as I have said there is an opportunity of research for those whose workings are in the outer crust of mere historical fact.

Chapter Fourteen
Cit-Shakti (The Consciousness Aspect of the Universe)

Cit-Shakti is Cit, as Shakti, that is as Power, or that aspect of Cit in which it is, through its associated Maya-Shakti, operative to create the universe. It is a commonly accepted doctrine that the ultimate Reality is Samvid, Caitanya or Cit.

But what is Cit? There is no word in the English language which adequately describes it. It is not mind: for mind is a limited instrument through which Cit is manifested. It is that which is behind the mind and by which the mind itself is thought, that is created. The Brahman is mindless (Amanah). I f we exclude mind we also exclude all forms of mental process, conception, perception, thought, reason, will, memory, particular sensation and the like. We are then left with three available words, namely, Consciousness, Feeling, Experience. To the first term there are several objections. For if we use an English word, we must understand it according to its generally received meaning. Generally by “Consciousness” is meant self-consciousness, or at least something particular, having direction and form, which is concrete and conditioned; an evolved product marking the higher stages of Evolution. According to some, it is a mere function of experience, an epiphenomenon, a mere accident of mental process. In this sense it belongs only to the highly developed organism and involves a subject attending to an object of’ which, as of itself, it is conscious. We are thus said to have most consciousness when we are awake (Jagrat avastha) and have full experience of all objects presented to us; less so when dreaming (Svapna avastha) and deep anesthesia in true dreamless sleep (Sushupti). I may here observe that recent researches show that this last state is not so common as is generally supposed. That is complete dreamlessness is rare; there being generally some trace of dream. In the last state it is commonly said that consciousness has disappeared, and so of course it has, if we first define consciousness in terms of the waking state and of knowledge of objects. According to Indian notions there is a form of conscious experience in the deepest sleep expressed in the well-known phrase “Happily I slept, I knew nothing”. The sleeper recollects on waking that his state has been one of happiness. And he cannot recollect unless there has been a previous experience (Anubhava) which is the subject-matter of memory. In ordinary parlance we do not regard some low animal forms, plants or mineral as “conscious”. It is true that now in the West there is (due to the spread of ideas long current in India) growing up a wider use of the term “consciousness” in connection not only with animal but vegetable and mineral life, but it cannot be said the term “consciousness” has yet generally acquired this wide signification. If then we use (as for convenience we do) the term “Consciousness” for Cit, we must give it a content different from that which is attributed to the term in ordinary English parlance. Nextly, it is to be remembered that what in either view we understand by consciousness is something manifested, and therefore limited, and derived from our finite experience. The Brahman as Cit is the infinite substratum of that. Cit in itself (Svarupa) is not particular nor conditioned and concrete. Particularity is that aspect in which it manifests as, and through, Maya-Shakti. Cit manifests as Jñana-Shakti which, when used otherwise than as a loose synonym for Cit, means knowledge of objects. Cit-Svarupa is neither knowledge of objects nor self-consciousness in the phenomenal sense. Waking, dreaming and dreamless slumber are all phenomenal states in which experience varies; such variance being due not to Cit but to the operation or cessation of particular operation of the vehicles of mind (Antahkarana) and sense (Indriya). But Cit never disappears nor varies in either of the three states, but remains one and the same through all. Though Cit-Svarupa is not a knowledge of objects in the phenomenal sense, it is not, according to Shaiva-Shakta views (I refer always to Advaita Shaiva-darshana), a mere abstract knowing (Jñana) wholly devoid of content. It contains within itself the Vimarsha-Shakti which is the cause of phenomenal objects, then existing in the form of Cit (Cidrupini). The Self then knows the Self. Still less can we speak of mere ‘awareness” as the equivalent of Cit. A worm or meaner form of animal may be said to be vaguely aware. In fact mere “awareness” (as we understand that term) is a state of Cit in which it is seemingly overwhelmed by obscuring Maya-Shakti in the form of Tamoguna. Unless therefore we give to “awareness,” as also to consciousness, a content, other than that with which our experience furnishes us, both terms are unsuitable. In some respects Cit can be more closely described by Feeling, which seems to have been the most ancient meaning of the term Cit. Feeling is more primary, in that it is only after we have been first affected by something that we become conscious of it. Feeling has thus been said to be the raw material of thought, the essential element in the Self, what we call personality being a particular form of feeling. Thus in Samkhya, the Gunas are said to be in the nature of happiness (Sukha), sorrow (Dukha) and illusion (Moha) as they are experienced by the Purusha-Consciousness. And in Vedanta, Cit and Ananda or Bliss or Love are one. For Consciousness then is not consciousness of being (Sat) but Being-Consciousness (Sat-Cit); nor a Being which is conscious of Bliss (Ananda) but Being-Consciousness-Bliss (Sacchidananda). Further, “feeling” has this advantage that it is associated with all forms of organic existence even according to popular usage, and may scientifically be aptly applied to inorganic matter. Thus whilst most consider it to be an unusual and strained use of language, to speak of the consciousness of a plant or stone, we can and do speak of the feeling or sentiency of a plant. Further the response which inorganic matter makes to stimuli is evidence of the existence therein of that vital germ of life and sentiency (and therefore Cit) which expands into the sentiency of plants, and the feelings and emotions of animals and men. It is possible for any form of unintelligent being to feel, however obscurely. And it must do so, if its ultimate basis is Cit and Ananda, however veiled by Maya-Shakti these may be. The response which inorganic matter makes to stimuli is the manifestation of Cit through the Sattvaguna of Maya-Shakti, or Shakti in its form as Prakriti-Shakti. The manifestation is slight and apparently mechanical because of the extreme predominance of the Tamoguna in the same Prakriti-Shakti. Because of the limited and extremely regulated character of the movement which seems to exclude all volitional process as known to us, it is currently assumed that we have merely to deal with what is an unconscious mechanical energy. Because vitality is so circumscribed and seemingly identified with the apparent mechanical process, we are apt to assume mere unconscious mechanism. But as a fact this latter is but the form assumed by the conscious Vital Power which is in and works in all matter whatever it be. To the eye, however, unassisted by scientific instruments, which extend our capacity for experience, establishing artificial organs for the gaining thereof, the matter appears Jada (or unconscious); and both in common English and Indian parlance we call that alone living or Jiva which, as organized matter, is endowed with body and senses. Philosophically, however, as well as scientifically, all is Jivatma which is not Paramatma: everything in fact with form, whether the form exists as the simple molecule of matter, or as the combination of these simple forms into cells and greater organisms. The response of metallic matter is a form of sentiency — its germinal form — a manifestation of Cit intensely obscured by the Tamoguna of Prakriti-Shakti.

In plants Cit is less obscured, and there is the sentient life which gradually expands in animals and men, according as Cit gains freedom of manifestation through the increased operation of Sattvaguna in the vehicles of Cit; which vehicles are the mind and senses and the more elaborate organization of the bodily particles. What is thus mere incipient or germinal sentiency, simulating unconscious mechanical movement in inorganic matter, expands by degrees into feeling akin, though at first remotely, to our own, and into all the other psychic functions of consciousness, perception, reasoning, memory and will. The matter has been very clearly put in a Paper on “The Four Cosmic Elements” by C. G. Sander which (subject to certain reservations stated) aptly describes the Indian views on the subject in hand. He rightly says that sentiency is an integrant constituent of all existence, physical as well as metaphysical and its manifestation can be traced throughout the mineral and chemical as well as vegetable and animal worlds. It essentially comprises the functions of relationship to environment, response to stimuli, and atomic memory in the lower or inorganic plane; whilst in the higher or organic planes it includes all the psychic functions such as consciousness, perception, thought, reason, volition and individual memory. Inorganic matter through the inherent element of sentiency is endowed with aesthesia or capacity of feeling and response to physical and chemical stimuli such as light, temperature, sound, electricity, magnetism and the action of chemicals. All such phenomena are examples of the faculty of perception and response to outside stimuli of matter. We must here include chemical sentiency and memory; that is the atom’s and molecule’s remembrance of its own identity and behavior therewith. Atomic memory does not, of course, imply self-consciousness, but only inherent group-spirit which responds in a characteristic way to given outside stimuli. We may call it atomic or physical consciousness. The consciousness of plants is only trance-like (what the Hindu books call ‘Comatose’) though some of the higher aspects of sentiency (and we may here use the word ‘consciousness’) of the vegetable world are highly interesting: such as the turning of flowers to the sun; the opening and shutting of leaves and petals at certain times, sensitiveness to the temperature and the obvious signs of consciousness shewn by the sensitive and insectivorous plants, such as the Sundew, the Venus Flytrap, and others. The micro-organisms which dwell on the borderland between the vegetable and animal worlds have no sense organs, but are only endowed with tactile irritability, yet they are possessed of psychic life, sentiency, and inclination, whereby they perceive their environment and position, approach, attack and devour food, flee from harmful substances and reproduce by division. Their movements appear to be positive, not reflex. Every cell, both vegetable and animal, possesses a biological or vegetative consciousness, which in health is polarized or subordinate to the government of the total organism of which it forms an integral part; but which is locally impaired in disease and ceases altogether at the death of the organism. In plants, however, (unlike animals) the cellular consciousness is diffused or distributed amongst the tissues or fibers; there being apparently no special conducting or centralizing organs of consciousness such as we find in higher evolutionary forms. Animal consciousness in its highest modes becomes self-consciousness. The psychology of the lower animals is still the field of much controversy; some regarding these as Cartesian machines and others ascribing to them a high degree of psychic development. In the animals there is an endeavor at centralization of consciousness which reaches its most complex stage in man, the possessor of the most highly organized system of consciousness, consisting of the nervous system and its centers and functions, such as the brain and solar plexus, the site of Ajña and upper centers, and of the Manipura Cakra. Sentiency or feeling is a constituent of all existence. We may call it consciousness however, if we understand (with the author cited) the term “consciousness” to include atomic or physical consciousness, the trance consciousness of plant life, animal consciousness and man’s completed self-consciousness.

The term Sentiency or Feeling, as the equivalent of manifested Cit, has, however, this disadvantage: whereas intelligence and consciousness are terms for the highest attributes of man’s nature, mere sentiency, though more inclusive and common to all, is that which we share with the lowest manifestions. In the case of both terms, however, it is necessary to remember that they do not represent Cit-Svarupa or Cit as It is in itself. The term Svarupa (own form) is employed to convey the notion of what constitutes anything what it is, namely, its true nature as it is in itself. Thus, though the Brahman or Shiva manifests in the form of the world as Maya-Shakti, its Svarupa is pure Cit.

Neither sentiency nor consciousness, as known to us, is Cit-Svarupa. They are only limited manifestations of Cit just as reason, will, emotion and memory, their modes are. Cit is the background of all forms of experience which are its modes, that is Cit veiled by Maya-Shakti; Cit-Svarupa is never to be confounded with, or limited to, its particular modes. Nor is it their totality, for whilst it manifests in these modes It yet, in Its own nature, infinitely transcends them. Neither sentiency, consciousness, nor any other term borrowed from a limited and dual universe can adequately describe what Cit is in Itself (Svarupa). Vitality, mind, matter are its limited manifestations in form. These forms are ceaselessly changing, but the undifferentiated substratum of which they are particularized modes is changeless. That eternal, changeless, substratum is Cit,, which may thus be defined as the changeless principle of all our changing experience. All is Cit, clothing itself in forms by its own Power of Cit-Shakti and Maya-Shakti: and that Power is not different from Itself. Cit is not the subject of knowledge or speech. For as the Varaha Upanishad (Chap. IV) says it is “The Reality which remains after all thoughts are given up.” What it is in Itself, is unknown but to those who become It. It is fully realized only in the highest state of Ecstasy (Samadhi) and in bodiless liberation (Videha Mukti) when Spirit is free of its vehicles of mind and matter. A Modern Indian Philosopher has (See “Approaches to Truth” and the “Patent Wonder” by Professor Pramathanatha Mukhyopadhyaya) very admirably analyzed the notion of the universal Ether of Consciousness (Cidakasha) and the particular Stress formed in it by the action of Maya-Shakti. In the first place, he points out that logical thought is inherently dualistic and therefore pre-supposes a subject and object. Therefore to the pragmatic eye of the western, viewing the only experience known to him, consciousness is always particular having a particular form and direction. Hence where no direction or form is discernible, they have been apt to imagine that consciousness as such has also ceased. Thus if it were conceded that in profounded sleep there were no dreams, or if in perfect anesthesia it were granted that nothing particular was felt, it was thereby considered to be conceded that consciousness may sometimes cease to exist in us. What does in fact cease is the consciousness of objects which we have in the waking and dreaming states. Consciousness as such is neither subjective nor objective and is not identical with intelligence or understanding — that is with directed or informed consciousness. Any form of unintelligent being which feels, however chaotically it may be, is yet, though obscurely so (in the sense here meant) conscious. Pure consciousness, that is consciousness as such, is the background of every form of experience.

In practical life and in Science and Philosophy when swayed by pragmatic ends, formless experience has no interest, but only certain forms and tones of life and consciousness. Where these are missed we are apt to fancy that we miss life and feeling-consciousness also. Hence the essential basis of existence or Cit has been commonly looked upon as a very much specialized and peculiar manifestation in nature.

On the contrary, Cit is Being or Reality itself. Cit as such is identical with Being as such. The Brahman is both Cit and Sat. Though in ordinary experience Being and Feeling-Consciousness are essentially bound up together, they still seem to diverge from each other. Man by his very constitution inveterately believes in an objective existence beyond and independent of his self. And this is so, so long as he is subject to the veil (Maya-Shakti). But in that ultimate basis of experience which is the Paramatma the divergence has gone; for the same boundless substratum which is the continuous mass of experience is also that which is experienced. The self is its own object. To the exalted Yogin the whole universe is not different from himself as Atma. This is the path of the “upward-going” Kundali (Urddhva-Kundalini).

Further, there has been a tendency in fact to look upon consciousness as a mere function of experience; and the philosophy of unconscious ideas and mind-stuff would even go so far as to regard it as a mere accident of mental process. This is to reverse the actual facts.

Consciousness should rather be taken as an original datum than as a later development and peculiar manifestation. We should begin with it in its lowest forms, and explain its apparent pulse-life by extending the principle of veiling (Maya-Shakti) which is ceaselessly working in man, reducing his life to an apparent series of pulses also. An explanation which does not start with this primordial extensity of experience cannot expect to end with it. For if it be not positive at the beginning, it cannot be derived at the end.

But what, it may be asked, is the proof of such pure experience? Psychology which only knows changing states does not tell us of it. This is so. Yet from those states, some of which approach indifferentiation, inferences may be drawn; and experience is not limited to such states, for it may transcend them.

It is true that ordinarily we do not meet with a condition of consciousness which is without a direction or form; but tests drawn from the incidents of ordinary normal life are insufficient, it has been argued, to prove that there is no consciousness at all when this direction and form are supposed to have gone. Though a logical intuition will not tell its own story, we can make reflection on intuition render us some sort of account, so that the intuitive fact appears in review, when it will appear that consciousness is the basis of, indeed, existence itself, and not merely an attendant circumstance. But the only proof of pure consciousness is an instance of it. This cannot be established by mere reflection. The bare consciousness of this or that, the experience of just going to sleep and just waking, and even the consciousness of being as such, are but approximations to the state of consciousness as such, that is pure consciousness, but are not identical with it. Then, what evidence, it may be asked, have we of the fact that pure consciousness is an actual state of being? In normal life as well as in abnormal pathological states, we have occasional stretches of experience in which simplicity of feature or determination has advanced near to indifferentiation, in which experience has become almost structureless. But the limit of pure experience is not there reached. On the other hand, there is no conclusive proof that we have ever had a real lapse of consciousness in our life, and the extinction of consciousness as such is inconceivable in any case. The claim, however, that consciousness as such exists, rests not so much on logical argument as on intuitive grounds, on revelation (Shruti) and spiritual experience of the truth of that revelation.

According to Indian Monism, a Pure Principle of Experience not only is, but is the one and only ultimate permanent being or reality. It does not regard Cit as a mere function, accident, or epiphenomenon, but holds it to be the ever existing plenum which sustains and vitalizes all phenomenal existence, and is the very basis on which all forms of multiple experience, whether of sensation, instinct, will, understanding, or reason, rest. It is, in short, the unity and unchanging Reality behind all these various changing forms which, by the veil or Maya-Shakti, Jiva assumes.

The Cit-Svarupa, inadequately described as mere blissful awareness of feeling, exists, as the basis and appears in the form of, that is clothed with, mind; a term which in its general sense is not used merely in the sense of the purely mental function of reason but in the sense of all the forms in which consciousness is displayed, as distinguished from Cit Itself, which is the unity behind all these forms whether reason, sensation, emotion, instinct, or will. All these are modes wherein the plastic unformed clay of life is determined. For every conception or volition is essentially an apparent circumscription or limitation of that Sat which is the basis of phenomenal life.

Professor P. N. Mukhyopadhyaya has described pure consciousness to be an infinitude of “awareness,” lacking name and form and every kind of determination, which is a state of complete quiescence where the potential is zero or infinity — a condition without strain or tension which is at once introduced when the slightest construction is put upon it, resulting in a consciousness of bare “this” and “that”. It is not a consciousness of anything. It is an experience of nothing in particular. But this must not be confounded with no experience. The former is taken to be the latter because life is pragmatic, interest being shown in particular modes of awareness. To man’s life, which is little else than a system of partialities, pure experience in which there is nothing particular to observe or shun, love or hate seems practically to be no experience at all. Pure Consciousness is impartial. There is no difference (Bheda) so far as pure Awareness is concerned. Pure Consciousness is a kind of experience which stands above all antithesis of motion and rest. It does not know Itself either as changing or statical, since it is consciousness as such without any determinations or mode whatever. To know itself as changing or permanent, it must conceal its illogical and unspeakable nature in a veil (Maya). Every determination or form makes experience a directive magnitude. Consciousness then assumes a direction or special reference. It is not possible to direct and refer in a special way without inducing such a feeling of strain or tension, whether the conditions be physiological or psychological. Pure consciousness has, thus, been compared to an equipotential surface of electrical distribution. There is no difference of potentials between any two points A and R over this surface. It is a stretch of consciousness, in which there is, apparently, no sensible diversity of features, no preference, no differential incidence of subjective regard. Like the equipotential surface, such consciousness is also quiescent. To secure a flow on it. there must be a difference of potentials between any two points. Similarly, to have a reference, a direction, a movement of attention, there must be a determination in the total experience of the moment in the given mass of consciousness. Absolute quiescence is a state of consciousness. which is pure being with no special subjective direction and reference; with no difference of level and potential between one part of the experience and another. Experience will show special subjective direction and reference if it assumes at least form or determination, such as “this” or “that”; to have no difference of level or potential, experience must be strictly undifferentiated — that is to say, must not involve the least ideal or representative structure. Absolute quiescence exists only with that Consciousness which is pure Being, or Paramatma.

With regard, however, to all descriptions of this state, it must be borne in mind that they only negatively correspond with their subject-matter by the elimination of characteristics which are peculiar to, and constitute the human consciousness of, the Jiva, and are therefore alien to the Supreme Consciousness. They give us no positive information as to the nature of pure Cit, for this is only known in Yoga by the removal of ignorance (Avidya) under which all logical thinking and speaking is done. This “ignorance” is nothing but a term for those limitations which make the creature what he is. It is a commonplace in Indian religion and philosophy that the Brahman as It exists in itself is beyond all thought and words, and is known only by the Samadhi of Yoga. As the Mahanirvana Tantra says (III. V. 6 et seq.): “The Brahman is known in two ways: from His manifestations which are the object of Sadhana or as It is in itself in Samadhiyoga”: for, as Ch. XIV, V. 135 Ibid., says, Atmajñana is the one means of liberation in which Its nature is realized. It is, perhaps in part at least, because the merely negative and imperfect character of such description is not sufficiently noted that pure consciousness, as the author cited points out, has in general awakened no serious interest in the practical West; though it has been the crown of glory for some of, what have been said to be, the stateliest forms of Eastern thought, which asserts itself to be in possession of an experimental method by which the condition of pure consciousness may be realized. The question is, thus, not one of mere speculation, but of demonstration. This state, again, is believed by the East to be not a dull and dreary condition, a dry abstraction or reductio ad absurdum of all which imparts to our living its worth and significance. Not at all; since it is the first Principle in which as Power all existence is potential and from which it proceeds. It is reasonable, therefore, it is contended, to assume that all which life possesses of real worth exists in the Source of life itself. Life is only a mode of infinite Supremacy with beatitude, which is Being and Consciousness in all its metaphysical grandeur, an absolutely understandable condition which no imagination can depict and no categories can reach and possess.

Owing to the necessarily negative character of some of the descriptions of the Supreme Brahman we find such questions “How can it differ from a nullity?” (Dialogues on Hindu Philosophy, 259, by Rev. K. M. Banerjee): and the statement of the English Orientalist Colonel Jacob (whose views are akin to those of others) that “Nirvana is an unconscious (sic) and stone-like (sic) existence”. Such a misconception is the more extraordinary in that it occurs in the work of an author who was engaged in the translation of a Vedantic treatise. These and many similar statements seem to establish that it is possible to make a special study of Vedanta and yet to misunderstand its primary concepts. It is true that the Brahman is unconscious in the sense that It is not our consciousness; for, if so, It would be Jiva and not Paramatma. But this is only to say that it has not our limitations. It is unlimited Cit. A stone represents its most veiled existence. In its Self it is all light and self-illumining (Svaprakasha). As Shruti says (Katha Up. 5-15) “All things shed luster by His luster. All things shine because He shines.” All things depend on It: but It has not to depend on anything else for Its manifestation. It is therefore better to say with the Hamsopanishad and the Christian Gospel that It is the Peace beyond all understanding. It has been dryly remarked that “The idea that Yoga means a dull state is due, perhaps, to the misunderstanding of Patañjali’s definition of it.

Man, however, ordinarily and by his nature craves for modes and forms (Bhaumananda); and though all enjoyment comes from the pure Supreme Consciousness, it is supposed that dualistic variety and polarity are necessary for enjoyment. What, thus, in its plenitude belongs to the sustaining spirit of all life is transferred to life alone. All knowledge and existence are identified with variety, change, polarity. Whilst skimming over the checkered surface of the sea, we thus, it is said, ignore the unfathomed depths which are in respose and which nothing stirs, wherein is the Supreme Peace (Santa) and Bliss (Paramananda).

The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad says: “Other beings live on a fraction of this great Bliss.” The Bliss of Shiva and Shakti are one, for they are inseparate. Hence she is called (Trishati II. 32) Ekabhoga: for Eka = Ishvara and Bhoga = Svasvarupananda.

Nyaya and Samkhya say that the chief end of man is the absolute cessation of pain, but Vedantins, going beyond this negative definition, say that, all pain having surceased on Unity with the Supreme, the chief end is that positive Bliss which is of its essence. The Devi Kalyani, the Mother of all, is Herself Bliss — that is, all bliss from earthly bliss (Bhaumananda) to Brahman-Bliss (Brahmananda). As the Commentator Shamkara in his commentary on the Trishati says (citing Shruti): “Who else can make us breathe, who else can make us live, if this blissful Ether were not?”

If, further, it be asked what is pure Experience which manifests itself in all these diverse forms, it must be said that from Its very definition pure Cit, or the Supreme Brahman (Parabrahman), is that about which nothing in particular can be predicated: for predication is possible only in relation to determinations or modes in consciousness. And in this sense Yogatattva Upanishad says that those who seek a knowledge of it in Shastras are deluded; “How can that which is self-shining be illuminated by the Shastras? Not even the Devas can describe that indescribable state.” The Mandukya Upanishad, speaking of the fourth aspect (Pada) of Atma, says that it is the non-dual Shiva which is not an object which can be sensed, used, taken, determined (by any marks), or of which an account can be given, but is unthinkable and knowable only by the realization of Atma. Negative predication may, however, clear away improper notions. It is really inscrutable Being upon which no category can be fastened. This must always be borne in mind in any attempted definition of this transcendent state. It is of a self-existent (Niradhara), unending (Nitya), changeless (Avikari), undifferentiated (Abhinna), spaceless (Purna), timeless (Shasvata), all-pervading (Sarvatravastha), self-illumining (Svayamjyotih), pure (Shuddha) experience. As the Kularnava Tantra says (I — 6, 7): “Shiva is the impartite Supreme Brahman, the all-knowing Creator of all.” He is the stainless One and the Lord of all. He is one without a second (Advaya). He is light itself. He changes not, and is without beginning or end. He is without attribute and above the highest. He is Being (Sat), Consciousness (Cit), and Bliss (Ananda). As Sat, It is unity of being beyond the opposites of “this” and “that”. “here and there,” “then and now”. As Cit, It is an experiencing beyond the opposites of worldly knowledge and ignorance. As Supreme Ananda, It is the Bliss which is known upon the dissolution of the dualistic state which fluctuates between, and is composed of, happiness and sorrow; for created happiness is only an impermanent change of state (Vikara) or Becoming, but the Supreme Bliss (Paramananda) endures. Bliss is the very Nature (Svarupa) of this Supreme Consciousness, and not, as with the creature, a mere changing attribute of some form of Becoming. Supreme Being (Sat) is a unity without parts (Nishkala). Supreme Feeling-Consciousness (Cit) is immediacy of experience. In the Jiva, Consciousness of Self is set over against the not-Self; for logical thought establishes a polarity of subject. Thus the undifferentiated Supreme Consciousness transcends, and the Supreme Bliss (Paramananda) is beyond, the changing feelings of happiness and sorrow. It is the great Peace (Santa) which, in the words of the Hamsopanishad (V. 12, Ed. Anandashrama, XXIX, p. 593) as of the New Testament, passes all worldly understanding. Sacchidananda, or Pure Being, persists in all the states of Becoming which are its manifestation as Shakti. It may be compared to a continuous, partless, undifferentiated Unity universally pervading the manifested world like ether or space, as opposed to the limited, discontinuous, discrete character of the forms of “matter” which are the products of its power of Shakti. It is a state of quiescence free of all motion (Nishpanda), and of that vibration (Spandana) which operating as the Primordial Energy, evolves the phenomenal world of names and forms. It is, in short, said to be the innermost Self in every being — a changeless Reality of the nature of a purely experiencing principle (Caitanyam Atma) as distinguished from whatever may assume the form of either the experienced, or of the means of experience. This Cit in bodies underlies as their innermost Self all beings. The Cit or Atma as the underlying Reality in all is, according to Vedanta, one, and the same in all: undivided and unlimited by any of them, however much they may be separated in time and space. It is not only all-pervading, but all-transcending. It has thus a two-fold aspect: an immanent aspect as Shakti (Power), in which It pervades the universes (Saguna Brahman); and a transcendental aspect, in which It exists beyond all Its worldly manifestations (Nirguna Brahman). Cit, as it is in itself, is spaceless and timeless, extending beyond all limitations of time and space and all other categories of existence. We live in the Infinite. All limits exist in Cit. But these limits are also another aspect of It that is Shakti. It is a boundless tranquil ocean on the surface of which countless varied modes, like waves, are rising, tossing and sinking. Though It is the one Cause of the universe of relations, in itself It is neither a relation nor a totality of relations, but a completely relationless Self-identity unknowable by any logical process whatever.

Cit is the boundless permanent plenum which sustains and vitalizes everything. It is the universal Spirit, all-pervading like the Ether, which is, sustains, and illumines all experience and all process in the continuum of experience. In it the universe is born, grows and dies. This plenum or continuum is as such all-pervading, eternal, unproduced, and indestructible: for production and destruction involve the existence and bringing together and separation of parts which in an absolute partless continuum is impossible. It is necessarily in itself, that is as Cit, motionless, for no parts of an all-filling continuum can move from one place to another. Nor can such a continuum have any other form of motion, such as expansion, contraction or undulation, since all these phenomena involve the existence of parts and their displacement. Cit is one undifferentiated, partless, all-pervading, eternal, spiritual substance. In Sanskrit, this plenum is called Cidakasha; that is, just as all material things exist in the all-pervading physical Ether, so do they and the latter exist in the infinitely extending Spiritual “Ether” which is Cit. The Supreme Consciousness is thought of as a kind of permanent spiritual “Space” (Cidakasha) which makes room for and contains all varieties and forms appearing and disappearing. Space itself is an aspect of spiritual substance. It is a special posture of that stress in life which takes place in unchanging consciousness (P. Mukhyopadhyaya “The Patent Wonder,” 21 — 24). In this Ocean of Being-Consciousness we live, move and have our being. Consciousness as such (that is as distinguished from the products of Its power or Shakti), is never finite. Like space, it cannot be limited, though, through the operation of its power of self-negation or Maya-Shakti, it may appear as determined. But such apparent determinations do not ever for us express or exhaust the whole consciousness, any more than space is exhausted by the objects in it. Experience is taken to be limited because the Experiencer is swayed by a pragmatic interest which draws his attention only to particular features in the continuum. Though what is thus experienced is a part of the whole experience, the latter is felt to be an infinite expanse of consciousness or awareness in which is distinguished a definite mass of especially determined feeling.

As Cit is the infinite plenum, all limited being exists in it, and it is in all such beings as the Spirit or innermost Self and as Maya-Shakti it is their mind and body. When the existence of anything is affirmed, the Brahman is affirmed, for the Brahman is Being itself. This pure Consciousness or Cit is the Paramatma Nirguna Shiva who is Being-Consciousness-Bliss (Sacchidananda). Consciousness is Being. Paramatma, according to Advaita Vedanta, is not a consciousness of being, but Being-Consciousness. Nor is it a consciousness of Bliss, but it is Bliss. All these are one in pure Consciousness. That which is the nature of Paramatma never changes, notwithstanding the creative ideation (Srishtikalpana) which is the manifestation of Shakti as Cit-Shakti and Maya-Shakti. It is this latter Shakti which, according to the Sakta Tantra, evolves. To adopt a European analogy which is yet not complete, Nishkala Paramatma is Godhead (Brahmatva), Sakala, or Saguna Atma, is God (Ishvara). Each of the three systems Samkhya, Mayavada Vedanta, and Sakta monism agrees in holding the reality of pure consciousness (Cit). The question upon which they differ is as to whether unconsciousness is a second independent reality, as Samkhya alleges; and, if not, how the admitted appearance of unconsciousness as the Forms is to be explained consistently with the unity of the Brahman.

Such then is Cit, truly known as it is in Itself only in completed Yoga or Moksha; known only through Its manifestations in our ordinary experience, just as to use the simile of the Kaivalya Kalika Tantra, we realize the presence of Rahu or Bhucchaya (the Eclipse) by his actions on the sun and moon. The Eclipse is seen but not the cause of it. Cit-Shakti is a name for the same changeless Cit when associated in creation with its operating Maya-Shakti. The Supreme Cit is called Parasamvit in the scheme of the Thirty-six Tattvas which is adopted by both the Shaiva and Shakta Agamas.

According to Shamkara, the Supreme Brahman is defined as pure Jñana without the slightest trace of either actual or potential objectivity. The Advaita Shaiva-Shaktas regard this matter differently in accordance with an essential principle of the Agamic School with which I now deal.

All occultism whether of East or West posits the principle that there is nothing in any one state or plane which is not in some other way, actual or potential, in another state or plane. The Western Hermetic maxim runs “As above, so below”. This is not always understood. The saying does not mean that what exists in one plane exists in that form in another plane. Obviously if it did the planes would be the same and not different. If Ishvara thought and felt and saw objects, in the human way, and if he was loving and wrathful, just as men are, He, would not be Ishvara but Jiva. The saying cited means that a thing which exists on one plane exists on all other planes, according either to the form of each plane, if it be an intermediate causal body (Karanavantarasharira) or ultimately as the mere potentiality of becoming which exists in Atma in its aspect as Shakti. The Hermetic maxim is given in another form in the Visvasara Tantra: “What is here is elsewhere. What is not here is nowhere” (Yadihasti tad anyatra. Yannehasti na tat kvacit). Similarly the northern Shaiva Shastra says that what appears without only so appears because it exists within. One can only take out of a receptacle what is first assumed to be within it. What is in us must in some form be in our cause. If we are living, though finite forms, it is because that cause is infinite Being. If we have knowledge, though limited, it is because our essential substance is Cit the Illuminator. If we have bliss, though united with sorrow, it is because It is Supreme Bliss. In short, our experience must exist in germ in it. This is because in the Sakta Agama, there is for the worshipper a real creation and, therefore, a real nexus between the Brahman as cause and the world as effect. According to the transcendent method of Shamkara, there is not in the absolute sense any such nexus. The notion of creation by Brahman is as much Maya as the notion of the world created.

Applying these principles we find in our dual experience an “I” (Aham) or subject which experiences an object a “This” (Idam): that is the universe or any particular object of the collectively which composes it. Now it is said that the duality of “I” and “This” comes from the One which is in its essential nature (Svarupa) an unitary experience without such conscious distinction. For Vedanta, whether in its Mayavada or Sakta form, agrees in holding that in the Supreme there is no consciousness of objects such as exists on this plane. The Supreme does not see objects outside Itself, for it is the whole and the experience of the whole as Ishvara. It sees all that is as Itself. It is Purna or the Whole. How then, it may be asked, can a supreme, unchanging, partless, formless, Consciousness produce from Itself something which is so different from Itself, something which is changing, with parts, form and so forth. Shamkara’s answer is that transcendentally, it does not produce anything. The notion that it does so is Maya. What then is his Maya? This I have more fully explained in my papers on “Maya-Shakti” and on “Maya and Shakti”. I will only here say that his Maya is an unexplainable (anirvacaniya) principle of unconsciousness which is not real, not unreal, and partly either; which is an eternal falsity (Mithyabhuta sanatani), which, though not Brahman, is inseparably associated with It in Its aspect as Ishvara; which Maya has Brahman for its support (Maya Brahmashrita); from which support it draws appearance of separate independent reality which in truth it does not possess. The Parabrahman aspect of the One is not associated with Maya.

According to the Sakta exposition of Advaitavada, Maya is not an unconscious (jada) principle but a particular Shakti of Brahman. Being Shakti, it is at base consciousness, but as Maya-Shakti it is Consciousness veiling Itself. Shakti and Shaktiman are one and the same: that is, Power and its Possessor (Shaktiman). Therefore Maya-Shakti is Shiva or Cit in that particular aspect which He assumes as the material cause (Upadanakarana) in creation. Creation is real; that is, there is a direct causal nexus between Shiva as Shakti (Cit-Shakti and Maya-Shakti) and the universe. In short Shiva as Shakti is the cause of the universe, and as Shakti, in the form of Jiva (all manifested forms, He actually evolves. Comparing these two views; — Shamkara says that there is in absolute truth no creation and therefore there can be no question how it arose. This is because he views the problem from the transcendental (Paramarthika) standpoint of self-realization or Siddhi. The Sakta Shastra, on the other hand, being a practical Sadhana Shastra views the matter from our, that is the Jiva, standpoint. To us the universe and ourselves are real. And Ishvara the Creator is real. Therefore there is a creation, and Shiva as Shakti creates by evolving into the Universe, and then appearing as all Jivas. This is the old Upanishadic doctrine of the spider actually evolving the web from itself, the web being its substance in that form. A flower cannot be raised from seed unless the flower was in some way already there. Therefore as there is an “Aham” and “Idam” in our experience, in some way it is in the supreme experience of Parashiva or Parasamvit. But the Idam or Universe is not there as with us; otherwise It would be Jiva. Therefore it is said that there are two principles or aspects in the Brahman, namely, that Prakasha or Cit aspect, and Vimarsha Shakti, the potential Idam, which in creation explicates into the Universe. But in the supreme experience or Amarsha, Vimarsha Shakti (which has two states) is in Its supreme form. The subtler state is in the form of consciousness (Cidrupini); the gross state is in the form of the Universe (Vishvarupini). The former is beyond the universe (Vishvottirna). But if Vimarsha Shakti is there in the form of consciousness (Cidrupini), it is one with Cit. Therefore it is said that the Aham and Idam, without ceasing to be in the supreme experience, are in supreme Shiva in undistinguishable union as Cit and Cidrupini. This is the Nirguna state of Shivashakti. As She is then in undistinguishable union with Shiva, She is then also simple unmanifested Cit. She is then Caitanya-rupa or Cidrupini: a subtle Sanskrit expression which denotes that She is the same as Cit and yet suggests that though in a present sense She is one with Him, She is yet in a sense (with reference to Her potentiality of future manifestation) different from Him. She is Sacchidanandamayi and He is Sacchidananda. She is then the unmanifested universe in the form of undifferentiated Cit. The mutual relation, whether in manifestation or beyond it, whether as the imperfect or Ideal universe, is one of inseparable connection or inherence (Avinabhava-sambandha, Samanvaya) such as that between “I-ness” (Ahanta) and “I” (Aham), existence and that which exists (Bhava, Bhavat), an attribute and that in which it inheres (Dharma, Dharmin), sunshine and the sun and so forth. The Pañcaratra School of the Vaishnava Agama or Tantra, speaking of the Mahashakti Lakshmi says, that in Her supreme state She is undistinguishable from the “Windless Atmosphere” (Vasudeva) existing only as it were in the form of “darkness” and “emptiness” (that is of unmanifested formlessness). So the Mahanirvana Tantra speaks of Her “dark formlessness”. In the Kulacudamani Nigama, Devi says (I. 16-24) — “I, though in the form of Prakriti, rest in consciousness-bliss’ (Aham prakritirupa cet cidanandaparayana). Raghava Bhatta in his commentary on the Sharada Tilaka (Ch. I) says, “She who is eternal existed in a subtle (that is unmanifested) state, as consciousness, during the final dissolution” (Ya anadirupa caitanyadhyasena mahapralaye sukshma sthita). It would be simpler to say that She is then what She is (Svarupa) namely Consciousness, but in creation that consciousness veils itself. These terms “formless,” “subtle,” “dark,” “empty,” all denote the same unmanifested state in which Shakti is in undistinguishable union with Shiva, the formless consciousness. The Pañcaratra (Ahirbudhnya Samhita, Ch. IV), in manner similar to that of the other Agamas, describes the supreme state of Shakti in the dissolution of the Universe as one in which manifested Shakti “returns to the condition of Brahman” (Brahmabhavam brajate). “Owing to complete intensity of embrace” (Atisankleshat) the two all-pervading ones, Narayana and His Shakti, become as it were a single principle (Ekam tattvam iva). This return to the Brahman condition is said to take place in the same way as a conflagration, when there is no more combustible matter, returns to the latent condition of fire (Vahni-bhava). There is the same fire in both cases but in one case there is the activity of combustion and in the other there is not. It follows from this that the Supreme Brahman is not a mere knowing with out trace of objectivity. In It the Aham is the Self as Cit and the Idam is provided by Cidrupini-shakti. There is Atmarama or play of the Self with the Self in which the Self knows and enjoys the Self, not in the form of external objects, but as that aspect of consciousness whose projection all objects are. Shakti is always the object of the Self and one with it. For the object is always the Self, since there is nothing but the Self. But in the supreme experience the object is one in nature with Shiva being Caitanya-rupa; in the universe the object seems to the Jiva, the creation of and subject to Maya, to be different from the Self as mind and matter.

The next point is the nature of creation or rather emanation (Abhasa) for the former term is associated with dualistic notions of an extra-Cosmic God, who produces a world which is as separate from Himself as is the pot from the potter. According to this doctrine there is an Evolution of Consciousness or Cit-Shakti (associated with Maya-Shakti) into certain forms. This is not to say that the Brahman is wholly transformed into its emanations, that is exhausted by them. The Brahman is infinite and can never, therefore, be wholly held in this sense in any form, or in the universe as a whole. It always transcends the universe. Therefore when Consciousness evolves, it nevertheless does not cease to be what it was, is, and will be. The Supreme Cit becomes as Shakti the universe but still remains supreme Cit. In the same way every stage of the emanation-process prior to the real evolution (Parinama of Prakriti) remains what it is, whilst giving birth to a new Evolution. In Parinama or Evolution as known to us on this plane, when one thing is evolved into another, it ceases to be what it was. Thus when milk is changed into curd, it ceases to be milk. The Evolution from Shiva-Shakti of the Pure Tattvas is not of this kind. It is an Abhasa or “shining forth,” adopting the simile of the sun which shines without (it was supposed) change in, or diminution of, its light. This unaffectedness in spite of its being the material cause is called in the Pañcaratra by the term Virya, a condition which, the Vaishnava Lakshmi Tantra says, is not found in the world “where milk quickly loses its nature when curds appear.” It is a process in which one flame springs from another flame. Hence it is called “Flame to Flame”. There is a second Flame but the first from which it comes is unexhausted and still there. The cause remains what it was and yet appears differently in the effect. God is never “emptied” as it is said wholly into the world. Brahman is ever changeless in one aspect; in another It changes, such change being as it were a mere point of stress in the infinite Ether of Cit. This Abhasa, therefore, is a form of Vivartta, distinguishable however from the Vivartta of Mayavada, because in the Agama, whether Vaishnava, or Shakta, the effect is regarded as real, whereas according to Shamkara, it is only empirically so. Hence the latter system is called Sat-karanavada or the doctrine of the reality of the original source or basis of things, and not also of the apparent effects of the cause. This Abhasa has been called Sadrisha Parinama (See Introduction to Principles of Tantra, Part II), a term borrowed from the Samkhya but which is not altogether appropriate. In the latter Philosophy, the term is used in connection with the state of the Gunas of Prakriti in dissolution when nothing is produced. Here on the contrary we are dealing with creation and an evolving Power-Consciousness. It is only appropriate to this extent that, as in Shadrisa Parinama there is no real evolution or objectivity, so also there is none in the evolution of the Tattvas until Maya intervenes and Prakriti really evolves the objective universe.

This being the nature of the Supreme Shiva and of the evolution of consciousness, this doctrine assumes, with all others,. a transcendent and a creative or immanent aspect of Brahman. The first is Nishkala Shiva; the second Sakala Shiva; or Nirguna Saguna; Parama, Apara (in Shamkara’s parlance); Paramatma, Ishvara; and Paramabrahman, Shabdabrahman. From the second or changing aspect the universe is born. Birth means ‘manifestation’. Manifestation to what’? The answer is to consciousness. But there is nothing but Cit. Creation is then the evolution whereby the changeless Cit through the power of its Maya-Shakti appears to Itself in the form of limited objects. All is Shiva whether as subject or object.

This evolution of consciousness is described in the scheme of the Thirty-six Tattvas.

Shamkara and Samkhya speak of the 24 Tattvas from Prakriti to Prithivi. Both Shaivas and Shaktas speak of the Thirty-six Tattvas, showing, by the extra number of Tattvas, how Purusha and Prakriti themselves originated. The northern or Advaita Shaiva Agama and the Sakta Agama are allied, though all Shaiva Scriptures adopt the same Tattvas. In all the Agamas whether Vaishnava, Shaiva, or Shakta, there are points of doctrine which are the same or similar. The Vaishnava Pañcaratra, however, moves in a different sphere of thought. It speaks in lieu of the Abhasa here described of four Vyuha or forms of Narayana, viz., Vasudeva, Samkarshana, Pradyumna and Aniruddha. The Thirty-six Tattvas are the 24 from Prithivi to Prakriti together with (proceeding upwards) Purusha, Maya and the five Kañcukas (Kala, Kala, Niyati, Vidya, Raga), Shuddhavidya (or Sad-vidya), Shakti, Shiva. These are divided into three groups named Shiva Tattva, Vidya Tattva, Atma Tattva, and Shuddha, Shuddhashuddha, Ashuddha Tattvas. The Shuddha or Pure Tattvas are all the Tattvas from Shiva-Shakti Tattvas to and including Sadvidya Tattva. The Pure-Impure or Mixed (Shuddha-ashuddha) Tattvas are those between the first and third group which are the Impure Tattvas (Ashuddha Tattva) of the world of duality, namely, the 24 Tattvas from Prakriti to Prithivi. The other group of three is as follows: Shiva Tattva includes Shiva Tattva and Shakti Tattva, Vidya Tattva includes all Tattvas from Sadashiva to Sadvidya, and Atma Tattva includes all Tattvas from Maya and the Kañcukas to Prithivi. The particular description here of the 36 Tattvas, held by both Shaivas and Shaktas, is taken from the northern Shaiva Kashmir philosophical school, itself based on the older Agamas such as Malinivijaya Tantra and others.

It is common doctrine of Advaitavada that the One is of dual aspect; the first static (Shiva) and the other kinetic (Shakti). This doctrine of aspects is a device whereby it is sought to reconcile the fact that there is changelessness and change. Philosophically it is an evasion of the problem and not a solution. The solution is to be found in revelation (Veda) and in direct Spiritual Experience (Samadhi). These states vary in different men and in different races and creeds. But in support of Advaitavada, reliance may be placed on the fact that Samadhi or ecstasy, in all parts of the world and in all faiths, tends towards some kind of unity, more or less complete. All seek union with God. But the dispute is as to the nature of that union. Pure Advaitavada is complete identity. The scheme now outlined shows how that unitary experience, without ceasing to be what it is, assumes limited forms.

[The reader is referred to the Diagram on the following page]

Parasamvit shown on top of the Diagram is Nishkala Shiva or the changeless Brahman aspect; and Shiva-Shakti below is the aspect of the supreme Brahman from which change comes and which appears as its products or changing forms. Both are Shiva-Shakti. When, however, Shiva is kinetic, He is called Shakti. Regarding the matter from the Shakti aspect both are Shakti. Neither ever exists without the other, though Shakti is in one aspect Cidrupini, and in the other in the form of the Universe (Vishvarupini). In themselves and throughout they are one. The divergence takes place in consciousness, after it has been subjected to the operation of Maya, the effect of which is to polarize consciousness into an apparently separate “I” and “This”. Parasamvit is not accounted a Tattva, for It is beyond all Tattvas (Tattvatita). Shiva Tattva and Shakti Tattva are counted separately, though Shakti Tattva is merely the negative aspect of Shiva Tattva. Shiva Tattva and Shakti Tattva are not produced. They thus are, even in dissolution. They are Saguna-Brahman; and Parasamvit is the Nirguna-Brahman. The first evolved Tattva is Sadashiva of Sadakhya Tattva of which the meaning is Sat akhya yatah, or that state in which there is the first notion of Being; for here is the first incipiency of the world-experience as the notion “I am this” which ultimately becomes a separate “I” and “This”. In my Garland of Letters I have with more technical detail described the evolution of Jiva-consciousness. Here I will only shortly summarize the process.

As already stated, the Aham and Idam exist in an unitary state which is indescribable in Parasamvit. Shakti Tattva is called negative because negation is the function of Shakti (Nishedha-vyapara-rupa Shaktih). Negation of what P The answer is negation of consciousness. The universe is thus a product of negation. Where there is pure experience there is no manifested universe. Shakti negates the pure experience or consciousness to the extent, that it appears to itself limited. Shakti disengages the unified elements (Aham and Idam) which are latent in the Supreme Experience as an undistinguishable unity. How? The answer is one of great subtlety.

Of the Shiva-Shakti Tattvas, Shiva represents the Prakasha and Shakti the Vimarsha aspect, which contains potentially within it, the seed of the Universe to be. The result is that the Prakasha aspect is left standing alone. The Shiva Tattva is Prakasha-matra, that is, to use the imagery of our plane, an “I” without a “This”. This is a state in which the unitary consciousness is broken up to this extent, that it is no longer a Perfect Experience in which the Aham and Idam exist in undistinguishable union, but there is one Supreme Aham Consciousness only, which is the root of all limited subjectivity To this Aham or Shiva Tattva, Shakti gradually unveils Herself as the Idam or Vimarsha aspect of consciousness. The result is that from Shiva and Shakti (in which the latter takes the playful part) there is evolved the first produced consciousness called Sadakhya Tattva. There is then an Aham and Idam aspect of experience. But that experience is not like the Jiva’s, which arises at a later stage after the intervention of Maya-Shakti. In the Jiva consciousness (Jivatma) the object (Idam) is seen as something outside and different from itself. In Sadakhya Tattva and all the subsequent pure Tattvas, that is Ishvara Tattva and Shuddhavidya Tattva, the “This” is experienced as part of the Self and not as separate from it. There is (as will appear from the Diagram) no outer and inner. The circle which represents the one Consciousness is. divided into “I” and “This” which are yet parts of the same figure. The “This” is at first only by degree and hazily (Dhyamala prayam) presented to the Aham like a picture just forming itself (Unmilitamatra-citrakalpam). For this reason it is said that there is emphasis on the Aham which is indicated in the Diagram by the arrow-head. This is called the “Nimesha” or “closing of the eyes” of Shakti. It is so called because it is the last stage in dissolution before all effects are withdrawn into their first cause. Being the last stage in dissolution it is the first in creation. Then the Idam side becomes clear in the next evolved Ishvara Tattva in which the emphasis is therefore said to be on the “This” which the Aham subjectifies. This is the “Unmesha” or “opening of the eyes” state of Shakti; for this is the state of consciousness when it is first fully equipped to create and does so. The result again of this is the evolved consciousness called Shuddhavidya Tattva in which the emphasis is equal on the “I” and “This”. Consciousness is now in the state in which the two halves of experience are ready to be broken up and experienced separately. It is at this state that Maya-Shakti intervenes and does so through its power and the Kañcukas which are forms of it. Maya-Shakti is thus defined as the sense of difference (Bhedabuddhi); that is the power by which things are seen as different from the Self in the dual manifested world. The Kañcukas which are evolved from, and are particular forms of, the operation of Maya are limitations of the natural perfections of the Supreme Consciousness. These are Kala which produces division (Pariccheda) in the partless and unlimited; Niyati which affects independence (Svatantrata); Raga which produces interest in, and then attachment to, objects in that which wanted nothing (Purna); Vidya which makes the Purusha a “little knower” in lieu of being all-knower (Sarva-jñata) and Kala which makes Purusha a “little doer,” whereas the Supreme was in its Kartrittva or power action of almighty. The result of Maya and its offshoots which are the Kañcukas is the production of the Purusha and Prakriti Tattvas. At this stage the Aham and Idam are completely severed. Each consciousness regards itself as a separate ‘I’ looking upon the “This” whether its own body or that of others as outside its consciousness. Each Purusha (and they are numberless) is mutually exclusive the one of the other. Prakriti is the collectivity of all Shaktis in contracted (Sankucadrupa) undifferentiated form. She is Feeling in the form of the undifferentiated mass of Buddhi and the rest and of the three Gunas in equilibrium. The Purusha or Self experiences Her as object. Then on the disturbance of the Gunas in Prakriti the latter evolves the Vikritis of mind and matter. The Purusha at this stage has experience of the multiple world of the twenty-four impure Tattvas.

Thus from the supreme “I” (Parahanta) which is the creative Shiva-Shakti aspect of Parasamvit which changelessly endures as Sacchidananda, Consciousness experiences Itself as object (Sadakhya, Ishvara, Sadvidya Tattvas) and then through Maya and the limitations or contractions which are the Kañcukas or Samkocas it loses the knowledge that it is itself its own object. It sees the separate “other”; and the one Consciousness becomes the limited experiencers which are the multiple selves and their objects of the dual universe. Shakti who in Herself (Svarupa) is Feeling-Consciousness (Cidrupini) becomes more and more gross until physical energy assumes the form and becomes embedded in the “crust” of matter vitalized by Herself as the Life-Principle of all things. Throughout all forms it is the same Shakti who works and appears as Cit-Shakti and Maya-Shakti, the Spirit and Matter aspect of the Power of the Self-Illumining Pure Super-Consciousness or Cit.

Chapter Fifteen
Maya-Shakti (The Psycho-Physical Aspect of the Universe)

Spirit, Mind and Matter are ultimately one, the two latter being the twin aspects of the Fundamental Substance or Brahman and Its Power or Shakti. Spirit is the substance of mind-matter, the Reality (in the sense of the lasting changelessness) out of which, by Its Power, all Appearance is fashioned not by the individual mind and senses but by the cosmic mind and senses of which they are but a part. What It creates It perceives. In the last chapter I dealt with the Spirit or Consciousness (Cit) aspect: in this I consider the mind-matter aspect in which Consciousness veils itself in apparent unconsciousness. These twin principles are called Purusha, Brahman, Shiva on the one hand and Prakriti, Maya, and Maya-Shakti on the other by the Samkhya Mayavada Vedanta and Shaktivada of the Shakta Agama respectively. The latter Shastra, however, alone treats them as aspects of the one Substance in the manner here described and thus most aptly in this respect accommodates itself to the doctrine of Western scientific monism. So, Professor Haeckel points out in conformity with Shakta Advaitavada that Spirit and Matter are not two distinct entities but two forms or aspects of one single Entity or fundamental Substance. According to him, the One Entity with dual aspect is the sole Reality which presents itself to view as the infinitely varied and wondrous picture of the universe. Whatever be the case transcendentally in what the Buddhist Tantra aptly calls “The Void” (Shunyata. In Tibetan sTongpa-nyid) which is not “nothing” as some have supposed, but That which is like nothing known to us; the ultimate formless (Arupa) Reality as contrasted with appearance (sNang-va-dang) or form (Rupa) of which the Prajñaparamita-hridaya-garbha says only “neti neti” can be affirmed,– in this universe immaterial Spirit is just as unthinkable as spiritless matter. The two are inseparately combined in every atom which, itself and its forces, possess the elements of vitality, growth and intelligence in all their developments. In the four Atmas which are contemplated in the Citkunda in the Muladhara Cakra, Atma pranarupi represents the vital aspect, Jñanatma the Intelligence aspect, and Antaratma is that spark of the Paramatma which inheres in all bodies, and which when spread (Vyapta) appears as the Bhuta or five forms of sensible matter which go to the making of the gross body. These are all aspects of the one Paramatma (Jñanarnava Tantra, Ch. XXI, Vv. 1 — 9).

The Vedanta recognizes four states of experience, Jagrat, Svapna, Sushupti and Turiya. These, as my friend Professor Pramathanatha Mukhyopadhyaya has, in his radical clear-thinking way, pointed out, may be regarded from two stand-points. We may, with Shamkara, from the standpoint of Siddhi alone, regard the last only, that is transcendental or pure experience (Nirvishesha-jñana), as the real Fact or Experience: or we may, with the Shakta Agama, looking at the matter from the standpoint of both Sadhana (that is practical experience) and Siddhi (or transcendental experience), regard not only the supreme experience as alone real, but the whole of experience without any reservation whatever — the whole concrete Fact of Being and Becoming — and call it the Real. This is the view of the Shaiva-Shakta who says that the world is Shiva’s Experience and Shiva’s Experience can never be unreal. The question turns upon the definition of “Real”. Shamkara’s conception of that term is that, That to which it is applied must be absolutely changeless in all the “three times”. It is That which absolutely continues through and underlies all the changes of experience; being that which is given in all the four states, Jagrat and the rest. It is That which can never be contradicted (Vadhita) in all the three tenses of time and the four states of Experience. This is the Ether of Consciousness (Cidakasha) and none of Its modes. Our ordinary experience, it is claimed, as well as Supreme non-polar Nirvikalpa Samadhi proves this unchanging aspect of the ultimate Substance, as the changeless principle of all our modes of changing experience, which according to this definition are unreal. Thus Shamkara’s Real = Being = Sat-Cit-Ananda: Unreal = Becoming = Vivartta = Jagat-Prapañca or universe. According to this view, there are three levels or planes of being (Satta), namely transcendental (Paramarthika), empirical (Vyavaharika) and illusory (Pratibhasika). The Real (Satya) is that which is given in all the three planes (Paramarthika Satya): the empirical (Vyavaharika Satya) is that which is given in the second and third planes but not in the first. It is worldly or dual experience, and not undual experience of Samadhi or Videha-Mukti which latter, however, underlies all states of experience, being the Ether of Consciousness Itself. The last (Pratibhasika Satya) is given or obtains only in the last plane, being only such reality as can be attributed to illusion such as “the rope-snake”. A higher plane contradicts a lower: the third is contradicted by the second, the second by the first, and the first by nothing at all. Thus there is a process of gradual elimination from changing to changeless consciousness. Real change or Parinama is said by the Vedanta Paribhasha to exist when the effect or phenomenon and its ground (Upadana or material cause) belong to the same level or plane of existence; as in the case of clay and pot, milk and curd, which both belong to the Vyavaharika plane; milk being the Upadana and curd the effect or change appertaining it (Parinamo hi upadana-sama-sattaka-karya pattih). When, however, the effect’s level of existence is different from (Vishama) and therefore cannot be equaled to that of its material cause or Upadana; when, for instance, one belongs to the Vyavaharika experience and the other to the Pratibhasika, there is Nivartta (Vivartto hi upadana-vishama-sattaka-karyapattih). Thus, in the case of the “rope-snake,” the Satta of the rope is Vyavaharika, whilst that of the Rajju-sarpa is only Pratibhasika. For the same reason, the rope, and the whole Jagat-prapañca (universe) for the matter of that, is a Vivartta in relation to the Supreme Experience of pure Cit. On its own plane or level of Satta, every phenomenon may be a Parinama, but in relation to a higher level by which it becomes Vadhita, it is only a Vivartta.

The Shakta Agama differs in its presentment as follows. The Fact or Concrete Experience presents two aspects — what professor Mukhyopadhyaya has aptly called in his work the “Patent Wonder” — the Ether and the Stress — the quiescent background of Cit and the sprouting and evolving Shakti. Agama takes this whole (Shiva-Shakti) embracing all the aspects as its real. If one aspect be taken apart from the others, we are landed in the unreal. Therefore, in the Shakta Agama, all is real; whether the transcendent real of’ Shamkara (Turiya), or the empirical real waking (Jagrat, dreaming (Svapna) or dreamless sleep (Sushupti). If it is conceded that Real = Changelessness, then the last three states are not real. But this definition of Reality is not adopted. It is again conceded that the Supreme Substance (Paravastu) is alone real, in the sense of changeless, for the worlds come and go. But the Agama says with the Samkhya, that a thing is not unreal because it changes. The Substance has two aspects, in one of which It is changeless, and in the other of which It changes. It is the same Substance in both its Prakasha and Vimarsha aspects. Shamkara limits Reality to the Prakasha aspect alone. Agama extends it to both Prakasha and Vimarsha; for these are aspects of the one. As explained later, this divergence of views turns upon the definition of Maya given by Shamkara, and of Maya-Shakti given by the Agama. The Maya of Shamkara is a mysterious Shakti of Ishvara, by which Vivartta is sought to be explained and which has two manifestations, viz., Veiling (Avarana) and moving, changing and projecting (Vikshepa) power. Ishvara is Brahman reflected in Maya; a mystery which is separate, and yet not separate, from Brahman in Its Ishvara aspect. The Shakta Maya-Shakti is an aspect of Shiva or Brahman Itself.

Starting from these premises we must assume a real nexus between the universe and its ultimate cause. The creation is real, and not Maya in Shamkara’s sense of Maya, but is the operation of and is Shakti Herself. The cause being thus real, the effect or universe is real though it changes and passes away. Even when it is dissolved, it is merged in Shakti who is real; withdrawn into Her as the Samkhyan tortoise or Prakriti withdraws its limbs (Vikriti) into itself. The universe either is as unmanifested Shakti, which is the perfect formless universe of Bliss, or exists as manifested Shakti, the limited and imperfect worlds of form. The assumption of such nexus necessarily involves that what is in the effect is in the cause potentially. Of course, the follower of Shamkara will say that if creation is the becoming patent or actual of what is latent or potential in Shiva, then Shiva is not really Nishkala. A truly Nirañjana Brahman cannot admit potential differentiation within Itself (Svagata-bheda.) Again, potentiality is unmeaning in relation to the absolute and infinite Being, for it pertains to relation and finite existence. If it is suggested that Brahman passes from one condition in which Maya lies as a seed in it, to another in which Maya manifests Herself, we are involved in the doctrine of an Absolute in the making. It is illogical to affirm that whilst Brahman in one aspect does not change, It in another aspect, that is as Shakti, does truly change. All such objections have alogical foundation and it is for this reason that Shamkara says that all change (Srishti, Sthiti, Laya) are only apparent, being but a Kalpana or imagination.

But an answer is given to these objections. The Shakta will say that the one Brahman Shiva has two aspects in one of which, as Shakti, It changes and in the other of which, as Shiva, It does not. Reality is constituted of both these aspects. It is true that the doctrine of aspects does not solve the problem. Creation is ultimately inscrutable. It is, however, he urges, better to hold both the reality of the Brahman and the world leaving spiritual experience to synthesize them, than to neglect one at the cost of the other. For this, it is argued, is what Shamkara does. His solution is obtained at the cost of a denial of true reality to the world which all our worldly experience affirms; and this solution is supported by the illogical statement that Maya is not real and is yet not unreal, not partly real and partly unreal. This also, flies in the face of the logical principle of contradiction. Both theories, therefore, it may be said in different ways, run counter to logic. All theories ultimately do. The matter is admittedly alogical, that is beyond logic, for it is beyond the mind and its logical forms of thinking. Practically, therefore, it is said to be better to base our theory on our experience of the reality of the world, frankly leaving it to spiritual experience to solve a problem for which all logic, owing to the very constitution of the mind, fails. The ultimate proof of authority is Spiritual Experience either recorded in Veda or realized in Samadhi.

As I have already said in my chapter on the spirit-aspect of the One Substance, all occultism, whether of East or West, posits the principle that there is nothing in any one state or plane which is not in some way, actual or potential, in another state or plane. The Western Hermetic maxim, “as above so below,” is stated in the Visvasara Tantra in the form, “what is here is there. What is not here is nowhere” (Yad ihasti tad anyatra yan nehasti na tat kvacit); and in the northern Shaiva Scripture in the form, “that which appears without only so appearsbecause it exists within”, “Vartamanava-bhasanam bhavanam avabhasanam antahsthitavatam eva ghatate bahiratmana”. For these reasons man is rightly called a microcosm (Kshudrabrahmanda; hominem quasi minorem quendam mundum. Firm. Maternus Math. III init.) So Caraka says that the course of production, growth, decay and destruction of the universe and of man are the same. But these statements do not mean that what exists on one plane exists in that form or way on another plane. It is obvious that if it did, the planes would be the same and not different. It means that the same thing exists on one plane and on all other levels of being or planes, according either to the form of that plane, if it be what is called an intermediate causal body (Karanavantara-sharira) or ultimately as mere formless potentiality. According to Shamkara all such argument is itself Maya. And it may be so to those who have realized true consciousness (Citsvarupa) which is beyond all causality. The Tantra Shastra is, however, a practical and Sadhana Shastra. It takes the world to be real and then applies, so far as it may, to the question of its origin, the logic of the mind which forms a part of it. It says that it is true that there is a Supreme or Perfect Experience which is beyond all worlds (Shakti Vishvottirna), but there is also a worldly or (relatively to the Supreme) imperfect (in the sense of limited) and partly sorrowful experience. Because the one exists, it does not follow that the other does not: though mere logic cannot construct an unassailable monism. It is the one Shiva who is Bliss itself, and who is in the form of the world (Vishvatmaka) which is Happiness-Unhappiness. Shiva is both changeless as Shiva and changeful as Shakti. How the One can be both is a mystery. To say, however, with Shamkara that it is Maya, and in truth Brahman does not change, is not to explain, in an ultimate sense, the problem but to eliminate some other possible cause and to give to what remains a name. Maya by itself does not explain the ultimate. What can? It is only a term which is given to the wondrous power of the Creatrix by which what seems impossible to us becomes possible to Her. This is recognized as it must be, by Shamkara who says that Maya is unexplainable (Anirvacaniya) as of course it is. To “explain” the Creator, one would have to be Creator Himself and then in such case there would be no need of any explanation. Looking, however, at the matter from our own practical standpoint, which is that which concerns us, we are drawn by the fore-going considerations to the conclusion that, what we call “matter,” is, in some form, in the cause which according to the doctrine here described, produces it. But matter as experienced by us is not there; for the Supreme is Spirit only. And yet in some sense it is there, or it would not be here at all. It is there as the Supreme Shakti which is Being-Consciousness-Bliss (Cidrupini, Anandamayi) who contains within Herself the potentiality of all worlds to be projected by Her Shakti. It is there as unmanifested Consciousness Power (Cidrupini Shakti). It here exists as the mixed conscious-unconsciousness (in the sense of the limited consciousness) of the psychical and material universe. If the ultimate Reality be one, there is thus one Almighty Substance which is both Spirit (Shiva-Shakti Svarupa) and force-mind-matter (Shiva-Shakti-Vishvatmaka). Spirit and Mind-Matter are thus in the end one.

This ultimate Supreme Substance (Paravastu) is Power or Shakti, which is again, of dual aspect as Cit-Shakti which represents the spiritual, and Maya-Shakti which represents the material and mental aspects. The two, however, exist in inseparable connection (Avinabhava-sambandha); as inseparable to use a simile of the Shastra as the winds of heaven from the Ether in which they blow. Shakti, who is in Herself (Svarupa) Consciousness, appears as the Life-force, as subtle Mind, and as gross Matter. See sections in my World as Powerdealing in detail with Life (Prana-Shakti), Mind (Manasi-Shakti) and Matter (Bhuta-Shakti). As all is Shakti and as Shakti-svarupa is Being-Consciousness-Bliss, there is, and can be, nothing absolutely unconscious. For Shakti-svarupa is unchanging Being-Consciousness beyond all worlds (Cidrupini Vishvottirna), the unchanging principle of experience in such worlds; and appears as the limited psychical universe and as the apparently unconscious material forms which are the content of man’s Experience (Vishvatmika). The whole universe is Shakti under various forms. Therefore it is seen as commingled Spirit-Mind-Matter.

According to Shaiva-Shakta doctrine, Shiva and Shakti are one. Shiva represents the static aspect of the Supreme substance, and Shakti its kinetic aspect: the term being derived from the root “Sak” which denotes capacity of action or power. According to Shamkara, Brahman has two aspects, in one of which as Ishvara, it is associated with Maya and seems to change, and in the other dissociated from Maya (Parabrahman). In the Agama, the one Shiva is both the changeless Parashiva and Parashakti and really changing Shiva-Shakti or universe. As Shiva is one with Himself, He is never associated with anything but Himself. As, however, the Supreme He is undisplayed (Shiva-Shakti Svarupa) and as Shiva-Shakti He is manifest in the form of the universe of mind and matter (Vishvarupa).

Before the manifestation of the universe there was Mahasatta or Grand-being. Then also there was Shiva-Shakti, for there is no time when Shakti is not; though She is sometimes manifest and sometimes not. Power is Power both to Be and to Become. But then Shakti is not manifest and is in its own true nature (Svarupa); that is, Being, Feeling-Consciousness-Bliss (Cinmayi, Anandamayi). As Shiva is consciousness (Cit) and Bliss or Love (Ananda), She is then simply Bliss and Love. Then when moved to create, the Great Power or Megale Dunamis of the Gnostics issues from the depths of Being and becomes Mind and Matter whilst remaining what She ever was: the Being (Sat) which is the foundation of manifested life and the Spirit which sustains and enlightens it. This primal Power (Adya Shakti), as object of worship, is the Great Mother (Magna-Mater) of all natural things (Natura Naturans) and nature itself (Natura Naturata). In herself (Svarupa) She is not a person in man’s sense of the term, but She is ever and incessantly personalizing; assuming the multiple masks (Persona) which are the varied forms of mind-matter. As therefore manifest, She is all Personalities and as the collectivity thereof the Supreme Person (Parahanta). But in Her own ground from which, clad in form, She emerges and personalizes, She is beyond all form, and therefore beyond all personality known to us. She works in and as all things; now greatly veiling Her consciousness-bliss in gross matter, now by gradual stages more fully revealing Herself in the forms of the one universal Life which She is.

Let us now first examine Her most gross manifestation, that is, sensible matter (Bhuta), then Her more subtle aspect as the Life-force and Mind, and lastly Her Supreme Shakti aspect as Consciousness. I here deal with the subject in a general way having treated of it in greater detail in the book just now cited (World as Power).

The physical human body is composed of certain compounds of which the chief are water, gelatin, fat, phosphate of lime, albumen and fibrin, and, of these, water constitutes some two-thirds of the total weight. These compounds, again, are composed of simpler non-metallic elements of which the chief are oxygen (to the extent of about two-thirds), hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen, calcium and phosphorus. So about two-thirds of the body is water and this is H2O. Substantially then our gross body is water. But when we get to these simpler elements, have we got to the root of the matter P No. It was formerly thought that matter was composed of certain elements beyond which it was not possible to go, and that these elements and their atoms were indestructible. These notions have been reversed by modern science. Though the alleged indestructibility of the elements and their atoms is still said by some to present the character of a “practical truth,” well-known recent discoveries and experiments go to re-establish the ancient doctrine of a single primordial substance to which these various forms of matter may be reduced, with the resultant of the possible and hitherto derided transmutation of one element into another; since each is but one of the many plural manifestations of the same underlying unity. The so-called elements are varied forms of this one substance which themselves combine to form the various compounds. The variety of our experience is due to permutation and combination of the atoms of the matter into which the primordial energy materializes. We thus find that owing to the variety of atomic combinations of H N O C there are differences in the compounds. It is curious to note in passing how apparently slight variations in the quantity and distribution of the atoms produce very varying substances. Thus gluten which is a nutrient food, and quinine and strychnine which are in varying degree poisons, are each compounds of C H N O. Strychnine, a powerful poison, is C21H22N2O2 and quinine is C20H24N2O2. N and 0 are the same in both and there is a difference of one part only of C and 2 of H. But neither these compounds nor the so-called elements of which they are composed are permanent things. Scientific matter is now found to be only a relatively stable form of cosmic energy. All matter dissociates and passes into the energy of which it is a materialized form and again it issues from it.

Modern Western Science and Philosophy have thus removed many difficulties which were formerly thought to be objections to the ancient Indian doctrine on the subject here dealt with. It has, in the first place. dispelled the gross notions which were hitherto generally entertained as to the nature of “matter.” According to the notions of quite recent science, “matter” was defined to be that which has mass, weight and inertia. It must be now admitted that the two latter qualities no longer stand the test of examination, since, putting aside our ignorance as to the nature of weight, this quality varies, if we conceive matter to be placed under conditions which admittedly affect it; and the belief in inertia is due to superficial observation, it being now generally conceded that the final elements of matter are in a state of spontaneous and perpetual motion. In fact, the most general phenomenon of the universe is vibration, to which the human body as all else is subject. Various vibrations affect differently each organ of sensation. When of certain quality and number, they denote to the skin the degree of external temperature; others incite the eye to see different colors; others again enable the ear to hear defined sounds. Moreover “inertia”, which is alleged to be a distinguishing quality of “matter,” is said to be the possession of electricity, which is considered not to be “material”. What, then, is that to which we attribute “mass” P In the first place, it is now admitted that “matter,” even with the addition of all possible forces, is insufficient to explain many phenomena, such as those of light; and it has, accordingly, come to be for some an article of scientific faith that there is a substance called “Ether”: a medium which, filling the universe, transports by its vibrations the radiations of light, heat, electricity, and perhaps action from a distance, such as the attraction exercised between heavenly bodies. It is said, however, that this Ether is not “matter,” but differs profoundly from it, and that it is only our infirmity of knowledge which obliges us, in our attempted descriptions of it, to borrow comparisons from “matter,” in its ordinary physical sense, which alone is known by our senses. But if we assume the existence of Ether, we know that “material” bodies immersed in it can change their places therein. In fact, to use an Indian expression, the characteristic property of the vibrations of the Akasha Tattva is to make the space in which the other Tattvas and their derivatives exist. With “Matter” and Ether as their materials, Western purely “scientific” theories have sought to construct the world. The scientific atom which Du Bois Raymond described as an exceedingly useful fiction — “ausserst nutzliche fiction” — is no longer considered the ultimate indestructible element, but is held to be, in fact, a kind of miniature solar system, formed by a central group or nucleus charged with positive electricity, around which very much smaller elements, called electrons or corpuscles, charged with negative electricity, gravitate in closed orbits. These vibrate in the etheric medium in which they and the positively charged nucleus exist, constituting by their energy, and not by their mass, the unity of the atom. But what, again, is the constitution of this “nucleus” and the electrons revolving around it? There is no scientific certainty that any part of either is due to the presence of “matter”. On the contrary, if a hypothetical corpuscle consisting solely of an electric charge without material mass is made the subject of mathematical analysis, the logical inference is that the electron is free of “matter”, and is merely an electric charge moving in the Ether; and though the extent of our knowledge regarding the positive nucleus which constitutes the remainder of the atom is small, an eminent mathematician and physicist has expressed the opinion that, if there is no “matter” in the negative charges, the positive charges must also be free from it. Thus, in the words of the author upon whose lucid analysis I have drawn, (Houllevigue’s Evolution of Science) the atom has beendematerialized, if one may say so, and with it the molecules and the entire universe. “Matter” (in the scientific sense) disappears, and we and all that surround us are physically, according to these views, mere disturbed regions of the ether determined by moving electric charges — a logical if impressive conclusion, because it is by increasing their knowledge of “matter” that physicists have been led to doubt its reality. But the question, as he points out, does not remain there. For if the speculations of Helmholtz be adopted, there is nothing absurd in imaging that two possible directions of rotation of a vortex formed within, and consisting of, ether correspond to the positive and negative electric charges said to be attached to the final elements of matter. If that be so, then the trinity of matter, ether, and electricity, out of which science has hitherto attempted to construct the world, is reduced to a single element, the ether (which is not scientific “matter”) in a state of motion, and which is the basis of the physical universe. The old duality of force and matter disappears, these being held to be differing forms of the same thing. Matter is a relatively stable form of energy into which, on disturbance of its equilibrium, it disappears; for all forms of matter dissociate. The ultimate basis is that energy called in Indian philosophy Prakriti, Maya or Shakti.

Herbert Spencer, the Philosopher of Modern Science, carries the investigation farther, holding that the universe, whether physical or psychical, whether within or without us, is a play of Force, which, in the case of Matter, we experience as object, and that the notion that the ultimate realities are the supposed atoms of matter, to the properties and combinations of which the complex universe is due, is not true. Mind, Life and Matter are each varying aspects of the one cosmic process from the First Cause. Mind as such is as much a “material” organ as the brain and outer sense organs, though they are differing forms of force.

Both mind and matter derive from what Herbert Spencer calls the Primal Energy (Adya Shakti), and Haeckel the fundamental Spirit-Matter Substance. Professor Fitz Edward Hall described the Samkhya philosophy as being “with all its folly and fanaticism little better than a chaotic impertinence”. It has doubtless its weaknesses like all other systems. Wherein, however, consists its “fanaticism,” I do not know. As for “impertinence,” it is neither more nor less so than any other form of Western endeavor to solve the riddle of life. As regards its leading concept, “Prakriti,” the Professor said that it was a notion for which the European languages were unable to supply a name; a failure, he added, which was “nowise to their discredit”. The implication of this sarcastic statement is that it was not to the discredit of Western languages that they had no name for so foolish a notion. He wrote before the revolution of ideas in science to which I have referred, and with that marked antagonism to things Indian which has been and to some extent still is so common a feature of the more ordinary type of the professional orientalist.

The notion of Prakriti is not absurd. The doctrine of a Primordial Substance was held by some of the greatest minds in the past and has support from the most modern developments of Science. Both now concur to reject what the great Sir William Jones called the “vulgar notion of material substance” (Opera I. 36). Many people were wont, as some still are, to laugh at the idea of Maya. Was not matter solid, permanent and real enough? But according to science what are we (as physical beings) at base P The answer is, infinitely tenuous formless energy which materializes into relatively stable, yet essentially transitory, forms. According to the apt expression of the Shakta Shastra, Shakti, as She creates, becomes Ghanibhuta, that is, massive or thickened; just as milk becomes curd. The process by which the subtle becomes gradually more and more gross continues until it develops into what has been called the “crust” of solid matter (Parthiva bhuta). This whilst it lasts is tangible enough. But it will not last for ever, and in some radio-active substances dissociates before our eyes. Where does it go, according to Shakta doctrine, but to that Mother-Power from whose womb it came; who exists as all forms, gross and subtle, and is the formless Consciousness Itself. The poet’s inspiration led Shakespeare to say, “We are such stuff as dreams are made of.” It is a wonderful saying from a Vedantic standpoint, for centuries before him Advaitavada had said, “Yes, dreams; for the Lord is Himself the Great World-dreamer slumbering in causal sleep as Ishvara, dreaming as Hiranyagarbha the universe experienced by Him as the Virat or totality of all Jivas, on waking.” Scientific revision of the notion of “matter” helps the Vedantic standpoint, by dispelling gross and vulgar notions upon the subject; by establishing its impermanence in its form as scientific matter; by positing a subtler physical substance which is not ponderable matter; by destroying the old duality of Matter and Force; and by these and other conclusions leading to the acceptance of one Primal Energy or Shakti which transforms itself into that relatively stable state which is perceived by the senses as gross “matter.” As, however, science deals with matter only objectively, that is, from a dualistic standpoint, it does not (whatever hypotheses any particular scientist may maintain) resolve the essential problem which is stated in the world Maya. That problem is, “How can the apparent duality be a real unity? How can we bridge the gulf between the object and the Self which perceives it? Into whatever tenuous energy the material world is resolved, we are still left in the region of duality of Spirit, Mind and Matter. The position is not advanced beyond that taken by Samkhya. The answer to the problem stated is that Shakti which is the origin of, and is in, all things has the power to veil Itself so that whilst in truth it is only seeing itself as object, it does not, as the created Jiva, perceive this but takes things to be outside and different from the Self. For this reason Maya is called, in the Shastra, Bhedabuddhi or the sense of difference. This is the natural characteristic of man’s experience.

Herbert Spencer, the Philosopher of Modern Science, carrying the investigation beyond physical matter, holds, as I have already said, that the universe, whether physical or psychical, whether as mind or matter, is a play of Force; Mind, Life and Matter being each varying aspects of the one cosmic process from the First Cause. This, again, is an Indian notion. For, the affirmation that “scientific matter” is an appearance produced by the play of Cosmic Force, and that mind is itself a product of the same play is what both Samkhya and Mayavada Vedanta hold. Both these systems teach that mind, considered in itself, is, like matter, an unconscious thing, and that both it and matter ultimately issue from the same single Principle which the former calls Prakriti and the latter Maya. Consciousness and Unconsciousness are in the universe inseparate, whatever be the degree of manifestation or veiling of Consciousness. For the purpose of analysis, Mind in itself — that is, considered hypothetically as dissociated from Consciousness, which, in fact, is never the case, (though Consciousness exists apart from the Mind) — is a force-process like the physical brain. Consciousness (Cit) is not to be identified with mind (Antahkarana) which is the organ of expression of mind. Consciousness is not a mere manifestation of material mind. Consciousness must not be identified with its mental modes; an identification which leads to the difficulties in which western metaphysics has so often found itself. It is the ultimate Reality in which all modes whether subjective or objective exist.

The assertion that mind is in itself unconscious may seem a strange statement to a Western reader who, if he does not identify mind and consciousness, at any rate, regards the latter as an attribute or function of mind. The point, however, is of such fundamental importance for the understanding of Indian doctrine that it may be further developed.

According to the Lokayata School of Indian Materialism, mind was considered to be the result of the chemical combination of the four forms of material substance, earth, water, fire and air, in organic forms. According to the Purva-Mimamsa and the Nyaya-Vaisheshika, the Self or Atma is in itself and that is by nature (Svabhavatah), unconscious (Jada, Acidrupa): for Atma is said to be unconscious (Acetana) in dreamless sleep (Sushupti); and consciousness arises as a produced thing, by association of the Atma with the mind, senses and body. The reader is referred to Pandit Chandra Kanta Tarkalamkara’s Bengali Lectures on Hindu Philosophy. At p. 105 he cites Prabhakara Mimamsaka-carya, saying that Vaisheshika-Nyaya supports the view. Sacetanashcittayogat todyogena vina jadah. “Atma is conscious by union with knowledge (Jñana) which comes to it by association with mind and body. Without it, it is unconscious.” Atma, according to this Darshana, is that in which (Ashraya) Jñana inheres. Kumarila Bhatta says Atma is partly Prakasha and partly Aprakasha, (luminous and non-luminous) like a fire-fly. But this is denied, as Atma is Niramsha (part-less). Knowledge thus arises from the association of mind (Manas) with Atma, the senses (Indriya) with Manas, and the senses with objects, that, is, worldly (Laukika) knowledge, which is the true — that is, non-illusive — apprehension of objects. Jñana in the spiritual Vedantic sense of Mayavada is Paramatma, or pure Consciousness realized. The former Jñana, in that it arises without effort on the presentation of the objects is not action (Kriya), and differs from the forms of mental action (Manasi Kriya), such as will (Iccha), contemplation and the like. Atma manasa samyujyate, mana indriyena, indriyam arthena, tato bhavati jñanam. Both these theories are refuted by Samkhya and Advaitavada Vedanta (as interpreted by Shamkara, to which unless otherwise stated I refer) which affirm that the very nature of Atma is Consciousness (Cit), and all else, whether mind or matter, is unconscious, though the former appears not to be so. The Jiva mind is not itself conscious, but reflects consciousness, and therefore appears to be conscious. Consciousness as such is eternal and immutable; Mind is a creation and changeable. Consciousness as such is unconditional. In the mind of the Jiva, Consciousness appears to be conditioned by that Maya-Shakti which produces mind, and of which Shakti, mind is a particular manifestation. Mind, however, is not the resultant of the operation of the Bhuta — that is, of gross natural forces or motions — but is, in Samhya and in Shakta monism, an evolution which is logically prior to them.

The mode of exposition in which Consciousness is treated as being in itself something apart from, though associated with, mind, is profound; because, while it recognizes the intermingling of Spirit and Matter in the embodied being (Jiva), it yet at the same time clearly distinguishes them. It thus avoids the imputation of change to Spirit (Atma). The latter is ever in Its own true nature immutable. Mind is ever changing, subject to sensations, forming ideas, making resolves, and so forth. Spirit in Itself is neither affected nor acts. Manifold change takes place, through motion and vibration in the unconscious Prakriti and Maya. Mind is one of the results of such motion, as matter is another. Each of them is a form of specific transformation of the one Principle whence unconsciousness, whether real or apparent, arises. That, however, mind appears to be conscious, the Mayavada Vedanta and Samkhya admit. This is called Cidabhasa — that is, the appearance of something as Cit (Consciousness) which is not really Cit. This appearance of Consciousness is due to the reflection of Cit upon it. A piece of polished steel which lies in the sunshine may appear to be self-luminous, when it is merely reflecting the sun, which is the source of the light it appears to give out. Cit as such is immutable and never evolves. What do evolve are the various forms of natural forces produced by Prakriti or Maya. These two are, however, conceived as being in association in such a way that the result of such association is produced without Cit being really affected at all. The classical illustration of the mode and effect of such association is given in the Samkhyan aphorism, “Just like the jewel and the flower” — Kusumavacca manih (Samkhya-Pravacana-Sutra, II, 35) — that is, when a scarlet hibiscus flower is placed in contiguity to a crystal, the latter appears to be red, though it still in fact retains its pure transparency, as is seen when the flower is removed. On the other hand, the flower as reflected in the crystal takes on a shining, transparent aspect which its opaque surface does not really possess. In the same way Consciousness appears to be conditioned by the force of unconsciousness in the Jiva, but is really not so. “Changeless Cit-Shakti does not move towards anything, yet seems to do so” (Samkhya-pravacana-Sutra). And, on the other hand, Mind as one of such unconscious forces takes on the semblance of Consciousness, though this is borrowed from Cit and is not its own natural quality. This association of Unconscious Force with Consciousness has a two-fold result, both obscuring and revealing. It obscures, in so far as, and so long as it is in operation, it prevents the realization of pure Consciousness (Cit). When mind is absorbed pure Consciousness shines forth. In this sense, this Power or Maya is spoken of as a Veil. In another sense, it reveals — that is, it manifests — the world, which does not exist except through the instrumentality of Maya which the world is. Prakriti and Maya produce both Mind and Matter; on the former of which Consciousness is reflected (Cidabhasa). The human mind, then, appears to be conscious, but of its own nature and inherent quality is not so. The objective world of matter is, or appears to be, an unconscious reality. These alternatives are necessary, because, in Samkhya, unconsciousness is a reality; in Vedanta, an appearance. In the Shakta Tantra, apparent unconsciousness is an aspect (Avidya Shakti) of Conscious Shakti. Consciousness is according to Advaita Vedanta, the true existence of both, illumining the one, hidden in the other.

The internal instrument (Antahkarana) or Mind is one only, but is given different names — Buddhi, Ahamkara, Manas — to denote the diversity of its functions. From the second of these issue the senses (Indriya) and their objects, the sensibles (Mahabhuta), or gross matter with the super-sensibles (Tanmatra) as its intermediate cause. All these proceed from Prakriti and Maya.

Therefore, according to these systems, Consciousness is Cit, and Mind or Antahkarana is a transformation of Prakriti and Maya respectively. In itself, Mind is an unconscious specialized organ developed out of the Primordial Energy, Mulaprakriti or Maya. It is thus, not in itself, consciousness but a special manifestation of conscious existence, borrowing its consciousness from the Cit which is reflected on it. Shakta doctrine states the same matter in a different form. Consciousness at rest is Cit-Svarupa. Consciousness in movement is Cit-Shakti associated with Maya-Shakti. The Shiva-Shakti Svarupa is consciousness (Cit, Cidrupini). There is no independent Prakriti as Samkhya holds, nor an unconscious Maya which is not Brahman and yet not separate from Brahman, as Shamkara teaches. What there is, is Maya-Shakti; that is Consciousness (Shakti is in itself such) veiling, as the Mother, Herself to herself as Her creation, the Jiva. There is no need then for Cidabhasa. For mind is consciousness veiling itself in the forms or limitation of apparent unconsciousness.

This is an attractive exposition of the matter because in the universe consciousness and unconsciousness are mingled, and the abolition of unconscious Maya satisfies the desire for unity. In all these cases, however, mind and matter represent either the real or apparent unconscious aspect of things. If man’s consciousness is, or appears to be, limited, such limitation must be due to some principle without, or attached to, or inherent in consciousness; which in some sense or other must ex hypothesi be really, or apparently different from the consciousness, which it seems to affect or actually affects. In all these systems, mind and matter equally derive from a common finitizing principle which actually or apparently limits the Infinite Consciousness. In all three, there is, beyond manifestation, Consciousness or Cit, which in manifestation appears as a parallelism of mind and matter; the substratum of which from a monistic standpoint is Cit.

Herbert Spencer, however, as many other Western Philosophers do, differs from the Vedanta in holding that the noumenon of these phenomena is not Consciousness, for the latter is by them considered to be by its very nature conditioned and concrete. This noumenon is therefore declared to be unknown and unknowable. But Force as such is blind, and can only act as it has been predetermined. We discover consciousness in the universe. The cause must, therefore, it is argued, be Consciousness. It is but reasonable to hold that, if the first cause be of the nature of either Consciousness or Matter, and not of both, it must be of the nature of the former, and not of the latter. An unconscious object may wall be conceived to modify Consciousness, but not to produce Consciousness out of its Self. According to Indian Realism, the Paramanus are the material (Upadana) cause (Karana), and Ishvara the instrumental (Nimitta) cause, for He makes them combine. According to Vedanta, Matter is really nothing but a determined modification of knowledge in the Ishvara Consciousness, itself unaffected by such determination. Ishvara is thus both the material and instrumental cause. A thing can only dissolve into its own cause. The agency (Kartritva) of Ishvara is in Mayavada attributed (Aupadika) only.

The Vedanta, therefore, in its Shakta presentment says, that the Noumenon is knowable and known, for it is the inner Self, which is not an unconscious principle but Being-Consciousness, which, as above explained, is not conditioned or concrete, but is the absolute Self-identity. Nothing can be more intimately known than the Self. The objective side of knowledge is conditioned because of the nature of its organs which, whether mental or material, are conditioned. Sensation, perception, conception, intuition are but different modes in which the one Consciousness manifests itself, the differences being determined by the variety of condition and form of the different organs of knowledge through which consciousness manifests. There is thus a great difference between the Agnostic and the Vedantist. The former, as for instance Herbert Spencer, says that the Absolute cannot be known because nothing can be predicated of it. Whereas the Vedantin when he says, that It cannot be known (in the ordinary sense) means that this is because It is knowledge itself. Our ordinary experience does not know a consciousness of pure being without difference. But, though it cannot be pictured, it may be apprehended. It cannot be thought because it is Pure Knowledge itself. It is that state which is realized only in Samadhi but is apprehended indirectly as the Unity which underlies and sustains all forms of changing finite experience.

What, lastly, is Life? The underlying substance is Being-in-itself. Life is a manifestation of such Being. If by Life we understand life in form, then the ultimate substance is not that; for it is formless. But in a supreme sense it is Life; for it is Eternal Life whence all life in form proceeds. It is not dead Being. If it were It could not produce Life. The Great Mother is Life; both the life of Her children and the Life of their lives. Nor does She produce what is without life or potency of life. What is in the cause is in the effect. Some Western Scientists have spoken of the “Origin of Life,” and have sought to find it. It is a futile quest, for Life as such has no origin though life in form has. We cannot discover the beginnings of that which is essentially eternal. The question is vitiated by the false assumption that there is anything dead in the sense that it is wholly devoid of Life or potency of Life. There is no such thing. The whole world is a living manifestation of the source of all life which is Absolute Being. It is sometimes made a reproach against Hinduism that it knows not a “living God”. What is meant I cannot say. For it is certain that it does not worship a “dead God,” whatever such may be. Perhaps by “living” is meant “Personal”. If so, the charge is again ill-founded. Ishvara and Ishvari are Rulers in whom all personalities and personality itself are. But in their ground they are beyond all manifestation, that is limitation which personality, as we understand it, involves. Man, the animal and the plant alone, it is true, exhibit certain phenomena which are commonly called vital. What exhibits such phenomena, we have commonly called “living”. But it does not follow that what does not exhibit the phenomena which belong to our definition of life is itself altogether “dead”. We may have to revise our definition, as in fact we are commencing to do. Until recently it was commonly assumed that matter was of two kinds: inorganic or “dead,” and organic or “living”. The mineral was “dead,” the vegetable, animal and man were endowed with “life”. But these living forms are compounded of so-called “dead” matter. How then, is it possible that there is life in the organic kingdom the parts of which are ultimately compounded of “dead” matter? This necessarily started the futile quest for the “origin of life”. Life can only come from life: not from death. The greatest errors arise from the making of false partitions in nature which do not exist. We make these imaginary partitions and then vainly attempt to surmount them. There are no absolute partitions or gulfs. All is continuous, even if we cannot at present establish in each case the connection. That there should be such gulfs is unthinkable to any one who has even in small degree grasped the notion of the unity of things. There is a complete connected chain in the hierarchy of existence, from the lowest forms of apparently inert (but now held to be moving) matter, through the vegetable, animal, human worlds; and then through such Devatas as are super-human intelligences up to the Brahman. From the latter to a blade of grass (says the Shastra) all are one.

Western scientific notions have, however, in recent years undergone a radical evolution as regards the underlying unity of substance, destructive of the hitherto accepted notions of the discontinuity of matter and its organization. The division of nature into the animal, vegetable and mineral kingdoms is still regarded as of practical use; but it is now recognized that no such clear line of demarcation exists between them as has hitherto been supposed in the West. Between each of nature’s types there are said to be innumerable transitions. The notion of inert, “dead” matter, the result of superficial observation, has given way upon the revelation of the activities at work under this apparent inertia — forces which endow “brute substance” with many of the characteristics of living beings. It is no longer possible to dogmatically affirm where the inorganic kingdom ends and “life” begins. It must be rather asserted that many phenomena, hitherto considered characteristic of “life,” belong to “inert matter,” composed of molecules and atoms, as “animated matter” is of cells and micellae. It has been found that so-called “inert matter,” possesses an extraordinary power of organization, and is not only capable of apparently imitating the forms of “living” matter, but presents in a certain degree the same functions and properties.

Sentiency is a characteristic of all forms of Existence. Physiologists measure the sensibility of a being by the degree of excitement necessary to produce in it a reaction. Of this it has been said (Le Bon Evolution of Matter, 250), “This sensibility of matter, so contrary to what popular observation seems to indicate, is becoming more and more familiar to physicists. This is why such an expression as the “life of matter,” utterly meaningless twenty-five years ago has come into common use. The study of mere matter yields ever-increasing proofs that it has properties which were formerly deemed the exclusive appanage of living beings.” Life exists throughout, but manifests in various ways. The arbitrary division which has been drawn between “dead” and “living” matter has no existence in fact, and speculations as to the origin of “life” are vitiated by the assumption that there is anything which exists without it, however much its presence may be veiled from us. Western science would thus appear to be moving to the conclusion that there is no “dead” matter, but that life exists everywhere, not merely in that in which, as in “organic matter,” it is to us plainly and clearly expressed, but also in the ultimate “inorganic” atoms of which it is composed — atoms which, in fact, have their organizations as have the beings which they go to build — and that all, to the minutest particle, is vibrating with unending Energy (Tejas). (See Author’s World as Power). Manifested life is Prana, a form of Kriya Shakti in, and evolved from, the Linga Sharira, itself born of Prakriti. Prana or the vital principle has been well defined (Hindu Realism, by J. C. Chatterji) to be, “the special relation of the Atma with a certain form of matter which, by this relation, the Atma organizes and builds up as a means of having experience.” This special relation constitutes the individual Prana in the individual body. Just as in the West, “life” is a term commonly used of organized body only, so also is the term Prana used in the East. It is the technical name given to the phenomena, called “vital,” exhibited by such bodies, the source of which is the Brahman Itself. The individual Prana is limited to the particular body which it vitalizes and is a manifestation in all breathing creatures (Prani), of the creative and sustaining activity of the Brahman. All beings exist so long as the Prana is in the body. It is as the Kaushitaki Upanishad says, “the life duration of all”. The cosmic all-pervading Prana is the collectivity of all Pranas and is the Brahman as the source of the individual Prana. On the physical plane, Prana manifests as breath through inspiration, “Sa” or Shakti and expiration, “Ha” or Shiva. So the Niruttara Tantra (Chapter IV) says: “By Hamkara it goes out and by Sakara it comes in again. A Jiva always recites the Supreme Mantra Hamsa.”

Hang-karena bahir yati sah-karena vishet punah

Hangesti paramam mantram jivo japati sarvada.

Breathing is itself the Ajapa Mantra. Prana is thus Shakti as the universally pervading source of life, organizing itself as matter into what we call living forms. When the Prana goes, the organism which it holds together disintegrates. Nevertheless each of the atoms which remain has a life of its own, existing as such separately from the life of the organized body of which they formed a part; just as each of the cells of the living body has a life of its own. The gross outer body is heterogeneous (Paricchinna) or made up of distinct or well-defined parts. But the Pranamaya Self which lies within the Annamaya Self is a homogeneous undivided whole (Sadharana) permeating the whole physical body (Sarvapindavyapin). It is not cut off into distinct regions (Asadharana) as is the Pinda or mircrocosmic physical body. Unlike the latter it has no specialized organs each discharging a specific function. It is a homogeneous unity (Sadharana), present in every part of the body which it ensouls as its inner vital Self. Vayu, as universal vital activity, on entry into each body, manifests itself in ten different ways. It is the one Prana, though different names are given according to its functions, of which the five chief are Appropriation (Prana), Rejection (Apana), Assimilation (Samana), Distribution (Vyana), and that vital function (Udana) which is connected with self-expression in speech. Prana in its general sense represents the involuntary reflex action of the organism; just as the Indriyas are one aspect of its voluntary activity. Breathing is a manifestation of the Cosmic Rhythm to which the whole universe moves and according to which it appears and disappears. The life of Brahma is the duration of the outgoing breath (Nisvasa) of Kala.

The Samkhya rejecting the Lokayata notion that Vayu is a mere biomechanical force or mechanical motion resulting from such a Vayu, holds, on the principle of the economy of categories, that life is a resultant of the various concurrent activities of other principles or forces in the organism. This, again, the Vedantists deny, holding that it is a separate, independent principle and material form assumed through Maya by the one Consciousness. In either case, it is an unconscious force, since everything which is not the Atma or Purusha, is, according to Mayavada and Samkhya, unconscious, or, in Western parlance, material (Jada).

If we apply Shakta principles, then Prana is a name of the general Shakti displaying itself in the organization of matter and the vital phenomena which bodies, when organized, exhibit. Manifest Shakti is vitality, which is a limited concrete display in forms of Her own formless Being or Sat. All Shakti is Jñana, Iccha, Kriya, and in its form as Prakriti, the Gunas Sattva, Rajas, Tamas. She desires, impelled by Her nature (Iccha), to build up forms; sees how it should be done (Jñana); and then does it (Kriya). The most Tamasic form of Kriya is the apparently mechanical energy displayed in material bodies. But this is itself the product of Her Activity and not the cause of it. Ultimately then Prana, like everything else, is consciousness which, as Shakti, limits Itself in form which it first creates and sustains; then builds up into other more elaborate forms and again sustains until their life-period is run. All creation and maintenance is a limiting power, with the appearance of unconsciousness, in so far as, and to the degree that, it confines the boundless Being-Consciousness-Bliss; yet that Power is nothing but Consciousness negating and limiting itself. The Great Mother (Sri Mata) limits Her infinite being in and as the universe and maintains it. In so far as the form and its life is a limited thing, it is apparently unconscious, for consciousness is thereby limited. At each moment there is creation, but we call the first appearance creation (Srishti), and its continuance, through the agency of Prana, maintenance (Sthiti). But both that which is apparently limited and that whose operation has that effect is Being-Consciousness. Prana Vayu is the self-begotten but limited manifestation of the eternal Life. It is called Vayu (Va — to move) because it courses throughout the whole universe. Invisible in itself yet its operations are manifest. For it determines the birth, growth, and decay of all animated organisms and as such receives the homage of all created Being. For it is the Pranarupi Atma, the Prana Shakti.

For those by whom inorganic matter was considered to be “dead” or lifeless, it followed that it could have no Feeling-Consciousness, since the latter was deemed to be an attribute of life. Further, consciousness was denied because it was, and is indeed now, commonly assumed that every conscious experience pre-supposes a subject, conscious of being such, attending to an object. As Professor P. Mukhyopadhyaya (Approaches to Truth) has well pointed out, consciousness was identified with intelligence or understanding — that is with directed consciousness; so that where no direction or form is discernible, Western thinkers have been apt to imagine that consciousness as such has also ceased. To their pragmatic eye consciousness is always particular having a particular direction and form.

According, however, to Indian views, there are three states of consciousness: (1) a supramental supreme consciousness dissociated from mind. This is the Paramatma Cit which is the basis of all existence, whether organic or inorganic, and of thought; of which the Shruti says, “know that which does not think by the mind and by which the mind itself is thought.” These are then two main manifested states of consciousness: (2) consciousness associated with mind in organic matter working through its vehicles of mind and matter; (3) consciousness associated with and almost entirely veiled by inorganic gross matter (Bhuta) only; such as the muffled consciousness, evidenced by its response to external stimuli, as shown in the experiments with which Sir Jagadish Bose’s name is associated. Where are we to draw the lowest limit of sensation; and if a limit be assigned, why there? As Dr. Ernst Mach has pointed out (Analysis of Sensations, 243) the question is natural enough if we start from the commonly current physical conception. It is, of course, not asserted that inorganic matter is conscious to itself in the way that the higher organized life is. The response, however, which it makes to stimuli is evidence that consciousness is there, though it lies heavily veiled in and imprisoned by it. Inorganic matter displays it in the form of that seed or rudiment of sentiency which enlarging into the simple pulses of feeling of the lowest degrees of organized life, at length emerges in the developed self-conscious sensations of human life. Owing to imperfect scientific knowledge, the first of these aspects was not in antiquity capable of physical proof in the same way or to the same extent, as Modern Science with its delicate instruments have made possible. Starting, however, from the revealed and intuitionally held truth that all was Brahman, the conclusion necessarily followed. All Bhuta is composed of the three Gunas or factors of Prakriti or the psycho-physical potentials. It is the Sattva or Principle of Presentation of Consciousness in gross matter (almost entirely suppressed by Tamas or the Principle of Veiling of Consciousness though it be) which manifests the phenomena of sensibility observed in matter. In short, nature, it has been well said, knows no sharp boundaries or yawning gulfs, though we may ignore the subtle connecting links between things. There is no break in continuity. Being and Consciousness are co-extensive. Consciousness is not limited to those centers in the Ether of consciousness which are called organized bodies. But just as life is differently expressed in the mineral and in man, so is Consciousness which many have been apt to think exists in the developed animal and even in man only.

Consciousness (Cit-Shakti) exists in all the hierarchy of Being, and is, in fact, Being. It is, however, in all bodies veiled by its power or Maya-Shakti which is composed of the three Gunas. In inorganic matter, owing to the predominance of Tamas, Consciousness is so greatly veiled and the life force is so restrained that we get the appearance of insensibility, inertia and mere mechanical energy. In organized bodies, the action of Tamas is gradually lessened, so that the members of the universal hierarchy become more and more Sattvik as they ascend in the scale of evolution. Consciousness itself does not change. It remains the same throughout. What does change is, its wrappings, unconscious or apparently so, as they may alternatively be called. This wrapping is Maya and Prakriti with their Gunas. The figure of “wrapping” is apt to illustrate the presentment of Samkhya and Mayavada. From the Shakta aspect we may compare the process to one in which it is assumed that in one aspect there is an unchanging light, in another it is either turned up or turned down as the case may be. In gross matter the light is so turned down that it is not ordinarily perceptible and even delicate scientific experiment may give rise to contending assertions. When the veiling by Tamas is lessened in organic life, and the Jiva is thus less bound in matter, the same Consciousness (for there is no other) which previously manifested as, what seems to us, a mere mechanical reaction, manifests in its freer environment in that sensation which we associate with consciousness as popularly understood. Shakti, who ever negates Herself as Maya-Shakti, more and more reveals Herself as Cit-Shakti. There is thus a progressive release of Consciousness from the bonds of matter, until it attains complete freedom or liberation (Moksha) when the Atma is Itself (Atma Svarupi) or Pure Consciousness. At this point, the same Shakti, who had operated as Maya, is Herself Consciousness (Cidrupini).

According to the Hindu books, plants have a sort of dormant Consciousness, and are capable of pleasure and pain. Cakrapani says in the Bhanumati that the Consciousness of plants is a kind of stupefied, darkened, or comatose Consciousness. Udayana also says that plants have a dormant Consciousness which is very dull. The differences between plant and animal life have always been regarded by the Hindus as being one not of kind, but of degree. And this principle may be applied throughout. Life and Consciousness is not a product of evolution. The latter merely manifests it. Manu speaks of plants as being creatures enveloped by darkness caused by past deeds having, however, an internal Consciousness and a capacity for pleasure and pain. And, in the Mahabharata, Bhrigu says to Bharadhvaja that plants possess the various senses, for they are affected by heat, sounds, vision (whereby, for instance, the creeper pursues its path to the light), odors and the water which they taste. I may refer also to such stories as that of the Yamalarjunavriksha of the Srimad Bhagavata mentioned in Professor Brajendra Nath Seal’s learned work, The Positive Sciences of the Ancient Hindus, and Professor S. N. Das Gupta’s scholarly paper on Parinama to which I am indebted for these instances.

Man is said to have passed through all the lower states of Consciousness and is capable of reaching the highest through Yoga. The Jiva attains birth as man after having been, it is said, born 84 lakhs (84,000,000) of times as plants (Vrikshadi), aquatic animals (Jalayoni), insects and the like (Krimi), birds (Pakshi), beasts (Pashvadi), and monkeys (Vanar). He then is born 2 lakhs of times (2,000,000) in the inferior species of humanity, and then gradually attains a better and better birth until he is liberated from all the bonds of matter. The exact number of each kind of birth is in 20, 9, 11, 10, 30 and lakhs, respectively — 84 lakhs. As pointed out by Mahamahopadhyaya Chandrakanta Tarkalankara Lectures on “Hindu Philosophy” (5th year, p. 227, Lecture VII), pre-appearance in monkey form is not a Western theory only. The Consciousness which manifests in him is not altogether a new creation, but an unfolding of that which has ever existed in the elements of which he is composed, and in the Vegetable and Animal through which prior to his human birth he has passed. In him, however, matter is so re-arranged and organized as to permit of the fullest rnanifestation which has hitherto existed of the underlying Cit. Man’s is the birth so “difficult of attainment” (Durlabha). This is an oft-repeated statement of Shastra in order that he should avail himself of the opportunities which Evolution has brought him. If he does not, he falls back, and may do so without limit, into gross matter again, passing intermediately through the Hells of suffering. Western writers in general, describe such a descent as unscientific. How, they ask, can a man’s Consciousness reside in an animal or plant’? The correct answer (whatever be popular belief) is that it does not. When man sinks again into an animal he ceases to be a man. He does not continue to be both man and animal. His consciousness is an animal consciousness and not a human consciousness. It is a, childish view which regards such a case as being the imprisonment of a man in an animal body. If he can go up he can also go down. The soul or subtle body is not a fixed but an evolving thing. Only Spirit (Cit) is eternal and unchanged. In man, the revealing constituent of Prakriti Shakti (Sattvaguna) commences to more fully develop, and his consciousness is fully aware of the objective world and his own Ego, and displays itself in all those functions of it which are called his faculties. We here reach the world of ideas, but these are a superstructure on consciousness and not its foundation or basis. Man’s consciousness is still, however, veiled by Maya-Shakti. With the greater predominance of Sattvaguna in man, consciousness becomes more and more divine, until he is altogether freed of the bonds of Maya, and the Jiva Consciousness expands into the pure Brahman Consciousness. Thus life and Consciousness exist throughout. All is living. All is Consciousness. In the world of gross matter they seem to disappear, being almost suppressed by the veil of Maya-Sakti’s Tamoguna. As however ascent is made, they are less and less veiled, and True Consciousness is at length realized in Samadhi and Moksha. Cit-Shakti and Maya-Shakti exist inseparable throughout the whole universe. There is therefore according to the principles of the Shakta Shastra not a particle of matter which is without life and consciousness variously displaced or concealed though they be. Manifest Maya-Shakti is the universe in which Cit-Shakti is the changeless Spirit. Unmanifest Maya-Shakti is Consciousness (Cidrupini). There are many persons who think that they have disposed of a doctrine when they have given it an opprobrious, or what they think to be an opprobrious, name. And so they dub all this “Animism,” which the reader of Census Reports associates with primitive and savage tribes. There are some people who are frightened by names. It is not names but facts which should touch us. Certainly “Animism” is in some respects an incorrect and childlike way of putting the matter. It is, however, an imperfect presentment of a central truth which has been held by some of the profoundest thinkers in the world, even in an age in which we are apt to think to be superior to all others. Primitive man in his simplicity made the discovery of several such truths. And so it has been well said that the simple savage and the child who regard all existence as akin to their own, living and feeling like himself, have, notwithstanding their errors, more truly felt the pulse of being, than the civilized man of culture. How essentially stupid some of the latter can be needs no proof. For the process of civilization being one of abstraction, they are less removed from the concrete fact than he is. Hence their errors which seem the more contorted due to the mass of useless verbiage in which they are expressed. And yet, as extremes meet, so having passed through our present condition, we may regain the truths perceived by the simple, not only through formal worship but by that which consists of the pursuit of all knowledge and science, when once the husk of all material thinking is cast aside. For him, who sees the Mother in all things, all scientific research is wonder and worship. So Gratry said that the calculus of Newton and Leibnitz was a supralogical procedure, and that geometric induction is essentially a process of prayer, by which he evidently meant an appeal from the finite mind to the Infinite, for light on finite concerns. The seeker looks upon not mere mechanical movements of so-called “dead” matter, but the wondrous play of Her Whose form all matter is. As She thus reveals Herself She induces in him a passionate exaltation and that sense of security which is only gained as approach is made to the Central Heart of things. For, as the Upanishad says, “He only fears who sees duality”. Some day may be, when one who unites in himself the scientific ardor of the West and the all-embracing religious feeling of India will create another and a modern Candi, with its multiple salutations to the sovereign World-Mother (Namastasyai namo namah). Such an one, seeing the changing marvels of Her world-play, will exclaim with the Yoginihridaya Tantra, “I salute Her the Samvid Kala who shines in the form of Space, Time and all Objects therein.”

Deshakalapadarthatma yad yad vastu yatha yatha,

Tattadrupena ya bhati tam shraye samvidam kalam

This is, however, not mere Nature-worship as it is generally understood in the West, or the worship of Force as Keshub Chunder Sen took the Shakta doctrine to be. All things exist in the Supreme who in Itself infinitely transcends all finite forms. It is the worship of God as the Mother-Creatrix who manifests in the form of all things which are, as it were, but an atom of dust on the Feet of Her who is Infinite Being (Sat), Experience (Cit), Love (Ananda) and Power (Shakti). As Philibert Commerson said: “La vie d’un naturaliste est, je L’ose dire, une adoration presque perpétuelle.”

I have in my paper Shakti and Maya (here reprinted from the Indian Philosophical Review, 1918, No. 2) contrasted the three different concepts of the Primal Energy as Prakriti, Maya and Shakti of Samkhya, Vedanta and the Agama respectively. I will not, therefore, repeat myself but will only summarize conclusions here. In the first place, there are features common to all three concepts. Hitherto, greater pains have been taken to show the differences between the Darshanas than to co-ordinate them systematically, by regarding their points of agreement or as regard apparent disagreement, their viewpoint. It has been said that Truth cannot be found in such a country as India, in which, there are six systems of philosophy disputing with one another, and where even in one system alone, there is a conflict between Dvaita, Vishishtadvaita and Advaita. One might suppose from such a criticism that all in Europe were of one mind, or that al least the Christian Community was agreed, instead of being split up, as it is, into hundreds of sects. An American humorist observed with truth that there was a good deal of human nature in man everywhere.

Of course there is difference which, as the Radd-ul-Muhtar says, is also the gift of God. This is not to deny that Truth is only one. It is merely to recognize that whilst Truth is one, the nature and capacities of those who seek it, or claim to possess it, vary. To use a common metaphor, the same white light which passes through varicolored glass takes on its various colors. All cannot apprehend the truth to the same extent or in the same way. Hence the sensible Indian doctrine of competency or Adhikara. In the Christian Gospel it is also said, “Throw not your pearls before swine lest they trample upon them and then rend you.” What can be given to any man is only what he can receive.

The Six Philosophies represent differing standards according to the manner and to the extent to which the one Truth may be apprehended. Each standard goes a step beyond the last, sharing, however, with it certain notions in common. As regards the present matter, all these systems start with the fact that there is Spirit and Mind, Matter, Consciousness and Unconsciousness, apparent or real. Samkhya, Vedanta and the Shakta Agama called the first Purusha, Brahman, Shiva; and the second Prakriti, Maya, Shakti respectively. All agree that it is from the association together of these two Principles that the universe arises and that such association is the universe. All, again, agree that one Principle, namely, the first, is infinite, formless consciousness, and the second is a finitizing principle which makes forms. Thirdly, all regard this last as a veiling principle, that is, one which veils consciousness; and hold that it is eternal, all-pervading, existing now as seed (Mula-prakriti, Avyakta) and now as fruit (Vikriti), composed of the Gunas Sattva, Rajas and Tamas (Principles of presentation of Consciousness, Action, and Veiling of Consciousness respectively); unperceivable except through its effects. In all, it is the Natural Principle, the material cause of the material universe.

The word Prakriti has been said to be derived from the root “Kri,” and the affix “Ktin,” which is added to express Bhava or the abstract idea, and sometimes the Karma or object of the action, corresponding with the Greek affix Sis. Ktin inflected in the nominative becomes tis. Prakriti, therefore, has been said to correspond with Phusis (Nature) of the Greeks. In all three systems, therefore, it is, as the “natural,” contrasted with the “spiritual” aspect of things.

The first main point of difference is between Samkhya, on the one hand, and the Advaita Vedanta, whether as interpreted by Shamkara or taught by the Shaiva-Shakta Tantra on the other. Classical Samkhya is a dualistic system, whereas the other two are non-dualistic. The classical Samkhya posits a plurality of Atmans representing the formless consciousness, with one unconscious Prakriti which is formative activity. Prakriti is thus a real independent principle. Vedantic monism does not altogether discard these two principles, but says that they cannot exist as two independent Realities. There is only one Brahman. The two categories of Samkhya, Purusha and Prakriti are reduced to one Reality, the Brahman; otherwise the Vakya, “All this is verily Brahman” (Sarvam khalvidam Brahma), is falsified.

But how is this effected? It is on this point that Mayavada of Shamkara and the Advaita of Shaiva-Shakta Agama differ. Both systems agree that Brahman has two aspects in one of which It is transcendent and in another creative and immanent. According to Shamkara, Brahman is in one aspect Ishvara associated with, and in another one dissociated from Maya which, in his system, occupies the place of the Samkhyan Prakriti, to which it is (save as to reality and independence) similar. What is Maya P It is not a real independent Principle like the Samkhyan Prakriti. Then is it Brahman or not’? According to Shamkara, it is an unthinkable, alogical, unexplainable (Anirvacantia) mystery. It is an eternal falsity (Mithyabhuta sanatani), owing what false appearance of reality it possesses to the Brahman, with which in one aspect it is associated. It is not real for there is only one such. It cannot, however, be said to be unreal for it is the cause of and is empirical experience. It is something which is neither real (Sat) nor unreal (Asat), nor partly real and partly unreal (Sadasat), and which though not forming part of Brahman, and therefore not Brahman, is yet, though not a second reality, inseparably associated and sheltering with (Maya Brahmashrita) Brahman in Its Ishvara aspect. Like the Samkhyan Prakriti, Maya (whatever it be) is in the nature of an unconscious principle. The universe appears by the reflection of consciousness (Purusha, Brahman) on unconsciousness (Prakriti, Maya). In this way the unconscious is made to appear conscious. This is Cidabhasa.

Maya is illusive and so is Shamkara’s definition of it. Further, though Maya is not a second reality, but a mysterious something of which neither reality nor unreality can be affirmed, the fact of positing it at all in this form gives to Shamkara’s doctrine a tinge of dualism from which the Shakta doctrine is free. For, it is to be noted that notwithstanding that Maya is a falsity, it is not, according to Shamkara, a mere negation or want of something (Abhava), but a positive entity (Bhavarupam ajñanam), that is in the nature of a Power which veils (Acchadaka) consciousness, as Prakriti does in the case of Purusha. Shamkara’s system, on the other hand, has this advantage from a monistic standpoint, that whilst he, like the Shakta, posits the doctrine of aspects saying that in one aspect the Brahman is associated with Maya (Ishvara), and in another it is not (Parabrahman; yet in neither aspect does his Brahman change. Whereas, according to Shakta doctrine, Shiva does, in one aspect, that is as Shakti, change.

Whilst then Shamkara’s teaching is consistent with the changelessness of Brahman, he is not so successful in establishing the saying,. “All this is Brahman”. The position is reversed as regards Shaiva-Shakta Darshana which puts forth its doctrine of Maya-Shakti with greater simplicity. Shakta doctrine takes the saying, “All this is Brahman” (the realization of which, as the Mahanirvana Tantra states, is the aim and end of Kulacara) in its literal sense. “This” is the universe. Then the universe is Brahman. But Brahman is Consciousness. Then the universe is really That. But in what way P Shamkara says that what we sense with our senses is Maya, which is practically something, but in a real sense nothing; which yet appears to be something because it is associated with the Brahman which alone is Real. Its appearance of independent reality is thus borrowed and is in this sense said to be “illusory”. When, therefore, we say, “All this is Brahman” — according to Shamkara, this means that what is at the back of that which we see is Brahman; the rest or appearance is Maya. Again, according to Shamkara, man is spirit (Atma) vestured in the Mayik falsities of mind and matter. He, accordingly, can then only establish the unity of Ishvara and Jiva by eliminating from the first Maya, and from the second Avidya; when Brahman is left as a common denominator. The Shakta, however, eliminates nothing. For him, in the strictest sense, “All is Brahman.” For him, man’s Spirit (Atma) is Shiva. His mind and body are Shakti. But Shiva and Shakti are one. Paramatma is Shiva-Shakti in undistinguishable union. Jivatma is Shiva-Shakti in that state in which the Self is distinguished from the not-Self. Man, therefore, according to the Shakta Tantra, is not Spirit seemingly clothed by a non-Brahman falsity, but Spirit covering Itself with its own power or Maya-Shakti. All is Shakti whether as Cit-Shakti or Maya-Shakti. When, therefore, the Shakta Tantric says, “All this is Brahman,” he means it literally. “This,” here means Brahman as Shakti, as Maya-Shakti, and Cit-Shakti.

Shiva as Parabrahman is Shiva-Shakti in that state when Shakti is not operating and in which She is Herself, that is, pure consciousness (Cidrupini). Shiva as Ishvara is Shiva-Shakti in that state in which Shiva, associated with Maya-Shakti, is the source of movement and change; Shiva-Shakti as Jiva is the state produced by such action which is subject to Maya, from which Ishvara, the Mayin is free. The creative Shakti is therefore changeless Cit-Shakti and changing Maya-Shakti. Yet the One Shakti must never be conceived as existing apart from, or without the other, for they are only twin aspects of the fundamental Substance (Paravastu). Vimarsha-Shakti (See Kamakalavilasa, 3rd Edition, 1961, Verses 1-4) as Maya-Shakti produces the forms in which Spirit as Cit-Shakti inheres and which it illuminates (Prakasha). But Maya-Shakti is not unconscious. How can it be; for it is Shakti and one with Cit-Shakti. All Shakti is and must be Consciousness. There is no unconscious Maya which is not Brahman and yet not separate from Brahman. Brahman alone is and exists, whether as Cit or as manifestation of Maya. All is Consciousness, as the so-called “New Thought” of the West also affirms.

But surely, it will be said, there is an unconscious element in things. How is this accounted for if there be no unconscious Maya? It is conscious Shakti veiling Herself and so appearing as limited consciousness. In other words, whilst Shamkara says mind and matter are in themselves unconscious but appear to be conscious through Cidabhasa, the Shakta Agama reverses the position, and says that they are in themselves, that is in their ground, conscious, for they are at base Cit; but they yet appear to be unconscious, or more strictly limited consciousness, by the veiling power of Consciousness Itself as Maya-Shakti. This being so, there is no need for Cidabhasa which assumes, as it were, two things, the Brahman, and unconscious Maya in which the former reflects itself. Though some of the Shastras do speak of a reflection, Pratibimba is between Shiva and Shakti. Brahman is Maya-Shakti in that aspect in which it negates itself, for it is the function of Shakti to negate (Nishedhavyapararupa shaktih), as it is said by Yoga-Raja or Yoga-Muni (as he is also called) in his commentary on Abhinava Gupta’s Paramarthasara. In the Shakta Tantras, it is a common saying of Shiva to Devi, “There is no difference between Me and Thee.” Whilst Shamkara’s Ishvara is associated with the unconscious Maya, the Shaiva Shakta’s Ishvara is never associated with anything but Himself, that is as Maya-Shakti.

Whether this doctrine be accepted as the final solution of things or not, it is both great and powerful. It is great because the whole world is seen in glory according to the strictest monism as the manifestation of Him and Her. The mind is not distracted and kept from the realization of unity, by the notion of any unconscious Maya which is not Brahman nor yet separate from It. Next, this doctrine accommodates itself to Western scientific monism, so far as the latter goes, adding to it however a religious and metaphysical basis; infusing it with the spirit of devotion. It is powerful because its standpoint is the ‘here’ and ‘now,’ and not the transcendental Siddhi standpoint of which most men know nothing and cannot, outside Samadhi, realize. It assumes the reality of the world which to us is real. It allows the mind to work in its natural channel. It does not ask it to deny what goes against the grain of its constitution to deny. It is, again, powerful because we stand firmly planted on a basis which is real and natural to us. From the practical viewpoint, it does not ask man to eschew and flee from the world in the spirit of asceticism; a course repugnant to a large number of modern minds, not only because mere asceticism often involves what it thinks to be a futile self-denial; but because that mind is waking to the truth that all is one; that if so, to deny the world is in a sense to deny an aspect of That which is both Being and Becoming. It thinks also that whilst some natures are naturally ascetic, to attempt ascetic treatment in the case of most is to contort the natural being, and to intensify the very evils which asceticism seeks to avoid. Not one man in many thousands has true Vairagya or detachment from the world. Most are thoroughly even glued to it. Again, there are many minds which are puzzled and confused by Mayavada; and which, therefore, falsely interpret it,– may be to their harm. These men, Mayavada, or rather their misunderstanding of it, weakens or destroys. Their grip on themselves and the world is in any case enfeebled. They become intellectual and moral derelicts who are neither on the path of power nor of renunciation, and who have neither the strength to follow worldly life, nor to truly abandon it. It is not necessary, however, to renounce when all is seen to be Her. And, when all is so seen, then the spiritual illumination which transfuses all thoughts and acts makes them noble and pure. It is impossible for a man, who in whatever sense truly sees God in all things, to err. If he does so, it is because his vision is not fully strong and pure; and to this extent scope is afforded to error. But given perfect spiritual eyesight then all “this” is pure. For, as the Greeks profoundly said, “panta kathara tois katharois,” “To the pure all things are pure.”

The Shakta doctrine is thus one which has not only grandeur but is greatly pragmatic and of excelling worth. It has always been to me a surprise that its value should not have been rightly appreciated. I can only suppose that its neglect is due to the fact that is the doctrine of the Shakta Tantras. That fact has been enough to warrant its rejection, or at least a refusal to examine it. Like all practical doctrines, it is also intensely positive. There are none of those negations which weaken and which annoy those who, as the vital Western mind does, feel themselves to be strong and living in an atmosphere of might and power. For power is a glorious thing. What is wanted is only the sense that all Power is of God and is God, and that Bhava or feeling which interprets all thoughts and acts and their objects in terms of the Divine, and which sees God in and as all things. Those who truly do so will exercise power not only without wrong, but with that compassion (Karuna) for all beings which is so beautiful a feature of the Buddha of northern and Tantrik Buddhism. For in them Shakti Herself has descended. This is Shaktipata, as it is technically called in the Tantra Shastra; the descent of Shakti which Western theology calls the grace of God. But grace is truly not some exterior thing, though we may pictorially think of it as ‘streaming’ from above below. Atma neither comes nor goes. To be in grace is that state in which man commences to realize himself as Shiva-Shakti. His power is, to use a Western phrase, “converted”. It is turned from the husk of mere outwardness and of limited self-seeking, to that inner Reality which is the great Self which, at base, he (in this doctrine) is.

The principles of Shakta doctrine, which will vary according to race, are a regenerating doctrine, giving strength where there is weakness, and, where strength exists, directing it to right ends. “Shivo’ ham,” “I am Shiva,” “Sha’ ham,” “I am She (the Devi),” the Tantras say. The Western may call It by some other name. Some call It this and some that, as the Veda says. “I am He,” “I am She,” “I am It,” matters not to the Shakta so long as man identifies himself with the ‘Oversoul,’ and thus harmonizes himself with its Being, with Dharmic actions (as it manifests in the world) and therefore necessarily with Its true ends. In its complete form the Shakta doctrine is monistic. But to those to whom monism makes no appeal, the Shakta will say that by adopting its spirit, so far as the forms of their belief and worship allow, they will experience a reflection of the joy and strength of those who truly live because they worship Her who is Eternal life — the Mother who is seated on the couch of Shivas (Mahapreta), in the Isle of Gems (Manidvipa), in the “Ocean of Nectar,” which is all Being-Consciousness and Bliss.

This is the pearl which those who have churned the ocean of Tantra discover. That pearl is there in an Indian shell. There is a beautiful nacre on the inner shell which is the Mother of Pearl. Outside, the shell is naturally rough and coarse, and bears the accretions of weed and parasite and of things of all kinds which exist, good or bad as we call them, in the ocean of existence (Samsara). The Scripture leads man to remove these accretions, and to pass within through the crust, gross, though not on that account only, bad; for there is a gross (Sthula) and subtle (Sukshma) aspect of worship. Finally it leads man to seek to see the Mother of Pearl and lastly the Pearl which, enclosed therein, shines with the brilliant yet soft light which is that of the Moon-Cit (Cicchandra) Itself.

Chapter Sixteen
Matter and Consciousness

The subject of my lecture to-day is Consciousness or Cit, and Matter or Unconsciousness, that is, Acit; the unchanging formlessness and the changing forms. According to Shakta Advaitavada, man is Consciousness-Unconsciousness or Cit-Acit; being Cit-Shakti as regards his Antaratma, and the particularized Maya-Shakti as to his material vehicles of mind and body. The reason that I have selected this subject, amongst the many others on which I might have addressed you, is that these two ideas are the key concepts of Indian Philosophy and religion. If they are fully understood both as to their definition and relations, then, all is understood so far as intellect can make such matters intelligible to us; if they are not understood then nothing is properly understood. Nor are they always understood even by those who profess to know and write on Indian Philosophy. Thus, the work on Vedanta, of an English Orientalist, now in its second edition, describes Cit as the condition of a stone or other inert substance. A more absurd error it is hard to imagine. Those who talk in this way have not learnt the elements of their subject. It is true that you will find in the Shastra, the state of the Yogi described as being like a log (Kashthavat). But this does not mean that his Consciousness is that of a piece of wood; but that he no more perceives the external world than a log of wood does. He does not do so because he has the Samadhi consciousness that is Illumination and true Being itself.

I can to-night only scratch at the surface of a profound subject. To properly expound it would require a series of lectures, and to understand it in its depths, years of thinking thereon. I will look at the matter first from the scientific point of view; secondly, state what those concepts mean in themselves; and thirdly, show how they are related to one another in the Samkhya and the Mayavada and Shaktivada presentments of Vedanta doctrine. The Shaktivada of which I deal to-night may be found in the Tantras. It has been supposed that the Agamas arose at the close of the age of the Upanishads. They are Shastras of the Upasana Kanda dealing with the worship of Saguna Ishvara. It has been conjectured that they arose partly because of the declining strength of the Vaidika Acara, and partly because of the increasing number of persons within the Hindu fold, who were not competent for the Vaidika Acara, and, for whom some spiritual discipline was necessary. One common feature distinguishes them; namely, their teaching is for all castes and all women. They express the liberal principle that whilst socially differences may exist, the path of religion is open to all, and that spiritual competency and not the external signs of caste determine the position of persons on that path. Ishvara in these Agamas is worshipped in threefold forms as Vishnu, Shiva, Devi. Therefore, the Agamas or Tantras are threefold, Vaishnava, Shaiva and Shakta, such as the Pañcaratra Agamas of the first group, the Shaiva Siddhanta (with its 28 Tantras), the Nakulisha Pashupata, and the Kashmirian Trika of the second group; and the alleged division into Kaula, Mishra, Samaya of the third group. I express no opinion on this last division. I merely refer to this matter in order to explain what I mean by the word Agama. The Shaktivada, however, which I contrast with Mayavada to-day, is taken from the Shakta Agama. By Mayavada I mean Shamkara’s exposition of Vedanta.

Now, with reference to the scientific aspect of the subject, I show you that in three main particulars, modern western physics and psychology support Indian philosophy whatever such support may be worth. Indeed, Mr. Lowes Dickinson, in an acute recent analysis of the state of ideas in India, China and Japan observes that the Indian form of religion and philosophy is that which most easily accommodates itself to modern western science. That does not prove it is true, until it is established that the conclusions of western science to which it does conform, are true. But the fact is of great importance in countering those who have thought that eastern ideas were without rational foundation. It is of equal importance to those two classes who either believe in the ideas of India, or in the particular conclusions of science to which I refer. The three points on this head are firstly, that physicists, by increasing their knowledge of so-called “matter,” have been led to doubt its reality, and have dematerialized the atom, and, with it, the entire universe which the various atoms compose. The trinity of matter, ether and electricity out of which science has hitherto attempted to construct the world, has been reduced to a single element — the ether (which is not scientific “matter”) in a state of motion. According to Samkhya, the objective world is composed of Bhutas which derive ultimately from Akasha. I do not say that scientific “ether” is Akasha, which is a concept belonging to a different train of thought. Moreover the sensible is derived from the supersensible Akasha Tanmatra, and is not therefore an ultimate. But it is important to note the agreement in this, that both in East and West, the various forms of gross matter derive from some single substance which is not “matter”. Matter is dematerialized, and the way is made for the Indian concept of Maya. There is a point at which the mind cannot any longer usefully work outward. Therefore, after the Tanmatra, the mind is turned within to discover their cause in that Egoism which, reaching forth to the world of enjoyment produces sensorial, senses, and objects of sensation. That the mind and senses are also material has the support of some forms of western philosophy, such as that of Herbert Spencer, for he holds that the Universe, whether physical or psychical, is a play of force which in the case of matter we experience as object. Mind as such is, he says, as much a “material” organ as the brain and outer sense-organs, though they are differing forms of Force. His affirmation that scientific “matter” is an appearance produced by the play of cosmic force, and that mind itself is a product of the same play, is what Samkhya and Vedanta hold. The way again is opened for the concept, Maya. Whilst, however, Spencer and the Agnostic School hold that the Reality behind these phenomena is unknowable, the Vedanta affirms that it is knowable and is Consciousness itself. This is the Self than which nothing can be more intimately known. Force is blind. We discover consciousness in the Universe. It is reasonable to suppose that if the first cause is of the nature of either Consciousness or Matter, and not of both, it must be of the nature of the former and not of the latter. Unconsciousness or object may be conceived to modify Consciousness, but not to produce Consciousness out of its unconscious Self. According to Indian ideas, Spirit which is the cause of the Universe is pure Consciousness. This is Nishkala Shiva: and, as the Creator, the great Mother or Devi. The existence of pure consciousness in the Indian sense has been decried by some thinkers in the West, where generally to its pragmatic eye, Consciousness is always particular having a particular direction and form. It assumes this particularity, however, through Maya. We must distinguish between Consciousness as such and modes in consciousness. Consciousness is the unity behind all forms of consciousness, whether sensation, emotion, instinct, will or reason. The claim that Consciousness as such exists can only be verified by spiritual experience. All high mystic experiences, whether in East or West, have been experiences of unity in differing forms and degrees. Even, however, in normal life as well as in abnormal pathological states, we have occasional stretches of experience in which it becomes almost structure-less. Secondly, the discovery of the subliminal Consciousness aids Shastric doctrine, in so far as it shows that behind the surface consciousness of which we are ordinarily aware, there is yet another mysterious field in which all its operations grow. It is the Buddhi which here manifests. Well-established occult powers and phenomena now generally accepted such as telepathy, thought-reading, hypnotism and the like are only explainable on hypotheses which approach more nearly Eastern doctrine than any other theory which has in modern times prevailed in the West. Thirdly, as bearing on this subject, we have now the scientific recognition that from its materia prima all forms have evolved; that there is life or its potency in all things: and that there are no breaks in nature. There is the same matter and Consciousness throughout. There is unity of life. There is no such thing as “dead” matter. The well-known experiments of Dr. Jagadish Bose establish response to stimuli in inorganic matter. This response may be interpreted to indicate the existence of that Sattva Guna which Vedanta and Samkhya affirm to exist in all things organic or inorganic. It is the play of Cit in this Sattva, so muffled in Tamas as not to be recognizable except by delicate scientific experiment, which appears as the so-called “mechanical” response. Consciousness is here veiled and imprisoned by Tamas. Inorganic matter displays it in the form of that seed or rudiment of sentiency which, enlarging into the simple pulses of feeling of the lowest degrees of organized life, at length emerges in the developed self-conscious sensations of human life. Consciousness is throughout the same. What varies is its wrappings. There is, thus, a progressive release of Consciousness from gross matter, through plants and animals to man. This evolution, Indian doctrine has taught in its 84 lakhs of previous births. According to the Hindu books, plants have a dormant consciousness. The Mahabharata says that plants can see and thus they reach the light. Such power of vision would have been ridiculed not long ago, but Professor Haberlandt, the well-known botanist, has established that plants possess an organ of vision in the shape of a convex lens on the upper surface of the leaf. The animal consciousness is greater, but seems to display itself almost entirely in the satisfaction of animal’s wants. In man, we reach the world of ideas, but these are a superstructure on consciousness, and not its foundation or basis. It is in this modeless basis that the various modes of consciousness with which we are familiar in our waking and dreaming states arise.

The question then arises as to the relation of this principle of Form with Formlessness; the unconscious finite with infinite consciousness. It is noteworthy that in the Thomistic philosophy, Matter, like Prakriti, is the particularizing or finitizing principle. By their definition, however, they are opposed. How then can the two be one?

Samkhya denies that they are one, and says they are two separate independent principles. This, Vedanta in its turn denies for it says that there is in fact only one true Reality, though from the empirical, dualistic standpoint there seem to be two. The question then is asked, Is dualism, pluralism, or monism to be accepted? For the Vedantist the answer of Shruti is that it is the last. But, apart from this, the question is, Does Shruti record a true experience, and is it the fact that spiritual experience is monistic or dualistic? The answer is, as we can see from history, that all high mystic experiences are experiences of unity in differing forms and degrees.

The question cannot be decided solely by discussion, but by our conclusion as to the conformity of the particular theory held with spiritual experience. But how can we reconcile the unity of pure consciousness with the plurality of unconscious forms which the world of experience gives us? Vedanta gives various intellectual interpretations, though experience alone can solve this question. Shamkara says there is only one Sadvastu, the Brahman. From a transcendental standpoint, It is, and nothing happens. There is, in the state of highest experience (Paramatma), no Ishvara, no creation, no world, no Jiva, no bondage, no liberation. But empirically he must and does admit the world or Maya, which in its seed is the cosmic Samskara, which is the cause of all these notions which from the highest state are rejected. But is it real or unreal? Shamkara says it is neither. It cannot be real, for then there would be two Reals. It is not unreal, for the world is an empirical fact — an experience of its kind, and it proceeds from the Power of Ishvara. In truth, it is unexplainable, and as Sayana says, more wonderful than Cit itself.

But if it is neither Sat nor Asat, then as Maya it is not the Brahman who is Sat. Does it then exist in Pralaya and if so how and where? How can unconsciousness exist in pure consciousness? Shamkara calls it eternal, and says that in Pralaya, Mayasatta is Brahmasatta. At that time, Maya, as the power of the ideating consciousness, and the world, its thought, do not exist: and only the Brahman is. But if so how does the next universe arise on the assumption that there is Pralaya and that there is not with him as Maya the seed of the future universe? A Bija of Maya as Samskara, even though Avyakta (not present to Consciousness), is yet by its terms different from consciousness. To all such questionings, Shamkara would say, they are themselves the product of the Maya of the state in which they are put. This is true, but it is possible to put the matter in a simpler way against which there are not so many objections as may be laid against Mayavada.

It seems to me that Shamkara who combats Samkhya is still much influenced by its notions, and as a result of his doctrine of Maya he has laid himself open to the charge that his doctrine is not Shuddha Advaita. His notion of Maya retains a trace of the Samkhyan notion of separateness, though separateness is in fact denied. In Samkhya, Maya is the real Creatrix under the illumination of Purusha. We find similar notions in Shamkara, who compares Cit to the Ayaskantamani, and denies all liberty of self-determination in the Brahman which, though itself unchanging, is the cause of change. Jñana Kriya is allowed only to Ishvara, a concept which is itself the product of Maya. To some extent the distinctions made are perhaps a matter of words. To some extent particular notions of the Agamas are more practical than those of Shamkara who was a transcendentalist.

The Agama, giving the richest content to the Divine Consciousness, does not deny to it knowledge, but, in its supreme aspect, any dual knowledge; spiritual experience being likened by the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad to the union of man and wife in which duality exists as one and there is neither within nor without. It is this union which is the Divine Lila of Shakti, who is yet all the time one with Her Lord.

The Shakta exposition appears to be both simple and clear. I can only sketch it roughly — having no time for its detail. It is first the purest Advaitavada. What then does it say? It starts with the Shruti, “Sarvam Khalvidam Brahma”. Sarvam = world; Brahman = consciousness or Sacchidananda; therefore this world is itself Consciousness.

But we know we are not perfect consciousness. There is an apparent unconsciousness. How then is this explained? The unmanifested Brahman, before all the worlds, is Nirguna Shiva — the Blissful undual consciousness. This is the static aspect of Shiva. This manifests Shakti which is the kinetic aspect of Brahman. Shakti and Shaktiman are one; therefore, Shiva manifests as Shiva-Shakti, who are one and the same. Therefore Shakti is consciousness.

But Shakti has two aspects (Murti), viz., Vidya Shakti or Cit-Shakti, and Avidya Shakti or Maya-Shakti. Both as Shakti (which is the same as Shaktiman) are in themselves conscious. But the difference is that whilst Cit-Shakti is illuminating consciousness, Maya is a Shakti which veils consciousness to itself, and by its wondrous power appears as unconscious. This Maya-Shakti is Consciousness which by its power appears as unconsciousness. This Maya-Shakti is Triguna Shakti, that is, Shakti composed of the three Gunas. This is Kamakala which is the Trigunatmaka vibhuti. These Gunas are therefore at base nothing but Cit-Shakti. There is no necessity for the Mayavadin’s Cidabhasa, that is, the reflection of conscious reality on unconscious unreality, as Mayavada says. All is real except, in the sense that some things endure and are therefore truly real: others pass and in that sense only are not real. All is Brahman. The Antaratma in man is the enduring Cit-Shakti. His apparently unconscious vehicles of mind and body are Brahman as Maya-Shakti, that is, consciousness appearing as unconsciousness by virtue of its inscrutable power. Ishvara is thus the name for Brahman as Shakti which is conjoined Cit-Shakti and Maya-Shakti.

The Mother Devi is Ishvara considered in His feminine aspect (Ishvari) as the Mother and Nourisher of the world. The Jiva or individual self is an Amsha or fragment of that great Shakti: the difference being that whilst Ishvara is Mayavin or the controller of Maya, Jiva is subject to Maya. The World-thinker retains His Supreme undual Consciousness even in creation, but His thought, that is the forms created by His thinking are bound by His Maya that is the forms with which they identify themselves until by the power of the Vidya Shakti in them they are liberated. All is truly Sat — or Brahman. In creation Shiva extends His power, and at Pralaya withdraws it into Himself. In creation, Maya is in itself Consciousness which appears as unconsciousness. Before creation it is as consciousness.

Important practical results follow from the adoption of this view of looking at the world. The latter is the creation of Ishvara. The world is real; being unreal only in the sense that it is a shifting passing thing, whereas Atma as the true Reality endures. Bondage is real, for Bondage is Avidyashakti binding consciousness. Liberation is real for this is the grace of Vidyashakti. Men are each Centers of Power, and if they would achieve success must, according to this Shastra, realize themselves as such, knowing that it is Devata which thinks and acts in, and as, them and that they are the Devata. Their world enjoyment is His, and liberation is His peaceful nature. The Agamas deal with the development of this Power which is not to be thought of as something without, but as within man’s grasp through various forms of Shakti Sadhana. Being in the world and working through the world, the world itself, in the words of the Kularnava Tantra, becomes the seat of liberation (Mokshayate Samsara). The Vira or heroic Sadhaka does not shun the world from fear of it. But he holds it in his grasp and wrests from it its secret. Realizing it at length as Consciousness the world of matter ceases to be an object of desire. Escaping from the unconscious drifting of a humanity which has not yet realized itself, He is the illumined master of himself, whether developing all his powers, or seeking liberation at his will.

[As M. Masson-Oursel so well puts it (Esquisse dune histoire de la philosophie indienne, p. 257) “Dans le tantrisme triomphent une conception immanentiste de 1’intelligibilite, L’esprit s’assigne pour but, non de se laisser vivre mais de se créer une vie digne de lui, une existence omnisciente omnipotente, qu’il maitrisera parce qu’il en sera auteur” (by Sadhana).]

Chapter Seventeen
Shakti and Maya

In the Eighth Chapter of the unpublished Sammohana Tantra, it is said that Shamkara manifested on earth in the form of Shamkaracarya, in order to root out Buddhism from India. It compares his disciples and himself to the five Mahapreta (who form the couch on which the Mother of the Worlds rests), and identifies his maths with the Amnayas, namely, the Govardhana in Puri with Purvamnaya (the Sampradaya being Bhogavara), and so on with the rest. Whatever be the claims of Shamkara as destroyer of the great Buddhistic heresy, which owing to its subtlety was the most dangerous antagonist which the Vedanta has ever had, or his claims as expounder of Upanishad from the standpoint of Siddhi, his Mayavada finds no place in the Tantras of the Agamas, for the doctrine and practice is given from the standpoint of Sadhana. This is not to say that the doctrine is explicitly denied. It is not considered. It is true that in actual fact we often give accommodation to differing theories for which logic can find no living room, but it is obvious that in so far as man is a worshipper he must accept the world-standpoint, if he would not, like Kalidasa, cut from beneath himself the branch of the tree on which he sits. Next, it would be a mistake to overlook the possibility of the so-called “Tantrik” tradition having been fed by ways of thought and practice which were not, in the strict sense of the term, part of the Vaidic cult, or in the line of its descent. The worship of the Great Mother, the Magna Mater of the Near East, the Adya Shakti of the Shakta Tantras, is in its essentials (as I have elsewhere pointed out) one of the oldest and most widespread religions of the world, and one which in India was possibly, in its origins, independent of the Brahmanic religion as presented to us in the Vaidik Samhitas and Brahmanas. If this be so, it was later on undoubtedly mingled with the Vedanta tradition, so that the Shakta faith of to-day is a particular presentation of the general Vedantik teaching. This is historical speculation from an outside standpoint. As the Sarvollasa of Sarvanandanatha points out, and as is well-known to all adherents of the Shakta Agamas, Veda in its general sense includes these and other Shastras in what is called the great Shatakoti Samhita. Whatever be the origins of doctrine (and this should not be altogether overlooked in any proper appreciation of it), I am here concerned with its philosophical aspect, as shown to us to-day in the teachings and practice of the Shaktas who are followers of the Agama. This teaching occupies in some sense a middle place between the dualism of Samkhya, and Shamkara’s ultra-monistic interpretation of Vedanta to which, unless otherwise stated, I refer. Both the Shaiva and Shakta schools accept the threefold aspect of the Supreme known as Prakasha, Vimarsha and Prakasha-Vimarsha called in Tantrik worship, “The Three Feet” (Caranatritaya). Both adopt the Thirty-six Tattvas, Shiva, Shakti, Sadashiva, Ishvara and Shuddhavidya, preceding the Purusha-Prakriti Tattvas with which the Samkhya commences. For whereas these are the ultimate Tattvas in that Philosophy, the Shaiva and Shakta schools claim to show how Purusha and Prakriti are themselves derived from higher Tattvas. These latter Tattvas are also dealt with from the Shabda side as Shakti, Nada, Bindu and as Kalas which are the Kriya of the various grades of Tattvas which are aspects of Shakti. The Shakta Tantras, such as the Saubhagyaratnakara and other works, speak of ninety-four of such Kalas appropriate to Sadashiva, Ishvara, Rudra, Vishnu, and Brahma, “Sun,” “Moon,’ and “Fire,” (indicated in the form of the Ram Bija with Candrabindu transposed) of which fifty-one are Matrika Kalas, being the subtle aspects of the gross letters of Sanskrit alphabet. This last is the Mimamsaka doctrine of Shabda adapted to the doctrine of Shakti. Common also to both Shakta and Shaiva Sampradayas is the doctrine of the Shadadhva. (See my Garland of Letters).

I am not however here concerned with these details, but with the general concept of Shakti which is their underlying basis. It is sufficient to say that Shakta doctrine is a form of Advaitavada. In reply to the question what is “silent concealment” (Goptavyam), it is said: Atmaham-bhava-bhavanaya bhavayitavyam ityarthah. Hitherto greater pains have been taken to show the differences between the Darshanas than, by regarding their points of agreement, to co-ordinate them systematically. So far as the subject of the present article is concerned all three systems, Samkhya, Mayavada, Shaktivada, are in general agreement as to the nature of the infinite formless Consciousness, and posit therewith a finitizing principle called Prakriti, Maya and Shakti respectively. The main points on which Samkhya (at any rate in what has been called its classical form) differs from Mayavada Vedanta are in its two doctrines of the plurality of Atmans on the one hand, and the reality and independence of Prakriti on the other. When however we examine these two Samkhya doctrines closely we find them to be mere accommodations to the infirmity of common thought. A Vedantic conclusion is concealed within its dualistic presentment. For if each liberated (Mukta) Purusha is all-pervading (Vibhu), and if there is not the slightest difference between one and another, what is the actual or practical difference between such pluralism and the doctrine of Atma? Again it is difficult for the ordinary mind to conceive that objects cease to exist when consciousness of objects ceases. The mind naturally conceives of their existing for others, although, according to the hypothesis, it has no right to conceive anything at all. But here again what do we find? In liberation Prakriti ceases to exist for the Mukta Purusha. In effect what is this but to say with Vedanta that Maya is not a real independent category (Padartha)?

A critic has taken exception to my statement that the classical Samkhya conceals a Vedantic solution behind its dualistic presentment. I was not then, of course, speaking from historical standpoint. Shiva in the Kularnava Tantra says that the Six Philosophies are parts of His body, and he who severs them severs His body. They are each aspects of the Cosmic Mind as appearing in Humanity. The logical process which they manifest is one and continuous. The conclusions of each stage or standard can be shown to yield the material of that which follows. This is a logical necessity if it be assumed that the Vedanta is the truest and highest expression of that of which the lower dualistic and pluralistic stages are the approach.

In Samkhya, the Purusha principle represents the formless consciousness, and Prakriti formative activity. Shamkara, defining Reality as that which exists as the same in all the three times, does not altogether discard these two principles, but says that they cannot exist as two independent Realities. He thus reduces the two categories of Samkhya, the Purusha Consciousness and Prakriti Unconsciousness to one Reality, the Brahman; otherwise the Vakya, “All is Brahman” (Sarvam khalvidam Brahma) is falsified. Brahman, however, in one aspect is dissociated from, and in another associated with Maya, which in his system takes the place of the Samkhyan Prakriti. Rut, whereas, Prakriti is an independent Reality, Maya is something which is neither real (Sat) nor unreal (Asat) nor partly real and partly unreal (Sadasat), and which though not forming part of Brahman, and therefore not Brahman, is yet, though not a second reality, inseparably associated and sheltering with, Brahman (Maya Brahmashrita) in one of its aspects: owing what false appearance of reality it has, to the Brahman with which it is so associated. It is an Eternal Falsity (Mithyabhuta sanatani), unthinkable, alogical, unexplainable (Anirvacaniya). In other points, the Vedantic Maya and Samkhyan Prakriti agree. Though Maya is not a second reality, but a mysterious something of which neither reality nor unreality can be affirmed, the fact of positing it at all gives to Shamkara’s doctrine a tinge of dualism from which Shakta theory is free. According to Samkhya, Prakriti is real although it changes. This question of reality is one of definition. Both Mulaprakriti and Maya are eternal. The world, though a changing thing, has at least empirical reality in either view. Both are unconsciousness. Consciousness is reflected on or in unconsciousness: that is to state one view for, as is known, there is a difference of opinion. The light of Purusha-Consciousness (Cit) is thrown on the Prakriti-Unconsciousness (Acit) in the form of Buddhi. Vijñanabhikshu speaks of a mutual reflection. The Vedantic Pratibimbavadins say that Atma is reflected in Antahkarana, and the apparent likeness of the latter to Cit which is produced by such reflection is Cidabhasa or Jiva. This question of Cidabhasa is one of the main points of difference between Mayavada and Shaktivada. Notwithstanding that Maya is a falsity, it is not, according to Shamkara, a mere negation or want of something (Abhava), but a positive entity (Bhavarupamajanam): that is, it is in the nature of a power which veils (Acchadaka) consciousness, as Prakriti does in the case of Purusha. The nature of the great “Unexplained” as it is in Itself, and whether we call it Prakriti or Maya, is unknown. The Yoginihridaya Tantra beautifully says that we speak of the Heart of Yogini who is Knower of Herself (Yogini svavid), because the heart is the place whence all things issue. “What man,” it says, “knows the heart of a woman? Only Shiva knows the Heart of Yogini.” But from Shruti and its effects it is said to be one, all-pervading, eternal, existing now as seed and now as fruit, unconscious, composed of Gunas (Guna-mayi); unperceivable except through its effects, evolving (Parinami) these effects which are its products: that is the world, which however assumes in each system the character of the alleged cause; that is, in Samkhya the effects are real: in Vedanta, neither real nor unreal. The forms psychic or physical arise in both cases as conscious-unconscious (Sadasat) effects from the association of Consciousness (Purusha or Ishvara) with Unconsciousness (Prakriti or Maya), Miyate anena iti Maya. Maya is that by which forms are measured or limited. This too is the function of Prakriti. Maya as the collective name of eternal ignorance (Ajñana), produces, as the Prapañcashakti, these forms, by first veiling (Avaranashakti) Consciousness in ignorance and then projecting these forms (Vikshepashakti) from the store of the cosmic Samskaras. But what is the Tamas Guna of the Samkhyan Prakriti in effect but pure Avidya? Sattva is the tendency to reflect consciousness and therefore to reduce unconsciousness. Rajas is the activity (Kriya) which moves Prakriti or Maya to manifest in its Tamasik and Sattvik aspect. Avidya means “na vidyate,” “is not seen,” and therefore is not experienced. Cit in association with Avidya does not see Itself as such. The first experience of the Soul reawakening after dissolution to world experience is, “There is nothing,” until the Samskaras arise from out this massive Ignorance. In short, Prakriti and Maya are like the materia prima of the Thomistic philosophy, the finitizing principle; the activity which “measures out” (Miyate), that is limits and makes forms in the formless (Cit). The devotee Kamalakanta lucidly and concisely calls Maya, the form of the Formless (Shunyasya akara iti Maya).

In one respect, Mayavada is a more consistent presentation of Advaitavada, than the Shakta doctrine to which we now proceed. For whilst Shamkara’s system, like all others, posits the doctrine of aspects, saying that in one aspect the Brahman is associated with Maya (Ishvara), and that in another it is not (Parabrahman); yet in neither aspect does his Brahman truly change. In Shakta doctrine, Shiva does in one aspect (Shakti) change. Brahman is changeless and yet changes. But as change is only experienced by Jivatma subject to Maya, there is not perhaps substantial difference between such a statement, and that which affirms changelessness and only seeming change. In other respects, however, to which I now proceed, Shakta doctrine is a more monistic presentation of Advaitavada. If one were asked its most essential characteristic, the reply should be, the absence of the concept of unconscious Maya as taught by Shamkara. Shruti says, “All is Brahman”. Brahman is consciousness: and therefore all is consciousness. There is no second thing called Maya which is not Brahman even though it be “not real”, “not unreal”; definition obviously given to avoid the imputation of having posited a second Real. To speak of Brahman, and Maya which is not Brahman is to speak of two categories, however much it may be sought to explain away the second by saying that it is “not real” and “not unreal”; a falsity which is yet eternal and so forth. Like a certain type of modern Western “New Thought,” Shakta doctrine affirms, “all is consciousness,” however much unconsciousness appears in it. The Kaulacarya Sadananda says in his commentary on the 4th Mantra of Isopanishad (Ed. A. Avalon): “The changeless Brahman, which is consciousness appears in creation as Maya which is Brahman, (Brahmamayi), consciousness (Cidrupini) holding in Herself unbeginning (Anadi) Karmik tendencies (Karmasamskara) in the form of the three Gunas. Hence, She is Gunamayi, despite being Cinmayi. As there is no second principle these Gunas are Cit-Shakti.” The Supreme Devi is thus Prakashavimarshasya-rupini, or the union of Prakasha and Vimarsha.

According to Shamkara, man is Spirit (Atma) vestured in the Mayik ‘falsities’ of mind and matter. He, accordingly, can only establish the unity of Ishvara and Jiva by eliminating from the first Maya, and from the second Avidya, when Brahman is left as common denominator. The Shakta eliminates nothing. Man’s spirit or Atma is Shiva, His mind and body are Shakti. Shakti and Shiva are one. The Jivatma is Shiva-Shakti. So is the Paramatma. This latter exists as one: the former as the manifold. Man is then not a Spirit covered by a non-Brahman falsity, but Spirit covering Itself with Its own power or Shakti.

What then is Shakti, and how does it come about that there is some principle of unconsciousness in things, a fact which cannot be denied. Shakti comes from the root “shak,” “to be able,” “to have power”. It may be applied to any form of activity. The power to see is visual Shakti, the power to burn is Shakti of fire, and so forth. These are all forms of activity which are ultimately reducible to the Primordial Shakti (Adya Shakti) whence every other form of Power proceeds. She is called Yogini because of Her connection with all things as their origin. It is this Original Power which is known in worship as Devi or Mother of Many Names. Those who worship the Mother, worship nothing “illusory” or unconscious, but a Supreme Consciousness, whose body is all forms of consciousness-unconsciousness produced by Her as Shiva’s power. Philosophically, the Mother or Daivashakti is the kinetic aspect of the Brahman. All three systems recognize that there is a static and kinetic aspect of things: Purusha, Brahman, Shiva on the one side, Prakriti, Maya, Shakti on the other. This is the time-honored attempt to reconcile the doctrine of a changeless Spirit, a changing Manifold, and the mysterious unity of the two. For Power (Shakti) and the possessor of the Power (Shaktiman) are one and the same. In the Tantras, Shiva constantly says to Devi, “There is no difference between Thee and Me.” We say that the fire burns, but burning is fire. Fire is not one thing and burning another. In the supreme transcendental changeless state, Shiva and Shakti are one, for Shiva is never without Shakti. The connection is called Avinabhavasambandha. Consciousness is never without its Power. Power is active Brahman or Consciousness. But, as there is then no activity, they exist in the supreme state as one Tattva (Ekam tattvam iva); Shiva as Cit, Shakti as Cidrupini. This is the state before the thrill of Nada, the origin of all those currents of force which are the universe. According to Shamkara, the Supreme Experience contains no trace or seed of’ objectivity whatever. In terms of speech, it is an abstract consciousness (Jñana). According to the view here expressed, which has been profoundly elaborated by the Kashmir Shaiva School, that which appears “without” only so appears because it, in some form or other, exists “within”. So also the Shakta Visvasara Tantra says, “what is here is there, what is not here is nowhere.” If therefore we know duality, it must be because the potentiality of it exists in that from which it arises. The Shaivashakta school thus assumes a real derivation of the universe and a causal nexus between Brahman and the world. According to Shamkara, this notion of creation is itself Maya, and there is no need to find a cause for it. So it is held that the supreme experience (Amarsha) is by the Self (Shiva) of Himself as Shakti, who as such is the Ideal or Perfect Universe; not in the sense of a perfected world of form, but that ultimate formless feeling (Bhava) of Bliss (Ananda) or Love which at root the whole world is. All is Love and by Love all is attained. The Shakta Tantras compare the state immediately prior to creation with that of a grain of gram (Canaka) wherein the two seeds (Shiva and Shakti) are held as one under a single sheath. There is, as it were, a Maithuna in this unity of dual aspect, the thrill of which is Nada, productive of the seed or Bindu from which the universe is born. When the sheath breaks and the seeds are pushed apart, the beginning of a dichotomy is established in the one consciousness, whereby, the “I”, and the “This” (Idam or Universe) appear as separate. The specific Shiva aspect is, when viewed through Maya, the Self, and the Shakti aspect the Not-Self. This is to the limited consciousness only. In truth the two, Shiva and Shakti, are ever one and the same, and never dissociated. Thus each of the Bindus of the Kamakala are Shiva-Shakti appearing as Purusha-Prakriti. At this point, Shakti assumes several forms, of which the two chief are Cit-Shakti or as Cit as Shakti, and Maya-Shakti or Maya as Shakti. Maya is not here a mysterious unconsciousness, a non-Brahman, non-real, non-unreal something. It is a form of Shakti, and Shakti is Shiva who is Consciousness which is real. Therefore Maya Shakti is in itself (Svarupa) Consciousness and Brahman. Being Brahman, It is real. It is that aspect of conscious power which conceals Itself to Itself. “By veiling the own true form (Svarupa = Consciousness), its Shaktis always arise”, (Svarupavarane casya shaktayah satatotthitah) as the Spandakarika says. This is a common principle in all doctrine relating to Shakti. Indeed, this theory of veiling, though expressed in another form, is common to Samkhya and Vedanta. The difference lies in this that in Samkhya it is a second, independent Principle which veils; in Mayavada Vedanta it is the non-Brahman Maya (called a Shakti of Ishvara) which veils; and in Shakta Advaitavada (for the Shaktas are nondualists) it is Consciousness which, without ceasing to be such, yet veils Itself. As already stated, the Monistic Shaivas and Shaktas hold certain doctrines in common such as the thirty-six Tattvas, and what are called Shadadhva which also appear as part of the teaching of the other Shaiva Schools. In the thirty-six Tattva scheme, Maya which is defined as “the sense of difference” (Bhedabuddhi), for it is that which makes the Self see things as different from the Self, is technically that Tattva which appears at the close of the pure creation, that is, after Shuddhavidya. This Maya reflects and limits in the Pashu or Jiva, the Iccha, Jñana, Kriya Shaktis of Ishvara. These again are the three Bindus which are “Moon,” “Fire,” and “Sun”. (See Author’s Garland of Letters.) What are Jñana and Kriya (including Iccha its preliminary) on the part of the Pati (Lord) in all beings and things (Bhaveshu) which are His body: it is these two which, with Maya as the third, are the Sattva, Rajas and Tamas Gunas of the Pashu. This veiling power explains how the undeniable element of unconsciousness which is seen in things exists. How, if all be consciousness, is that principle there ‘? The answer is given in the luminous definition of Shakti; “It is the function of Shakti to negate” (Nishedhavyapararupa Shaktih), that is, to negate consciousness and make it appear to Itself as unconscious (Karika 4 of Yogaraja or Yogamuni’s Commentary on Abhinava Gupta’s Paramarthasara). In truth the whole world is the Self whether as “I” (Aham) or “This” (Idam). The Self thus becomes its own object. It becomes object or form that it may enjoy dualistic experience. It yet remains, what it was in its unitary blissful experience. This is the Eternal Play in which the Self hides and seeks itself. The formless cannot assume form unless formlessness is negated. Eternity is negated into finality; the all-pervading into the limited; the all-knowing into the “little knower”; the almighty into the “little doer,” and so forth. It is only by negating Itself to Itself that the Self becomes its own object in the form of the universe.

It follows from the above that, to the Shakta worshipper, there is no unconscious Maya in Shamkara’s sense, and therefore there is no Cidabhasa, in the sense of the reflection of consciousness on unconsciousness, giving the latter the appearance of consciousness which it does not truly possess. For all is Consciousness as Shakti. “Aham Stri,” as the Advaitabhavopanisad exclaims. In short, Shamkara says there is one Reality or Consciousness and a not-real not-unreal Unconsciousness. What is really unconscious appears to be conscious by the reflection of the light of Consciousness upon it. Shakta doctrine says consciousness appears to be unconscious, or more truly, to have an element of unconsciousness in it (for nothing even empirically is absolutely unconscious), owing to the veiling play of Consciousness Itself as Shakti.

As with so many other matters, these apparent differences are to some extent a matter of words. It is true that the Vedantists speak of the conscious (Cetana) and unconscious (Acetana), but they, like the Shakta Advaitins, say that the thing in itself is Consciousness. When this is vividly displayed by reason of the reflection (Pratibimbha) of consciousness in Tattva, (such as Buddhi), capable of displaying this reflection, then we can call that in which it is so displayed conscious. Where, though consciousness is all-pervading, Caitanya is not so displayed, there we speak of unconsciousness. Thus, gross matter (Bhuta) does not appear to reflect Cit, and so appears to us unconscious. Though all things are at base consciousness, some appear as more, and some as less conscious. Shamkara explains this by saying that Caitanya is associated with a non-conscious mystery or Maya which veils consciousness, and Caitanya gives to what is unconscious the appearance of consciousness through reflection. “Reflection” is a form of pictorial thinking. What is meant is that two principles are associated together without the nature (Svarupa) of either being really affected, and yet producing that effect which is Jiva. Shakta doctrine says that all is consciousness, but this same consciousness assumes the appearance of changing degrees of unconsciousness, not through the operation of anything other than itself (Maya), but by the operation of one of its own powers (Mayashakti). It is not unconscious Maya in Shamkara’s sense which veils consciousness, but Consciousness as Shakti veils Itself, and, as so functioning, it is called Mayashakti. It may be asked how can Consciousness become Unconsciousness and cease to be itself ‘? The answer is that it does not. It never ceases to be Consciousness. It appears to itself, as Jiva, to be unconscious, and even then not wholly: for as recent scientific investigations have shown, even so-called “brute matter” exhibits the elements of that which, when evolved in man, is self-consciousness. If it be asked how consciousness can obscure itself partially or at all, the only answer is Acintya Shakti, which Mayavadins as all other Vedantists admit. Of this, as of all ultimates, we must say with the Western Scholastics, “omnia exeunt in mysterium”.

Prakriti is then, according to Samkhya, a real independent category different from Purusha. This both Mayavada and Shaktivada deny. Maya is a not-real, not-unreal Mystery dependent on, and associated with, and inhering in Brahman; but not Brahman or any part of Brahman. Maya-Shakti is a power of, and, in its Svarupa, not different from Shiva: is real, and is an aspect of Brahman itself. Whilst Brahman as Ishvara is associated with Maya, Shiva is never associated with anything but Himself. But the function of all three is the same, namely to make forms in the formless. It is That, by which the Ishvara or Collective Consciousness pictures the universe for the individual Jiva’s experience. Shakti is three-fold as Will (Iccha), Knowledge (Jñana), and Action (Kriya). All three are but differing aspects of the one Shakti. Consciousness and its power or action are at base the same. It is true that action is manifested in matter, that is apparent unconsciousness, but its root, as that of all else is consciousness. Jñana is self-proved and experienced (Svatahsiddha), whereas, Kriya, being inherent in bodies, is perceived by others than by ourselves. The characteristic of action is the manifestation of all objects. These objects, again, characterized by consciousness-unconsciousness are in the nature of a shining forth (Abhasa) of Consciousness. (Here Abhasa is not used in its sense of Cidabhasa, but as an intensive form of the term Bhasa.) The power of activity and knowledge are only differing aspects of one and the same Consciousness. According to Shamkara, Brahman has no form of self-determination. Kriya is a function of unconscious Maya. When Ishvara is said to be a doer (Karta), this is attributed (Aupadhika) to Him by ignorance only. It follows from the above that there are other material differences between Shakta doctrine and Mayavada, such as the nature of the Supreme Experience, the reality and mode of creation, the reality of the world, and so forth. The world, it is true, is not; as the Mahanirvana Tantra says absolute reality in the sense of unchanging being, for it comes and goes. It is nevertheless real, for it is the experience of Shiva and Shiva’s experience is not unreal. Thus again the evolution of the world as Abhasa, whilst resembling the Vivarta of Mayavada, differs from it in holding, as the Samkhya does, that the effect is real and not unreal, as Shamkara contends. To treat of these and other matters would carry me beyond the scope of this essay which only deals, and that in a summary way, with the essential differences and similarities in the concept Prakriti, Maya and Shakti.

I may however conclude with a few general remarks. The doctrine of Shakti is a profound one, and I think likely to be attractive to Western minds when they have grasped it, just as they will appreciate the Tantrik watchword, Kriya or action, its doctrine of progress with and through the world and not against it, which is involved in its liberation-enjoyment (Bhukti-mukti) theory and other matters. The philosophy is, in any case, not, as an American writer, in his ignorance, absurdly called it, “worthless,” “religious Feminism run mad,” and a “feminization of Vedanta for suffragette Monists”. It is not a “feminization” of anything, but distinctive, original and practical doctrine worthy of a careful study. The Western student will find much in it which is more acceptable to generally prevalent thought in Europe and America — than in the “illusion” doctrine (in itself an unsuitable term), and the ascetic practice of the Vedantins of Shamkara’s school. This is not to say that ways of reconciliation may not be found by those who go far enough. It would not be difficult to show ground for holding that ultimately the same intellectual results are attained by viewing the matter from the differing standpoints of Sadhana and Siddhi.

The writer of an interesting article on the same subject in the Prabuddha Bharata (August 1916) states that the Samnyasi Totapuri, the Guru of Sri Ramakrishna, maintained that a (Mayavadin) Vedantist could not believe in Shakti, for if causality itself be unreal there is no need to admit any power to cause, and that it is Maya to apply the principle of causation and to say that everything comes from Shakti. The Samnyasi was converted to Shakta doctrine after all. For as the writer well says, it is not merely by intellectual denial, but by living beyond the “unreal,” that Real is found. He, however, goes on to say, “the Shaktivada of Tantra is not an improvement on the Mayavada of Vedanta, (that is the doctrine of Shamkara) but only its symbolization through the chromatics of sentiment and concept.” It is true that it is a form of Vedanta, for all which is truly Indian must be that. It is also a fact that the Agama as a Shastra of worship is full of Symbolism. Intellectually, however, it is an original presentment of Vedanta, and from the practical point of view, it has some points of merit which Mayavada does not possess. Varieties of teaching may be different presentations of one truth leading to a similar end. But one set of “chromatics” may be more fruitful than another for the mass of men. It is in this that the strength of the Shakta doctrine and practice lies. Moreover (whether they be an improvement or not) there are differences between the two. Thus the followers of Shamkara do not, so far as I am aware, accept the thirty-six Tattvas. A question, however, which calls for inquiry is that of the relation of the Shakta and Shaiva (Advaita) Schools Mayavada is a doctrine which, whether true or not, is fitted only for advanced minds of great intellectuality, and for men of ascetic disposition, and of the highest moral development. This is implied in its theory of competency (Adhikara) for Vedantic teaching. When, as is generally the case, it is not understood, and in some cases when it is understood, but is otherwise not suitable, it is liable to be a weakening doctrine. The Shakta teaching to be found in the Tantras has also its profundities which are to be revealed only to the competent, and contains a practical doctrine for all classes of worshippers (Sadhaka). It has, in this form, for the mass of men, a strengthening pragmatic value which is beyond dispute. Whether, as some may have contended, it is the fruit of a truer spiritual experience I will not here discuss, for this would lead me into a polemic beyond the scope of my present purpose, which is an impartial statement of the respective teachings, on one particular point, given by the three philosophical systems here discussed.

Chapter Eighteen
Shakta Advaitavada

I have often been asked — In what consists the difference between Vedanta and ‘Tantra’. This question is the product of substantial error, for it assumes that Tantra Shastra is not based on Vedanta. I hope that, after many years of work, I have now made it clear that the Tantra Shastra or Agama (whatever be its ultimate origin as to which little is known by anybody) is now, and has been for centuries past, one of the recognized Scriptures of Hinduism, and every form of Hinduism is based on Veda and Vedanta. Another erroneous question, though less so, is — In what consists the difference between Advaita Vedanta and ‘Tantra’ Shastra. But here again, the question presupposes a misunderstanding of both Vedanta and Agama. There are, as should be well known, several schools of Advaita Vedanta, such as Mayavada (with which too commonly the Advaita Vedanta is identified), such as the schools of the Northern Shaivagama, and Shuddhadvaita of Vallabhacarya. In the same way, there are different schools of doctrine and worship in what are called the ‘Tantras’, and a grievous mistake is committed when the Tantra is made to mean the Shakta Tantra only, such as is prevalent in Bengal and which, according to some, is either the product of, or has been influenced by Buddhism. Some English-speaking Bengalis of a past day, too ready to say, “Aye aye,” to the judgments of foreign critics, on their religion as on everything else, and in a hurry to dissociate themselves from their country’s “superstitions,” were the source of the notion which has had such currency amongst Europeans that, “Tantra” necessarily meant drinking wine and so forth.

A legitimate and accurate question is — In what consists the difference between, say, the Mayavadin’s Vedanta and that taught by the Shakta Sampradaya of Bengal. One obviously fundamental difference at once emerges. The Agamas being essentially ritual or Sadhana Shastras are not immediately and practically concerned with the Yoga doctrine touching Paramarthika Satta taught by Shamkaracarya. A Sadhaka ever assumes the reality of the Universe, and is a practical dualist, whatever be the non-dual philosophical doctrines to which he may be intellectually attracted. He worships, that is assumes the being of some Other who is worshipped, that is a Real Lord who really creates, maintains, and really dissolves the Universe. He himself, the object of his worship and the means of worship are real, and his Advaita views are presented on this basis. It is on this presentment then that the next class of differences is to be found. What are they? The essence of them lies in this that the Sadhaka looks at the Brahman, through the world, whereas to the Mayavadin Yogi, placing himself at the Brahman standpoint, there is neither creation nor world but the luminous Atma. The Clear Light of the Void, as the Mahayanists call it, that alone is. Nevertheless, both the Advaita Sadhaka and the Advaita Yogi are one in holding that the Brahman alone is. Sarvam Khalvidam Brahma is the great saying (Vakya) on which all Shakta Tantra Shastra rests. The difference in interpretation then consists in the manner in which this Mahavakya is to be explained. Does it really mean what it says, or does it mean that the saying applies only after elimination of Maya and Avidya. Here there is the necessary difference because, in the case of the Sadhaka, the Vakya must be explained on the basis of his presuppositions already given, whereas the Yogi who has passed the stage in which he became Siddha in Sadhana surpasses, by auto-realization, all dualism. The vast mass of men are better warned off discussions on Paramarthika Satta. Whether the concept be true or not, it only leads in their case to useless argument (Vicara), and thus enfeebles them. Shakta doctrine, as its name implies, is a doctrine of power. It is true that Yoga is power, indeed the highest form of it (Yogabala). But it is a power only for those qualified (Adhikari), and not for the mass. I am not therefore here adversely criticizing Mayavada. It is a pity that this country whose great glory it is to have preached Abheda in varying forms, and therefore tolerance, is to-day full of hateful Bheda of all kinds. I say “hateful”, for Bheda is a natural thing, only hateful when accompanied by hate and intolerance. Profoundly it is said in Halhed’s Gentoo laws that, “contrarieties of religion and diversity of belief are a demonstration of the power of the Supreme. Differences and varieties of created things are rays of the Glorious Essence, and types of His wonderful attributes whose complete power formed all creatures.” There is also the saying attributed to the Apostle of God, Mohammed, in the Radd-ul-Muhtar and elsewhere — “difference of opinion is also the gift of God”. In these sayings speaks the high spirit of Asia. There may be political remedies for sectarian ill-feeling, but a medicine of more certain effect in this country is the teaching, “Rama Rahim ek hai”. Let us then not only objectively, but in all amity, examine the two great systems mentioned.

We all know what is normal world-experience in the Samsara. Some through auto-realization have super-normal or “mystic” experience. This last is of varying kinds, and is had in all religions. The highest form of it, according to Mayavada, is Nirvana Moksha, but there are many degrees short of this complete self-realization as the Whole (Purna). But the great majority of men are not concerned directly with such high matters, but with a realization of power in the world. World-experience is called ignorance, Ajñana. This may confuse. It is ignorance only in this sense, that whilst we have normal experience, we are by that very fact ignoring, that is, not having super-normal experience. In super-normal experience again there is no finite world-experience. The Lord Himself cannot have man’s experience except as and through man. Avidya means Na Vidyate, that is, which is not seen or experienced. Some speak in foolish disparagement of the world which is our very close concern. As a link between Yoga and Bhoga, the Shakta teaches, Yogo Bhogayate. I am now dealing with Mayavada. Whence does this ignorance in the individual or Avidya, come? The world is actually ignorant and man is part of it. This ignorance is the material cause of the world. This is not ignorance of the individual (Avidya), for then, there would be as many worlds as individuals; but the collective ignorance or Maya. Avidya exists to provide happiness or pain (Bhoga) for individuals, that is normal world-experience. Stated simply, ignorance in the sense of Maya has no beginning or end, though worlds appear and go. What is this but to say that it is in the nature (Svabhava) of the Real which manifests to do so, and the nature of its future manifestation proceeds upon lines indicated by the past collective Karma of the world.

Now, enjoyment and suffering cannot be denied, nor the existence of an element of unconsciousness in man. But the Paramatma, as such, does not, it is said, suffer or enjoy, but is Pure Consciousness. What consciousness then does so? Shamkara, who is ever solicitous to preserve purity of the Supreme unchanging Self, says that it is not true consciousness, but a false image of it reflected in ignorance and which disappears when the latter is destroyed. This is in fact Samkhyan Dualism in another form, and because of this Shaktivada claims to have a purer Advaita doctrine. In Samkhya the Purusha, and in Mayavada the Atma illumine Prakriti and Maya respectively, but are never in fact bound by her. What is in bondage is the reflection of Purusha or Atma in Prakriti or Maya. This is Cidabhasa or the appearance of consciousness in a thing which is in fact not conscious; the appearance being due to the reflection of consciousness (Cit), or ignorance (Ajñana), or unconsciousness (Acit). The false consciousness as Jivatma, suffers and enjoys. According to the Shakta view there is, as later explained, no Cidabhasa.

Now, is this Ajñana independent of Atma or not? Its independence, such as Samkhya teaches, is denied. Ignorance then, whether collective or individual, must be traced to, and have its origin in, and rest on Consciousness as Atma. How this is so, is unexplained, but the unreal which owes its existence in some inscrutable way to Reality is yet, it is said, in truth no part of it. It is Brahman then, which is both the efficient and material cause of ignorance with its three Gunas, and of Cidabhasa, Brahma is the cause through its inscrutable power (Acintyashaktitvat) or Maya-Shakti,

Now, is this Shakti real or unreal? According to the transcendent standpoint (Paramarthika) of Mayavada it is unreal. The creative consciousness is a reflection on ignorance or Maya. It is Brahman seen through the veil of Maya. This is not a denial of Brahman, but of the fact that it creates. A true consciousness, it is said, can have no incentive to create. From the standpoint of the Supreme State nothing happens. Both the consciousness which as Ishvara creates, and as Jiva enjoys are Cidabhasa, the only difference being that the first is not, and the second is under the influence of Maya. Then it is asked, ignorance being unconscious and incapable of independent operation, true consciousness being inactive (Nishkriya), and Cidabhasa being unreal, how is ignorance capable of hiding true consciousness and producing the world out of itself ? To this the only reply is Svabhava that is, the very nature of ignorance makes it capable of producing apparently impossible effects. It is inscrutable (Anirvacaniya).

The Shakta then asks whether this Shakti is real or unreal, conscious or unconscious, Brahman or not Brahman? If it be a Shakti of Brahman, it cannot be unreal, for there is no unreality in Brahman. It must be conscious for otherwise unconsciousness would be a factor in Brahman. It is Brahman then; for power (Shakti) and the possessor of power (Shaktiman) are one and the same.

Therefore, the Shakta Tantra Shastra says that Shakti which, operating as Cit and Maya, is Cit-Shakti and Maya-Shakti, is real, conscious and Brahman itself (Sarvam Khalvidam Brahma). It follows that Shakti which is Brahman in its aspect as Creator is, in fact, both the efficient and material cause of the world. If the first or cause is real, so is the second or world. If the first be the cause of unreality, it is in itself unreal. But what is real is Brahman. Therefore, the world has a real cause which is not unreal unconsciousness or ignorance composed of three Gunas, but conscious Shakti and Brahman. It, therefore, does away with the necessity for Cidabhasa; for, if real conscious Shakti is the cause of the world, then there is no need for unreal unconsciousness which Mayavada is driven to posit to secure the absolute purity of the Brahman Consciousness.

From the standpoint of Mayavada, the objection to the exclusion of Cidabhasa lies in the fact that, if the world is derived direct from conscious Shakti (as Shaktas hold), then the Supreme Consciousness is made both enjoyer and object of enjoyment. But it holds that, Paramatma does not enjoy and has no need to do so; whilst the object of enjoyment is unconscious. Hence, the trace of Samkhyan dualism, the Atma exerting an influence over Maya by virtue of its proximity only (Sannidhimatrena Upakari). Pure Atma is not itself concerned. Maya receives its influence. This is analogous to what is called in Chemistry catalytic action. The catalytic substance influences another by its mere presence, but remains itself apparently unchanged. Atma is in this sense an efficient but not instrumental or material cause of the world.

As Atma is only Sacchidananda, the world, so long as it is considered to exist, must exist in Pure Consciousness (Atmastha), though essentially it is different from it (Atmavilakshana), and does not exist for its purpose. In Mayavada, the world, from the transcendental standpoint, does not exist and Atma is not cognizant of it. Hence, the question of the cause of Creation is bred of ignorance. So also, is the idea of efficient cause, for it proceeds from a search for the cause of Creation which does not exist. Mayavada, from the standpoint of normal conventional experience (Vyavaharika Satta), speaks of the Shakti of Atma as a cause of Creation, simply to provide the empirical world of the worldly man with a worldly interpretation of its worldly existence. From this point of view, Brahman is looked at through the world, which is the natural thing for all who are not liberated. From the other end or Brahman, there is no Creation nor world, and Atma alone is.

The Shakta may reply to this: Is not your Paramarthika standpoint in fact empirical, arrived at by argument (Vicara) with a limited intellect? If inscrutable power is a cause of the world, it is inscrutable, because the intellect cannot grasp it, though it is known to be Atma. If the latter can show inscrutable power, how can you say that it is incapable of appearing as enjoyer and object of enjoyment? To deny this is to deny the unlimited character of inscrutable power. If it be objected, that Atma cannot be object of enjoyment, because, the former is conscious and the latter unconscious, what proof is there, that such an object is essentially unconscious? It may be, that consciousness is not perceived in it, that is, the material world appears to be unconscious, and therefore unconsciousness comes in somewhere, otherwise it could not be perceived as unconscious. Thus, a school of European idealists hold the Universe to be a society of Spirits of all kinds and degrees, human, animal, and vegetable and even inorganic objects. All are minds of various orders. Even the last are an order, though yet so low that they are in practice not apprehended as minds. The material world is merely the way in which these lower kinds of mind appear to our senses. The world of objects are (to use Berkely’s word) “signs” of Spirit, and the way in which it communicates itself to us. Thus, to the Hindu, the Bhargah in the Sun is the Aditya Devata, and the planets are intelligences. The physical sun is the body of the Surya Devata. The whole Universe is an epiphany of Spirit. Matter is Cit as object to the mind, as mind is Cit as the Knower of such object. It is not, however, denied that there is an element of unconsciousness in the material world as it appears to us. But the Shakta says, that Shakti has the power of hiding its consciousness, which is exercised to varying extent; thus, to a greater extent in the case of inorganic matter than in the case of the plant, and the less in the latter than in man, in whom consciousness is most manifest.

This power is Her Avidya Murti, just as consciousness is her Vidya Murti. Nothing then in the material world is absolutely unconscious, and nothing is perfectly conscious. The Vidya Murti ever is because as consciousness it is the own nature or Svarupa of Shakti. The Avidya Murti which conceals consciousness, appears in Creation and disappears in dissolution.

The Mayavadin may however ask, whether this Avidya-shakti is conscious or unconscious. It cannot, he says, be the latter, for it is said to be Atma which is conscious. How then can it conceal itself and appear as unconscious P For, nothing can be, what it is not, and the nature of consciousness is to reveal and not to conceal. If, again, consciousness on account of its concealment, is incapable of knowing itself, it ceases to be consciousness. The reply is again that this also is empirical argument, based upon an imperfect idea of the nature of things. Every one knows that there is consciousness in him, but at the same time he recognizes, that it is imperfect. The Mayavadin seeks to explain this by saying, that it is a false consciousness (Cidabhasa), which is again explained by means of two opposites, namely, unconsciousness, which is an unreality to which Cidabhasa adheres, and true consciousness or Atma, which, by virtue of its inscrutable power, acts as efficient cause in its production. This theory compels its adherent to ignore the world, the limited consciousness and Shastra itself in order that the perfection of Atma may be maintained, though at the same time, Shakti is admitted to be unlimited and inscrutable. The Shakta’s answer on the other side is, that there is in fact no false consciousness, and essentially speaking, no unconsciousness anywhere, though there appears to be some unconsciousness. In fact, Mayavada says, that the unconscious appears to be conscious through the play of Atma on it, whilst the Shakta says that, really and at base, all is consciousness which appears to be unconsciousness in varying degrees. All consciousness, however imperfect, is real consciousness, its imperfection being due to its suppressing its own light to itself, and all apparent unconsciousness is due to this imperfection in the consciousness which sees it. Mayavada seeks to explain away the world, from which nevertheless, it derives the materials for its theory. But it is argued that it fails to do so. In its attempt to explain, it brings in a second principle namely unconsciousness, and even a third Cidabhasa. Therefore, the theory of Shaktivada which posits nothing but consciousness is (it is contended) a truer form of non-dualism. Yet we must note, that the theories of both are made up with the imperfect light of man’s knowledge. Something must then remain unexplained in all systems. The Mayavada does not explain the character of the Shakti of Atma as Efficient cause of creation, and the Shakta does not explain the character of the Shakti of Atma which, in spite of being true consciousness, hides itself. But whilst the Shakta difficulty stands alone, the other theory brings, it is said, in its train a number of others. The Mayavadin may also ask, whether Avidya Murti is permanent or transient. If the latter, it cannot be Atma which eternally is, whereas if it is permanent, liberation is impossible. It may be replied that this objection does not lie in the mouth of Mayavada which, in a transcendental sense, denies creation, world, bondage and liberation. The latter is a transition from bondage to freedom which presupposes the reality of the world and a connection between it and that, which is beyond all worlds. This, Shamkara denies, and yet acknowledges a method of spiritual culture for liberation. The answer of course is, that transcendentally Atma is ever free, and that such spiritual culture is required for the empirical (Vyavaharika) need of the empirical self or Cidabhasa, for empirical liberation from an empirical world. But, as all these conventional things are in an absolute sense “unreal,” the Mayavada’s instructions for spiritual culture have been likened to consolations given to soothe the grief of a sterile woman who has lost her son. (See J. N. Mazumdar’s paper read before the Indian Research Society on the Philosophical, Religious and Social Significance of the Tantra Shastra (July 31, 1915), to which I am here indebted.)

Theoretically the answer may be sufficient, though this may not be allowed, but the method can in any case, have full pragmatic value only, in exceptional cases. Doubtless to the unliberated Mayavadin Sadhaka, the world is real, in the sense, that it imposes its reality on him, whatever his theories may be. But it is plain, that such a system does not ordinarily at least develop the same power as one, in which doubt as to the reality of things does not exist. In order that instruction should work, we must assume a real basis for them. Therefore, the Tantra Shastra here spoken of, deals with true bondage in a true world, and aims at true liberation from it. It is Shakti, who both binds and liberates, and Sadhana of Her is the means of liberation. Nothing is unreal or false. Shakti is and Shakti creates and thus appears as the Universe. In positing an evolution (Parinama), the Shastra follows Samkhya, because, both systems consider the ultimate source of the world to be real, as unconscious Prakriti or conscious Shakti respectively. The Shakta takes literally the great saying, “All the (Universe) is Brahman” — every bit of it. Mayavada achieves its unity by saying, that Jivatma = Para matma after elimination of Avidya in the first and Maya in the second. Ignorance is something neither real nor unreal. It is not real in comparison with the supreme unchanging Brahman. It is not unreal, for we experience it as real, and it is for the length of the duration of such experience. Again, Shaktivada assumes a real development (Parinama), with this proviso that the cause becomes effect, and yet remains what it was as cause. Mayavada says that there is transcendentally no real change but only the appearance of it; that is, the notion of Parinama is Maya like all the rest.

The Tantra Shastra deals with true bondage in a true world, and aims at true liberation from it. Atma binds itself by the Avidya Murti of its Shakti, and liberates itself by its Vidya Murti. Sadhana is the means whereby bondage becomes liberation. Nothing is unreal or false. Atma by its Shakti causes the play in itself of a Shakti which is essentially nothing but itself but operates in a dual capacity, namely as Avidya and Vidya. Creation is thus an epiphany of the Atma, which appears and is withdrawn from and into itself like the limbs of a tortoise. The All-Pervading Atma, manifests itself in many Jivas; as the world which supplies the objects of their enjoyment; as the mind and senses for the attainment of the objects; as ignorance which binds; as knowledge which liberates when Atma ceases to present itself; as Avidya; and as Shastra which provides the means for liberation. Shaktivada affirms reality throughout, because, it is a practical Scripture for real men in a real world. Without such presupposition, Sadhana is not possible. When Sadhana has achieved its object — Siddhi — as Auto-realization — no question of the real or unreal arises. In the Buddhacarita-kavya it is said (cited in Hodgson “Nepal,” 45) that Sakya being questioned on an abstruse point, is reported to have said, “For myself I can tell you nothing on these matters. Meditate on Buddha and when you have obtained the supreme experience (Bodhijñana) you will know the truth yourself.” In these high realms we reach a point at which wisdom is silence.

After all man in the mass is concerned with worldly needs, and there is nothing to be ashamed of in this. One of the greatest doctrines in the Shakta Tantra is its Bhukti Mukti teaching, and it is not less great because it may have been abused. All systems are at the mercy of their followers. Instead of the ascetic method of the Mayavadin suited for men of high spiritual development, whose Ascesis is not something labored but an expression of their own true nature, the Kaula teaches liberation through enjoyment, that is the world. The path of enjoyment is a natural one. There is nothing bad in enjoyment itself if it be according to Dharma. It is only Adharma which is blamed. Liberation is thus had through the world (Mokshayate Samsara). In the natural order of development, power is developed in worldly things, but the power is controlled by a religious Sadhana, which both prevents an excess of worldliness, and molds the mind and disposition (Bhava) into a form which, at length and naturally, develops into that knowledge which produces dispassion (Vairagya) for the world. The two paths lead to the same end. But this is itself too big a subject to be developed here. Sufficient be it to repeat what I have said elsewhere.

“The Vira does not shun the world from fear of it. He holds it in his grasp and wrests from it its secret. Then escaping from the unconscious driftings of a humanity which has not yet realized itself, he is the illumined master of himself, whether developing all his powers or seeking liberation at his will.”

As regards the state of dissolution (Pralaya) both systems are at one. In positing an evolution Tantra follows Samkhya because both the two latter theories consider the ultimate source of the world to be real; real as unconscious Prakriti (Samkhya); real as conscious Shakti (Shakta Tantra). In the Mayavada scheme, the source of the world is an unreal ignorance, and reveals itself first as Tanmatras which gradually assume the form of senses and mind in order to appear before Cidabhasa as objects of enjoyment and suffering. The Tantra Shastra again, subject to modifications in consonance with its doctrine, agrees with Nyaya-Vaisheshika in holding that the powers of consciousness which are Will (Iccha), Knowledge (Jñana) and Action (Kriya) constitute the motive power in creation. These are the great Triangle of Energy (Kamakala) from which Shabda and Artha, the forces of the psychic and material worlds, arise.

Chapter Nineteen
Creation as Explained in the Non-dualist Tantras

A Psychological analysis of our worldly experience ordinarily gives us both the feeling of persistence and change. This personal experience expresses a cosmic truth. An examination of any doctrine of creation similarly reveals two fundamental concepts, those of Being and Becoming, Changelessness and Change, the One and the Many. In Sanskrit, they are called the Kutastha and Bhava or Bhavana. The first is the Spirit or Purusha or Brahman and Atman which is unlimited Being (Sat), Consciousness (Cit) and Bliss (Ananda). According to Indian notions the Atman as such is and never becomes. Its Power (Shakti) manifests as Nature, which is the subject of change. We may understand Nature in a two-fold sense: first, as the root principle or noumenal cause of the phenomenal world, that is, as the Principle of Becoming and secondly, as such World. Nature in the former sense is Mulaprakriti, which means that which exists as the root (Mula) substance of things before (Pra), creation (Kriti), and which, in association with Cit, either truly or apparently creates, maintains and destroys the Universe. This Mulaprakriti the Sharada Tilaka calls Mulabhuta Avyakta, and the Vedanta (of Shamkara to which alone I refer) Maya.

Nature, in the second sense, that is the phenomenal world, which is a product of Mulaprakriti is the compound of the evolutes from this root substance which are called Vikritis in the Samkhya and Tantra, and name and form (Namarupa) by the Vedantins, who attribute them to ignorance (Avidya). Mulaprakriti as the material and instrumental cause of things is that potentiality of natural power (natura naturans) which manifests as the Universe (natura naturata).

Touching these two Principles, there are certain fundamental points of agreement in the three systems which I am examining — Samkhya, Vedanta and the Advaitavada of the Tantra. They are as follows. According to the first two systems, Brahman or Purusha as Sat, Cit and Ananda is Eternal Conscious Being. It is changeless and has no activity (Kartrittva). It is not therefore in Itself a cause whether instrumental or material; though in so far as Its simple presence gives the appearance of consciousness to the activities of Prakriti, It may in such sense be designated an efficient cause. So, according to Samkhya, Prakriti reflects Purusha, and in Vedanta, Avidya of the three Gunas takes the reflection of Cidananda. On the other hand, the substance or factors of Mulaprakriti or Maya are the three Gunas or the three characteristics of the principle of Nature, according to which it reveals (Sattva) or veils (Tamas), Consciousness (Cit) and the activity or energy (Rajas) which urges Sattva and Tamas to operation.

It also is Eternal, but is unconscious (Acit) Becoming. Though it is without consciousness (Caitanya) it is essentially activity (Kartrittva) motion and change. It is a true cause instrumental and material of the World. But notwithstanding all the things to which Mulaprakriti gives birth, Its substance is in no wise diminished by the production of the Vikritis or Tattvas: the Gunas which constitute it ever remaining the same. The source of all becoming is never exhausted, though the things which are therefrom produced appear and disappear.

Passing from the general points of agreement to those of difference, we note firstly, those between the Samkhya and the Vedanta. The Samkhya is commonly regarded as a dualistic system, which affirms that both Purusha and Prakriti are real, separate and independent Principles. The Vedanta, however, says that there cannot be two Principles which are both absolutely real. It does not, however, altogether discard the dual principles of the Samkhya, but says that Mulaprakriti which it calls Maya, while real from one point of view, that is empirically, is not real from another and transcendental standpoint. It affirms therefore that the only Real (Sadvastu) is the attributeless (Nirguna Brahman). All else is Maya and its products. Whilst then the Samkhyan Mulaprakriti is an Eternal Reality, it is according to the transcendental method of Shamkara an eternal unreality (Mithyabhuta Sanatani). The empirical reality which is really false is due to the Avidya which is inherent in the nature of the embodied spirit (Jiva). Maya is Avastu or no real thing. It is Nishtattva. As Avidya is neither real nor unreal, so is its cause or Maya. The kernel of the Vedantik argument on this point is to be found in its interpretations of the Vaidik Mahavakya, “That thou art” (Tat tvam asi). Tat here is Ishvara, that is, Brahman with Maya as his body or Upadhi. Tvam is the Jiva with Avidya as its body. It is then shown that Jiva is only Brahman when Maya is eliminated from Ishvara, and Avidya from Jiva. Therefore, only as Brahman is the Tvam the Tat; therefore, neither Maya nor Avidya really exist (they are Avastu), for otherwise the equality of Jiva and Ishvara could not be affirmed. This conclusion that Maya is Avastu has far-reaching consequences, both religious and philosophical, and so has the denial of it. It is on this question that there is a fundamental difference between Shamkara’s Advaitavada and that of the Shakta Tantra, which I am about to discuss.

Before, however, doing so I will first contrast the notions of creation in Samkhya and Vedanta. It is common ground that creation is the appearance produced by the action of Mulaprakriti or principle of Nature (Acit) existing in association with Cit. According to Samkhya, in Mulaprakriti or the potential condition of the Natural Principle, the Gunas are in a state of equality (Samyavastha), that is, they are not affecting one another. But, as Mulaprakriti is essentially movement, it is said that even when in this state of equality the Gunas are yet continually changing into themselves (Sarupaparinama). This inherent subtle movement is the nature of the Guna itself, and exists without effecting any objective result. Owing to the ripening of Adrishta or Karma, creation takes place by the disturbance of this equality of the Gunas (Gunakshobha), which then commence to oscillate and act upon one another. It is this initial creative motion which is known in the Tantra as Cosmic Sound (Parashabda). It is through the association of Purusha with Mulaprakriti in cosmic vibration (Spandana) that creation takes place. The whole universe arises from varied forms of this grand initial motion. So, scientific “matter” is now currently held to be the varied appearance produced in our minds by vibration of, and in the single substance called ether. This new Western scientific doctrine of vibration is in India an ancient inheritance. “Hring, the Supreme Hangsa dwells in the brilliant heaven.” The word “Hangsa” comes, it is said, from the word Hanti, which means Gati or Motion. Sayana says that It is called Aditya, because It is in perpetual motion. But Indian teaching carries the application of this doctrine beyond the scientific ether which is a physical substance (Mahabhuta). There is vibration in the causal body that is of the Gunas of Mulaprakriti as the result of Sadrishaparinama of Parashabdasrishti; in the subtle body of mind (Antahkarana); and in the gross body, compounded of the Bhutas which derive from the Tanmatras their immediate subtle source of origin. The Hiranyagarbha and Virat Sound is called Madhyama and Vaikhari. If this striking similarity between ancient Eastern wisdom and modern scientific research has not been recognized, it is due to the fact that the ordinary Western Orientalist and those who take their cue from him in this country, are prone to the somewhat contemptuous belief that, Indian notions are of “historical” interest only, and as such, a welcome addition possibly for some intellectual museum, but are otherwise without value or actuality. The vibrating Mulaprakriti and its Gunas ever remain the same, though the predominance of now one, and now another of them, produces the various evolutes called Vikritis or Tattvas, which constitute the world of mind and matter. These Tattvas constitute the elements of the created world. They are the well-known Buddhi, Ahamkara, Manas (constituting the Antahkarana), the ten Indriyas, five Tanmatras and five Mahabhutas of “ether”, “air”, “fire”, “water” and “earth”, which of course must not be identified with the notions which the English terms connote. These Tattvas are names for the elements which we discover as a result of a psychological analysis of our worldly experience. That experience ordinarily gives us both the feeling of persistence and change. The former is due to the presence of the Atma or Cit-Shakti, which exists in us in association with Mulaprakriti or Maya-Shakti. This is the Caitanya in all bodies. Change is caused by Mulaprakriti or Maya-Shakti, and its elements may be divided into the subjective and objective Tattvas, or what we call mind and matter. Analyzing, again, the former, we discover an individuality (Ahamkara) sensing through the Indriyas, a world which forms the material of its precepts and concepts (Manas and Buddhi). The object of thought or “matter’ are the varied compounds of Vaikrita creation, which are made up of combinations of the gross elements (Mahabhuta), which themselves derive from the subtle elements or Tanmatras. Now, according to Samkhya, all this is real, for all are Tattvas. Purusha and Prakriti are Tattvas, and so are Vikritis of the latter.

According to the Vedanta also, creation takes place through the association of the Brahman, then known as the Lord or Ishvara (Mayopadhika-Caitanyam Ishvarah), with Maya. That is, Cit is associated with, though unaffected by Maya which operates by reason of such association to produce the universe. The unchanging Sad-vastu is the Brahman. The ever-changing world is, when viewed by the spiritually wise (Jñani), the form imposed by Avidya on the Changeless Sat. It is true, that it has the quality of being in accordance with the greatest principle of order, namely, that of causality. It is the Sat however, which gives to the World the character of orderliness, because it is on and in association with that pure Cit or Sat that Maya plays. It is true, that behind all this unreal appearance there is the Real, the Brahman. But the phenomenal world has, from the alogical standpoint, no real substratum existing as its instrumental and material cause. The Brahman as such, is no true cause, and Maya is unreal (Avastu). The world has only the appearance of reality from the reflection which is cast by the real upon the unreal. Nor is Ishvara, the creative and ruling Lord, in a transcendental sense real. For, as it is the Brahman in association with Maya, which Shamkara calls Ishvara, the latter is nothing but the Brahman viewed through Maya. It follows that the universe is the product of the association of the real and the unreal, and when world-experience ends in liberation (Mukti), the notion of Ishvara as its creator no longer exists. For His body is Maya and this is Avastu, So long however as there is a world, that is, so long as one is subject to Maya that is embodied, so long do we recognize the existence of Ishvara. The Lord truly exists for every Jiva so long as he is such. But on attainment of bodiless liberation (Videha Mukti), the Jiva becomes himself Sacchidananda, and as such Ishvara does not exist for him, for Ishvara is but the Sat viewed through that Maya of which the Sat is free. “The Brahman is true, the world is false. The Jiva is Brahman (Paramatma) and nothing else.”

The opponents of this system or Mayavada have charged it with being a covert form of Buddhistic nihilism (Maya-vadam asacchastram pracchannam bauddham). It has, however, perhaps been more correctly said that Sri Shamkara adjusted his philosophy to meet the Mayavada of the Buddhists, and so promulgated a new theory of Maya without abandoning the faith or practice of his Shaiva-Shakta Dharma.

All systems obviously concede at least the empirical reality of the world. The question is, whether it has a greater reality than that, and if so, in what way? Samkhya affirms its reality; Shamkara denies it in order to secure the complete unity of the Brahman. Each system has merits of its own. Samkhya by its dualism is able to preserve in all its integrity the specific character of Cit as Nirañjana. This result, on the other hand, is effected at the cost of that unity for which all minds have, in some form or other, a kind of metaphysical hunger. Shamkara by his Mayavada secures this unity, but this achievement is at the cost of a denial of the ultimate reality of the world whether considered as the product (Vikriti) of Mulaprakriti, or as Mulaprakriti itself.

There is, however, another alternative, and that is the great Shakta doctrine of Duality in Unity. There is, this Shastra says, a middle course in which the reality of the world is affirmed without compromising the truth of the unity of the Brahman, for which Shamkara by such lofty speculation contends. I here shortly state what is developed more fully later. The Shakta Advaitavada recognizes the reality of Mulaprakriti in the sense of Maya-Shakti. Here in a qualified way it follows the Samkhya. On the other hand, it differs from the Samkhya in holding that Mulaprakriti as Maya-Shakti is not a principle separate from the Brahman, but exists in and as a principle of the one Brahman substance. The world, therefore, is the appearance of the Real. It is the Brahman as Power. The ground principle of such appearance or Maya-Shakti is the Real as Atma and Power. There is thus a reality behind all appearances, a real substance behind the apparent transformations. Maya-Shakti as such is both eternal and real, and so is Ishvara. The transformations are the changing forms of the Real. I pass now to the Advaitavada of the Shakta Tantra.

The Shakta Tantra is not a formal system of philosophy (Darshana). It is, in the broadest sense, a generic term for the writings and various traditions which express the whole culture of a certain epoch in Indian History. The contents are therefore of an encyclopedic character, religion, ritual, domestic rites, law, medicine, magic, and so forth. It has thus great historical value, which appears to be the most fashionable form of recommendation for the Indian Scriptures now-a-days. The mere historian, I believe, derives encouragement from the fact that out of bad material may yet be made good history. I am not here concerned with this aspect of the matter. For my present purpose, the Shakta Tantra is part of the Upasana kanda of the three departments of Shruti, and is a system of physical, psychical and moral training (Sadhana), worship and Yoga. It is thus essentially practical. This is what it claims to be. To its critics, it has appeared to be a system of immoral indiscipline. I am not here concerned with the charge but with the doctrine of creation to be found in the Shastra. Underlying however, all this practice, whatever be the worth or otherwise which is attributed to it, there is a philosophy which must be abstracted, as I have here done for the first time, with some difficulty, and on points with doubt, from the disquisitions on religion and the ritual and Yoga directions to be found in the various Tantras. The fundamental principles are as follows.

It is said that equality (Samya) of the Gunas is Mulaprakriti, which has activity (Kartrittva), but no consciousness (Caitanya). Brahman is Sacchidananda who has Caitanya and no Kartrittva. But this is so only if we thus logically differentiate them. As a matter of fact, however, the two admittedly, ever and everywhere, co-exist and cannot, except for the purpose of formal analysis, be thought of without the other. The connection between the two is one of unseparateness (Avinabhava Sambandha). Brahman does not exist without Prakriti-Shakti or Prakriti without the Brahman. Some call the Supreme Caitanya with Prakriti, others Prakriti with Caitanya. Some worship It as Shiva; others as Shakti. Both are one and the same. Shiva is the One viewed from Its Cit aspect. Shakti is the One viewed from Its Maya aspect. They are the “male” and “female” aspects of the same Unity which is neither male nor female. Akula is Shiva. Kula is Shakti. The same Supreme is worshipped by Sadhana of Brahman, as by Sadhana of Adyashakti. The two cannot be separated, for Brahman without Prakriti is actionless, and Prakriti without Brahman is unconscious. There is Nishkala Shiva or the transcendent, attributeless (Nirguna) Brahman; and Sakala Shiva or the embodied, immanent Brahman with attributes (Saguna).

Kala or Shakti corresponds with the Samkhyan Mula-prakriti or Samyavastha of the three Gunas and the Vedantic Maya. But Kala which is Mulaprakriti and Maya eternally is, and therefore when we speak of Nishkala Shiva it is not meant that there is then or at any time no Kala, for Kala ever is, but that Brahman is meant which is thought of as being without the working Prakriti (Prakriteranyah), Maya-Shakti is then latent in it. As the Devi in the Kulacudamani says, “Aham Prakritirupa chet Cidanandaparayana”. Sakala Shiva is, on the other hand, Shiva considered as associated with Prakriti in operation and manifesting the world. In one case, Kala is working or manifest, in the other it is not, but exists in a potential state. In the same way the two Shivas are one and the same. There is one Shiva who is Nirguna and Saguna. The Tantrik Yoga treatise Satcakranirupana describes the Jivatma as the Paryyaya of, that is another name for, the Paramatma; adding that the root of wisdom (Mulavidya,) is a knowledge of their identity. When the Brahman manifests, It is called Shakti, which is the magnificent concept round which Tantra is built. The term comes from the root “Sak,” which means “to be able”. It is the power which is the Brahman and whereby the Brahman manifests itself; for Shakti and possessor of Shakti (Shaktiman) are one and the same. As Shakti is Brahman, it is also Nirguna and Saguna. Ishvara is Cit-Shakti, that is, Cit in association with the operating Prakriti as the efficient cause of the creation; and Maya-Shakti which means Maya as a Shakti that is in creative operation as the instrumental (Nimitta) and material (Upadana) cause of the universe. This is the Shakti which produces Avidya, just as Mahamaya or Ishvari is the Great Liberatrix. These twin aspects of Shakti appear throughout creation. Thus in the body, the Cit or Brahman aspect is conscious Atma or Spirit, and the Maya aspect is the Antahkarana and its derivatives or the unconscious ( Jada) mind and body. When, however, we speak here of Shakti without any qualifications, what is meant is Cit-Shakti in association with Maya-Shakti that is Ishvari or Devi or Mahamaya, the Mother of all worlds. If we keep this in view, we shall not fall into the error of supposing that the Shaktas (whose religion is one of the oldest in the world; how old indeed is as yet little known) worship material force or gross matter. Ishvara or Ishvari is not Acit, which, as pure sattva-guna is only His or Her body. Maya-Shakti in the sense of Mulaprakriti is Cit. So also is Avidya Shakti, though it appears to be Acit, for there is no Cidabhasa.

In a certain class of Indian images, you will see the Lord, with a diminutive female figure on His lap. The makers and worshippers of those images thought of Shakti as being in the subordinate position which some persons consider a Hindu wife should occupy. This is however not the conception of Shakta Tantra, according to which, She is not a handmaid of the Lord, but the Lord Himself, being but the name for that aspect of His in which He is the Mother and Nourisher of the worlds. As Shiva is the transcendent, Shakti is the immanent aspect of the one Brahman who is Shiva-Shakti. Being Its aspect, It is not different from, but one with It. In the Kulacudamani Nigama, the Bhairavi addressing Bhairava says, “Thou art the Guru of all, I entered into Thy body (as Shakti) and thereby Thou didst become the Lord (Prabhu). There is none but Myself Who is the Mother to create (Karyyavibhavini). Therefore it is that when creation takes place Sonship is in Thee. Thou alone art the Father Who wills what I do (Karyyavibhavaka; that is, She is the vessel which receives the nectar which flows from Nityananda). By the union of Shiva and Shakti creation comes (Shiva-Shakti-sama-yogat jayate srishtikalpana). As all in the universe is both Shiva and Shakti (Shivashaktimaya), therefore Oh Maheshvara, Thou art in every place and I am in every place. Thou art in all and I am in all.” The creative World thus sows Its seed in Its own womb.

Such being the nature of Shakti, the next question is whether Maya as Shamkara affirms is Avastu. It is to be remembered that according to his empirical method it is taken as real, but transcendentally it is alleged to be an eternal unreality, because, the object of the latter method is to explain away the world altogether so as to secure the pure unity of the Brahman. The Shakta Tantra is however not concerned with any such purpose. It is an Upasana Shastra in which the World and its Lord have reality. There cannot be Sadhana in an unreal world by an unreal Sadhaka of an unreal Lord. The Shakta replies to Mayavada: If it be said that Maya is in some unexplained way Avastu, yet it is admitted that there is something, however unreal it may be alleged to be, which is yet admittedly eternal and in association, whether manifest or unmanifest, with the Brahman. According to Shamkara, Maya exists as the mere potentiality of some future World which shall arise on the ripening of Adrishta which Maya is. But in the Mahanirvana Tantra, Shiva says to Devi, “Thou art Thyself the Para Prakriti of the Paramatma” (Ch. IV, v. 10). That is Maya in the sense of Mulaprakriti, which is admittedly eternal, is not Avastu, but is the Power of the Brahman one with which is Cit. In Nishkala Shiva, Shakti lies inactive. It manifests in and as creation, though Cit thus appearing through its Power is neither exhausted nor affected thereby. We thus find Ishvari addressed in the Tantra both as Sacchidanandarupini and Trigunatmika, referring to the two real principles which form part of the one Brahman substance. The philosophical difference between the two expositions appears to lie in this. Shamkara says that there are no distinctions in Brahman of either of the three kinds: svagata-bheda, that is, distinction of parts within one unit, svajatiya-bheda or distinction between units of one class, or vijatiya-bheda or distinction between units of different classes. Bharati, however, the Commentator on the Mahanirvana (Ch. II, v. 34) says that Advaita there mentioned means devoid of the last two classes of distinction. There is, therefore, for the purposes of Shakta Tantra, a svagata-bheda in the Brahman Itself namely, the two aspects according to which the Brahman is, on the one hand, Being, Cit and on the other, the principle of becoming which manifests as Nature or seeming Acit. In a mysterious way, however, there is a union of these two principles (Bhavayoga), which thus exist without derogation from the partless unity of the Brahman which they are. In short, the Brahman may be conceived of as having twin aspects, in one of which, It is the cause of the changing world, and in the other of which It is the unchanging Soul of the World. Whilst the Brahman Svarupa or Cit is Itself immutable, the Brahman is yet through its Power the cause of change, and is in one aspect the changeful world

But what then is “real”; a term not always correctly understood. According to the Mayavada definition, the “real” is that which ever was, is and will be (Kalatrayasattvavan); in the words of the Christian liturgy, “as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be world without end”; therefore that which changes, which was not, but is, and then ceases to be is according to this definition “unreal,” however much from a practical point of view it may appear real to us. Now Mayavada calls Mulaprakriti in the sense of Maya the material cause of the world, no independent real (Avastu). The Shakta Tantra says that the Principle, whence all becoming comes, exists as a real substratum so to speak below the world of names and forms. This Maya-Shakti is an eternal reality. What is “unreal” (according to the above definition), are these names and forms (Avidya), that is, the changing worlds (asat-triloki-sadbhavam svarupam Brahmanah smritam, Ch. III, v. 7, Mahanirvana Tantra). These are unreal however only in the sense that they are not permanent, but come and go. The body is called Sharira, which comes from the root Sri — “to decay”, for it is dissolving and being renewed at every moment until death. Again, however real it may seem to us, the world may be unreal in the sense that it is something other than what it seems to be. This thing which I now hold in my hands seems to me to be paper, which is white, smooth and so forth, yet we are told that it really is something different, namely, a number of extraordinarily rapid vibrations of etheric substance, producing the false appearance of scientific “matter”. In the same way (as those who worship Yantras know), all nature is the appearance produced by various forms of motion in Prakritic substance. (Sarvam Khalvidam Brahma.) The real is the Brahman and its Power. The Brahman, whether in Its Cit or Maya aspect, eternally and changelessly endures, but Avidya breaks up its undivided unity into the changing manifold world of names and forms. It follows from the above that Brahman and Ishvara are two co-being aspects of the One ultimate Reality, as Power to Be and to Become. For as Shamkara points out (Comm. Svetasvatara Up. I. 2) Devatmashakti, the cause of the world, is not separate from the Paramatma, as Samkhya alleges its Pradhana to be. And thus it is that Shiva in the Kularnava Tantra (I. 110) says, “some desire dualism (Dvaitavada), others monism (Advaitavada). Such however know not My truth, which is beyond both monism and dualism (Dvaitadvaitavivarjita).” This saying may doubtless mean that to “the knower (Jñani) the arguments of philosophical systems are of no account, as is indeed the case.” It has also a more literal meaning as above explained. The Shastra in fact makes high claims for itself. The Tantra, it has been said, takes into its arms as if they were its two children, both dualism and monism affording by its practical method (Sadhana) and the spiritual knowledge generated thereby the means by which their antinomies are resolved and harmonized. Its purpose is to give liberation to the Jiva by a method according to which monistic truth is reached through the dualistic world; immersing its Sadhakas in the current of Divine Bliss, by changing duality into unity, and then evolving from the latter a dualistic play, thus proclaiming the wonderful glory of the Spouse of Paramashiva in the love embrace of Mind-Matter (Jada) and Consciousness (Caitanya). It therefore says that those who have realized this, move, and yet remain unsoiled in the mud of worldly actions which lead others upon the downward path. It claims, therefore, that its practical method (Sadhana) is more speedily fruitful than any other. Its practical method is an application of the general principles above described. In fact, one of its Acaras which has led to abuse is an attempt to put into full practice the theory of Advaitavada. Shamkara has in his transcendental method dealt with the subject as part of the Jñana Kanda. Though the exponent of the Mayavada is esteemed to be a Mahapurusha, this method is not in favor with the Tantric Sadhaka who attributes much of the practical atheism which is to be found in this country, as elsewhere, to a misunderstanding of the transcendental doctrines of Mayavada. There is some truth in this charge, for, as has been well said, the vulgarization of Shamkara’s “Higher Science” which is by its nature an esoteric doctrine destined for a small minority, must be reckoned a misfortune in so far as it has, in the language of the Gita, induced many people to take to another’s Dharma instead of to their own, which is the “Lower Science” of the great Vedantin followed in all Shastras of worship. Such a Shastra must necessarily affirm God as a real object of worship. Dionysius, the Areopagite, the chief of the line of all Christian mystics said that we could only speak “apophatically” of the Supreme as It existed in Itself, that is, other than as It displays Itself to us. Of It nothing can be affirmed but that It is not this and not that. Here he followed the, “neti neti,” of the Vedanta. Ishvari is not less real than the things with which we are concerned every day. She is for the Indian Sadhaka the highest reality and what may or may not be the state of Videha Mukti has for him, no practical concern. Those only who have attained it will know whether Shamkara is right or not; not that they will think about this or any other subject; but in the sense that when the Brahman is known all is known. A friend from whom I quote, writes that he had once occasion to learn to what ridiculous haughtiness, some of the modern “adepts” of Sri Shamkara’s school are apt to let themselves be carried away, when one of them spoke to him of the personal Ishvara as being a “pitiable creature”. The truth is that such so-called “adepts” are no adepts at all, being without the attainment, and far from the spirit of Shamkara — whose devotion and powers made him seem to his followers to be an incarnation of Shiva Himself. Such a remark betrays a radical misunderstanding of the Vedanta. How many of those, who to-day discuss his Vedanta from a merely literary standpoint, have his, or indeed any faith’? What some would do is, to dismiss the faith and practice of Shamkara as idle superstition, and to adopt his philosophy. But what is the intrinsic value of a philosophy which emanates from a mind which is so ignorant as to be superstitious P Shamkara, however, has said that faith and Sadhana are the preliminaries for competency (Adhikara) for the Jñanakanda. He alone is competent (Adhikari) who possesses all good moral and intellectual qualities, faith (Shraddha), capacity for the highest contemplation (Samadhi), the Samkhyan discrimination (Viveka), absence of all desire for anything in this world or the next, and an ardent longing for liberation. There are few indeed who can claim even imperfectly all such qualifications. But what of the rest? There is no Vaidik Karmakanda in operation in the present age, but there are other Shastras of worship which is either Vaidik, Tantrik or Pauranik. These provide for those who are still, as are most, on the path of desire. The Tantra affirms that nothing of worth can be achieved without Sadhana. Mere speculation is without result. This principle is entirely sound whatever may be thought of the mode in which it is sought to be applied. Those to whom the questions here discussed are not mere matters for intellectual business or recreation will recall that Shamkara has said that liberation is attained not merely by the discussion of, and pondering upon revealed truth (Vicara), for which few only are competent, but by the grace of God (Ishvara Anugraha), through the worship of the Mother and Father from whom all creation springs. Such worship produces knowledge. In the Kulacudamani, the Devi says: Oh all-knowing One, if Thou knowest Me then of what use are the Amnayas (revealed teachings) and Yajanam (ritual)? If Thou knowest Me not, then again, of what use are they?” But neither are, in another sense, without their uses for thereby the Sadhaka becomes qualified for some form of Urddhvamnaya, in which there are no rites (Karma).

With this short exposition of the nature of Shaktitattva according to Shakta Tantra I pass to an equally brief account of its manifestation in the Universe. It is sufficient to deal with the main lines of the doctrine without going into their very great accompanying detail. I here follow, on the main theme, the account given in the celebrated Sharada Tilaka a work written by Lakshmanacarya, the Guru of Abhinava Gupta, the great Kashmirian Tantrik, about the commencement of the eleventh century, and its Commentary. by the learned Tantrik Pandit Raghava Bhatta which is dated 1454 A.D. This work has long been held to be of great authority in Bengal.

Why creation takes place cannot in an ultimate sense be explained. It is the play (Lila) of the Mother. Could this be done the Brahman would be subject to the law of causality which governs the Universe but which its Cause necessarily transcends.

The Tantra, however, in common with other Indian Shastras recognizes Adrishta Srishti, or the doctrine that the impulse to creation is proximately caused by the Adrsta or Karma of Jivas. But Karma is eternal and itself requires explanation. Karma comes from Samskara and Samskara from Karma. The process of creation, maintenance and dissolution, according to this view, unceasingly recurs as an eternal rhythm of cosmic life and death which is the Mother’s play (Lila). And so it is said of Her in the Lalita Sahasranamam that, “the series of universes appear and disappear with the opening and shutting of Her Eyes”. The existence of Karma implies the will to cosmic life. We produce it as the result of such will. And when produced it becomes itself the cause of it.

In the aggregate of Karma which will at one period or another ripen, there is, at any particular time, some which are ripe and others which are not so. For the fruition of the former only creation takes place. When this seed ripens and the time therefore approaches for the creation of another universe, the Brahman manifests in Its Vishvarupa aspect, so that the Jiva may enjoy or suffer therein the fruits of his Karma and (unless liberation be attained) accumulate fresh Karma which will involve the creation of future worlds. When the unripened actions which are absorbed in Maya become in course of time ripe, the Vritti of Maya or Shakti in the form of desire for creation arises in Paramashiva, for the bestowal of the fruit of this Karma. This state of Maya is variously called by Shruti, Ikshana, Kama, Vicikirsha.

It is when the Brahman “saw,” “desired,” or “thought” “May I be many,” that there takes place what is known as Sadrishaparinama in which the Supreme Bindu appears. This, in its triple aspect, is known as Kamakala, a manifestation of Shakti whence in the manner hereafter described the Universe emanates. This Kamakala is the Mula or root of all Mantras. Though creation takes place in order that Karma may be suffered and enjoyed, yet in the aggregate of Karma which will at one time or another ripen, there is at any particular period some which are ripe and others which are not so. For the fruition of the former only creation takes place. As creation will serve no purpose in the case of Karma which is not ripe, there is, after the exhaustion by fruition of the ripe Karma, a dissolution (Pralaya). Then the Universe is again merged in Maya which thus abides until the ripening of the remaining actions. Karma, like everything else, re-enters the Brahman, and remains there in hidden potential state as it were a seed. When the seed ripens creation again takes place.

With Ikshana, or the manifestation of creative will, creation is really instantaneous. When the “Word” went forth, “Let there be light”, there was light, for the ideation of Ishvara is creative. Our mind by its constitution is however led to think of creation as a gradual process. The Samkhya starts with the oscillation of the Gunas (Gunakshobha) upon which the Vikritis immediately appear. But just as it explains its real Parinama in terms of successive emanations, so the Shakta Tantra describes a Sadrishaparinama in the body of Ishvara their cause. This development is not a real Parinama, but a resolution of like to like, that is, there is no actual change in the nature of the entity dealt with, the various stages of such Parinama being but names for the multiple aspects to us of the same unchanging Unity.

Shakti is one. It appears as various by its manifestations. In one aspect there is no Parinama, for Sacchidananda is as such immutable. Before and after and in creation It remains what It was. There is therefore no Parinama in or of the Aksharabrahman as such. There is Parinama, however, in its Power aspect. The three Gunas do not change, each remaining what it is. They are the same in all forms but appear to the Jiva to exist in different combinations. The appearance of the Gunas in different proportions is due to Avidya or Karma which is this apparent Gunakshobha. It is Samskara which gives to the Samya Prakriti, existence as Vaishamya. What the Tantra describes as Sadrishaparinama is but an analysis of the different aspects of what is shortly called in other Shastras, Ikshana. This Sadrishaparinama is concerned with the evolution of what is named Para Sound (Parashabdasrishti). This is Cosmic Sound; the causal vibration in the substance of Mulaprakriti which gives birth to the Tattvas which are its Vikritis: such Cosmic Sound being that which is distinguished in thought from the Tattvas so produced.

The Sharada says that from the Sakala Parameshvara who is Sacchidananda issued Shakti that is, that power which is necessary for creation. God and His power are yet more than the creation which He manifests. Shakti is said to issue from that which is already Sakala or associated with Shakti, because as Raghava Bhatta says, She who is eternal (Anadi-rupa) was in a subtle state as Caitanya during the great dissolution (Pralaya), (Ya Anadirupa Caitanyadhyasena Mahapralaye Sukshma Sthita).

With however the disturbance of the Gunas, Prakriti became inclined (Ucchuna) to creation, and in this sense, is imagined to issue. Shakti, in other words, passes from a potential state to one of actuality. The Parameshvara is, he adds, described as Sacchidananda in order to affirm that even when the Brahman is associated with Avidya, its own true nature (Svarupa) is not affected. According to the Sharada, from this Shakti issues Nada and from the latter Bindu (known as the Parabindu). The Sharada thus enumerates seven aspects of Shakti. This it does, according to Raghava Bhatta, so as to make up the seven component parts of the Omkara. In some Shakta Tantras this first Nada is omitted and there are thus only six aspects. The Shaiva Tantras mention five. Those which recognize Kala as a Tattva identify Nada with it. In some Tantras, Kala is associated with Tamoguna, and is the Mahakala who is both the child and spouse of Adyashakti; for creation comes from the Tamasic aspect of Shakti. In the Saradatilaka, Nada and Bindu are one and the same Shakti, being the names of two of Her states which are considered to represent Her as being more prone to creation (Ucchunavastha). There are two states of Shakti-bindu suitable for creation (Upayogavastha). As there is no mass or Ghana in Nishkala Shiva, that Brahman represents the Aghanavastha. The Prapañcasara Tantra says that She, who is in the first place Tattva (mere “thatness”), quickens under the influence of Cit which She reflects; then She longs to create (Vicikirshu) and becomes massive (Ghanibhuta) and appears as Bindu (Parabindu). Ghanibhuta means that which was not dense or Ghana but which has become so (Ghanavastha). It involves the notion of solidifying, coagulating, becoming massive. Thus milk is said to become Ghanibhuta when it condenses into cream or curd. This is the first gross condition (Sthulavastha); the Brahman associated with Maya in the form of Karma assumes that aspect in which It is regarded as the primal cause of the subtle and gross bodies. There then lies in it in a potential, undifferentiated mass (Ghana), the universe and beings about to be created. The Parabindu is thus a compact aspect of Shakti wherein action or Kriya Shakti predominates. It is compared to a grain of gram (Canaka) which under its outer sheath (Maya) contains two seeds (Shivashakti) in close and undivided union. The Bindu is symbolized by a circle. The Shunya or empty space within is the Brahmapada. The supreme Light is formless, but Bindu implies both the void and Guna, for, when Shiva becomes Bindurupa He is with Guna. Raghava says, “She alone can create. When the desire for appearance as all Her Tattvas seizes Her, She assumes the state of Bindu whose characteristic is action” (Kriyashakti). This Bindu or Avyakta, as it is the sprouting root of the universe, is called the supreme Bindu (Parabindu), or causal or Karana Bindu, to distinguish it from that aspect of Itself which is called Bindu (Karya), which appears as a state of Shakti after the differentiation of the Parabindu in Sadrishaparinama. The Parabindu is the Ishvara of the Vedanta with Maya as His Upadhi. He is the Saguna Brahman, that is, the combined Cit-Shakti and Maya-Shakti or Ishvara with undifferentiated Prakriti as His Avyaktasharira. Some call Him Mahavishnu and others the Brahmapurusha. He is Paramashiva. “Some call the Hamsa, Devi. They are those who are filled with a passion for Her lotus feet.” As Kalicarana the Commentator of the Shatcakranirupana says, it matters not what It is called. It is adored by all. It is this Bindu or state of supreme Shakti which is worshipped in secret by all Devas. In Nishkala Shiva, Prakriti exists in a hidden potential state. The Bindu Parashaktimaya (Shivashaktimaya) is first movement of creative activity which is both the expression and result of the universal Karma or store of unfulfilled desire for cosmic life.

It is then said that the Parabindu “divides” or “differentiates”. In the Satyaloka is the formless and lustrous One. She exists like a grain of gram (Canaka) surrounding Herself with Maya. When casting off (Utsrijya) the covering (Bandhana.) of Maya, She, intent on creation (Unmukhi), becomes twofold (Dvidha bhittva), or according to the account here given threefold, and then on this differentiation in Shiva and Shakti (Shiva-Shakti-vibhagena) arises creative ideation (Srishtikalpana). As so unfolding the Bindu is known as the Sound Brahman (Shabdabrahman). “On the differentiation of the Parabindu there arose unmanifested sound” (Bhidyamanat parad bindoravyaktatma ravo, ‘bhavat). Shabda here of course does not mean physical sound, which is the Guna of the Karyakasha or atomic Akasha. The latter is integrated and limited and evolved at a later stage in Vikriti Parinama from Tamasika Ahamkara. Shabdabrahman in the undifferentiated Cidakasha or Spiritual Ether of philosophy, in association with its Kala, or Prakriti or the Sakala Shiva of religion. It is Cit-Shakti vehicled by undifferentiated Prakriti, from which is evolved Nadamatra (“Sound only” or the “Principle of Sound”) which is un-manifest (Avyakta), from which again is displayed (Vyakta) the changing universe of names and forms. It is the Pranavarupa Brahman or Om which is the cosmic causal principle and the manifested Shabdartha. Avyakta Nada or unmanifested Sound is the undifferentiated causal principle of Manifested Sound without any sign or characteristic manifestation such as letters and the like which mark its displayed product. Shabdabrahman is the all-pervading, impartite, unmanifested Nadabindu substance, the primary creative impulse in Parashiva which is the cause of the manifested Shabdartha. This Bindu is called Para because It is the first and supreme Bindu. Although It is Shakti like the Shakti and Nada which precede It, It is considered as Shakti on the point of creating the world, and as such It is from this Parabindu that Avyakta Sound is said to come.

Raghava Bhatta ends the discussion of this matter by shortly saying that the Shabdabrahman is the Caitanya in all creatures which as existing in breathing creatures (Pram) is known as the Shakti Kundalini of the Muladhara. The accuracy of this definition is contested by the Compiler of the Pranatoshini, but if by Caitanya we understand the Manifested Cit, that is, the latter displayed as and with Mulaprakriti in Cosmic vibration (Spandana), then the apparently differing views are reconciled.

The Parabindu on such differentiation manifests under the threefold aspects of Bindu, Nada, Bija. This is the fully developed and kinetic aspect of Parashabda. The Bindu which thus becomes threefold is the Principle in which the germ of action sprouts to manifestation producing a state of compact intensive Shakti. The threefold aspect of Bindu, as Bindu (Karyya), Nada and Bija are Shivamaya, Shivashaktimaya, Shaktimaya; Para, Sukshma, Sthula; Iccha, Jñana, Kriya; Tamas, Sattva, Rajas; Moon, Fire and Sun; and the Shaktis which are the cosmic bodies known as Ishvara, Hiranyagarbha, and Virat. All three, Bindu, Bija, Nada are the different phases of Shakti in creation, being different aspects of Parabindu the Ghanavastha of Shakti. The order of the three Shaktis of will, action and knowledge differ in Ishvara and Jiva. Ishvara is a11-knowing and therefore the order in Him, is Iccha, Jñana, Kriya. In Jiva, it is Jñana, Iccha, Kriya. Iccha is said to be the capacity which conceives the idea of work or action; which brings the work before the mind and wills to do it. In this Bindu, Tamas is said to be predominant, for there is as yet no stir to action. Nada is Jñana Shakti, that is, the subjective direction of will by knowledge to the desired end. With it is associated Sattva. Bija is Kriya Shakti or the Shakti which arises from that effort or the action done. With it Rajoguna or the principle of activity is associated. Kriya arises from the combination of Iccha and Jñana. It is thus said, “Drawn by Icchashakti, illumined by Jñana shakti, Shakti the Lord appearing as Male creates (Kriyashakti). From Bindu it is said arose Raudri; from Nada, Jyeshtha; and from Bija, Vama. From these arose Rudra, Brahma, Vishnu.” It is also said in the Goraksha Samhita, “Iccha is Brahmi., Kriya is Vaishnavi and Jñana is Gauri. Wherever there are these three Shaktis there is the Supreme Light called Om.” In the Sakala Parameshvara or Shabdabrahman in bodies (that is, Kundalini Shakti), Bindu in which Tamas prevails is, Raghava says, called Nirodhika; Nada in which Sattva prevails is called Ardhendhu, and Bija the combination of the two (Iccha and Jñana) in which Rajas as Kriya works is called Bindu. The three preceding states in Kundalini are Shakti, Dhvani, and Nada. Kundalini is Cit-Shakti into which Sattva enters, a state known as the Paramakashavastha. When She into whom Sattva has entered is next pierced by Rajas, She is called Dhvani which is the Aksharavastha. When She is again pierced by Tamas, She is called Nada. This is the Avyaktavastha, the Avyakta Nada which is the Parabindu. The three Bindus which are aspects of Parabindu constitute the mysterious Kamakala triangle which with the Harddhakala forms the roseate body of the lovely limbed great Devi Tripurasundari who is Shivakama and manifests the universe. She is the trinity of Divine energy of whom the Shritattvarnava says: “Those glorious men who worship in that body in Samarasya are freed from the waves of poison in the untraversable sea of the Wandering (Samsara)”. The main principle which underlies the elaborate details here shortly summarized, is this. The state in which Cit and Prakriti-Shakta are as one undivided whole, that is, in which Prakriti lies latent (Nishkala Shiva), is succeeded by one of differentiation, that is, manifestation of Maya (Sakala Shiva). In such manifestation it displays several aspects. The totality of such aspects is the Maya body of Ishvara in which are included the causal, subtle and gross bodies of the Jiva. These are, according to the Sharada, seven aspects of the first or Para state of sound in Shabdasrishti which are the seven divisions of the Mantra Om, viz.: A, U, M, Nada, Bindu, Shakti, Santa. They constitute Parashabdasrishti in the Ishvara creation. They are Ishvara or Om and seven aspects of the cosmic causal body; the collectivity (Samashti) of the individual (Vyashti), causal, subtle and gross bodies of the Jiva

Before passing to the manifested Word and Its meaning (Shabdartha), it is necessary to note what is called Arthasrishti in the Avikriti or Sadrishaparinama: that is the causal state of Sound called Parashabda; the other three states, viz.: Pashyanti, Madhyama and Vaikhari manifesting only in gross bodies. As Parabindu is the causal body of Shabda, It is also the causal body of Artha which is inseparately associated with It as the combined Shabdartha. As such, He is called Shambhu who is of the nature of both Bindu and Kala and the associate of Kala. From Him issued Sadashiva, “the witness of the world,” and from Him Isha, and then Rudra, Vishnu and Brahma. The six Shivas are various aspects of Cit as presiding over (the first) the subjective Tattvas and (the rest) the elemental world whose centers are five lower Cakras. These Devatas when considered as belonging to the Avikriti Parinama are the Devata aspect of apparently different states of causal sound by the process of resolution of like to like giving them the semblance of all-pervasive creative energies. They are Sound powers in the aggregate (Samashti). As appearing in, that is, presiding over, bodies they are the ruling Lords of the individual (Vyashti) evolutes from the primal cause of Shabda.

The completion of the causal Avikriti Parinama with its ensuing Cosmic vibration in the Gunas is followed by a real Parinama of the Vikritis from the substance of Mula-prakriti. There then appears the manifested Shabdartha or the individual bodies subtle or gross of the Jiva in which are the remaining three Bhavas of Sound or Shaktis called Pashyanti, Madhyama, Vaikhari. Shabda literally means sound, idea, word; and Artha its meaning; that is, the objective form which corresponds to the subjective conception formed and language spoken of it. The conception is due to Samskara. Artha is the externalized thought. There is a psycho-physical parallelism in the Jiva. In Ishvara thought is truly creative. The two are inseparable, neither existing without the other. Shabdartha has thus a composite meaning like the Greek word “Logos,” which means both thought and word combined. By the manifested Shabdartha is meant what the Vedantins call Namarupa, the world of names and forms, but with this difference that according to the Tantrik notions here discussed there is, underlying this world of names and forms, a real material cause that is Parashabda or Mulaprakriti manifesting as the principle of evolution.

The Sharada says that from the Unmanifested Root-Avyakta Being in Bindu form (Mulabhuta Bindurupa) or the Paravastu (Brahman), that is, from Mulaprakriti in creative operation there is evolved the Samkhyan Tattvas.

Transcendentally, creation of all things takes place simultaneously. But, from the standpoint of Jiva, there is a real development (Parinama) from the substance of Mula-bhuta Avyakta Bindurupa (as the Sharada calls Mulaprakriti) of the Tattvas, Buddhi, Ahamkara, Manas, the Indriyas, Tanmatras and Mahabhutas in the order stated. The Tantra therefore adopts the Samkhyan and not the Vedantic order of emanation which starts with the Apancikrita Tanmatra, the Tamasik parts of which, on the one hand, develop by Pancikarana into the Mahabhuta, and on the other, the Rajasik and Sattvik parts of which are collectively and separately the source of the remaining Tattvas. In the Shakta Tantra, the Bhutas derive directly and not by Pancikarana from the Tanmatras. Pancikarana exists in respect of the compounds derived from the Bhutas. There is a further point of detail in the Tantrik exposition to be noted. The Shakta Tantra, as the Puranas and Shaiva Shastras do, speaks of a threefold aspect of Ahamkara, according to the predominance therein of the respective Gunas. From the Vaikarika Ahamkara issue the eleven Devatas who preside over Manas and the ten Indriyas; from the Taijasa Ahamkara are produced the Indriyas and Manas; and from the Bhutadika Ahamkara the Tanmatras. None of these differences in detail or order of emanation of the Tattvas has substantial importance. In one case start is made from the knowing principle (Buddhi), on the other from the subtle object of knowledge the Tanmatra.

The abovementioned creation is known as Ishvara Srishti. The Vishvasara Tantra says that from the Earth come the herbs (Oshadhi), from the latter food, and from food seed (Retas). From the latter living beings are produced by the aid of sun and moon. Here what is called Jiva Srishti is indicated, a matter into which I have no time to enter here.

To sum up, upon this ripening of Karma and the urge therefrom to cosmic life, Nishkala Shiva becomes Sakala. Shakti manifests and the causal body of Ishvara is thought of as assuming seven causal aspects in Sadrishaparinama which are aspects of Shakti about to create. The Parabindu or state of Shakti thus developed is the causal body of both the manifested Shabda and Artha. The Parabindu is the source of all lines of development, whether of Shabda, or as Shambhu of Artha, or as the Mulabhuta of the Manifested Shabdartha. On the completed ideal development of this causal body manifesting as the triple Shaktis of will, knowledge and action, the Shabdartha in the sense of the manifested world with its subtle and gross bodies appears in the order described.

From the above description, it will have been seen that the creation doctrine here described is compounded of various elements, some of which it shares with other Shastras, and some of which are its own, the whole being set forth according to a method and terminology which is peculiar to itself. The theory which is a form of Advaita-vada has then some characteristics which are both Samkhyan and Vedantic. Thus it accepts a real Mulaprakriti, not however as an independent principle in the Samkhyan sense, but as a form of the Shakti of Shiva. By and out of Shiva-Shakti who are one, there is a real creation. In such creation there is a special Adrishta-Srishti up to the transformation of Shakti as Parabindu. This is Ishvara Tattva of the thirty-six Tattvas, a scheme accepted by both Advaita Shaivas and Shaktas.

Then by the operation of Maya-Shakti it is transformed into Purusha-Prakriti and from the latter are evolved the Tattvas of the Samkhya. Lastly, there is Yaugika Srishti of the Nyaya Vaisheshika in that the world is held to be formed by a combination of the elements. It accepts, therefore, Adrsta Srishti from the appearance of Shakti, up to the complete formation of the Causal Body known in its subtle form as the Kamakala; thereafter Parinama Srishti of the Vikritis of the subtle and gross body produced from the causal body down to the Mahabhutas; and finally Yaugika Srishti in so far as it is the Bhutas which in varied combination go to make up the gross world.

There are (and the doctrine here discussed is an instance of it) common principles and mutual connections existing in and between the different Indian Shastras, notwithstanding individual peculiarities of presentment due to natural variety of intellectual or temperamental standpoint or the purpose in view. Shiva in the Kularnava says that all the Darshanas are parts of His body, and he who severs them severs His limbs. The meaning of this is that the six Darshanas are the Six Minds, and these, as all else, are parts of the Lord’s Body.

Of these six minds, Nyaya and Vaisheshika teach Yaugika Srishti; Samkhya and Patañjali teach Yaugika Srishti and Parinama Srishti; Mayavada Vedanta teaches Yaugika Srishti, Parinamasrishti according to the empirical method and Vivartta according to the transcendental method. According to the Vivartta of Mayavada, there is no real change but only the appearance of it. According to Shakta-vada, Ultimate Reality does in one aspect really evolve but in another aspect is immutable. Mayavada effects its synthesis by its doctrine of grades of reality, and Shakta-vada by its doctrine of aspects of unity and duality, duality in unity and unity in duality. Ultimate Reality as the Whole is neither merely static nor merely active. It is both. The Natural and the Spiritual are one. In this sense the Shakta system claims to be the synthesis of all other doctrines.

Chapter Twenty
The Indian Magna Mater

On the last occasion that I had the honor to address you, I dealt with the subject of the psychology of Hindu religious ritual from the particular standpoint of the religious community called Shaktas, or Worshippers of the Supreme Mother. To-day I speak of the Supreme Mother Herself as conceived and worshipped by them.

The worship of the Great Mother as the Grand Multiplier is one of the oldest in the world. As I have elsewhere said, when we throw our minds back upon the history of this worship, we discern even in the most remote and fading past the Figure, most ancient, of the mighty Mother of Nature. I suspect that in the beginning the Goddess everywhere antedated, or at least was predominant over, the God. It has been affirmed (Glotz: Ægean Civilization, 243) that in all countries from the Euphrates to the Adriatic, the Chief Divinity was at first in woman form. Looking to the east of the Euphrates we see the Dusk Divinity of India, the Adya-Shakti and Maha-Shakti, or Supreme Power of many names — as Jagadamba, Mother of the World, which is the Play of Her who is named Lalita, Maya, Mahatripurasundari and Maha-kundalini, as Maha-Vaishnavi, the Sapphire Devi who supports the World, as Mahakali who dissolves it, as Guhyamahabhairavi, and all the rest.

This Supreme Mother is worshipped by Her devotees from the Himalayas, the “Abode of Snow,” the northern home of Shiva, to Cape Comorin in the uttermost south — for the word Comorin is a corruption of Kumart Devi or the Mother. Goddesses are spoken of in the Vedas as in the later Scriptures. Of these latter, the Shakta Tantras are the particular repository of Mother-worship.

To the Shakta, God is his Supreme Mother. In innumerable births he has had countless mothers and fathers, and he may in future have many, many more. The human, and indeed any, mother is sacred as the giver (under God) of life, but it is the Divine Mother of All (Shrimata), the “Treasure-House of Compassion”, who alone is both the Giver of life in the world and of its joys, and who (as Tarini) is the Saviouress from its miseries, and who again is, for all who unite with Her, the Life of all lives — that unalloyed bliss named Liberation. She is the Great Queen (Maharajni) of Heaven and of yet higher worlds, of Earth, and of the Underworlds. To Her both Devas, Devis, and Men give worship. Her Feet are adored by even Brahma, Vishnu, and Rudra.

The Shakta system, in its origin possibly Non-Vaidik, is in several respects an original presentment, both as regards doctrine and practice, of the great Vedantic Theme concerning the One and the Many. As an organic and dynamic system it interprets all in terms of Power, from the atom of Matter, which is said by modern science to be a reservoir of tremendous energy, to the Almighty, which is the commonest name in all Religions for God. It is the cult of Power both as the Partial and as the Whole, as the worshipper may desire. God is here regarded under twin aspects; as Power-Holder or the “male” Shiva, and as Power or Shakti, the Divine Spouse and Mother.

The symbolism of the Shaktas’ “Jeweled Tree of Tantra” is brilliant, and meets the demand of Nietzsche that the abstract should be made attractive to the senses. It is largely of the so-called “erotic” type which is to be found to some and varying degree in Hinduism as a whole.

The symbols employed are either geometric — that is, Yantric — or pictorial. A Yantra is a diagrammatic presentation of Divinity, as Mantra is its sound-expression. The former is the body of the latter. The higher worship is done with Yantra.

Pictorial symbolism is of higher and lower types. The former is popular, and the latter may be described by the French term peuple.

I will now describe a Yantra and the greatest of Yantras, namely the Shriyantra. We have no longer to deal with pictures of persons and their surroundings, but with lines, curves, circles, triangles, and the Point.

The great symbol of the Mother is the Shriyantra, from the center of which She arises like the solar orb at morn, but in a blaze of light excelling the brilliance of countless midday suns and the coolness of innumerable moons. The center is the Point, or Bindu — that is, the Mother as Concentrated Power ready to create. Around Her is the Universe, together with its Divinities or Directing Intelligences. From the Point the World issues. Into it on dissolution, it enters. The extended Universe then collapses into an unextended Point, which itself then subsides like a bubble on the surface of the Causal Waters, which are the Immense.

I. The Divine Mother

The Real as Shiva-Shakti may be regarded from three aspects — namely, as Universe, as God, and as Godhead. The Real is the World, but the Real is more than the World. The Real is God. The Real is God, but it is also more than what we understand by the word God. The Real is, as it were, beyond God as Godhead. This does not mean, as some have supposed, that God is a “fiction,” but that the Real as it is in its own alogical being is not adequately described in terms of its relation to the world as God. I will deal, then, first with its aspect as Godhead, then as the Supreme Self, or Person, or God, and thirdly, with Shiva-Shakti as the manifest and limited Universe.

Pervading and transcending the Existent is the “Spiritual Ether,” also called the “Immense” in which is the Measurable, which Immense is also called the “Fact” (Sat), in which are the Fact-Sections (Kala) which Fact is also called alogical Experience-Whole (Purna), in which are all Experience-Modes (Vritti) of the limited Selves.

The ultimate that is Irreducible Real is, in the system, not mere undetermined Being, but Power which is the source of all Determinations. This Power is both to Be, to self-conserve, and to resist change, as also to be the efficient cause of change, and as material cause to Become and suffer change. Relatively to the World, Immutable Being is as Divinity called Shiva the Power-Holder, and His Power is Shakti or the Mother Shiva, but in the supreme alogical state, Power to Be and Being-Power-Holder are merged in one another.

What is the nature of the Alogical Experience? In the Yoginihridaya Tantra it is asked. “Who knows the heart of a woman? Only Shiva knows the heart of Yogini” — that is, the Divine Mother so called, as being one with, that is in the form of, all that exists, and as being in Herself the One in which they are.

Since the Irreducible Real is the Whole, it cannot be conceived or described. It is neither Father nor Mother, for it is beyond Fatherhood and Motherhood and all other attributes. It is alogical.

Though it cannot be conceived or put into words, some concepts are held to be more appropriate to it than others. And thus it is approximately said to be infinite undetermined Being, mindless Experiencing, and Supreme Bliss unalloyed with pain and sorrow. As Being and Power are merged in this alogical state, Power, in its form as Power to Be (Cidrupini ), is also Being-Consciousness and Bliss. Shiva-Shakti, the “two in one,” are here the Nameless One.

The experience of this alogical state is not, however, that of an “I” (Aham) and “This” (Idam). The next or causal aspect of the Real is a Supreme Self. Its third and effectual aspect is the limited selves or Universe.

The physical Ether is a symbol of this alogical state, in which the twofold Shiva-Shakti are the One in the unitary state, which is called the “Ether of Consciousness” (Cidakasha).

Physical Ether is the all-extending, homogeneous, relative Plenum in which the Universe of particulars exists. The “Spiritual Ether,” or “Ether of Consciousness,” is the undetermined, all-diffusive, though inextended, absolute Plenum (Purna), in which both these particulars and the physical Ether itself exists. Ether is the physical counterpart of Consciousness, just as the Notion of Space is its psychical counterpart. These are such counterparts because Consciousness becomes through its Power as material cause both Matter and Mind. Each is a manifested form of Spirit in Time and Space. The shoreless Ocean of Nectar or Deathlessness is another symbol of the alogical Whole.

We now pass to a consideration of the same Real in its aspect as related to the Universe, which is the appearance of the Immense as the Measurable or Form. The Real is here related to the Universe as the Cause, Maintainer, and Directing Consciousness. Form is Maya, which, however, in this system (whatever be its meaning in Mayavada) does not mean “Illusion”. All is power. All is real

The alogical One is here of dual aspect as Shiva and Shakti. The two concepts of Being and Power are treated as two Persons. Shiva is the Power-Holder, who is Being-Consciousness-Bliss, and Shakti is Power and the Becoming. She, in the alogical state, is also Being-Consciousness-Bliss. Without ceasing to be in Herself what She ever was, is, and will be, She is now the Power of Shiva as efficient and material cause of the Universe and the Universe itself. Whilst Shiva represents the Consciousness aspect of the Real, She is its aspect as Mind, Life, and Matter. He is the Liberation (Moksha) aspect of the Real. S4>e is in the form of the Universe or Samsara. As Shiva-Shakti are in themselves one, so Moksha and Samsara are at root one.

Shiva, in the Kularnava Tantra, says that His doctrine is neither non-dualist nor dualist, but beyond both. We have here a non-dualistic system as regards its teaching concerning the Alogical Whole, in which Shiva-Shakti are fused in one. We have again a kind of Duo-Monotheism. It is Monotheistic because Shiva and Shakti are two aspects of one and the same Reality. It is dual because, these two aspects are worshipped as two Persons, from whose union as Being and Power the Universe evolves.

The experience of this state, relative to the Alogical Whole, is a disruption of unitary alogical experience. I say “relative” because the Whole is always the Whole. Such disruption is the work of Power. She, as it were, disengages Herself as Power, from the embrace in which Power-Holder and Power are fused in one, and then represents Herself to Him. On this representation, Consciousness-Power assumes certain postures (Mudra) preparatory to the going forth as Universe, and then, when Power is fully concentrated, manifests as the World.

The term Consciousness, which is inadequate to describe the alogical state, is here approximately appropriate, for the experience of this state is that of an “I” and “This”. But it is to be distinguished from man’s Consciousness. For the experiencer as man is a limited (and not, as here, a Supreme Self ) and the object is experienced as separate from, and outside, the Self (and not, as in the case of the Lord and Mother, as one with the experiencing Self). The experience of Shiva as the Supreme Self, viewing the Universe is, “All this, I am”.

As contrasted with the alogical, all-diffusive, Spiritual Ether, the symbol of the second aspect of Shiva-Shakti, as the Supreme Self and Cause of the Universe is the metaphysical Point (Bindu) or Power as a Point. What, then is the meaning of the latter term? In Being-Power about to evolve there is a stressing of Power which gathers itself together to expand again as Universe. When it has become concentrated and condensed (Ghanibhuta Shakti) it is ready to evolve. Bindu, or the Point, is, therefore, Power in that Concentrated state in which it is ready and about to evolve the Universe. Though infinitely small, as the Absolute Little, when compared with the Absolute Great or Spiritual Ether, it is yet a source of infinite energy as (to borrow an example from modern science) the relatively Little or Atom, or other unit of matter, existing in the relatively Great or the physical Ether, is said to be a source of tremendous energy. Just as, again, the relative point or atom is as a fact in the relative Ether, so the Absolute Point is conceived to be in the Absolute Ether. I say “conceived,” because, as both Spiritual Point and Spiritual Ether are each absolute, it is only figuratively that the one can be said to be “within” the other. The “Isle of Gems” (Manidvipa) in the “Ocean of Nectar” (Amritarnava) is another symbol of this state.

There is a painting that exhibits both the Alogical Immense and the Point of Power or Bindu “in” it. The former is here symbolized by the shoreless “Ocean of Nectar” (Amritarnava) — that is, Immortality. This symbol of all-diffusive Consciousness is similar to that of the all-spreading Ether. In the blue, tranquil Waters of Eternal Life (Amritarnava) is set the Isle of Gems (Manidvipa). This Island is the Bindu or metaphysical Point of Power. The Island is shown as a golden circular figure. The shores of the Island are made of powdered gems. It is forested with blooming and fragrant trees — Nipa, Malati, Champaka, Parijata, and Kadamba. There, too is the Kalpa tree laden with flower and fruit. In its leaves the black bees hum, and the Koel birds make love. Its four branches are the four Vedas. In the center there is a house made of Cintamani stone which grants all desires. In it is a jeweled Mandapa or awning. Under it and on a gemmed and golden throne there is the Mother Mahatripurasundari as the Deity of the Bindu, which as shown later, becomes the three Bindus or Puras. Hence Her name “Three Puras” or Tripura. She is red, for red is the active color, and She is here creative as Vimarsha Shakti, or, the “This” of the Supreme Experiencer, which through Maya becomes the Universe. What man calls Matter is first experienced by mindless Consciousness as a “This,” which is yet though the “Other” one with the Self. Then, by the operation of Maya, the “This” is experienced by mind as separate and different from and outside the Self, as complete “otherness”. She holds in Her four hands, bows and arrows, noose and goad, which are explained later. She sits on two inert male figures which lie on a six-sided throne. The upper figure is Shiva (Sakala), who is awake, because, he is associated with his Power as efficient and material cause. On His head is the crescent Digit of the Moon, called Nada, the name for a state of stressing Power, His Shakti being now creative. He lies inert, for He is Immutable Being. He is white because he is Consciousness and Illumination (Prakasha). Consciousness illuminates and makes manifest the forms evolved by its Power, which in its turn by supplying the form (as object unconscious) helps Shiva to display Himself as the Universe which is both Being and Becoming. Under him is another male figure, darker in color, to represent colorlessness (vivarna), with closed eyes. This mysterious figure (Nishkala Shiva) is called Shava or the Corpse. It illustrates the doctrine that Shiva without his Power or Shakti can do and is, so far as the manifested is concerned, nothing. There is profundity in the doctrine of which this Corpse is a symbol. To those who have understood it a real insight is given into the Kaula Shakta system.

This representation of Shiva and Shakti as of the same size, but the former lying inert, is perhaps peculiar to the Kaula Shaktas, and is the antithesis of the well-known “Dancing Shiva”.

I will here note some other symbolism, pictorial and geometric or Yantric.

Pictorially, Shakti is shown either as the equal of Her Spouse — that is, as an Androgyne figure in which the right half is male and the left female — or as two figures, male and female, of equal size. Inequality is indicated where the Shakti is smaller than the male Divinity. The meaning of this difference in dimension of the figures of Shakti lies in a difference of theological and philosophical concepts which may yet be reconciled. In the Shakta view, the Power-Holder and His Power as She is in Herself, that is, otherwise than as the manifested form, are one and equal. But He is recumbent. Alternatively, Shakti is the Mother as the Warrior Leader or Promachos with Shiva under Her feet. Where the figures are unequal it is meant to assert (a fact which is not denied) that Supreme Power as manifested is infinitely less than Power unmanifest. That Power is in no wise exhausted in the manifestation of the Worlds which are said to be as it were but dust on the feet of the Mother.

Passing to Yantric symbols, the Male Power-Holder Shiva is represented by a triangle standing on its base. A triangle is selected as being the only geometric figure which represents Trinity in Unity — the many Triads such as Willing, Knowing, and Acting in which the one Consciousness (Cit) displays itself. Power or the feminine principle or Shakti is necessarily represented by the same figure, for Power and Power-Holder are one. The Triangle, however, is shown reversed — that is standing on its apex. Students of ancient symbolism are aware of the physical significance of this symbol. To such reversal, however, philosophic meaning may also be given, since all is reversed when reflected in the Waters of Maya.

Why, it may now be asked, does the Shakta lay stress on the Power or Mother aspect of Reality? Like all other Hindus, he believes in a Static Real as Immutable Being-Consciousness, which is the ground of and serves to maintain that which, in this system, is the Dynamic Real. He will point out, however, that the Mother is also in one of Her aspects of the same nature as Shiva, who is such Static Real. But it is She who does work. She alone also moves as material cause. He as Immutable Being does and can do nothing without Her as His Power. Hence the Kaula Shakta. symbolism shows Shiva as lying inert and to be, if deprived of His Power, but a corpse (Shava).

Even when associated with his Shakti as efficient cause, Shiva does not move. A not uncommon picture, counted obscene, is merely the pictorial symbol of the fact that Being, even when associated with its active Power, is Immutable. It is She as Power who takes the active and changeful part in generation, as also in conceiving, bearing, and giving birth to the World-Child. All this is the function of the divine, as it is of the human, mother. In such work the male is but a helper (Sahakari) only. In other systems it is the Mother who is the Helper of Shiva. It is thus to the Mother that man owes the World of Form or Universe. Without Her as material cause, Being cannot display itself. It is but a corpse (Shava). Both Shiva and Shakti give that supreme beyond-world Joy which is Liberation (Mukti, Paramananda). They are each Supreme Consciousness and Bliss. The Mother is Anandalahari or Wave of Bliss. To attain to that is to be liberated. But Shakti the Mother is alone the Giver of World-Joy (Bhukti, Bhaumananda), since it is She who becomes the Universe. As such She is the Wave of Beauty (Saundaryalahari). Further, it is through her Form as World that She, as also Shiva, are in their Formless Self attained. If, however, union is sought directly with Reality in its non-world aspect, it must necessarily be by renunciation. Liberation may, however be attained by acceptance of, and through the World, the other aspect of the Real. In the Shakta method, it is not by denial of the World, but, by and through the World, when known as the Mother that Liberation is attained. World enjoyment is made the means and instrument of Liberation (Mokshayate Samsara). The Shakta has both (Bhukti, Mukti). This essential unity of the World and Beyond World, and passage through and by means of the former to the latter is one of the most profound doctrines of the Shakta, and is none-the-less so because their application of these principles has been limited to man’s gross physical functions, and such application has sometimes led to abuse. For these and other reasons primacy is given to the Mother, and it is said: “What care I for the Father if I but be on the lap of the Mother?”

I note here in connection with primacy of the Mother-God that in the Mediterranean (Ægean) Civilization the Male God is said to have been of a standing inferior to the Mother, and present only to make plain Her character as the fruitful womb whence all that exists springs (Glotz, 243, et seq.).

Such, then, is the great Mother of India in Her aspect as She is in Herself as the alogical world-transcending Whole (Purna), and secondly, as She is as the Creatrix of the World. It remains now but to say a word of Her as She exists in the form of the universe.

The psycho-physical universe is Maya. The devotee Kamalakanta lucidly defines Maya as the Form (Akara) of the Void (Sunya) or formless (not Nothingness). Is it Real? It is real, because Maya, considered as a Power, is Devi Shakti, and She is real. The effect of the transformation of that Power must also be real. Some make a contrast between Reality and Appearance. But why, it is asked (apart from persistence), should appearance be unreal, and that of which it is such appearance alone be real? Moreover, in a system such as this, in which Power transforms itself, no contrast between Reality and Appearance in the sense of unreality emerges. The distinction is between the Real as it is its formless Self and the same Real as it appears in Form. Moreover, the World is experienced by the Lord and Mother, and their experience is never unreal. We are here on a healthy level above the miasma of Illusion. The experience of man (to take him as the highest type of all other selves) is not the Experience-Whole. He knows the world as the other than Himself, just because Power has made him man — that is, a limited Experiencer or center in the Whole. That is a fact, and no Illusion or Deceit. When He realizes Himself as “All this I am” that is, as an “I” which knows all form as Itself — then Consciousness as man expands into the Experience-Whole which is the Fact (Sat).

Man is Shakti, or the Mother, in so far as he is Mind, Life in Form, and Matter. He is Shiva. in so far as his essence is Consciousness as It is in Itself, which is also the nature of the Mother in Her own alogical Self.

This union is achieved by rousing the sleeping Power in the lowest center of solid and leading it upwards to the cerebrum as the center Consciousness.

I now pass to the second part of my paper, which deals with the cosmic evolution of Power — that is, the “going forth” of the Supreme Self upon its union with its Power in manifestation. As the result of such evolution we have Shiva-Shakti as the limited selves. Shiva-Shakti are not terms limited to God only, but the forms into which Power evolves are also Shiva-Shakti. God as the Mother-Father is supreme Shiva-Shakti. The Limited Selves are Shiva-Shakti appearing as Form in Time and Space. The Measurable or World (Samsara) and the Immense Experience-Whole (Moksha) are at root one. This is fundamental doctrine in the community to whose beliefs reference is now made.

II. Evolution

Shiva and Shakti as the Causal Head (Shiva-Shakti Tattvas) of the world-evolution are called Kameshvara and Kameshvari. Kama is Desire. Here it is Divine Desire, or (to use a Western term) the Libido, which in the Veda is expressed as the wish of the One, “May I be many”. So also the Veda says: “Desire first arose in it the primal germ.” The form of this wish tells us what Libido, in its Indian sense, means. In its primary sense, it does not mean sensuous desire, but the will to, and affirmance of, “otherness” and differentiation, of which sensuous desire is a later and gross form in the evolutionary series. Procreation is the individual counterpart of Cosmic Creation.

Why were the worlds (for there are many) evolved? The answer given is because it is the nature (Svabhava) of almighty formless Being-Power, whilst remaining what it is, to become Form — that is, to exist. The Svabhava, or nature of Being-Power, is Lila, or Play, a term which means free spontaneous activity. Hence Lalita, or “Player,” is a name of the Mother as She who Plays and whose Play is World-Play. She is both Joy (Ananda-mayi) and Play (Lila-mayi). The action of man and of other selves is, in so far as they are the psycho-physical, determined by their Karma. The Mother’s play is not idle or meaningless so far as man is concerned, for the world is the field on and means by which he attains all his worths, the greatest of which is Union with the Mother as She is in Herself as Highest Being. The Player is Power. How does it work?

The Whole (Purna), which means here, the Absolute Spiritual Whole, and not the relative Whole or psychophysical universe, cannot as the Whole change. It is Immutable. Change can then take place only in It. This is the work of Power which becomes limited centers in the Whole, which centers, in relation to, and compared with, the Whole, are a contraction of it.

Power works by negation, contraction, and finitization. This subtle doctrine is explained profoundly and in detail in the scheme of the thirty-six Tattvas accepted by both non-dualists, Shaivas and Shaktas, and is also dealt with in the Mantra portion of their Scriptures. A Tattva is a Posture (Mudra) of Power — that is, Reality-Power defined in a particular way, and, therefore the alogical aspect is that which is beyond all Tattvas (Tattvatita). A Tattva is then a stage in the evolutionary process. Mantra is a most important subject in the Tantra Scriptures which treat of Sound and Movement, for the one implies the other. Sound as lettered speech is the vehicle of thought, and Mind is a vehicle of Consciousness for world-experience. The picture of Shiva riding a bull is a popular presentation of that fact. Bull in Sanskrit is “Go”, and that word also means “sound”. Nada as inchoate stressing sound is shown in the form of a crescent-moon on His head. The cult of the Bull is an ancient one, and it may be that originally the animal had no significance as Sound, but subsequently, owing to the sameness of the Sanskrit term for Bull and Sound, the animal became a symbol for sound. Sometimes, however, a more lofty conception is degraded to a lower one. It is here noteworthy that the crescent-moon worn by Diana and used in the worship of other Goddesses is said to be the Ark or vessel of boat-like shape, symbol of fertility or the Container of the Germ of all life.

I can only in the most summary manner deal with the subject of the Evolution of Power, illustrating it by Yantric symbolism.

The Shiva and Shakti triangles are ever united. To represent the alogical state, we may place one triangle without reversal upon the other, thus making one triangular figure. This will give some idea of the state in which the two triangles as “I” and “This” are fused in one as Being-Consciousness-Bliss.

Here, however, we are concerned with the causal state which is the Supreme Self in Whose experience there is an “I” and a “This”, though the latter is experienced as the Self. There is, therefore, a double triangular figure; Shiva and Shakti are in union, but now not as the alogical Whole, but as the Supreme Self experiencing His object or Shakti as one with Himself. The marriage of the Divine couple, Kameshvara and Kameshvari — that is, Being and Power to Become — is the archetype of all generative embraces.

To represent this aspect, the triangles are placed across one another, so as to produce a Hexagon, in which one triangle represents the “I”, or Shiva and the other the “This,” or object, as Power and its transformations — that is, Shakti.

As the result of this union, Power assumes certain Postures (Mudra) in its stressing to manifest as Universe. The first of such produced stresses is, from the Tattva aspect, Sadashiva, and, from the Mantra aspect, inchoate sound or movement called Nada. The state is shown by the Hexagon with a crescent-moon, the symbol of Nada, in its center. This Nada is not manifested sound or movement, but an inchoate state of both.

In the next Mantric stage (corresponding to the Tattvas, Ishvara and Shuddhavidya) the crescent-moon enlarges into the full moonlike Bindu. This also is stressing Power as inchoate sound and movement, but is now such Power ready to evolve into manifested sound and movement. The word Bindu also means seed, for it is the seed of the universe as the result of the union of its ultimate principles as Shiva and Shakti. The Point, or Bindu, is shown as a circle, so as to display its content and a line divides the Point, one half representing the “I”, and the other, the “This” aspect of experience. They are shown in one circle to denote that the “This,” or object, is not yet outside the self as non-self. The Bindu is compared in the Tantras to a grain of gram (Canaka), which contains two seeds (Aham and Idam) so close to one another within their common sheath as to seem to be one seed.

At the stage when Consciousness lays equal emphasis on the “I” and “This” of experience, Maya-Shakti and its derivative powers called sheaths (Kañcuka) and contractions (Samkoca) operate to disrupt the Bindu, which comes apart in two. Now the “I” and “This” are separated, the latter being experienced as outside the self or as non-self. The former becomes limited as “Little Knower” and “Little Doer”. This is the work of Maya-Shakti. Power again (as Prakriti-Shakti) evolves the psycho-physical organs of this limited Self, as Mind, Senses, and Body.

I have spoken of two Bindus standing for Shiva and Shakti. Their inter-relation and its product is another form of Nada. These then make three Bindus, which are a grosser form of the Kamakala. The Divinity of the three Bindus is the Mother as Mahatripurasundari, “the Beauteous One in whom are the three Puras,” or Bindus.

The Mantra equivalent of the state in which the Bindu divides and becomes threefold is the first manifested sound, which is the Great Mantra Om. As the Supreme Bindu bursts there is a massive, homogeneous, vibratory movement, as it were a cosmic thrill (samanya spandana) in psychophysical Substance the sound of which to man’s gross ears is Om. The original sound of Om is that which was heard by the Absolute Ears of Him and Her who caused that movement. Om is the ground-sound and ground movement of Nature. The Mundakopanishad says that the Sun travels the universe chanting the mantra Om. From Om are derived all special (vishesha spandana) movements, sounds, and Mantras. It is itself threefold, since it is constituted by the union of the letters A, U, M. The Divinities of these three letters are Brahma, Vishnu, Rudra, and their Shaktis. These, together with Sadashiva and Isha, are the Five Shivas to whom reference is made in the ritual, and who are pictured in the Shakta symbolism as the Five who are Dead (Preta).

Power, after involving itself in solid matter, technically called “Earth,” then rests in this last-named element.

The evolution of the Tattvas is not a temporal process. Time only comes in with sun and moon, on the completion of the evolution of the Tattvas as constituent elements of the universe. The Tattvas are given as the results of an analysis of experience, in which the Prius is logical not temporal. For these reasons a Causal Tattva does not cease to be what it is as Cause when it is transformed into its effect, which is not the case in the manifested world wherein, as the Lakshmi-Tantra says, “Milk when it becomes curd ceases to be milk”. Reality does not cease to be the Alogical Whole because it is from the Causal aspect a Supreme Self. It does not cease to be the Cosmic Cause because it evolves as the Universe its effect. Nor in such evolution does any Tattva cease to be what it is as cause because it is transformed into its effect.

I am now in the position to explain the great Yantra or diagram which is used in the worship of the Mother and which is called the Shri Yantra, a symbol of both the Universe and its Cause.

I have not the time to describe it at length, but its meaning may be generally stated.

It is composed of two sets of Triangles. One set is composed of four male or Shiva triangles called Shrikanthas denoting four aspects (Tattva) of evolved or limited Consciousness-Power, and the five female or Shakti triangles (Shivayuvatis) denote the five vital functions, the five senses of knowledge, the five senses of action, and the five subtle and the five gross forms of matter. The place of the psychic element as Mind and the Psycho-physical Substance of both Mind and Matter, I will indicate later.

These two sets of triangles are superimposed to show the union of Shiva and Shakti. As so united they make the figure within the eight lotus petals in the full Yantra. Outside these eight lotuses there are sixteen other lotuses. There are then some lines, and a surround with four gates or doors, which surround is found in all Yantras, and is called Bhupura. It serves the purpose of what in Magic is called a Fence.

This Yantra has nine Cakras, or compartments, formed by the intersection of the Triangles.

There is first a red central point or Bindu, the Cakra of Bliss. The central point or Bindu is Supreme Divinity — the Mother as the Grand Potential whence all the rest which this diagram signifies proceed. It is red, for that is the active color, and thus the color of Vimarsha Shakti, or Evolving Power.

The second Cakra is the white inverted Triangle, or “Cakra of All Accomplishment”. In the corners of this white Triangle are the Divinities of the General Psychophysical Substance and its first two evolutes as Cosmic Mind. Outside the Cakra is Kama, the Divinity of Desire, with His Bow of Sugar-Cane, which is the Mind as director of the senses; with its Five Arrows, which are the five forms of subtle matter, which in their gross form are perceived by these senses; with his Noose, which is Attraction, and his Goad, which is Repulsion. Another version (taking the Bow and Arrow as one symbol) makes the three implements, the Powers of Will, Knowledge and Action.

The third Cakra is eight red Triangles, and is called “Destroyer of all Disease”, a term which means lack of that Wholeness (Apurnam-manyata) which is Spiritual Health.

The fourth Cakra is ten blue Triangles. The fifth is ten red Triangles. The sixth is fourteen blue Triangles. The seventh is eight red petals. The eighth is sixteen blue petals, and the ninth is the yellow surround. Each of these Cakras has its own name. In them there are a number of lesser Divinities presiding over forms of Mind, Life and Body, and their special functions.

Those who hear the Devas spoken of as “Gods” are puzzled by their multitude. This is due to the ill-rendering of the terms Devas and Devis as Gods and Goddesses. God is the Supreme Mother and Father, the “Two in One,” who are alone the Supreme Self, and as such receive supreme worship. All forms — whether of Devas, or men, or other creatures — in so far as they are the psycho-physical forms, subtle or gross, are manifestations of the Power of their Immanent Essence, which is Spirit or Infinite Consciousness. That Essence is in itself one and changeless, but as related to a particular psycho-physical form as its cause and Director of its functions it is its Presiding Consciousness. Mind and Matter are not, as such, self-guiding. They are evolved and directed by Consciousness. The presiding consciousness of the Form and its functions is its presiding Devata. A Deva is thus the consciousness aspect of the psycho-physical form. So the Deva Agni is the one Consciousness in its aspect as the Lord of Fire. A Devata may also mean an aspect as the Causal Consciousness itself. And so Mahatripurasundari is the name given to the creative aspect of such Consciousness-Power, as Mahakali is that aspect of the same Consciousness-Power which dissolves all worlds.

The object of the worship of the Yantra is to attain unity with the Mother of the Universe in Her forms as Mind, Life, and Matter and their Devatas, as preparatory to Yoga union with Her as She is in herself as Pure Consciousness. The world is divinized in the consciousness of the Worshipper, or Sadhaka. The Yantra is thus transformed in his consciousness from a material object of lines and curves into a mental state of union with the Universe, its Divinities and Supreme Deity. This leads to auto-realization as Mindless Consciousness. The Shri Yantra is thus the Universe and its one Causal Power of various aspects. The worshipper, too, is a Shri Yantra, and realizes himself as such.

III. Dissolution

I have dealt with the nature of Shiva-Shakti and the evolution of power as the Universe, and now will say a word as to the relative ending of the world on its withdrawal to reappear again, and as to the absolute ending for the individual who is liberated.

In Hindu belief, this Universe had a beginning, and will have an end. But it is only one of an infinite series in which there is no absolutely first Universe. These Universes come and go with the beating of the Pulse of Power now actively going forth, now returning to rest. For the World has its life period, which, reckoning up to the Great Dissolution, is the duration of an outgoing “Breath of Time”. In due course another Universe will appear, and so on to all eternity. This series of Worlds of Birth, Death, and Reincarnation is called by the Hindus the Samsara, and was named by the Greeks the Cycle of the Becoming (kuklos ton geneson). All selves which are withdrawn at the end of a world-period continue to reappear in the new worlds to be until they are liberated therefrom.

The picture now described depicts the Mother-Power which dissolves — that is, withdraws the World into Herself. This is another aspect of one and the same Mother. As such She is Mahakali, dark blue like a rain cloud. Nada is in Her head-dress. She is encircled by serpents, as is Shiva. She holds in Her hands, besides the Lotus and two weapons, a skull with blood in it. She wears a garland of human heads which are exotically the heads of conquered Demons, but are esoterically the letters of the alphabet which as well as the Universe of which they are the seed-mantras, are dissolved by Her. She stands on the white, inert Shiva, for it is not He but His power who withdraws the Universe into Herself. He lies on a funeral pyre, in the burning-ground, where jackals — favorite animals of Kali — and carrion birds are gnawing and pecking at human flesh and bone. The cremation ground is a symbol of cosmic dissolution.

In a similar picture, we see the Mother standing on two figures, the Shiva, and Shava previously explained. On the Corpse the hair has grown. The Devas, or “Gods,” as they are commonly called, are shown making obeisance to Her on the left, for She is their Mother as well as being the Mother of men. There are some variations in the imagery. Thus Kali, who is commonly represented naked — that is, free of her own Maya — is shown clad in skins. Her function is commonly called Destruction, but as the Sanskrit saying goes, “the Deva does not Destroy”. The Supreme Self withdraws the Universe into Itself. Nothing is destroyed. Things appear and disappear to reappear.

To pass beyond the Worlds of Birth and Death is to be Liberated. Human selves alone can attain liberation. Hence the supreme worth of human life. But few men understand and desire Liberation, which is the Experience-Whole. They have not reached the stage in which it is sought as the Supreme Worth. The majority are content to seek the Partial in the satisfaction of their individual interests. But as an unknown Sage cited by the Commentators on the Yoginihridaya and Nityashodasika Tantras has profoundly said, “Identification of the Self with the Non-Whole or Partial (Apurnam-manyata) is Disease and the sole source of every misery”. Hence one of the Cakras of the Shri Yantra which I have shown you is called “Destroyer of all Disease”. Eternal Health is Wholeness which is the Highest Worth as the Experience-Whole. The “Disease of the World” refers not to the World in itself, which is the Mother in form, but to that darkness of vision which does not see that it is Her. As Upanishad said, “He alone fears who sees Duality.” This recognition of the unity of the World and the Mother has its degrees. That Whole is of varying kinds. It is thus physical or bodily health as the physical Whole which is sought in Hathayoga. Man, as he develops, lives more and more in that Current of Energy, which, having immersed itself in Mind and Matter for the purpose of World-Experience, returns to itself as the Perfect Experience, which is Transcendent Being-Power. With the transformation of man’s nature his values become higher. At length he discerns that his Self is rooted in and is a flowering of Supreme Being-Power. His cramped experience, loosened of its limitations, expands into fullness. For, it must be ever remembered, that Consciousness as it is itself never evolves. It is the Immutable Essence, and Shakti the “Wave of Bliss’ as they each are in themselves. Evolution is thus a gradual release from the limitations of Form created by Being-Power. Interest in the Partial and Relative Wholeness gives way to a striving towards the Mother as the Absolute Whole (Purna) which She is in Her own spaceless, and timeless, nature.

This complete Liberation is the Perfect Experience in which the Self, cramped in Mind and Body, overcomes its mayik bonds and expands into the Consciousness-Whole. The practical question is therefore the conversion of Imperfect (Apurna) into Perfect (Purna) Experience. This last is not the “standing aloof” (Kaivalya) “here” from some discarded universe “over there,” upon the discovery that it is without reality and worth. For the World is the Mother in Form. It is one and the same Mother-Power which really appears as the psycho-physical universe, and which in itself is Perfect Consciousness. Liberation is, according to this system, the expansion of the empirical consciousness in and through and by means of the world into that Perfect Consciousness which is the Experience-Whole. This can only be by the grace of the Mother, for who otherwise can loosen the knot of Maya which She Herself has tied ?

The state of Liberation can only be approximately described. Even those who have returned from ecstasy cannot find words for that which they have in fact experienced. “A full vessel,” it is said, “makes no sound”. It is not in this system an experience of mere empty “being,” for this is an abstract concept of the intellect produced by the power of Consciousness. It is a concrete Experience-Whole of infinitely rich “content”. The Mother is both the Whole and, as Samvid Kala, is the Cause and archetype of all Partials (Kala). She is Herself the Supreme Partial as She is also the Whole. So, She is the Supreme Word (Paravak), Supreme Sound and Movement (Parashabda Paranada), Supreme Space (Paravyoma),Supreme or Transcendental Time (Parakala) the infinite “limit” of that which man knows on the rising of Sun and Moon. She is again the Life of all lives (pranapranasya). She thus contains within Herself in their “limit” all the realities and values of worldly life which is Her expression in Time and Space. But over and beyond this, She is also the alogical Experience-Whole. This experience neither supersedes nor is superseded by experience as the Supreme Self. This Alogical Experience is only approximately spoken of as Infinite Being, Consciousness and Joy which is the seamless (akhanda) Experience-Whole (Purna). Relative to the Supreme Self the Perfect Experience, She as His Power is the Perfect Universe. In the alogical transcendent state in which Shiva and Shakti are mingled as the One, She is the Massive Bliss (Ananda-ghana) which is their union, of which it has been said: Niratishaya premaspadatvam anandatvam, which may be translated: “Love in its limit or uttermost love is Joy”. This is the love of the Self for its Power and for the Universe as which such Power manifests.

She is called the Heart of the Supreme Lord (Hridayam Parameshituh), with whom the Shakta unites himself as he says Sa’ham — “She I am”.

If we analyze this description we find that it can be summed up in the single Sanskrit term Anandaghana, or Mass of Bliss. The essence of the Universe is, to the Shakta, nothing but that. Mystical states in all religions are experiences of joy. As I have elsewhere said, the creative and world-sustaining Mother, as seen in Shakta worship (Hadimata), is a Joyous Figure crowned with ruddy flashing gems, clad in red raiment Lauhityam etasya sarvasya vimarshah, more effulgent than millions of red rising suns, with one hand granting all blessings (varamudra), and with the other dispelling all fears (abhaya-mudra). It is true that She seems fearful to the uninitiated in Her form as Kali, but the worshippers of this Form (Kadimata) know Her as the Wielder of the Sword of Knowledge which, severing man from ignorance — that is, partial knowledge — gives him Perfect Experience. To such worshipper the burning ground — with its corpses, its apparitions, and haunting malignant spirits — is no terror. These forms, too, are Hers.

Hinduism has with deep insight seen that Fear is an essential mark of the animal, and of man in so far as he is an animal (Pashu). The Shakta unites himself with this joyous and liberating Mother, saying Sa’ham — “She I am”. As he realizes this he is the fearless Hero, or Vira. For he who sees Duality, he alone fears. To see Duality means not merely to see otherness, but to see that other as alien non-self. The fearless win all worldly enterprises, and fearlessness is also the mark of the Illuminate Knower. Such an one is also in his degree independent of all outward power, and Mrityuñjaya, or Master of Death. Such an one is not troubled for himself by the thought of Death. In the apt words of a French author (L’Ame Paienne, 83), he no more fears than do the leaves of the trees, yellowing to their fall in the mists of autumn. An imperishable instinct tells him that if he, like the leaves, is about to fall he is also the tree on which they will come out again, as also the Earth in which both grow, and yet again (as the Shakta would say) he is also, in his Body of Bliss, the Essence which as the Mother-Power sustains them all. As that Essence is imperishable, so in the deepest sense is its form as Nature. For whatever exists can never altogether cease to be. Either man’s consciousness expands into that Lordliness which sees all as Itself, or he and all lower beings are withdrawn into the Womb of Power, in which they are conserved to reappear in that Sphurana or Blossoming which is the Springtide of some new World.

Chapter Twenty-one
Hindu Ritual

It is well said that Ritual is the Art of Religion. As practiced by the Hindus, it is not rightly judged, because the religious and philosophical doctrines of which it is a practical expression and method are either unknown or misunderstood. If we add to incapacity, a temperament hostile to all Ritualism, the resultant criticism is “mummery,” “idolatry,” “gibberish,” and so forth. It is true that Ritual is meaningless to those who do not know its meaning; just as a telegram sent in cipher is without sense to those who are ignorant of the code according to which it is written. It may, however, be admitted that in so far as, and to the extent that Ritual is carried out without understanding on the part of the worshipper, such criticisms may, to that extent, be justified. Despite shallow views, Ritual is a necessity for men as whole. Those who profess to reject it in religion are yet found to adhere to it, in some form or other, in social and political life. The necessity of Ritual is shown by well-known historical reactions. Degeneracy leads to “Protestant” abolitions. The jejune worship of the “reformer” lacks appeal and power and Ritual comes into its own again. This oscillation is well marked in Europe in the history of Catholicism and Protestantism. It is displayed again in the East in Buddhism, which, starting as a revolt from an excessive Vaidik Ritual, adopted in the end the elaborate rites to be found in the Hindu and Buddhist Tantras. The Brahmanic position is the middle and stable way, acknowledging the value of both the “Protestant” and “Catholic” attitude. Its view is that all men need Ritual, but in varying degree and various kinds, until they are Siddha, that is, until they have achieved the end which Ritual is designed to secure. When the end is gained there is no longer need for the means to it. Further, the need becomes less and less as approach is made to that end. The Ritual must be suitable to the spiritual attainments and disposition of the worshipper. For the simple and ignorant the Ritual is of a Sthula or gross kind. The word Sthula in Sanskrit does not necessarily imply any moral censure. It is here used as the opposite of Sukshma or subtle. Again, count is taken of human emotion and of its varieties. The dispositions or temperaments, or Bhava, of worshippers vary. One worshipper may place himself before the Lord in the relation of a servant towards his Master, another in the relation of a friend, and yet another in the relation of a lover. In the same way, Yoga, in the sense of a system of self-control and self-fulfillment, varies. For those who are predominantly intellectual there is the Yoga of Knowledge (Jñana); for those in whom emotion is strong there is the Yoga of Devotion (Bhakti); for such as belong to neither of these classes there is the great Yoga of Action (Karma). The end to which each medially or directly works is the same. There is, in fact, no religion more Catholic than Hinduism. For this reason, those who dislike and fear it, speak of its “rapacious maw”. It has in fact, an enormous faculty of assimilation; for there is in it that which will satisfy all views and temperaments. In the West, we are too apt to quarrel with views and practices which we dislike. We will not, in such case, accept them, but that is not necessarily a reason why those who like them should not do so. Thus, to some, all Ritual is repellent, or some kinds of devotion, such as the use of erotic imagery. Let each take or reject what is suitable or unsuitable to him. Controversy is futile. Fitness or Adhikara is a fundamental principle of Hinduism. Some may be fit for one doctrine and practice, and others not. The wisdom of the universal man with a world-mind converts many an absolute judgment into a relative one. For the judgment, “This is bad,” he will substitute, “This is not good for me”. In this way he will both save own health and temper, and that of the other.

The term “Ritual,” in its religious sense, is included in the Sanskrit term Sadhana, though the latter word has a wider content. It is derived from the root Sadh = to exert or strive for, and includes any exertion or striving for anything. Thus a man who goes through a special training for an athletic match is doing Sadhana with a view to win in that contest. The taking of lessons in a foreign language is Sadhana with a view to attain proficiency in that language. Orientalists frequently translate the term by the English word “evocation”. There is, of course, Sadhana, to gain the fruits of magic. But this is only one form of Sadhana. The form of which I write, and that to which reference is generally made, is that effort and striving in the form of self-training, discipline, and worship which has as its end a ‘spiritual’ and not merely physical or mental result — though such result necessarily involves a transformation of both mind and body. The end, then, is some form of Unity with God as the Universal Father, or Mother as the Shaktas say. The person who does Sadhana is called Sadhaka or, if a woman, Sadhika. The end sought by the process of Sadhana is Sadhya or Siddhi. Siddhi, or accomplishment, means any successful result, and the man who attains it, is in respect of such attainment, called Siddha. The highest Siddhi is Unity with Brahman, the All-pervader, either by merger in or expansion into It, as some say, or as others hold, by varying degrees of association with and proximity to the Lord. Dogmatic views on this or other points are necessarily, to some extent, reflected in the Ritual presented for their realization, but at the Sadhana stage there is less divergence of practice than might be supposed, because whatever be the doctrine held, a worshipper must practically be a dualist. For worship includes both a worshipper and that which is worshipped. There are persons who, in popular language, “worship themselves,” but this is not a spiritual exercise. Whatever God may be in Himself, or Itself, the worship is of a Supreme Person (Purnaham). The world sometimes distracts the Mind from this, its supreme object. Nevertheless there is another universal tendency towards it. This last tendency is proof of man’s divine origin. Springing from such a source, he must needs return to it. The striving to realize God, is part of man’s nature. Sadhana is such striving in the forms which experience has shown to be fruitful. In the Orphic Mysteries it was said: “I am the child of the earth and starry sky, but know that my origin is divine. I am devoured by and perish with thirst. Give me without delay the fresh water which flows from the ‘Lake of Memory’.” And again: “Pure, and issued from what is pure, I come towards Thee.”

So again St. Augustine said that the Mind was not at rest until it found itself in God. Brahmanic doctrine also states the same and gives the reasons for it. A profound saying by an Indian sage runs: “Identification with the imperfect (Apurnam manyata) — that is, want of Wholeness, is Disease and the source of every misery.” Whole = Hale = Health. Every form of want of wholeness, be it physical, psychical or spiritual, is disease and inflicts unhappiness. God is the whole and complete (Purna), which is without parts or section (Akhanda). Man is the reverse of this. But having sprung from the Whole, he seeks self-completion either by becoming or reflecting the Whole. The greatest of illnesses is that which the Hindu Scriptures call the Disease of Existence itself, in so far as such finite existence involves a hindrance to the realization of perfect infinite Being. For these reasons one of the Cakras or compartments of the great Shri Yantra, is called Rogahara Cakra, that is, the “Disease-destroying Cakra”. What is meant by the saying is that man’s identification of the self with its particular form, that is with imperfection, is Disease, just as the knowledge that he is one with the whole is Health lasting. To gain this it is necessary that man should worship his Lord in one or other of the many ways in which his fellows have done so. For that purpose he may invent a ritual. But the more effective forms for the mass are those which tradition accredits. Amongst the greatest of ritual systems is that of the Hindus. Hinduism (to use a popular term) cannot be understood without a knowledge of it.

But, it may be said, there are many Rituals. Which are to be adopted, and how can we know that they will give result? The answer is that the Ritual for any particular individual is that for which he is fit (Adhikari). The proof of its efficacy is given by experience. The Ayurveda, or the Veda which teaches the rules to secure a long life (Ayuh) says that that only is a medicine which cures the disease and which, at the same time, gives rise to no other. To those who put the question, the answer of the Teacher is — “Try”. If the seeker will not try he cannot complain that he has no success. The Teacher has himself or herself (for according to the Tantras a woman may be a Guru) been through the training, and warrants success to those who will faithfully adopt the means he has himself adopted.

What, then, are the basic principles of Sadhana, and how does it work? To understand this we must have correct ideas of what the Hindus understand by the terms Spirit, Mind, and Body. I have in my volume The World As Power explained these terms and will now very shortly summarize what is there said, so far as it touches the main principles governing the subject of this paper.


The ultimate object of the ritual — that is, the realization of God — is effected by the transformation of the worshipper into likeness with the worshipped. Let us assume that the Sadhaka is doctrinally an adherent of the Advaita Vedanta which is called Monism, but which is more accurately translated “Not two,” or non-dual, because, whilst it can be affirmed that the ultimate Reality is not two, still as it is beyond number and all other predicates, it cannot be affirmed to be one. Let us, then, investigate some of the general principles on which the Ritual expressing this doctrine works.

Man is said to be Spirit — to use an English term — with two vehicles of Mind and Body. Spirit, or Brahman as it is in Itself (Svarupa), according to the Vedanta is, relative to us, pure infinite Being, Consciousness, Bliss (Sat, Cit, Ananda). That is Spirit viewed from our side and in relation to us. What Spirit is Itself only Spirit in Itself can say. This is only known in the experience of the perfect (Siddha) Yogi, who has completely transformed himself through the elimination of those elements of Mind and Body which constitute a finite individuality. “To know Brahman is to be Brahman.” God, or the Lord (Ishvara) is pure, infinite Spirit, in its aspect relative to the world as its Creator, Maintainer, and Ruler. Man is, according to this school, that self-same Spirit or Consciousness which, in one aspect is immutable, and in another is finitized by Mind and Matter. Consciousness and Mind are, then, two different and, indeed, opposite things. Mind is not Consciousness, but is (considered in itself) an Unconscious force. Consciousness is infinite. Mind is a product of a finitizing principle or power inherent in Consciousness itself, which appears to limit consciousness. Mind per se is thus an unconscious force limiting Consciousness. This statement may seem strange in the West, but is coming to be acknowledged to some extent there, where it is now recognized that there is such a thing as unconscious mind. Vedanta says that mind in itself is always an unconscious force. The mind appears to be conscious, not because it is so in itself, but because it is associated with and is the vehicle of Spirit which alone is Consciousness in Itself. The function of Mind, on the contrary, is to cut into sections sectionless Consciousness. Let us suppose that Consciousness is represented by an unbroken light thrown on a blank screen. This unbroken light imperfectly represents — (for images fail us in one respect or another) — Consciousness. Let us suppose, then, another metal screen cut up into patterns imposed on the former and thus letting the light through in parts and in various shapes, and shutting it out in others. This last opaque screen represents Mind. Consciousness is self-revealing. Mind occludes it in varying ways, and is a subtle form of the power (Shakti) possessed by Spirit to appear in finite form. Matter or Body is another but grosser form of the same Power. And because Mind and Body have a common origin, the one as subject can know the other as object. Cognition is then recognition. The same Power which has the capacity to so veil itself can unveil itself. The first step towards such unveiling is taken by Sadhana in its form as self-purification, both as regards body and mind, self-discipline and worship in its various ritual forms. At a high point of advance this Sadhana enters what is generally known as Yoga.

How then does Sadhana work? It must be remembered that there is no such thing as mind or soul without some form of body, be it gross or subtle. The individual mind has always a body. It is only Spirit which is Mind-less, and therefore wholly bodiless. Mind and Body are each as real as the other. When there is subject or mind there is always object or matter. The proper discipline purifies and controls both. A pure body helps to the attainment of a pure mind, because they are each aspects of one Power-Substance. Whenever, then, there is mind, it has some object or content. It is never without content. That object may be good or bad. The first design of the Ritual, then is to secure that the mind shall always have a good object. The best of all objects is its Lord. What, then, is the result of meditation on the Lord?

What is the process of knowing? When the mind knows an object, that process consists in the projection from the Mind of a Mind-Ray, which goes out to the object, takes its form, and returns and models the mind itself into the form of the object. Thus, if attention is completely given, that is without any distraction, to an image or Deity, a jar or any other object, the mind so long as it holds that object is completely transformed into the shape of that object. Thus, with complete concentration on the Lord, the mind is shaped into the image of Him, with all His qualities. That image is formulated by what is called the Dhyana. The Ritual gives the Dhyana of each of the forms of God or Spirit.

Let it be assumed, then, that the mind is thus transformed; it is then necessary to keep it so. The mind is so unsteady, agile and variable that it has been compared both with mercury and the restless monkey. If this variability displayed itself in the choice of good thoughts only, it would not so much matter. But there are others which are not good. Moreover, both intensity and durability of transformation are desired. The endeavor then is to attain complete power of concentration and for periods of increasing length. The effect of this is to establish in the mind a tendency in the direction desired. All have experience of the psychological truth that the longer and more firmly an object is held in the mind, the less is the tendency towards distraction from it. A tendency is called Samskara. Such tendency may be physical or psychical. Thus, the tendency of an India-rubber band when stretched to return to its original condition before such stretching, is physical samskara of India-rubber. In the same way, there are psychical samskaras. Thus, a man of miserly disposition is influenced by some sufficient impulse to be, on a particular occasion, generous, but when that or other sufficient impulse lacks, his miserly disposition or samskara asserts itself. On the other hand, but little is required to call out generosity in a naturally charitable man, for the good tendency is there. Sadhana confirms good and eradicates bad samskaras. As tendencies are produced by past action, intellectual or bodily, present and future good actions will secure that good samskaras are kept and others eliminated. Man is both born with samskaras and acquires others. No Hindu holds that the mind at birth is tabula rasa. On the contrary, it is compounded of all the samskaras or tendencies which result from the actions of the previous lives of the individual in question. These are added to, varied, reversed or confirmed by actions taken in the present life. Many of such Samskaras are bad, and steps must be taken to substitute for them others. All are aware that bad acts and thoughts, if repeated, result in the establishment of a bad habit, that is a bad Samskara realized. The object of Sadhana is, then, firstly to substitute good objects for the mind in lieu of bad objects, and to overcome the tendency towards distraction and to revert to what is bad. This means the stabilizing of character in a good mold.

How is this to be effected? The Sadhana must avoid all distractions by keeping the mind occupied with what is good. We accordingly find the repetitions which may be, but by no means necessarily are, “vain”. A common instance of this is Japa, or repetition of mantra. This is done by count on a rosary (Mala) or with the thumb on the twelve phalanxes of the fingers. There are also forms of repetition in varying ways. Thoughts are intensified and confirmed by appropriate bodily gestures Mudra. Again, real processes are imagined. Thus, in Nyasa, the worshipper with appropriate bodily actions places different parts of the body of the Divinity on the corresponding parts of his own body. Thus the Sadhaka imagines that he has acquired a new divine body. Again, in the more subtle rite called Bhutasuddhi, the worshipper imagines that each of the component elements of the body is absorbed in the next higher element until all are merged in the Supreme Power of whom man, as a compound of such elements, is a limited manifestation. Whilst this is merely imagined in Sadhana, it objectively and actually takes place in Kundalini Yoga. The mind is thus constantly occupied in one form or another with, and thus shaped into, that which is divine and becomes itself, by being kept in such shape, at length permanently divine. For as the Chandogya Upanishad says: “What a man thinks that he becomes.” So also the Gandharva Tantra says: “By meditating on anything as oneself, man becomes that.” Thinking always on the Lord, man is transformed, within limits, into an image of Him. The preparatory work of Sadhana is completed in Yoga.

I will next shortly note some of the principal forms of ritual employed in worship, viz., image and emblem, Yantra, Puja, Mantra, Mudra, Nyasa, Bhutashuddhi. These are in constant use, either daily or on special occasions. The ritual of the Sacraments, or Samskaras, are performed once, viz., on the date of that sacrament, such as naming ceremony, marriage and so forth.


The third Chapter (here summarized and explained) of the Sanskrit work called “Wave of Bliss, for worshippers of the Mother-Power (Shakti),” deals with the necessity for the use of images and other forms as representations of the formless All-Pervader (Brahman). The latter is, in Its own true nature, bodiless (ashariri) and pure Consciousness, or in Western language, Spirit. But Brahman, through Its power (shakti), assumes all the forms of the Universe, just as it is said an actor (natavat) assumes various roles. Thus Brahman has two aspects: the subtle, in which It is its own unmanifested Self; and the gross, in which It appears as the manifested universe. Or, if we reserve the word “subtle” for what, though it is not pure Spirit, is yet finer than gross matter — that is, Mind, we may say that the Ultimate Reality has three aspects: (a) Supreme or transcendent, that is pure formless Spirit; (b) subtle, or the same Spirit as manifested in mind, (c) gross, or the same spirit as manifested in Matter. It is clear that one cannot meditate on that which is wholly formless as is the supreme Brahman, which is without body.

In meditation (Dhyana) there is duality, namely, the subject who meditates and the object of such meditation, though, in fact, the two are (according to the Advaita or non-dualism of the Shaktas), both differing aspects of the one Brahman through Its Power. As the mind cannot remain steady on what is formless (amurta), therefore, a form (murta) is necessary. Form is gross or subtle. Form is necessary both in Sadhana and Yoga — in the latter for acquiring accomplishment in Trataka-Yoga, that is, steady gaze which leads to one-pointedness (Ekagrata), and this latter to Samadhi or ecstasy. The grossest form is that which is shown in the round, with hands, feet, and so forth — that is, the image. Nothing is here left to the imagination. The particulars of the image, that is, how it should be shaped, its color. posture, and so forth, is given in what are called the meditations or Dhyanas, and the dimensions may be found in the Silpa Shastras. These describe the form, attitude, the position of the hands and legs, the articles such as weapons and the like carried, the vehicle or Vahana — and the attendant Divinities (Avarana Devata). Less gross forms are pictures or representations in the flat, emblems such as the Shalagrama stone sacred to Vishnu, the Linga or sign of Shiva, and the inverted triangle which is the emblem of the Mother. Thus a linga set in the Yoni or triangle represents the union of Shiva and Shakti, of God and His Power, or in philosophical language, the union of the static and kinetic aspects of the one Ultimate Reality. A still more subtle form is the Yantra, which literally means “instrument,” viz., the instrument by which worship is done. It is as shown on the flat, a diagram which varies with each of the Devatas or Divinities, and has been called “the body of Mantra”. Whilst gross (sthula) meditation takes place on the gross image, emblem or Yantra, subtle (sukshma) meditation has as its object the Mantra. The Mantra and the Devata are one. A Mantra is Devata in that form, that is as sound. Hearing is considered the finest of the senses. What is called Supreme Meditation is nothing but ecstasy, or — Consciousness, freed of both its subtle and gross vehicles, and therefore, limitations.As the Brahman is only directly known in the ecstasy of Yoga, It is imagined with form, or, as some translate this passage, It assumes form for the sake of the worshippers (upasakanam karyyartham). These forms are male or female, such as, in the first class, Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva and others, and in the second Tripurasundari, Lakshmi, Kali and others. The worship of a Eunuch (napumsaka) form does not bear fruit. What shall be the selected as patron Divinity, depends on the competency (adhikara) of the worshipper, that is, what is suitable or fit for him given his character and attainments. The Yamala says: “Men see Him in various ways, each according to his own inclinations. But an advaitist worshipper should at the same time remember that each is an aspect of one and the same Deity.

Varaha Purana says: “What Durga is, that is Vishnu, and that also is Shiva. The wise know that they are not different from one another. The fool, who in his partiality thinks otherwise, goes to the Raurava Hell.” There is, however, from the nature of the case, some distinction in the case of the worship of those on the path of enjoyment, who should worship according to the mode in which they have been initiated. But the renouncer should discard in every way all notions of difference. The Wave of Bliss, citing Samaya Tantra, says: “By the worship of some Deva, liberation is with difficulty attained, and by the worship of others enjoyment is to be had, but in the case of the worshipper of the Mother, both enjoyment and liberation lie in the hollow of his hands.” But, unless prayed to, the Mother or Devi does not give fruit, and naturally so. For the Devi is moved to action through the prayers of the worshipper. Essentially the worshipper is the Devi Herself, and unless She in Her form as the worshipper is moved, She in Her aspect as the Supreme Lord — “Our Lady” — does not move.

By “worshipper” is meant one who is proficient in Karma and Bhakti Yoga. The Jñanayogi’s effort is directed towards the attainment of the formless Brahman. Worship implies duality, and so does Mantra-yoga of which worship is a part. From the Bija-mantra or seed mantra the Devata arises and this Devata is the Brahman. In the Kurma Purana it is said: “Those who think themselves to be different from the Supreme Lord will never see Him. All their labor is in vain.” Therefore, the Shrikrama says: “Meditate upon yourself as the Supreme Mother — the primordial Power — by your mind, word, and body.” All three take part in the ritual. The mind, which must from its nature have an object, is given a good object, that is, the image of its Lord. It holds to that. The worshipper utters the ritual words and with his body performs the ritual acts, such as the gestures (Mudra), the giving of offerings, and so forth. And the reason is, as the Gandharva Tantra says: “By meditating on anything as oneself, man becomes that.” The mind assumes the form of its object — that is, by good thoughts man is transformed into what is good. So the worshipper is enjoined constantly to think: “I am the Devi and none other”. By meditating on Vishnu, man becomes Vishnu. By meditating on Devi, man becomes Devi,. He is freed from bodily ills and is liberated, for he attains spiritual knowledge. Such knowledge, in the Advaita sense (though there are also other schools) means “to be”. To know Brahman is to be Brahman. Brahman in Itself is not an object, and is not known as such. Brahman is known by being Brahman, which man attains through ritual forms, and Yoga processes, of which worship is a necessary preliminary.


In the preceding paragraphs, I have, in very general outline, dealt with the meaning of Sadhana as ritual worship, both as to its object and the principles on which it is based. I have given at the same time some examples. I propose here to pass a few remarks on certain other particular forms of ritual. I have already referred to image worship upon which, however, I will add a word.

Western peoples speak of the image worshipped as being an “idol,” just as some so-called “reformed” Hindus influenced by Western views call it a “doll”. The Hindu term is Pratika and Pratima indicating that which is placed before one as the immediate and apparent object of worship, representative of the Invisible Supreme. The mind cannot seize pure Spirit any more than (to use the simile of an Indian author) a pair of tongs can seize the air. The mind must, however, necessarily have before it some definite object, and one of such objects is the image or emblem. At the same time, the Hindu image is something more than a mere aid to devotion such as is the case in general as regards images in the Catholic ritual. For, by the “life-giving” (prana-pratishtha) ceremony the life of the Devata or Divinity is invoked into the image. Deity is all-pervading and therefore cannot come or go. The image, like everything else, is already an appearance of Deity immanent in it, in the particular form or mold of earth, stone, metal, wood or whatever other the substance may be. Therefore, “invocation” (Avahana) and “dismissal” (Visarjana) in the Ritual by which the Deity is invoked “to be present” and bid “to depart” mean this — that the immanence of Deity in the object of worship is recognized, kept present before, and ultimately released from the mind of the worshipper. In fact, the Deity is there, ritual or no ritual. By the ritual the Deity is not only there in fact, but is so, for the consciousness of the worshipper whose mind is transformed into a Divine mold. The Deity does not move, but the mind of the worshipper does so. It is the particular modification, a Vritti of the mind which comes and goes. Personally, I believe that “Idolatry” in its strictest literal sense is not to be found anywhere. The most ignorant individuals belonging to a primitive humanity are aware that they are, in one sense, in the presence of “stocks and stones,” and that the worshipful character of the image is not because it is such stock and stone, for, in that case all stock and stone is worshipful, but for other reasons. It has been noted already that the ritual is graded in this matter, as in others, into gross and subtle. The subtle form is that in which the least is left to the imagination, namely, an image in the round. Less so, in the order given, is the picture on the fiat; the emblem which has no external likeness to Divinity (such as the Linga and Shalagrama stone), and then the Yantra or diagram of worship. This Yantra is made up of different combinations of lines and curves, and is described as the body of the Mantra. Besides these external objects, there are mental representations of them and of other things. Thus actual flowers may be offered physically, or mental “flowers” may be offered by the mind, or the “flowers” of the virtues may be laid before the Devata.

How often the word Mantra is used, and yet how few can say correctly what the term means? It is only possible here to lay down a few general lines of explanation of a subject with which I have endeavored to deal in my recent work, The Garland of Letters; for Garland and Rosary are names given to the alphabet of Sanskrit letters, which are each a manifestation of the Mother of the Universe.

The Universe is movement, of various kinds, of the ultimate substance. This movement is sensed in five ways. Whatever is heard is the sound made by some particular form of movement, and the hearing by mind and ear is again a form of movement. If there be no movement there is nothing to hear. When a letter is uttered in our hearing there is a particular movement which can be represented as a form for the eye, which form again involves color, for what is perfectly colorless is formless, and, therefore, invisible. The letters are temporarily manifested by the action of the vocal organs and the circumambient air, but are in themselves, that is, as attitudes of Power, eternal. As Postures of Power they are eternal, though as manifestations they appear with each universe and disappear with it. They are, like all else, a form of appearance of the Magna Mater, the one great Mother-Power, and are particular world-aspects of Her. The sound which is heard, and the mind and ear which hear it, are each such appearance. Each thing has a double aspect — one as a produced thing, or effect; the other as the particular Causal Power which produces or more accurately manifests as that thing. That power again, relative to any of its particular productions, is an aspect of the general Mother-Power, and is, as such, a Devata. Thus, the sun is a glorious epiphany of the Brahman or All-Pervader which, in its character as the power inherent in that particular manifestation, is the Sun-Lord or Surya-Devata. Devata in its supreme (para) sense is the Lord of All, manifesting as the All. The Sun Devata is the same Lord in the character of a particular power of the All-Powerful manifesting in this form of the Sun. Whilst, therefore, in a sense, Mantra is the Sound-aspect of all that is, each Devata has His or Her own Mantra, and it is such mantras that the Scripture refers. The Mantra does not merely stand for or symbolize the Devata. Still less is it a mere conventional label for the Devata. It is the Devata. The Devata and Mantra are therefore one.

In each mantra, however, there two Shaktis or powers. The Devata who is the mantra is called the indicating power (Vacaka Shakti). The Devata who is indicated (Vacya Shakti) is the Ultimate Reality, or Supreme Brahman. The former leads to the latter. As each worshipper has his own Patron Deity or Ishtadevata, so each worshipper is initiated in and practices a particular mantra. The Patron Deity is a particular aspect of the One Supreme Reality which cannot be directly worshipped, but which is worshipped indirectly as an aspect of that Reality in a world of duality. What Mantra a worshipper should practice is determined by the Guru who initiates. He should settle what it shall be by reference to the physical, psychical and spiritual characteristics of the worshipper. This is the theory, but in practice a state of things often exists which has led to the criticism that Mantra is “jabber”. Thus (to take but one example), I, though not a Hindu, was once asked by a Brahmin lady, through a pundit known to both of us, to tell her the meaning of her mantra, and this though she had passed fifty, she had never been told, nor could she find out even from the pundit. She was led to ask me and thus to reveal her mantra which should be kept secret, because she had heard that I had a manuscript Bija Kosha, or Dictionary, which gave the meanings of mantras. This incident is significant of the present state of things. Initiation has often and perhaps in most cases now-a-days little reality, being merely a “whispering in the ear”. A true and high initiation is one in which not merely instruction is given, but there is also an actual transference of power by teacher to disciple which enables the disciple first to understand, and then transforms him by infusing him with the powers of his Guru.

Mantra-sadhana consists of the union of the Sadhana shakti or the power of the individual worshipper and the Mantra shakti or the power of the mantra itself. The worshipper exerts his own individual power to achieve through the mantra, and as he does this, the power of the mantra, which is as far greater than his own as the Devata is greater than he, aids his effort. On the theory this must be so, because as the worshipper more and more realizes the Devata in mantra form, and identifies himself with the Devata, he gains divine powers which supplement his human power as a worshipper. There are some Mantras which may be called prayers, such as the great Gayatri Mantra which prays for illumination of the understanding. A mantra, however, is not to be identified with prayer. which may be said in any form and in any language that the worshipper chooses. Prayer may be, of course, a great power, but it is nevertheless the power of the particular worshipper only whatever that may be.

Worship (Puja) is done with meditation, recital of mantras, obeisance, manual gestures, the making of offerings and the like. The gestures (Mudra) are part of a system which employs both body and mind, and makes the former express and emphasize the intentions of the latter. Similarly, an orator gives expression to his thought and emphasizes it by gesture. Thus, in the Matsya Mudra, the hands are put into the form of a fish to indicate that the worshipper is offering to the Deity not merely the little quantity of water which is used in the worship, but that his intention is to offer all the oceans with the fish and other marine animals therein. This is part of what has been called “mummery”. Well — it is “acting” but it is not necessarily more foolish than touching one’s hat as a sign of respect. The charge of mummery as against all religions is largely due to the fact that there are many people who will pass judgments on matters which they do not understand. Ignorant and half-educated persons everywhere people the world with fools because they are themselves such.

Asana, or posture, belongs to Yoga, except that the general posture for worship is Padmasana, and worship is part of Mantra Yoga.

Japa is “recital” of Mantra. There is no exact English equivalent for it, for “recital” signifies ordinary utterance, whereas Japa is of three kinds, namely: (a) that in which the Mantra is audibly uttered; (b) where the lips are moved, but no sound is heard; and (c) mental or by the mind only. The count is done on a rosary (mala) or on the phalanxes of the fingers.

One of the great Mantras is the physical act of breathing. As this is done of itself so many times a day, now through the right, and then through the left nostril automatically, it is called the Ajapa Mantra — that is, the mantra which is said without Japa or willed effort on man’s part. The mantra which is thus automatically said is Hamsah. Breath goes out with Ham, and comes in with Sah. When outbreathing and inbreathing takes place, the throat and mouth are said to be in the position in which they are when pronouncing the letters H and S respectively. In other words, outbreathing is the same form of movement which is heard as the letter H.

An important rite much referred to in the Tantras is Nyasa, which means the “placing” of the hands of the worshipper on different parts of his body, imagining at the same time that thereby the corresponding parts of the body of his Ishtadevata are being there placed. It terminates with a movement, “spreading” the Divinity all over the body. “How absurd,” someone may say, “you cannot spread Divinity like jam on bread.” Quite so; but the Hindu knows well that the word Brahman means the All-spreading Immense and cannot therefore be spread. But what may be and is spread is the mind — often circumscribed enough — of the worshipper, who by his thought and act is taught to remember and realize that he is pervaded by Divinity, and to affirm this by his bodily gesture. The ritual is full of affirmations. Affirm again, affirm, and still affirm. This injunction one might expect from a system which regards man and all that exists as limited forms of unlimited Power (Shakti). Affirm in every way is a principle of the ritual, a principle, which ought to be as easily understood as a child’s repetition in order to learn a lesson. A man who truly thinks himself to be becoming divine becomes, in fact, in varying degrees, so.

It is not possible in an account such as this to note more than a few of the leading rituals, and I conclude therefore with the very important Bhutasuddhi. This term does not mean, as an English orientalist thought, “the driving away of demons” but purification of the Elements (Bhuta) of which the body is composed. There are five of these with centers or Cakras in the spinal column. The grossest is at the base of the spine which is the seat of the power called Kundalini. In Yoga, this power is roused, and led up through the column, when it absorbs as it goes, each of the centers and the elements, and then the psychic center, finally merging with Spirit or Pure Consciousness in the upper brain which is the “seat” of the latter. In Yoga this actually takes place, but very few are Yogis: and not all Yogis possess this power. Therefore, in the case of ritual worship this ascent, purification of the body, and merging of Matter and Mind in Consciousness takes place in imagination only. The “man of sin” is burnt in mental fire, and a new body is created, refreshed with the nectar of divine joy arising from the union of the “Divine pair” (Shiva and Shakti) or Consciousness and its Power. This is done in the imagination of the worshipper, and not without result since as the Chandogya Upanishad says: “What a man thinks that he becomes.” So also the Gandharva Tantra says: “By thinking of That, one becomes That.”

In Kundalini Yoga or Laya Yoga, there is effected a progressive absorption of all limited and discrete forms of experience, that is fact-sections into the Primary Continuum which is Shiva and Shakti united together. Therefore, it is a merging or more properly expansion of the finite into the infinite, of the part into the whole, of the thinkable and measurable into the unthinkable and immeasurable. When we worship, this progress is imagined. There is in time a transformation of Mind and Body into a condition which renders them fit for the spiritual experience, which is the Samadhi of Yoga or the ecstasis or “standing out” of Spirit from its limiting vehicles. Consciousness is then the Purna or Whole.

Chapter Twenty-two
Vedanta and Tantra Shastra

When your representative asked me to speak this evening, he suggested to me as my subject, that Shastra which is a practical application of the Vedantic teaching. Mere talk about Vedanta is nothing but a high form of amusement. If more than this is to be achieved, definite Sadhana is necessary. In the grand opening chapter of the Kularnava Tantra it is said: “In this world are countless masses of beings suffering all manner of pain. Old age is waiting like a tigress. Life ebbs away as it were water from out of a broken pot. Disease kills like enemies. Prosperity is but a dream; youth is like a flower. Life is seen and is gone like lightning. The body is but a bubble of water. How then can one know this and yet remain content? The Jivatma passes through lakhs of existence, yet only as man can he obtain the truth. It is with great difficulty that one is born as man. Therefore, he is a self-killer who, having obtained such excellent birth, does not know what is for his good. Some there be who having drunk the wine of delusion are lost in worldly pursuits, reck not the fight of time and are moved not at the sight of suffering. There are others who have tumbled in the deep well of the Six Philosophies — idle disputants tossed on the bewildering ocean of the Vedas and Shastras. They study day and night and learn words. Some again, overpowered by conceit, talk of Unmani though not in any way realizing it. Mere words and talk cannot dispel the delusion of the wandering. Darkness is not dispelled by the mention of the world ‘lamp’. What then is there to do? The Shastras are many, life is short and there are a million obstacles. Therefore should their essence be mastered, just as the Hamsa separates the milk from the water with which it has been mixed.”

It then says that knowledge alone can gain liberation. But, what is this knowledge, and how may it be got? Knowledge in the Shastric sense is actual immediate experience (Sakshatkara), not the mere reading about it in books, however divine, and however useful as a preliminary such study may be.

How then to gain it? The answer is, by Sadhana — a term which comes from the root “to exert”. It is necessary to exert oneself according to certain disciplines which the various religions of the world provide for their adherents. Much shallow talk takes place on the subject of ritual. It is quite true that some overlook the fact that it is merely a means to an end. But it is a necessary means all the same. This end cannot be achieved by merely sitting in Padmasana and attempting to meditate on the Nirguna Brahman. One may as well try to seize the air with a pair of tongs. How then may the Vedantic truth be realized? The Indian Shastra purports to give the means for the Indian body and mind. What Shastra? Not the Karma-kanda of the Vedas, because with the exception of a few hardly surviving rites, such as Homa, it has passed away. The actual discipline you will find in the Tantras of the Agamas.

I prefer the use of this term to that of “the Tantra,” now so common, but which has risen from a misconception and leads to others. Tantra means injunction (Vidhi) or regulation (Niyama) or treatise, i.e., simply Shastra. Thus Shamkara calls the Samkhya “Tantra”. One cannot speak of “the Tantra” any more than one can speak of “the treatise”. We do not speak of the Purana, the Samhita, but of the Puranas and Samhitas. Why then speak of “the Tantra”? One can speak of the Tantras or Tantra Shastra. The fact is that there is an Agama of several schools, Shaiva, Shakta and Vaishnava. Shiva and Shakti are one. The Shaiva (in the narrower sense) predominantly worships the right side of the Ardhanarishvara Murti, the Shakta worships the left (Vama or Shakti) side, the place of woman being on the left. The Vaishnava Agama is the famous Pañcaratra, though there are Tantras not of this school in which Vishnu is the Ishtadevata. All Agamas of whatever group share certain common ideas, outlook and practice. There are also certain differences. Thus, the Northern Shaivagama which is called Trika and not “the Tantra” is, as is also the Shakta Tantra, Advaita. The Southern Shaiva school which is called Shaiva Siddhanta and not “the Tantra,” as also the Vaishnava Agama or Pañcaratra (and not “the Tantra”) are Vishihstadvaita. There is some variance in ritual also as follows from variance in the Ishtadevata worshipped. Thus, as you all know, it is only in some forms of worship that there is animal sacrifice, and in one division, again, of worshippers, there are rites which have led to those abuses which have gained for “the Tantra” its ill fame. A person who eats meat can never, it is said, attain Siddhi in the Shiva Mantra according to Dakshinopasana. Each one of these schools has its own Tantras of which there were at one time probably thousands. The Shaiva Siddhanta speaks of 28 chief Tantras or Agamas with many Upatantras. In Bengal mention is made of 64. There are numerous Tantras of the Northern Shaiva school of which the Malini-vijaya and Svachanda Tantras are leading examples. The original connection between the Shaiva schools of North and South is shown by the fact that there are some books which are common to both, such as the Matanga and Mrigendra Tantras. The Pañcaratra is composed of many Tantras, such as Lakshmi and Padma Tantras and other works called Samhitas. In the Commentary to the Brahma Samhita which has been called the “essence of Vaishnavism,” you will find Jiva Goswami constantly referring to Gautamiya Tantra. How then has it come about that there is the ignorant notion that (to use the words of an English work on Tibetan Buddhism) “Tantra is restricted to the necromantic books of the later Shaivic or Shakti mysticism”? I can only explain this by the fact that those who so speak had no knowledge of the Tantras as a whole, and were possibly to some extent misled by the Bengali use of the term “the Tantra,” to denote the Shakta Tantras current in Bengal. Naturally, the Bengalis spoke of their Tantras as “Tantra,” but it does not follow that this expression truly represents the fact. I might develop this point at great length but cannot do so here. I wish merely to correct a common notion.

Well, it is in these Tantras or the Agamas that you will find the ritual and Sadhana which governs the orthodox life of the day, as also in some of the Puranas which contain much Tantrik ritual.

I am not concerned to discuss the merits or the reverse of these various forms of Sadhana. But the Agama teaches an important lesson the value of which all must admit, namely: mere talk about Religion and its truths will achieve nothing spiritual. There must be action (Kriya). Definite means must be adopted if the truth is to be realized. The Vedanta is not spoken of as a mere speculation as some Western Orientalists describe it to be. It claims to be based on experience. The Agamas say that if you follow their direction you will gain Siddhi. As a Tibetan Buddhist once explained to me, the Tantras were regarded by his people rather as a scientific discovery than as a revelation; that is, something discovered by the self rather than imparted from without. They claim to be the revealed means by which the Tattva or other matters may be discovered. But the point is, whether you follow these directions or not, you must follow some. For this reason every ancient faith has its ritual. It is only in modern times that persons with but little understanding of the subject have thought ritual to be unnecessary. Their condemnation of it is based on the undoubted abuses of mechanical and unintelligent devotion. But because a thing is abused it does not follow that it is itself bad.

The Agama is, as a friend of mine well put it, apractical philosophy, adding what the intellectual world wants most to-day is this sort of philosophy — a philosophy which not merely argues but experiments. He rightly points out that the latest tendency in modern Western philosophy is to rest upon intuition, as it was formerly the tendency to glorify dialectics. But, as to the latter “Tarkapratishthanat,” intuition, however, has to be led into higher and higher possibilities, by means of Sadhana, which is merely the gradual unfolding of the Spirit’s vast latent magazine of power, enjoyment, and vision which every one possesses in himself. All that exists is here. There is no need to throw one’s eyes into the heavens for it. The Visvasara Tantra says, “What is here is there: what is not here is nowhere.” As I have said, I am not here concerned with the truth or expediency of any particular religion or method (a question which each must decide for himself), but to point out that the principle is fully sound, namely, that Religion is and is based on spiritual experience, and if you wish to gain such experience it is not enough to talk about or have a vague wish for it, but you must adopt some definite means well calculated to produce it. The claim of the Agama is that it provides such means and is thus a practical application of the teaching of the Vedanta. The watchword of every Tantrik is Kriya — to be up and doing. You will find in the useful compilation called Yatidharmanirnaya that even Dandins of Shamkara’s school follow a Tantrik ritual suited to their state. In fact, all must act, who have not achieved.

This leads me to say a word on the Svami in whose honor we meet to-day. He was always up and doing. The qualities I most admire in him are his activity, manliness and courage. There are still Indians (though fortunately not so numerous as there were when I first came to India 30 years ago) who seem to be ashamed of and would apologize for their life, customs, race, art, philosophy and religion and so forth. The Svami was not of this sort. He was, on the contrary, amongst the first to affirm his Hindu faith and to issue a bold challenge to all who attacked it. This was the attitude of a man. It is also a manly attitude to boldly reject this faith if after fully studying and understanding it you find that the doctrines it preaches do not commend themselves to your reason. For we must, at all costs, have intellectual, as well as every other form of honesty. But this is another thing from the shame-faced apology of which I speak and which is neither one thing nor another. The Svami spoke up and acted. And for this all must honor him who, whatever be their own religious beliefs, value sincerity, truth and courage which are the badge of every nobility. And so I offer these few words to his memory which we all here, either by our speech or presence, honor to-day.

Chapter Twenty-three
The Psychology of Hindu Religious Ritual

The word “religious” in the title of this lecture has been inserted in order to exclude magical ritual, with which I do not deal, though I have a word or two to say on the subject.

As regards the word “Hindu,” it must be remembered that there is considerable variety of doctrine and ritual, for there are a number of communities of Indian worshippers. Though, perhaps, too much stress is generally laid on these differences, and sufficient notice is not taken of fundamental points of agreement, yet there are differences, and if we are to be exact, we must not forget that fact. It is not, of course, possible, during the hour or so at my disposal, to treat of all these differences. I have, therefore, selected the ritual of one of these communities called Shaktas. These worshippers are so called because they worship the great Mother-Power or Mahashakti. Their doctrine and practice is of importance, because, (as an Italian author has recently observed), of its accentuation of Will and Power. He describes it as “a magnificent ensemble of metaphysic, magic and devotion raised on grandiose foundations”. And so, whether it be acceptable or not, I think it is. The title, therefore, is, in this matter, not exact. Some of what is here said is of common application and some is peculiar to the Shaktas.

Now as to the word “Ritual”. Ritual is the Art both of Religion and Magic. Magic, however, is more completely identified with ritual than is religion; for magic is ritual, using the latter term to include both mental and bodily activity; whereas religion, in the wide sense of Dharma, is not merely ritual-worship, but covers morality also. And so, it is finely said: “The doing of good to others is the highest Dharma.” In this sense of the term Dharma, we are not concerned with ritual. Ritual has been the subject of age-long dispute. Whilst there are some who favor it, others are fanatically opposed to it. In this matter, India, as usual, shows her great reconciling wisdom. She holds (I speak of those who follow the old ways) that ritual is a necessity for the mass of men. To this extent she adopts what I may call the “Catholic” attitude. She makes, however, concession on the other hand to the “Protestant” view, in holding that, as a man becomes more and more spiritual, he is less and less dependent on externals, and therefore on ritual, which may be practically dispensed with in the case of the highest.

Then as to the word “Psychology”. In order to understand the ritual, one must know the psychology of the people whose it is; and in order to know and to understand their psychology, we must know their metaphysic. There are some who claim to dispense with metaphysic, but the Indian people have been, throughout their history, pre-eminently thinkers. The three greatest metaphysical peoples have been, in the past, the Greeks and the Indians, both Brahmanist and Buddhist, and, in modern times, the Germans. The Greek, Sanskrit, and German languages are pre-eminently fitted for metaphysical use. We must then deal with metaphysic when treating of Hindu ritual. I do not propose, however, here to enter upon the subject more than is absolutely necessary to understand the matter in hand.

Now, when we look around us, we see everywhere Power, or Shakti. The world is called Jagat, which means “the moving thing,” because, anticipating modern doctrine, the Ancient Hindus held that everything was in a state of ceaseless activity, which was not the Brahman in Itself (Svarupa), Such movement is either due to the inherent power of mind and matter, or to a cause which, though immanent in the universe, yet is not wholly manifested by, but transcends it. This latter alternative represents the Indian view. Power (Shakti) connotes a Power-holder (Shaktiman). Power as universe is called Samsara. The state of power, as it is in itself, that is, the state of Power-holder, is (to use one of the better-known terms, though there are others) Nirvana.

What, then, is the nature of experience in the Samsara? The latter is the world of form, and Dharma is the Law of Form. Form necessarily implies duality and limitation. Therefore, experience in Samsara is an experience of form by form. It is limited, dualistic experience. It is limited or Apurna (not the whole or complete), relative to the state of Nirvana, which is the whole (Purna) or complete or Perfect Experience. Therefore, whilst the latter is a state of all-knowingness and all-mightiness, man is a contraction (Samkoca), and is a “little-knower” and “little-doer”. The Power-holder is called Shiva-shakti — that is, the supreme Shiva-shakti, for the universe, being but the manifestation of the transcendent Shiva-shakti, is also itself Shiva-shakti. The names Shiva and Shakti are the twin aspects of one and the same Reality. Shiva denotes the masculine, unchanging aspect of Divinity, while Shakti denotes its changing feminine aspect. These two are Hamsah, Ham being Shiva and male, and Sah being Shakti and female. It is this Hamsah, or legendary “Bird,” which is said, in the poem called “Wave of Bliss,” “to swim in the waters of the mind of the great.” The un-manifest Shiva-shakti aspect is unknown, except in the Samadhi or ecstasy of Yoga. But the Shakti aspect, as manifested in the universe, is near to the Shakta worshipper. He can see Her and touch Her, for it is She who appears as the universe, and so it is said: “What care I for the Father, if I but be on the lap of the Mother?” This is the Great Mother, the Magna Mater of the Mediterranean civilization, and the Mahadevi of India — that August Image whose vast body is the universe, whose breasts are Sun and Moon. It was to Her that the “mad,” wine-drinking Sadhu Bhama referred, when he said to a man I know who had lost his mother: “Earthly mothers and those who suck their breasts are mortal; but deathless are those who have fed at the breast of the Mother of the Universe”. It is She who personalizes in the form of all the beings in the universe; and it is She again who, as the essence of such personalizing, is the Supreme Personality (Parahanta), who in manifestation is “God in Action.” Why, it may be asked, is God thought of as Mother? This question may be countered by another — “Why is God called Father?” God is sexless. Divinity is spoken of as Mother because It “conceives, bears, gives birth to, and nourishes the Universe”. In generation man is said to be a helper only. The learned may call this mothernotion, “infantilism” and “anthropomorphism”. But the Shakta will not be afraid, and will reply that it is not he who has arbitrarily invented this image of the Mother, but that is the form in which She has Herself presented Herself to his mind. The great Shakta poet, Ramaprasada, says: “By feeling (Bhava) is She known. How then, can Abhava (that is, lack of feeling) find Her P” In any case he may recall the lines of the Indian poet: “If I understand, and you understand, 0 my mind, what matters it whether any other understand or not?”

Viewing the matter more dryly and metaphysically, we have then to deal with two states. Firstly, the limited experience of Samsara the Becoming, and the Perfect Experience or transcendent Being, which is Nirvana. This last state is not for the Shakta mere abstract Being. This is not a fiction of the ratiocinating intellect. It is a massive, rich, and concrete experience, a state which — being powerful to produce from out of itself the Universe — must therefore hold the seed or essence of it within itself. It is a mistake on this view to suppose that those who attain to it will lose anything of worth by so doing.

The first point which is therefore established is that there are these two states. Both are so established by experience — the first by the ordinary experience man has of this world. and the second by supernormal spiritual experience. For the Hindu holds that the Supreme State is proved not by speculation or argument (which may yet render its support), but by actual spiritual experience.

The second point to remember is that these two states are one. We must not think of “creation” in the sense, in which there is an infinite break between man and God, and, therefore, man cannot become God. Man, in this system of Vedanta, is, though a contraction of Power, nevertheless, in essence, the self-same Power which is God. There is unity (Abheda) as Essence, and difference (Bheda) as Manifestation. Similarly, Islamic philosophy distinguishes between independent Zat,, or essence, and dependent and derivative Attribute, or Sifat. Essence is one, Manifestation is different. The two are thus neither identical nor separate. There is that which the Hindus call Abheda- Bheda.

The third point then is that Man, being such Power, he can by his effort, and the grace of his patron Deity, enhance it even to the extent that he becomes one with Divinity. And so it is said that “by the worship of Vishnu, man becomes Vishnu”. To know a being or thing is, according to non-dual Vedanta, to be that thing. To know God, then, is to be God. Man can then pass from limited experience, or Samsara, to Perfect Experience, or Nirvana. This “towering tenet,” to use Brian Hodgsons’ phrase (“Nepal”), that finite mind may be raised to infinite consciousness, is also held by Buddhism.

The practical question then is: How is this experience of oneness with Divinity, its powers and attributes, obtained? The answer is that this is the work of Sadhana and Yoga.

The term Sadhana comes from the root Sadh, which means to exert, to strive to attain a particular result or Siddhi, as it is called. The person making the effort is called Sadhaka, and if he obtains the result desired, or Siddhi, he is called Siddha. Etymologically Sadhana may refer to any effort. Thus a person who takes lessons in French or in riding, with a view to learn that language or to become a horseman, is doing Sadhana for those purposes respectively. If French or riding is learnt, then Siddhi is obtained, and the man who attains it is Siddha, or proficient in French and riding respectively. But technically Sadhana refers either to Ritual Worship or Ritual Magic. A Sadhaka is always a dualist, whatever his theoretical doctrine may be, because worship implies both worshipped and worshipper. The highest aim of religious worship is attainment of the Abode or Heaven of the Divinity worshipped. This Heaven is not Nirvana. The latter is a formless state, whereas Heaven is a pleasurable abode of forms — a state intermediate between Death and Rebirth. According to the ordinary view, Ritual Worship is a preparation for Yoga. When a man is Siddha in Sadhana he becomes qualified for Yoga, and when he is Siddha in Yoga he attains Perfect Experience. Yoga is thus the process whereby man is raised from Limited to Perfect experience. The Sadhana with which I am now concerned is religious Sadhana, a spiritual effort to achieve a moral and spiritual aim, though it may also seek material blessings from the Divinity worshipped.

Magic is the development of supernormal power, either by extension of natural faculty or by control over other beings and forces of nature. I use the word “supernormal” and not “supernatural” because all power is natural. Thus one man may see to a certain extent with his eyes. Another man with more powerful eyes will see better. A man with a telescope will see further than either of these two. For the telescope is a scientific extension of the natural faculty of sight. Over and beyond this is the “magical” extension of power called clairvoyance. The last power is natural but not normal. Magic (of which there has been abuse) has yet been indiscriminately condemned. Whether an act is good or bad depends upon the intention and the surrounding circumstances, and this same rule applies whether the act is normal or magical. Thus a man may in defense of his life use physical means for self-protection, even to the causing of the death of his adversary. Killing in such a case does not become bad because the means employed are not normal but “magical”. On the other hand, Black Magic, or Abhicara, is the doing of harm to another without lawful excuse. This the Scripture (Shastra) condemns as a great sin. As the Kularnava Tantra says (XII. 63), Atmavat sarvabhutebhyo hitam kuryyat Kuleshvari — that is, a man should not injure, but should do good to others as if they were his own self. In the Tantra Shastras are to be found magical rituals. Some classes of works, such as the “Damaras,” are largely occupied with this subject. It is a mistake, however, to suppose that because a practice is described in the Scripture, it is counseled by it. A book on legal medicine may state the substances by and manner in which a man may be poisoned. It describes the process which, if carried out, produces a particular result, but it does not on that account counsel killing. As regards the magical rites themselves, the view that they are mere childish superstition is not an understanding one. The objective ritual stimulates, is a support of, and serves the Mind-Rays, which, the Hindus would say, are not less but more powerful than the physical forms we call X-rays and the like. It has long been known in India, as it is becoming known in the West, that the mind is not merely a passive mirror of objects, but is a great and active Power. As I have already said, however, I do not propose to deal with this subject, and now return to that of religious worship.

Religious ritual is either formal (Karma), such as the Homa rite, or is devotional (Upasana), according as the act done belongs to the Karma or Upasana Kandas, which together with the Jñana Kanda, constitute the three-fold division of Veda. The distinction between Karma and Upasana is this. In ritual Karma the result is produced by performance of the rite, such as Homa, independently of the effort of the Sadhaka, provided there be strict ritual accuracy; whereas, the fruit of Upasana, or psychological worship, depends on the personal devotion of the worshipper, and without it the act is of no avail. Upasana, or devotional worship, is again either gross (Sthula) or subtle (Sukshma), according to the degree of competency or advancement of the Sadhaka or person who does Sadhana. We must not understand by the word “gross” anything bad. It is merely used in contra-distinction to the word “subtle”. Thus, a worshipper who is doing his Sadhana before an exterior image is performing gross worship, whereas he who worships a mentally conceived image is doing subtle worship. A man who offers real flowers is doing a part of gross worship. subtle worship in such a case would be the offering of flowers of the mind.

I will now shortly examine the Vedantic theory of Mind, which must be known if the ritual is to be understood. There is no Mind without Matter or Matter without Mind, except in dreamless sleep, when the latter is wholly withdrawn. The Mind has always an object. In a literal sense, there is no vacuous mind. It is not aware, of course, of all objects, but only of those to which it pays attention. Nextly, Mind is not Consciousness (Cit) which is immaterial. Mind, on the contrary, is a quasi-material principle of Unconsciousness, which, on one view, appears to be conscious by reason of the association of Consciousness with it. According to the Shakta view, Mind is an unconscious quasi-material force being the power of Consciousness to limit itself, and to the extent of such limitation, to appear as unconscious. How then does Mind operate? A Mind-Ray goes forth to the object, which in its turn shapes the mental substance into the form of the object. Thus, when a man thinks of an image of Divinity intently and without distraction, his mental substance takes the form of the image. The object which is perceived leaves an impress on the mind, and this impress, if repeated, sets up a tendency or Samskara. Thus a man who repeatedly thinks good thoughts has a tendency towards the thinking of such thoughts, and by continued good thought character is molded and transformed. As the Chandogya Upanishad says: “As a man thinks that he becomes.” Similarly, the Gandharva Tantra says: “By meditating on anything as the self, one becomes that thing.” A man can thus shape his mind for good or bad.

The mind affects the body. As it is said in the West, “the soul is form and doth the body make.” Every thought has a corresponding change in the material substance of the brain. Well, then, as the mind must have an object which again shapes the mind, the ritual selects a good object, namely, the Divinity of worship with all good attributes.

The Sadhaka meditates on and worships that. Continued thought, repetition, the engagement of the body in the mental action co-operate to produce a lasting and good tendency in the mental substance. Sincere and continued effort effects the transformation of the worshipper into a likeness with the Divinity worshipped. For as he who is always thinking bad thoughts becomes bad, so he who thinks divine thoughts becomes himself divine. The transformation which is commenced in Sadhana is completed in Yoga, when the difference between worshipper and worshipped ceases in that unitary consciousness which is ecstasy or Samadhi, or transcendent perfect experience.

Let us now examine some illustrations of the psychological principles stated.

Divinity as it is in Itself cannot (as an Indian writer has said) be seized by the mind any more than air can be grasped by a pair of tongs. It is necessary, therefore, to have something placed before one as a representative of something else, which is what the Sanskrit terms, Pratika and Pratima, for the object worshipped, mean. This may be an external object or a mental one. As regards the former, there are varying degrees of grossness and subtlety. The grossest is that in which there is no call upon imagination — that is, the Image of three dimensions. Less so is the painting on the flat; then comes the emblem, which may be quite unlike the Devata or Divinity, of which it is an emblem, such as the Shalagrama stone in the worship of Vishnu, and, lastly, the Yantra, which is the diagrammatic body of a Mantra.

Worship is outer — that is, of an outer object with physical acts such as bodily prostrations, offering of real flowers, and so on; or it may be partly or wholly mental, as in the latter case, where both the form of the Divinity is imagined (according to the meditational form or Dhyana given in the Scriptures) as also the offerings.

The forms of worship vary according to the capacity of the worshipper. In the simplest form, the worshipper draws upon the daily life, and treats the Divinity whom he invokes as he would a guest, welcoming It after its journey, offering water for the dusty feet and the mouth, presenting It with flowers, lights, clothes, and so on. These ingredients of worship are called Upacara. In the psycho-physiological rites of some Shaktas, the abuse of which has brought them ill-fame, the Upacara are the functions of the body. In image-worship, the mind is shaped into the form of the object perceived. But the perception of a material image is not enough. The worshipper must see Divinity before him. This he invokes into the image by what is called the welcoming (Avahana) and Life-giving (Pranapratishtha) ceremonies, just as, at the conclusion of the worship, he bids the Deity depart (Visarjana). Uncomprehending minds have asked: “How can God be made to come and go?” The answer is that He does not. What come and go are the modifications, or vrittis, of and in the mind of the Sadhaka or worshipper. To invoke the Deity means, then, a direction not to the Deity, but by the worshipper to himself to understand that the Deity is there. Deity which is omnipresent is in the Image as elsewhere, whatever the Sadhaka may do or not do. The Sadhaka informs his own mind with the notion that the Deity is present. He is then conscious of the presence of and meditates on Divinity and its attributes, and if he be undistracted, his mind and its thought are thereby divinely shaped. Before the Divinity so present, both objectively and to the mind of the Sadhaka, worship is done. It is clear that the more this worship is sincerely continued, the greater both in degree and persistence is the transformation effected. The body is made to take its part either by appropriate gestures, called Mudra, or other acts such as prostrations, offerings, libations, and so forth. By constant worship the mind and disposition become good, for good thoughts repeated make a man good. Ritual produces by degrees, transformation, at first temporary, later lasting. “Ridding the Divinity depart” means that the mind of the Sadhaka has ceased to worship the Image. It is not that the Deity is made to retire at the behest of his worshipper. A true Sadhaka has Divinity ever in his thoughts, whether he is doing formal worship or not. “Invitation” and “Bidding Depart” are done for the purposes of the worship of the Image only. Personally, I doubt whether idolatry exists anywhere in the sense that a worshipper believes a material image as such to be God. But, in any case, Indian image-worship requires for its understanding and practice some knowledge of Vedanta.

Transformation of consciousness-feeling by ritual may be illustrated by a short examination of some other of its forms. Gesture of the hands, or Mudra, is a common part of the ritual. There is necessarily movement of the hands and body in any worship which requires external action, but I here speak of the specially designed gestures. For instance, I am now making the Fish gesture, or Matsya Mudra. The hands represent a fish and its fins. The making of this gesture indicates that the worshipper is offering not only the small quantity of water which is contained in the ritual vessel, but that (such is his devotion) his intention is to give to the Deity all the oceans with the fish and other marine animals therein. The Sadhaka might, of course, form this intention without gesture, but experience shows that gesture emphasizes and intensifies thought, as in the case of public speaking. The body is made to move with the thought. I refer here to ritual gestures. The term Mudra is also employed to denote bodily postures assumed in Hathayoga as a health-giving gymnastic.

Asana, or seat, has more importance in Yoga than in Sadhana. The principle as regards Asana is to secure a comfortable seat, because that is favorable to meditation and worship generally. If one is not comfortable there is distraction and worry. Both Mudra and Asana are, therefore, ancillary to worship as Puja, the principle of which has been described.

Japa is recital of Mantra, the count being done either on a rosary or the phalanxes of the fingers. What is a Mantra P A Mantra is Divinity. It is Divine Power, or Daivi Shakti, manifesting in a sound body. The Shastra says that those go to Hell who think that an image is a mere stone, that Mantras are merely letters, and that a Guru is a mere man, and not a manifestation and representative of the Lord as Supreme Teacher, Illuminator, and Director. The chief Mantra is Om. This represents to human ears the sound of the first general movement of Divine Power towards the manifestation of the Universe. All other Mantras are particular movements and sounds (for the two co-exist) derived from Om. Here the Sadhaka strives to realize his unity with the Mantra, or Divinity, and to the extent that he does so, the Mantra Power (Mantra-Shakti) supplements his worship-power (Sadhana Shakti). This rite is also an illustration of the principle that repetition makes perfect, for the repetition is done (it may be) thousands of times.

Japa is of three kinds — gross, subtle, and supreme. In the first, the Mantra is audibly repeated, the objective body-aspect or sound predominating; in the second, there is no audible sound, the lips and other organs forming themselves into the position which, together with contact with the air, produce the sound of the letters; in the third, the Japa is mental — that is, there is emphasis on the Divine, or subjective aspect. This is a means for the ritual realization — that is, by mind — of the unity of human power and Divine Power.

Nyasa is an important rite. The word means “placing” — that is, of the hands of the Sadhaka on different parts of his body, at the same time, saying the appropriate Mantras, and imagining that by his action the corresponding parts of the body of the Deity are placed there. The rite terminates with a movement of the hands, “spreading” the Divinity all over the body. It is not supposed that the Divinity can be spread like butter on bread. The Supreme Mother-Power is the Brahman, or All-Pervading Immense. What is all-spreading cannot be moved or spread. What can however, be “spread” is the thought of the worshipper, who, with appropriate bodily gesture, imagines that the Deity pervades his body, which is renewed and divinized. By imagining the body of the Deity to be his body, he purifies himself, and affirms his unity with the Devata.

An essential element in all rites Bhutasuddhi, which means the purification of the elements of which the body is composed. Man is physical and psychical. The physical body is constituted of five modes of motion of material substance, which have each, it is said, centers in the spinal column, at points which in the body correspond to the position of various plexuses. These centers extend from the base of the spine to the throat. Between the eyebrows is the sixth or psychical center, or mind. At the top of the brain, or cerebrum, is the place of consciousness; not that Consciousness in itself — that is, as distinct from Mind — can have a center or be localized in any way; for, it is immaterial and all-pervading. But, at this point, it is the least veiled by mind and matter, and is, therefore, most manifest. This place is the abode of transcendent Shiva-Shakti as Power-holder. In the lowest center (Muladhara), which is at the base of the spine, there sleeps the Immanent Cosmic Power in bodies called Kundalini Shakti. Here She is ordinarily at rest. She is so, so long as man enjoys limited world-experience. She is then roused. “Jagrati Janani” (“Arise, 0 Mother!”), calls out the Sadhaka poet, Ramaprasada. “How long wilt thou sleep in the Muladhara?” When so roused, She is led up through the spinal column, absorbing all the physical and psychical centers, and unites with Shiva as consciousness in the cerebrum, which is known as the “thousand-pealed lotus”. The body is then drenched with and renewed by the nectar which is the result of their union and is immortal life. This is the ecstasy which is the marriage of the Inner Divine Man and Woman. Metaphysically speaking, for the duration of such union, there is a substitution of the Supreme Experience for World-Experience.

This is the real process in Yoga. But in ritual (for all are not Yogis) it is imagined only. In imagination, the “man of sin” (Papapurusha) is burnt in mental fire, kundalini absorbs the centers, unites with Shiva, and then, redescending, recreates the centers, bathing them in nectar. By the mental representation of this process, the mind and body are purified, and the former is made to realize the unity of man and the Supreme Power, whose limited form he is, and the manner whereby the Universe is involved into and evolved from Shiva-Shakti. All these, and other rituals keep the mind of the Sadhaka occupied with the thought of the Supreme Power and of his essential unity with It, with the result that he becomes more and more that which he thinks upon. His Bhava, or disposition, becomes purified and divinized so far as that can be in the world. At length practice makes perfect in Sadhana, and on the arising in such purified and illuminated mind, of knowledge and detachment from the world, there is competency for Yoga. When in turn practice in Yoga makes perfect all limitations on experience are shed, and Nirvana is attained.

Ordinarily it is said that enjoyment (Bhoga) only enchains and Yoga only liberates. Enjoyment (Bhoga) does not only mean that which is bad (Adharma). Bad enjoyment certainly enchains and also leads to Hell. Good — that is, lawful — enjoyment also enchains, even though Heaven is its fruit. Moreover, Bhoga means both enjoyment and suffering. But, according to the Bengal Shakta worshippers, Enjoyment (which must necessarily be lawful) and Yoga may be one. According to this method (see Masson-Oursel, “Esquisse d’une Histoire de la Philosophie Indienne”), the body is not of necessity an obstacle to liberation. For there is no antinomy except such as we ourselves fancy, between Nature and Spirit, and therefore there is nothing wrong or low in natural function. Nature is the instrument for the realization of the aims of the Spirit. Yoga controls but does not frustrate enjoyment, which may be itself Yoga in so far it pacifies the mind and makes man one with his inner self. The spontaneity of life is under no suspicion. Supreme power is immanent in body and mind, and these are also forms of its expression. And so, in the psycho-physiological rites of these Shaktas, to which I have referred, the body and its functions are sought to be made a means of, as they may otherwise be an obstacle to, liberation. The Vira, or heroic man, is powerful for mastery on all the planes and to pass beyond them. He does not shun the world from fear of it, but holds it in his grasp and learns its secret. He can do so because the world does not exist in isolation from some transcendent Divinity exterior to Nature, but is itself the Divine Power inseparate from the Divine Essence. He knows that he is himself as body and mind such power, and as Spirit or Self such essence. When he has learned this, he escapes both from the servile subjection to circumstance, and the ignorant driftings of a humanity which has not yet realized itself. Most are still not men but candidates for Humanity. But he is the illumined master of himself, whether he is developing all his powers in this world, or liberating himself therefrom at his will.

I conclude by citing a verse from a Hymn in the great “Mahakala Samhita,” by a Sadhaka who had surpassed the stage of formal external ritual, and was of a highly advanced devotional type. I first read the verse and then give a commentary thereon which is my own.

“I torture not my body by austerity.”

For the body is the Divine Mother. Why then torture it? The Hymnist is speaking of those who, like himself, have realized that the body is a manifestation of the Divine Essence. He does not say that no one is to practice austerities. These may be necessary for those who have not realized that the body is divine, and who, on the contrary, look upon it as a material obstacle which must be strictly controlled. It is a common mistake of Western critics to take that which is meant for the particular case as applying to all.

“I make no pilgrimages.”

For the sacred places in their esoteric sense are in the body of the worshipper. Why should he who knows thistravel? Those, however, who do not know this may profitably travel to the exterior sacred places such as Benares, Puri, Brindavan.

“I waste not my time in reading the Vedas.”

This does not mean that no one is to read the Vedas. He has already done so, but the Kularnava Tantra says: “Extract the essence of the Scriptures, and then cast away the rest, as chaff is separated from the grain.” When the essence has been extracted, what need is there of further reading and study P Moreover, the Veda recalls the spiritual experiences of others. What each man wants is that experience for himself, and this is not to be had by reading and speculation, but by practice, as worship or Yoga.

But, says the author of the Hymn, addressing the Divine Mother:

“I take refuge at thy Sacred Feet.”

For this is both the highest Sadhana and the fruit of it.

In conclusion, I will say a word upon the Tantra Shastra to which I have referred. The four chief Scriptures of the Hindus are Veda, Smriti, Purana and Agama. There are four Ages, and to each of these Ages is assigned its own peculiar Scripture. For the present Age the governing Scripture is the Agama. The Agama or “traditions,” is made up of several schools such as Vaishnava, Shaiva and Shakta. It is a mistake to suppose that Agama is a name given only to the Southern Scriptures, and that Tantra is the name of the Scriptures of the Bengal School of Shaktas. The Scripture of all these communities is the Agama, and the Agama is constituted of Scriptures called Tantra and also by other names. To these Tantras titles are given just as they are given to chapters in a book, such as the Lakshmi Tantra of the Vaishnava Pañcaratra, Malinivijapa Tantra of the Kashmir Shaiva Agama, and the Kularnava Tantra of the Bengal Shakta Agama. These four Scriptures do not supersede or contradict one another, but are said to be various expressions of the one truth presented in diverse forms, suited to the inhabitants of the different Ages. As a Pandit very learned in the Agama told me, all the Scriptures constitute one great “Many-millioned Collection” (Shatakoti Samhita). Only portions of the Vaidik Ritual have survived to-day. The bulk of the ritual which to-day governs all the old schools of Hindu worshippers is to be found in the Agamas and their Tantras. And in this lies one reason for their importance.

Chapter Twenty-four
Shakti as Mantra (Mantramayi Shakti)

This is in every way both a most important, as well as a most difficult, subject in the Tantra Shastra; so difficult that it is not understood, and on this account has been ridiculed. Mantra, in the words of a distinguished Indian, has been called “meaningless jabber”. When we find Indians thus talking of their Shastra, it is not surprising that Europeans should take it to be of no account. They naturally, though erroneously, suppose that the Indian always understands his own beliefs, and if he says they are absurd it is taken that they are so. Even, however, amongst Indians, who have lost themselves through an English Education, the Science of Mantra is largely unknown. There are not many students of the Mimamsa now-a-days. The English-educated have in this, as in other matters, generally taken the cue from their Western Gurus, and passed upon Mantravidya a borrowed condemnation. There are those among them (particularly in this part of India), those who have in the past thought little of their old culture, and have been only too willing to sell their old lamps for new ones. Because they are new they will not always be found to give better light. Let us hope this will change, as indeed it will. Before the Indian condemns his cultural inheritance let him at least first study and understand it. It is true that Mantra is meaningless — to those who do not know its meaning; but to those who do, it is not “Jabber”; though of course like everything else it may become, and indeed has become, the subject of ignorance and superstitious use. A telegram written in code in a merchant’s office will seem the merest gibberish to those who do not know that code. Those who do may spell thereout a transaction bringing lakhs of “real” Rupees for those who have sent it. Mantravidya, whether it be true or not, is a profoundly conceived science, and, as interpreted by the Shakta Agama, is a practical application of Vedantic doctrine.

The textual source of Mantras is to be found in the Vedas (see in particular the Mantra portion of the Atharvaveda so associated with the Tantra Shastra), the Puranas and Tantras. The latter Scripture is essentially the Mantra-Shastra. In fact it is so called generally by Sadhakas and not Tantra Shastra. And so it is said of all the Shastras, symbolized as a body, that Tantra Shastra which consists of Mantra is the Paramatma, the Vedas are the Jivatma, Darshanas or systems of philosophy are the senses, Puranas are the body and the Smritis are the limbs. Tantra Shastra is thus the Shakti of Consciousness consisting of Mantra. For, as the Vishvasara Tantra (Ch. 2) says, the Parabrahman in Its form as the Sound Brahman (Shabda-Brahman or Saguna-Brahman), whose substance is all Mantra, exists in the body of the Jivatma.. Kundalini Shakti is a form of the Shabda-Brahman in individual bodies (Sharada-Tilaka, Ch. 1). It is from this Shabda-Brahman that the whole universe proceeds in the form of sound (Shabda) and the objects (Artha) which sounds or words denote. And this is the meaning of the statement that the Devi and the Universe are composed of letters, that is, the signs for the sounds which denote all that is.

At any point in the flow of phenomena, we can enter the stream, and realize therein the changeless Real. The latter is everywhere and is in all things, and hidden in, and manifested by, sound as by all else. Any form (and all which is not the Formless is that) can be pierced by the mind, and union may be had therein with the Devata who is at its core. It matters not what that form may be. And why? What I have said concerning Shakti gives the answer. All is Shakti. All is Consciousness. We desire to think and speak. This is Iccha Shakti. We make an effort towards realization. This is Kriya Shakti. We think and know. This is Jñana Shakti. Through Pranavayu, another form of Shakti, we speak; and the word we utter is Shakti Mantramayi. For what is a letter (Varna) which is made into syllable (Pada) and sentences (Vakya) ‘? It may be heard in speech, thus affecting the sense of hearing. It may be seen as a form in writing. It may be tactually sensed by the blind through the perforated dots of Braille type. The same thing thus affecting the various senses. But what is the thing which does so? The senses are Shakti, and so is the objective form which evokes the sensation. Both are in themselves Shakti as Cit Shakti and Maya Shakti, and the Svarupa of these is Cit or Feeling-Consciousness. When, therefore, a Mantra is realized, when there is what is called in the Shastra Mantra-Caitanya, what happens is the union of the consciousness of the Sadhaka with that Consciousness which manifests in the form of the Mantra. It is this union which makes the Mantra “work”.

The subject is of such importance in the Tantras that their other name is Mantra Shastra. But what is a Mantra? Commonly Orientalists and others describe Mantra as “Prayer,” “Formulae of worship,” “Mystic syllables” and so forth. These are but the superficialities of those who do not know their subject. Wherever we find the word “Mystic,” we may be on our guard; for it is a word which covers much ignorance. Thus Mantra is said to be a “mystic” word, Yantra a “mystic” diagram, and Mudra a “mystic” gesture. But have these definitions taught us anything? No, nothing. Those who framed these definitions knew nothing of their subject. And yet, whilst I am aware of no work in any European language which shows a knowledge of what Mantra is or of its science (Mantra-vidya), there is nevertheless perhaps no subject which has been so ridiculed: a not unusual attitude of ignorance. There is a widely diffused lower mind which says, “what I do not understand is absurd”. But this science, whether well-founded or not, is not that. Those who so think might expect Mantras which are prayers and the meaning of which they understand; for with prayer the whole world is familiar. But such appreciation itself displays a lack of understanding. For there is nothing necessarily holy or prayerful alone in Mantras as some think. Some combinations of letters constitute prayers and are called Mantras, as for instance the most celebrated Gayatri Mantra.

A Mantra is not the same thing as prayer or self-dedication (Atma-nivedana). Prayer is conveyed in the words the Sadhaka chooses. Any set of words or letters is not a Mantra. Only that Mantra in which the Devata has revealed His or Her particular aspects can reveal that aspect, and is therefore the Mantra of that one of His or Her particular aspects. The relations of the letters (Varna), whether vowel or consonant, Nada and Bindu, in a Mantra indicate the appearance of Devata in different forms. Certain Vibhuti or aspects of the Devata are inherent in certain Varna, but perfect Shakti does not appear in any but a whole Mantra. All letters are forms of the Shabda-Brahman, but only particular combinations of letters are a particular form, just as the name of a particular being is made up of certain letters and not of any indiscriminately. The whole universe is Shakti and is pervaded by Shakti. Nada, Bindu, Varna are all forms of Shakti and combinations of these, and these combinations only are the Shabda corresponding to the Artha or forms of any particular Devata. The gross lettered sound is, as explained later, the manifestation of sound in a more subtle form, and this again is the production of causal “sound” in its supreme (Para) form. Mantras are manifestations of Kulakundalini (see Chapter on the same) which is a name for the Shabda-Brahman or Saguna-Brahman in individual bodies. Produced Shabda is an aspect of the Jiva’s vital Shakti. Kundalini is the Shakti who gives life to the Jiva. She it is who in the Muladhara Cakra (or basal bodily center) is the cause of the sweet, indistinct and murmuring Dhvani which is compared to the humming of a black bee. Thence Shabda originates and, being first Para, gradually manifests upwards as Pashyanti, Madhyama, Vaikhari (see post). Just as in outer space, waves of sound are produced by movements of air (Vayu), so in the space within the Jiva’s body, waves of sound are said to be produced according to the movements of the vital air (Pranavayu) and the process of in and out breathing. As the Svarupa of Kundali, in whom are all sounds, is Paramatma, so the substance of all Mantra, Her manifestation, is Consciousness (Cit) manifesting as letters and words. In fact, the letters of the Alphabet which are called Akshara are nothing but the Yantra of the Akshara or Imperishable Brahman. This is however only realized by the Sadhaka, when his Shakti generated by Sadhana is united with Mantra-Shakti. kundalini, who is extremely subtle, manifests in gross (Sthula) form in differing aspects as different Devatas. It is this gross form which is the Presiding Deity (Adishthatri Devata) of a Mantra, though it is the subtle (Sukshma) form at which all Sadhakas aim. Mantra and Devata are thus one and particular forms of Brahman as Shiva-Shakti. Therefore the Shastra says that they go to Hell who think that the Image (or “Idol” as it is commonly called) is but a stone and the Mantra merely letters of the alphabet. It is therefore also ignorance of Shastric principle which supposes that Mantra is merely the name for the words in which one expresses what one has to say to the Divinity. If it were, the Sadhaka might choose his own language without recourse to the eternal and determined sounds of Shastra. (See generally as to the above the Chapter on Mantra-tattva in Principles of Tantra, Ed. A. Avalon.) The particular Mantra of a Devata is that Devata. A Mantra, on the contrary, consists of certain letters arranged in definite sequence of sounds of which the letters are the representative signs. To produce the designed effect, the Mantra must be intoned in the proper way, according to both sound (Varna) and rhythm (Svara). For these reasons, a Mantra when translated ceases to be such, and becomes a mere word or sentence.

By Mantra, the sought-for (Sadhya) Devata appears, and by Siddhi therein is had vision of the three worlds. As the Mantra is in fact Devata, by practice thereof this is known. Not merely do the rhythmical vibrations of its sounds regulate the unsteady vibrations of the sheaths of the worshipper, but therefrom the image of the Devata appears. As the Brihad-Gandharva Tantra says (Ch. V):

Shrinu devi pravakshyami bijanam deva-rupatam
Mantrochcharanamatrena deva-rupam prajayate.
Mantrasiddhi is the ability to make a Mantra efficacious and to gather its fruit in which case the Sadhaka is Mantra-siddha. As the Pranatoshini (619) says, “Whatever the Sadhaka desires that he surely obtains.” Whilst therefore prayer may end in merely physical sound, Mantra is ever, when rightly said, a potent compelling force, a word of power effective both to produce material gain and accomplish worldly desires, as also to promote the fourth aim of sentient being (Caturvarga), Advaitic knowledge, and liberation. And thus it is said that Siddhi (success) is the certain result of Japa or recitation of Mantra.

Some Mantras constitute also what the European would call “prayers,” as for instance the celebrated Gayatri. But neither this nor any other Mantra is simply a prayer. The Gayatri runs Om (The thought is directed to the three-fold Energy of the One as represented by the three letters of which Om is composed, namely, A or Brahma, the Shakti which creates; U or Vishnu, the Shakti which maintains; and M or Rudra, the Shakti which “destroys,” that is, withdraws the world): Nada and Bindu, Earth, Middle region, Heaven (of which as the transmigrating worlds of Samsara, God, as Om, as also in the form of the Sun, is the Creator). Let us contemplate upon the Adorable Spirit of the Divine Creator who is in the form of the Sun (Aditya-Devata). Map He direct our minds, towards attainment of the four-fold aims (Dharma, Artha, Kama, Moksha) of all sentient beings. Om. This great Mantra bears a meaning on its face, though the Commentaries explain and amplify it. The Self of all which exists in the three regions appears in the form of the Sun-god with His body of fire. The Brahman is the cause of all, and as the visible Devata is the Eye of the World and the Maker of the day who vivifies, ripens and reveals all beings and things. The Sun-god is to the sun what the Spirit (Atma) is to the body. He is the Supreme in the form of the great Luminary. His body is the Light of the world, and He Himself is the Light of the lives of all beings. He is everywhere. He is in the outer ether as the sun, and in the inner ethereal region of the heart. He is the Wondrous Light which is the smokeless Fire. He it is who is in constant play with creation (Srishti), maintenance (Sthiti) and “destruction” (Pralaya); and by His radiance pleases both eye and mind. Let us adore Him that we may escape the misery of birth and death. May He ever direct our minds (Buddhivritti) upon the path of the world (Trivarga) and liberation (Moksha). Only the twice-born castes and men may utter this Gayatri. To the Shudra, whether man or woman, and to women of all castes, it is forbidden. But the Tantra Shastra has not the exclusiveness of the Vaidik system. Thus the Mahanirvana provides (IV. 109-111) a Brahma-gayatri for all: “May we know the Supreme Lord. Let us contemplate the Supreme Essence. And may the Brahman direct us.” All will readily understand such Mantras as the Gayatri, though some comment, which is thought amusing, has been made on the “meaningless” Om. I have already stated what it means, namely, (shortly speaking) the Energy (Nada) in Sadakhya Tattva which, springing from Shiva-Shakti Tattva, “solidifies” itself (Ghani-bhuta) as the creative Power of the Lord (Bindu or Ishvara Tattva) manifesting in the Trinity or Creative Energies. For further details see my Garland of Letters. “Om” then stands for the most general aspect of That as the Source of all. As it is recited, the idea arises in the mind corresponding with the sound which has been said to be the expression on the gross plane of that subtle “sound” which accompanied the first creative vibration. When rightly uttered this great syllable has an awe-inspiring effect. As I heard this Mantra chanted by some hundred Buddhist monks (one after the other) in a northern monastery it seemed to be the distant murmuring roll of some vast cosmic ocean. “Om” is the most prominent example of a “meaningless” Mantra, that is, one which does not bear its meaning on its face, and of what is called a seed or Bija Mantra, because they are the very quintessence of Mantra, and the seed (Bija) of the fruit which is Siddhi (spiritual achievement). These are properly monosyllabic. Om is a Vaidik Bija, but it is the source of all the other Tantrik Bijas which represent particular Devata aspects of that which is presented as a whole in 0m. As a Mantra-Shastra, the Tantras have greatly elaborated the Bijas, and thus incurred the charge of “gibberish,” for such the Bijas sound to those who do not know what they mean. Though a Mantra such as a Bija-mantra may not convey its meaning on its face, the initiate knows that its meaning is the own form (Svarupa) of the particular Devata whose Mantra it is, and that the essence of the Bija is that which makes letters sound, and exists in all which we say or hear. Every Mantra is thus a particular sound form (Rupa) of the Brahman. There are a very large number of these short unetymological vocables or Bijas such as Hrim, Shrim, Krim, Hum, Hum, Phat called by various names. Thus the first is called the Maya Bija, the second Lakshmi Bija, the third Kali Bija, the fourth Kurca Bija, the fifth Varma Bija, the sixth Astra Bija. Ram is Agni Bija, Em is Yoni Bija, Klim is Kama Bija, Shrim is Badhu Bija, Aim Sarasvati Bija and so forth. Each Devata has His or Her Bija. Thus Hrim is the Maya Bija, Krim the Kali Bija. The Bija is used in the worship of the Devata whose Mantra it is. All these Bijas mentioned are in common use. There are a large number of others, some of which are formed with the first letters of the name of the Devata for whom they stand, such as Gam for Ganesha, Dum for Durga.

Let us then shortly see by examples what the meaning of such a Bija is. (For a fuller account see my Garland of Letters.) In the first place, the reader will observe the common ending “m” which represents the Sanskrit breathings known as Nada and Bindu or Candrabindu. These have the same meaning in all. They are the Shaktis of that name appearing in the table of the 36 Tattvas given ante. They are states of Divine Power immediately preceding the manifestation of the objective universe. The other letters denote subsequent developments of Shakti, and various aspects of the manifested Devata mentioned below. There are sometimes variant interpretations given. Take the great Bhuvaneshvari or Maya Bija, Hrim. I have given one interpretation in my Studies above cited. From the Tantrik compendium, the Pranatoshini, quoting the Barada Tantra we get the following: Hrim = H + R + I + M. H = Shiva. R = Shakti Prakriti. I = Mahamaya. “M” is as above explained, but is here stated in the form that Nada is the Progenitrix of the Universe, and Bindu which is Brahman as Ishvara and Ishvari (Ishvaratattva) is described for the Sadhaka as the “Dispeller of Sorrow”. The meaning therefore of this Bija Mantra which is used in the worship of Mahamaya or Bhuvaneshvari is, that that Devi in Her Turiya or transcendent state is Nada and Bindu, and is the causal body manifesting as Shiva-Shakti in the form of the manifested universe. The same idea is expressed in varying form but with the same substance by the Devigita (Ch. IV) which says that H = gross body, R = subtle body, I = causal body and M = the Turiya or transcendent fourth state. In other words, the Sadhaka worshipping the Devi with Hrim, by that Bija calls to mind the transcendent Shakti who is the causal body of the subtle and gross bodies of all existing things. Shrim, (see Barada Tantra) is used in the worship of Lakshmi Devi. Sh = Alahalaksmi, R = Wealth (Dhanartham) which as well as I = (satisfaction or Tushtyartham) She gives. Krim is used in the worship of Kali. K = Kali (Shakti worshipped for relief from the world and its sorrows). R = Brahma (Shiva with whom She is ever associated). I = Mahamaya (Her aspect in which She overcomes for the Sadhaka the Maya in which as Creatrix She has involved him). “Aim” is used in the worship of Sarasvati and is Vagbhava Bija. Dum is used in the worship of Durga. D = Durga. U = protection. Nada = Her aspect as Mother of the Universe, and Bindu is its Lord. The Sadhaka asks Durga as Mother-Lord to protect him, and looks on Her in her protecting aspect as upholder of the universe (Jagaddhatri). In “Strim.” S = saving from difficulty. T = deliverer. R = (here) liberation (Muktyartho repha ukto’tra). I = Mahamaya. Bindu = Dispeller of grief. Nada = Mother of the Universe. She as the Lord is the dispeller of Maya and the sorrows it produces, the Savior and deliverer from all difficulties by grant of liberation. I have dealt elsewhere (Serpent Power) with Hum and Hum the former of which is called Varma (armor) Bija and the latter Kurca, H denoting Shiva and “u”, His Bhairava or formidable aspect (see generally Vol. I, Tantrik Texts. Tantrabhidhana). He is an armor to the Sadhaka by His destruction of evil. Phat is the weapon or guarding Mantra used with Hum, just as Svaha (the Shakti of Fire), is used with Vashat, in making offerings. The primary Mantra of a Devata is called Mula-Mantra. Mantras are solar (Saura) and masculine, and lunar (Saumya) and feminine, as also neuter. If it be asked why things of mind are given sex, the answer is for the sake of the requirements of the worshipper. The masculine and neuter forms are called specifically Mantra and the feminine Vidya, though the first term may be used for both. Neuter Mantras end with Namah. Hum, Phat are masculine terminations, and “Tham” or Svaha, feminine (see Sharadatilaka II. Narada-pañcaratra VII, Prayogasara, Pranatoshini 70).

The Nitya Tantra gives various names to Mantra according to the number of the syllables such as Pinda, Kartari, Bija, Mantra, Mala. Commonly however the term Bija is applied to monosyllabic Mantras.

The word “Mantra” comes from the root “man” to think. “Man” is the first syllable of manana or thinking. It is also the root of the word “Man” who alone of all creation is properly a Thinker. “Tra” comes from the root “tra,” for the effect of a Mantra when used with that end, is to save him who utters and realizes it. Tra is the first syllable of Trana or liberation from the Samsara. By combination of man and tra, that is called Mantra which, from the religious stand-point, calls forth (Amantrana) the four aims (Caturvarga) of sentient being as happiness in the world and eternal bliss in Liberation. Mantra is thus Thought-movement vehicled by, and expressed in, speech. Its Svarupa is, like all else, consciousness (Cit) which is the Shabda-Brahman. A Mantra is not merely sound or letters. This is a form in which Shakti manifests Herself. The mere utterance of a Mantra without knowing its meaning, without realization of the consciousness which Mantra manifests is a mere movement of the lips and nothing else. We are then in the outer husk of consciousness; just as we are when we identify ourselves with any other form of gross matter which is, as it were, the “crust” (as a friend of mine has aptly called it) of those subtler forces which emerge from the Yoni or Cause of all, who is, in Herself Consciousness (Cidrupini). When the Sadhaka knows the meaning of the Mantra he makes an advance. But this is not enough. He must, through his consciousness, realize that Consciousness which appears in the form of the Mantra, and thus attain Mantra-Caitanya. At this point, thought is vitalized by contact with the center of all thinking. At this point again thought becomes truly vital and creative. Then an effect is created by the realization thus induced.

The creative power of thought is now receiving increasing acceptance in the West, which is in some cases taking over, and in others, discovering anew, for itself, what was thought by the ancients in India. Because they have discovered it anew, they call it “New Thought”; but its fundamental principle is as old as the Upanishads which said, “what you think that you become”. All recognize this principle in the limited form that a man who thinks good becomes good, and he who is ever harboring bad thought becomes bad. But the Indian and “New Thought” doctrine is more profound than this. In Vedantic India, thought has been ever held creative. The world is a creation of the thought (Cit Shakti associated with Maya Shakti) of the Lord (Ishvara and Ishvari). Her and His thought is the aggregate, with almighty powers of all thought. But each man is Shiva and can attain His powers to the degree of his ability to consciously realize himself as such. Thought now works in man’s small magic just as it first worked in the grand magical display of the World-Creator. Each man is in various degrees a creator. Thought is as real as any form of gross matter. Indeed it is more real in the sense that the world is itself a projection of the World-thought, which again is nothing but the aggregate in the form of the Samskaras or impressions of past experience, which give rise to the world. The universe exists for each Jiva because he consciously or unconsciously wills it. It exists for the totality of beings because of the totality of Samskaras which are held in the Great Womb of the manifesting Cit Itself. There is theoretically nothing that man cannot accomplish, for he is at base the Accomplisher of all. But, in practice, he can only accomplish to the degree that he identifies himself with the Supreme Consciousness and Its forces, which underlie, are at work in, and manifest as, the universe. This is the basal doctrine of all magic, of all powers (Siddhi) including the greatest Siddhi which is Liberation itself. He who knows Brahman, becomes Brahman to the extent of his “knowing”. Thought-reading, thought-transference, hypnotic suggestion, magical projections (Mokshana) and shields (Grahana) are becoming known and practiced in the West, not always with good results. For this reason some doctrines and practices are kept concealed. Projection (Mokshana) the occultist will understand. But Grahana, I may here explain, is not so much a “fence” in the Western sense, to which use a Kavaca is put, but the knowledge of how to “catch” a Mantra thus projected. A stone thrown at one may be warded off or caught and, if the person so wishes, thrown back at him who threw it. So may a Mantra. It is not necessary, however, to do so. Those who are sheltered by their own pure strength, automatically throw back all evil influences, which, coming back to the ill-wisher, harm or destroy him. Those familiar with the Western presentment of similar matters will more readily understand than others who, like the Orientalist and Missionary, as a rule know nothing of occultism and regard it as superstition. For this reason their presentment of Indian teaching is so often ignorant and absurd. The occultist, however, will understand the Indian doctrine which regards thought like mind, of which it is the operation, as a Power or Shakti; something therefore, very real and creative by which man can accomplish things for himself and others. Kind thoughts, without a word, will do good to all who surround us, and may travel round the world to distant friends. So we may suffer from the ill-wishes of those who surround us, even if such wishes do not materialize into deeds. Telepathy is the transference of thought from a distance without the use of the ordinary sense organs. So, in initiation, the thought of a true Guru may pass to his disciple all his powers. Mantra is thus a Shakti (Mantra Shakti) which lends itself impartially to any use. Man can identify himself with any of nature’s forces and for any end. Thus, to deal with the physical effects of Mantra, it may be used to injure, kill or do good; by Mantra again a kind of union with the physical Shakti is, by some, said to be effected. So the Vishnu-Purana speaks of generation by will power, as some Westerners believe will be the case when man passes beyond the domination of his gross sheath and its physical instruments. Children will then again be “mind-born”. By Mantra, the Homa fire may, it is said, be lit. By Mantra, again, in the Tantrik initiation called Vedha-diksha there is, it is said, such a transference of power from the Guru to his disciple that the latter swoons under the impulse of the thought-power which pierces him. But Mantra is also that by which man identifies himself with That which is the Ground of all. In short, Mantra is a power (Shakti) in the form of idea clothed with sound. What, however, is not yet understood in the West is the particular Thought-science which is Mantravidya, or its basis. Much of the “New Thought” lacks this philosophical basis which is supplied by Mantravidya, resting itself on the Vedantik doctrine. Mantravidya is thus that form of Sadhana by which union is had with the Mother Shakti in the Mantra form (Mantramayi), in Her Sthula and Sukshma aspects respectively. The Sadhaka passes from the first to the second. This Sadhana works through the letters, as other forms of Sadhana work through form in the shape of the Yantra, Ghata or Pratima. All such Sadhana belongs to Shaktopaya Yoga as distinguished from the introspective meditative processes of Shambhavopaya which seeks more directly the realization of Shakti, which is the end common to both. The Tantrik doctrine as regards Shabda is that of the Mimamsa with this exception that it is modified to meet its main doctrine of Shakti,

In order to understand what a Mantra is, we must know its cosmic history. The mouth speaks a word. What is it and whence has it come’. As regards the evolution of consciousness as the world, I refer my reader to the Chapters on “Cit-Shakti and Maya-Shakti” dealing with the 36 Tattvas. Ultimately, there is Consciousness which in its aspect as the great “I” sees the object as part of itself, and then as other than itself, and thus has experience of the universe. This is achieved through Shakti who, in the words of the Kamakalavilasa, is the pure mirror in which Shiva experiences Himself (Shivarupa-vimarshanirmala-darshah). Neither Shiva nor Shakti alone suffices for creation. Shivarupa here = Svarupa. Aham ityevamakaram, that is, the form (or experience) which consists in the notion of “I”. Shakti is the pure mirror for the manifestation of Shiva’s experience as “I” (Aham). Aham ityevam rupam jñanam tasya praka-shane nirmaladarshah; as the commentator Natanananda (V-2) says. The notion is, of course, similar to that of the reflection of Purusha on Prakriti as Sattvamayi Buddhi and of Brahman on Maya. From the Mantra aspect starting from Shakti (Shakti-Tattva) associated with Shiva (Shiva-Tattva), there was produced Nada, and from Nada, came Bindu which, to distinguish it from other Bindus, is known as the causal, supreme or Great Bindu (Karana, Para, Mahabindu). This is very clearly set forth in the Sharada Tilaka, a Tantrik work by an author of the Kashmirian School which was formerly of great authority among the Bengal Shaktas. I have dealt with this subject in detail in my Garland of Letters. Here I only summarize conclusions.

Shabda literally means and is usually translated “sound,” the word coming from the root Shabd “to sound”. It must not, however, be wholly identified with sound in the sense of that which is heard by the ear, or sound as effect of cosmic stress. Sound in this sense is the effect produced through excitation of the ear and brain, by vibrations of the atmosphere between certain limits. Sound so understood exists only with the sense organs of hearing. And even then it may be perceived by some and not by others, due to keenness or otherwise of natural hearing. Further the best ears will miss what the microphone gives. Considering Shabda from its primary or causal aspect, independent of the effect which it may or may not produce on the sense organs, it is vibration (Spandana) of any kind or motion, which is not merely physical motion, which may become sound for human ears, given the existence of ear and brain and the fulfillment of other physical conditions. Thus, Shabda is the possibility of sound, and may not be actual sound for this individual or that. There is thus Shabda wherever there is motion or vibration of any kind. It is now said, that the electrons revolve in a sphere of positive electrification at an enormous rate of motion. If the arrangement be stable, we have an atom of matter. If some of the electrons are pitched off from the atomic system, what is called radio-activity is observed. Both these rotating and shooting electrons are forms of vibration as Shabda, though it is no sound for mortal ears. To a Divine Ear all such movements would constitute the “music of the spheres”. Were the human ear subtle enough, a living tree would present itself to it in the form of a particular sound which is the natural word for that tree. It is said of ether (Akasha) that its Guna or quality is sound (Shabda); that is, ether is the possibility of Spandana or vibration of any kind. It is that state of the primordial “material” substance (Prakriti) which makes motion or vibration of any kind possible (Shabdaguna akashah). The Brahman Svarupa or Cit is motionless. It is also known as Cidakasha. But this Akasha is not created. Cidakasha is the Brahman in which stress of any kind manifests itself, a condition from which the whole creation proceeds. This Cidakasha is known as the Shabda-Brahman through its Maya-shakti, which is the cause of all vibrations manifesting themselves as sound to the ear, as touch to the tactile sense, as color and form to the eye, as taste to the tongue and as odor to the nose. All mental functioning again is a form of vibration (Spandana). Thought is a vibration of mental substance just as the expression of thought in the form of the spoken word is a vibration affecting the ear. All Spandana presupposes heterogeneity (Vaishamya). Movement of any kind implies inequality of tensions. Electric current flows between two points because there is a difference of potential between them. Fluid flows from one point to another because there is difference of pressure. Heat travels because there is difference of temperature. In creation (Srishti) this condition of heterogeneity appears and renders motion possible. Akasha is the possibility of Spandana of any kind. Hence its precedence in the order of creation. Akasha means Brahman with Maya, which Mayashakti or (to use the words of Professor P. N. Mukhyopadhyaya) Stress is rendered actual, from a previous state of possibility of stress which is the Sakti’s natural condition of equilibrium (Prakriti = Samyavastha). In dissolution, the Maya-Shakti of Brahman (according to the periodic law which is a fundamental postulate of Indian cosmogony) returns to homogeneity when in consequence Akasha disappears. This disappearance means that Shakti is equilibrated, and that therefore there is no further possibility of motion of any kind. As the Tantras say, the Divine Mother becomes one with Paramashiva.

The Sharada says — From the Sakala Parameshvara who is Sacchidananda issued Shakti; from Shakti came Nada; and from Nada issued Bindu.

Sacchidanandavibhavat sakalat parameshvarat
Asicchhaktistato nado nadad bindusamudbhavah.
Here the Sakala Parameshvara is Shiva Tattva. Shakti is Shakti Tattva wherein are Samani, Vyapini, and Anjani Shaktis. Nada is the first produced source of Mantra, and the subtlest form of Shabda of which Mantra is a manifestation. Nada is threefold, as Mahanada or Nadanta and Nirodhini representing the first moving forth of the Shabda-Brahman as Nada, the filling up of the whole universe with Nadanta and the specific tendency towards the next state of unmanifested Shabda respectively. Nada in its three forms is in the Sadakhya Tattva. Nada becoming slightly operative towards the “speakable” (Vacya), (the former operation being in regard to the thinkable (Mantavya) ) is called Arddhacandra which develops into Bindu. Both of these are in Ishvara Tattva. This Mahabindu is threefold as the Kamakala. The undifferentiated Shabda-Brahman or Brahman as the immediate cause of the manifested Shabda and Artha is a unity of consciousness (Caitanya) which then expresses itself in three-fold function as the three Shaktis, Iccha, Jñana, Kriya; the three Gunas, Sattva, Rajas, Tamas; the three Bindus (Karyya) which are Sun, Moon and Fire; the three Devatas, Rudra, Vishnu, Brahma and so forth. These are the product of the union of Prakasha and Vimarsha Shakti. This Triangle of Divine Desire is the Kamakala, or Creative Will and its first subtle manifestation, the Cause of the Universe which is personified as the Great Devi Tripurasundari, the Kameshvara and Kameshvari, the object of worship in the Agamas. Kamakalavilasa, as explained in the work of that name, is the manifestation of the union of Shiva and Shakti, the great “I” (Aham) which develops through the inherent power of its thought-activity (Vimarsha-Shakti) into the universe, unknowing as Jiva its true nature and the secret of its growth through Avidya Shakti. Here then there appears the duality of subject and object; of mind and matter, of the word (Shabda) and its meaning (Artha). The one is not the cause of the other, but each is inseparable from, and concomitant with, the other as a bifurcation of the undifferentiated unity of Shabda-Brahman whence they proceed. The one cosmic movement produces at the same time the mind and the object which it cognizes; names (Nama) and language (Shabda) on the one hand; and forms (Rupa) or object (Artha) on the other. These are all parts of one co-ordinated contemporaneous movement, and, therefore, each aspect of the process is related the one to the other. The genesis of Shabda is only one aspect of the creative process, namely, that in which the Brahman is regarded as the Author of Shabda and Artha into which the undifferentiated Shabda-Brahman divides Itself. Shakti is Shabda-Brahman ready to create both Shabda and Artha on the differentiation of the Parabindu into the Kamakala, which is the root (Mula) of all Mantras. Shabda-Brahman is Supreme “Speech” (Para-Vak) or Supreme Shabda (Para-Shabda). From this fourth state of Shabda, there are three others — Pashyanti, Madhyama and Vaikhari, which are the Shabda aspect of the stages whereby the seed of formless consciousness explicates into the multitudinous concrete ideas (expressed in language of the mental world) the counterpart of the objective universe. But for the last three states of sound the body is required and, therefore, they only exist in the Jiva. In the latter, the Shabda-Brahman is in the form of Kundalini Shakti in the Muladhara Cakra. In Kundalini is Parashabda. This develops into the “Matrikas” or “Little Mothers” which are the subtle forms of the gross manifested letters (Varna). The letters make up syllables (Pada) and syllables make sentences (Vakya), of which elements the Mantra is composed. Para Shabda in the body develops in Pashyanti Shabda or Shakti of general movements (Samanya Spanda) located in the tract from the Muladhara to the Manipura associated with Manas. It then in the tract upwards to the Anahata becomes Madhyama or Hiranyagarbha sound with particularized movement (Vishesha Spanda) associated with Buddhi-Tattva. Vayu proceeding upwards to the throat expresses itself in spoken speech which is Vaikhari or Virat Shabda. Now it is that the Mantra issues from the mouth and is heard by the ear. Because the one cosmic movement produces the ideating mind and its accompanying Shabda and the objects cognized or Artha, the creative force of the universe is identified with the Matrikas and Varnas, and Devi is said to be in the forms of the letters from A to Ha, which are the gross expressions of the forces called Matrika; which again are not different from, but are the same forces that evolve into the universe of mind and matter. These Varnas are, for the same reason, associated with certain vital and physiological centers which are produced by the same power that gives birth to the letters. It is by virtue of these centers and their controlled area in the body that all the phenomena of human psychosis run on, and keep man in bondage. The creative force is the union of Shiva and Shakti, and each of the letters (Varna) produced therefrom and thereby are part and parcel of that Force, and are, therefore, Shiva and Shakti in those particular forms. For this reason, the Tantra Shastra says that Devata and Mantra composed of letters, are one. In short, Mantras are made of letters (Varna). Letters are Matrika. Matrika is Shakti and Shakti is Shiva. Through Shakti (one with Shiva) Nada-Shakti, Bindu-Shakti, the Shabda-Brahman or Para Shabda, arise the Matrika, Varna, Pada, Vakya of the lettered Mantra or manifested Shabda.

But what is Shabda or “Sound”? Here the Shakta Tantra Shastra follows the Mimamsa doctrine of Shabda, with such modifications as are necessary to adapt it to its doctrine of Shakti. Sound (Shabda) which is quality (Guna) of ether (Akasha) and is sensed by hearing is twofold, namely, lettered (Varnatmaka Shabda) and unlettered or Dhvani (Dhvanyatmaka Shabda). The latter is caused by the striking of two things together, and is apparently meaningless. Shabda, on the contrary, which is Anahata (a term applied to the Heart-Lotus) is that Brahman sound which is not caused by the striking of two things together. Lettered sound is composed of sentences (Vakya), words (Pada) and letters (Varna). Such sound has a meaning. Shabda manifesting as speech is said to be eternal. This the Naiyayikas deny saying that it is transitory. A word is uttered and it is gone. This opinion the Mlmamsa denies saying that the perception of lettered sound must be distinguished from lettered sound itself. Perception is due to Dhvani caused by the striking of the air in contact with the vocal organs, namely, the throat, palate and tongue and so forth. Before there is Dhvani there must be the striking of one thing against another. It is not the mere striking which is the lettered Shabda. This manifests it. The lettered sound is produced by the formation of the vocal organs in contact with air; which formation is in response to the mental movement or idea which by the will thus seeks outward expression in audible sound. It is this perception which is transitory, for the Dhvani which manifests ideas in language is such. But lettered sound as it is in itself, that is, as the Consciousness manifesting Idea expressed in speech is eternal. It was not produced at the moment it was perceived. It was only manifested by the Dhvani. It existed before, as it exists after, such manifestation, just as a jar in a dark room which is revealed by a flash of lightning is not then produced, nor does it cease to exist on its ceasing to be perceived through the disappearance of its manifester, the lightning. The air in contact with the voice organs reveals sound in the form of the letters of the alphabet, and their combinations in words and sentences. The letters are produced for hearing by the person desiring to speak, and become audible to the ear of others through the operation of unlettered sound or Dhvani. The latter being a maifester only, lettered Shabda is something other than its manifester.

Before describing the nature of Shabda in its different form of development, it is necessary to understand the Indian psychology of perception. At each moment, the Jiva is subject to innumerable influences which from all quarters of the Universe pour upon him. Only those reach his Consciousness which attract his attention and are thus selected by his Manas. The latter attends to one or other of these sense-impressions and conveys it to the Buddhi. When an object (Artha) is presented to the mind, and perceived, the latter is formed into the shape of the object perceived. This is called a mental Vritti (modification) which it is the object of Yoga to suppress. The mind as a Vritti is thus a representation of the outer subject. But, in so far as it is such representation, the mind is as much an object as the outer one. The latter, that is, the physical object, is called the gross object (Sthula artha), and the former or mental impression is called the subtle object (Sukshma artha). But, besides the object, there is the mind which perceives it. It follows that the mind has two aspects, in one of which it is the perceiver, and in the other the perceived in the form of the mental formation (Vritti), which in creation precedes its outer projection, and after the creation follows as the impression produced in the mind by the sensing of a gross physical object. The mental impression and the physical object exactly correspond, for the physical object is in fact but a projection of the cosmic imagination, though it has the same reality as the mind has; no more and no less. The mind is thus both cognizer (Grahaka) and cognized Grahya), revealer (Prakashaka) and revealed (Prakashya), denoter (Vacaka) and denoted (Vacya). When the mind perceives an object, it is transformed into the shape of that object. So the mind which thinks of the Divinity which it worships (Ishtadevata) is, at length, through continued devotion, transformed into the likeness of that Devata. By allowing the Devata thus to occupy the mind for long, it becomes as pure as the Devata. This is a fundamental principle of Tantrik Sadhana or religious practice. The object perceived is called Artha, a term which comes from the root “Ri,” which means to get, to know, to enjoy. Artha is that which is known and which, therefore, is an object of enjoyment. The mind as Artha, that is in the form of the mental impression, is an exact reflection of the outer object or gross Artha. As the outer object is Artha, so is the interior subtle mental form which corresponds to it. That aspect of the mind which cognizes is called Shabda or Nama (name), and that aspect in which it is its own object or cognized is called Artha or Rupa (form). The outer physical object, of which the latter is in the individual an impression, is also Artha or Rupa, and spoken speech is the outer Shabda. The mind is thus, from the Mantra aspect, Shabda and Artha, terms corresponding to the Vedantic Nama and Rupa or concepts and concepts objectified. The Mayavada Vedanta says that the whole creation is Nama and Rupa. Mind as Shabda is the Power (Shakti) the function of which is to distinguish and identify (Bhedasamsargavritti-Shakti).

Just as the body is causal, subtle and gross, so is Shabda, of which there are four states (Bhava) called Para, Pashyanti, Madhyama and Vaikhari. Para sound is that which exists on the differentiation of the Mahabindu before actual manifestation. This is motionless, causal Shabda in Kundalini, in the Muladhara center of the body. That aspect of it in which it commences to move with a general, that is, non-particularized, motion (Samanya Spanda) is Pashyanti whose place is from the Muladhara to the Manipura Cakra, the next center. It is here associated with Manas. These represent the motionless and first moving Ishvara aspect of Shabda. Madhyama Shabda is associated with Buddhi. It is Hiranyagarbha sound (Hiranyagarbharupa) extending from Pashyanti to the heart. Both Madhyama sound which is the inner “naming” by the cognitive aspect of mental movement, as also its Artha or subtle (Sukshma) object (Artha) belong to the mental or subtle body (Sukshma or Linga Sharira). Perception is dependent on distinguishing and identification. In the perception of an object that part of the mind which identifies and distinguishes and thus “names” or the cognizing part is, from the Shabda aspect, subtle Shabda: and that part of it which takes the shape of, and thus constitutes, the object (a shape which corresponds with the outer thing) is subtle Artha. The perception of an object is thus consequent on the simultaneous functioning of the mind in its two-fold aspect as Shabda and Artha, which are in indissoluble relation with one another as cognizer (Grahaka) and cognized Grahya). Both belong to the subtle body. In creation Madhyama sound first appeared. At that movement there was no outer Artha. Then the Cosmic Mind projected this inner Madhyama Artha into the world of sensual experience and named it in spoken speech (Vaikhari Shabda). The last or Vaikhari Shabda is uttered speech, developed in the throat, issuing from the mouth. This is Virat Shabda. Vaikhari Shabda is therefore language or gross lettered sound. Its corresponding Artha is the physical or gross object which language denotes. This belongs to the gross body (Sthula Sharira). Madhyama Shabda is mental movement or ideation in its cognitive aspect and Madhyama Artha is the mental impression of the gross object. The inner thought-movement in its aspect as (Vacaka) and denoted (Vacya). When the mind perceives an object, it is transformed into the shape of that object. So the mind which thinks of the Divinity which it worships (Ishtadevata) is, at length, through continued devotion, transformed into the likeness of that Devata. By allowing the Devata thus to occupy the mind for long, it becomes as pure as the Devata. This is a fundamental principle of Tantrik Sadhana or religious practice. The object perceived is called Artha, a term which comes from the root “Ri,” which means to get, to know, to enjoy. Artha is that which is known and which, therefore, is an object of enjoyment. The mind as Artha, that is in the form of the mental impression, is an exact reflection of the outer object or gross Artha. As the outer object is Artha, so is the interior subtle mental form which corresponds to it. That aspect of the mind which cognizes is called Shabda or Nama (name), and that aspect in which it is its own object or cognized is called Artha or Rupa (form). The outer physical object, of which the latter is in the individual an impression, is also Artha or Rupa, and spoken speech is the outer Shabda. The mind is thus, from the Mantra aspect, Shabda and Artha, terms corresponding to the Vedantic Nama and Rupa or concepts and concepts objectified. The Mayavada Vedanta says that the whole creation is Nama and Rupa. Mind as Shabda is the Power (Shakti) the function of which is to distinguish and identify (Bhedasamsargavritti-Shakti).

Just as the body is causal, subtle and gross, so is Shabda, of which there are four states (Bhava) called Para, Pashyanti, Madhyama and Vaikhari. Para sound is that which exists on the differentiation of the Mahabindu before actual manifestation. This is motionless, causal Shabda in Kundalini, in the Muladhara center of the body. That aspect of it in which it commences to move with a general, that is, non-particularized, motion (Samanya Spanda) is Pashyanti whose place is from the Muladhara to the Manipura Cakra, the next center. It is here associated with Manas. These represent the motionless and first moving Ishvara aspect of Shabda. Madhyama Shabda is associated with Buddhi. It is Hiranyagarbha sound (Hiranyagarbharupa) extending from Pashyanti to the heart. Both Madhyama sound which is the inner “naming” by the cognitive aspect of mental movement, as also its Artha or subtle (Sukshma) object (Artha) belong to the mental or subtle body (Sukshma or Linga Sharira). Perception is dependent on distinguishing and identification. In the perception of an object that part of the mind which identifies and distinguishes and thus “names” or the cognizing part is, from the Shabda aspect, subtle Shabda: and that part of it which takes the shape of, and thus constitutes, the object (a shape which corresponds with the outer thing) is subtle Artha. The perception of an object is thus consequent on the simultaneous functioning of the mind in its two-fold aspect as Shabda and Artha, which are in indissoluble relation with one another as cognizer (Grahaka) and cognized Grahya). Both belong to the subtle body. In creation Madhyama sound first appeared. At that movement there was no outer Artha. Then the Cosmic Mind projected this inner Madhyama Artha into the world of sensual experience and named it in spoken speech (Vaikhari Shabda). The last or Vaikhari Shabda is uttered speech, developed in the throat, issuing from the mouth. This is Virat Shabda. Vaikhari Shabda is therefore language or gross lettered sound. Its corresponding Artha is the physical or gross object which language denotes. This belongs to the gross body (Sthula Sharira). Madhyama Shabda is mental movement or ideation in its cognitive aspect and Madhyama Artha is the mental impression of the gross object. The inner thought-movement in its aspect as Shabdartha, and considered both in its knowing aspect (Shabda) and as the subtle known object (Artha) belongs to the subtle body (Sukshma Sharira). The cause of these two is the first general movement towards particular ideation (Pashyanti) from the motionless cause Para Shabda or Supreme Speech. Two forms of inner or hidden speech, causal, subtle, accompanying mind movement thus precede and lead up to spoken language. The inner forms of ideating movement constitute the subtle, and the uttered sound the gross aspect of Mantra which is the manifested Shabda-Brahman.

The gross Shabda called Vaikhari or uttered speech, and the gross Artha or the physical object denoted by that speech are the projection of the subtle Shabda and Artha, through the initial activity of the Shabda-Brahman into the world of gross sensual perception. Therefore, in the gross physical world, Shabda means language, that is, sentences, words and letters which are the expression of ideas and are Mantra. In the subtle or mental world, Madhyama sound is the Shabda aspect of the mind which “names” in its aspect as cognizer, and Artha, is the same mind in its aspect as the mental object of its cognition. It is defined to be the outer in the form of the mind. It is thus similar to the state of dreams (Svapna), as Parashabda is the causal dreamless (Sushupti), and Vaikhari the waking (Jagrat) state. Mental Artha is a Samsara, an impression left on the subtle body by previous experience, which is recalled when the Jiva reawakes to world experience, and recollects the experience temporarily lost in the cosmic dreamless state (Sushupti) which is destruction (Pralaya). What is it which arouses this Samskara? As an effect (Kriya) it must have a cause (Karana). This Karana is the Shabda or Name (Nama) subtle or gross corresponding to that particular Artha. When the word “Ghata” is uttered, this evokes in the mind the image of an object, namely, a jar; just as the presentation of that object does. In the Hiranyagarbha state, Shabda as Samskara worked to evoke mental images. The whole world is thus Shabda and Artha, that is Name and Form (Nama, Rupa). These two are inseparably associated. There is no Shabda without Artha or Artha without Shabda. The Greek word “Logos” also means thought and word combined. There is thus a double line of creation, Shabda and Artha; ideas and language together with objects. Speech as that which is heard, or the outer manifestion of Shabda, stands for the Shabda creation. The Artha creation are the inner and outer objects seen by the mental or physical vision. From the cosmic creative standpoint, the mind comes first, and from it, is evolved the physical world according to the ripened Samskaras which led to the existence of the particular existing universe. Therefore, the mental Artha precedes the physical Artha which is an evolution in gross matter of the former. This mental state corresponds to that of dreams (Svapna), when man lives in the mental world only. After creation which is the waking ( Jagrat) state, there is for the individual an already existing parallelism of names and objects.

Uttered speech is a manifestation of the inner naming or thought. This thought-movement is similar in men of all races. When an Englishman or an Indian thinks of an object, the image is to both the same, whether evoked by the object itself or by the utterance of its name. For this reason possibly if thought-reading be accepted, a thought-reader whose cerebral center is en rapport with that of another, may read the hidden “speech,” that is thought, of one whose spoken speech he cannot understand. Thus, whilst the thought-movement is similar in all men, the expression of it as Vaikhari Shabda differs. According to tradition there was once a universal language. According to the Biblical account, this was so, before the confusion of tongues at the Tower of Babel. Similarly there is, (a friend tells me though he has forgotten to send me the reference), in the Rigveda, a mysterious passage which speaks of the “Three Fathers and three Mothers,” by whose action like that of the Elohim “all-comprehending speech” was made into that which was not so. Nor is this unlikely, when we consider that difference in gross speech is due to difference of races evolved in the course of time. If the instruments by which, and conditions under which thought is revealed in speech, were the same for all men then there would be but one language. But now this is not so. Racial characteristics and physical conditions, such as the nature of the vocal organs, climate, inherited impressions and so forth differ. So also does language. But for each particular man speaking any particular language, the uttered name of any object is the gross expression of his inner thought-movement. It evokes the idea and the idea is consciousness as mental operation. That operation can be so intensified as to be itself creative. This is Mantra-Caitanya.

It is said in the Tantra Shastras that the fifty letters of the alphabet are in the six bodily Cakras called Muladhara, Svadhisthana, Manipura, Anahata, Vishuddha and Ajña. These 50 letters multiplied by 20 are in the thousand-pealed Lotus or Sahasrara.

From the above account, it will be understood that, when it is said that the “Letters” are in the six bodily Cakras, it is not to be supposed that it is intended to absurdly affirm that the letters as written shapes, or as the uttered sounds which are heard by the ear are there. The letters in this sense, that is, as gross things, are manifested only in speech and writing. This much is clear. But the precise significance of this statement is a matter of some difficulty. There is in fact no subject which presents more difficulties than Mantravidya, whether considered generally or in relation to the particular matters in hand. I do not pretend to have elucidated all its difficulties.

What proceeds from the body is in it in subtle or causal form. Why, however, it may be asked are particular letters assigned to particular Cakras. I have heard several explanations given which do not, in my opinion, bear the test of examination.

If the arrangement be not artificial for the purpose of Sadhana, the simplest explanation is that which follows: From the Brahman are produced the five Bhutas, Ether, Air, Fire, Water, Earth, in the order stated; and from them issued the six Cakras from Ajña to Muladhara. The letters are (with the exception next stated) placed in the Cakras in their alphabetical order; that is, vowels as being the first letters or Shaktis of the consonants (which cannot be pronounced without them) are placed in Vishuddha Cakra: the first consonants Ka to Tha in Anahata and so forth until the Muladhara wherein are set the last four letters from Va to Sa. Thus in Ajña there are Ha and Ksha as being Brahmabijas. In the next or Vishuddha Cakra are the 16 vowels which originated first. Therefore, they are placed in Vishuddha the ethereal Cakra; ether also having originated first. The same principle applies to the other letters in the Cakras. namely, Ka, to Tha (12 letters and petals) in Anahata; Da to Pha (10) in Manipura; Ba to La (6) in Svadhisthana; and Va to Sa (4) in Muladhara. The connection between particular letters and the Cakras in which they are placed is further said to be due to the fact that in uttering any particular letter, the Cakra in which it is placed and its surroundings are brought into play. The sounds of the Sanskrit alphabet are classified according to the organs used in their articulation, and are guttural (Kantha), palatals (Talu), cerebrals (Murddha), dentals (Danta) and labials (Oshtha). When so articulated, each letter, it is said, “touches” the Cakra in which it is, and in which on this account it has been placed. In uttering them certain Cakras are affected; that is, brought into play. This, it is alleged, will be found to be so, if the letter is carefully pronounced and attention is paid to the accompanying bodily movement. Thus, in uttering Ha, the head (Ajña) is touched, and in uttering the deep-seated Va, the basal Cakra or Muladhara. In making the first sound the forehead is felt to be affected, and in making the last the lower part of the body around the root-lotus. This is the theory put forth as accounting for the position of the letters in the Cakras.

A Mantra is, like everything else, Shakti. But the mere utterance of a Mantra without more is a mere movement of the lips. The Mantra must be awakened (Prabuddha) just like any other Shakti if effect is to be had therefrom. This is the union of sound and idea through a knowledge of the Mantra and its meaning. The recitation of a Mantra without knowing its meaning is practically fruitless. I say “practically” because devotion, even though it be ignorant, is never wholly void of fruit. But a knowledge of the meaning is not enough; for it is possible by reading a book or receiving oral instructions to get to know the meaning of a Mantra, without anything further following. Each Mantra is the embodiment of a particular form of Consciousness or Shakti. This is the Mantra-Shakti. Consciousness or Shakti also exists in the form of the Sadhaka. The object then is to unite these two, when thought is not only in the outer husk, but is vitalized by will, knowledge, and action through its conscious center in union with that of the Mantra. The latter is Devata or a particular manifestation of Shakti: and the Sadhaka who identifies himself therewith, identifies himself with that Shakti. According to Yoga when the mind is concentrated on any object it is unified with it. When man is so identified with a Varna or Tattva, then the power of objects to bind ceases, and he becomes the controller. Thus, in Kundalini-Yoga, the static bodily Shakti pierces the Cakras, to meet Shiva-Shakti in the Sahasrara. As the Sadhaka is, through the power of the rising Shakti, identified with each of the Centers, Tattvas and Matrika Shaktis they cease to bind, until passing through all he attains Samadhi. As the Varnas are Shiva-Shakti, concentration on them draws the mind towards, and then unifies it with, the Devata which is one with the Mantra. The Devata of the Mantra is only the creative Shakti assuming that particular form. As already stated, Devata may be realized in any object, not merely in Mantras, Yantras, Ghatas, Pratimas or other ritual objects of worship. The same power which manifests to the ear in the Mantra is represented in the lines and curves of the Yantra which, the Kaulavali Tantra says, is the body of the Devata:

Yantram mantramayam proktam mantratma devataiva hi
Dehatmanor yatha bhedo yantra-devata yoshtatha.
The Yantra is thus the graphic symbol of the Shakti, indicated by the Mantra with which identification takes place. The Pratima or image is a grosser visual form of the Devata. But the Mantras are particular forms of Divine Shakti, the realization of which is efficacious to produce particular results. As in Kundalini- Yoga, so also here the identification of the Sadhaka with different Mantras gives rise to various Vibhutis or powers: for each grouping of the letters represents a new combination of the Matrika Shaktis. It is the eternal Shakti who is the life of the Mantra. Therefore, Siddhi in Mantra Sadhana is the union of the Sadhaka’s

Shakti with the Mantra Shakti; the identification of the Sadhaka with the Mantra is the identification of the knower (Vedaka), knowing (Vidya) and known (Vedya) or the Sadhaka, Mantra and Devata. Then the Mantra works. The mind must feed, and is always feeding, something. It seizes the Mantra and works its way to its heart. When there, it is the Citta or mind of the Sadhaka unified with the Shakti of the Mantra which works. Then subject and object, in its Mantra form, meet as one. By meditation the Sadhaka gains unity with the Devata behind, as it were, the Mantra and Whose form the Mantra is. The union of the Sadhaka of the Mantra and the Devata of the Mantra is the result of the effort to realize permanently the incipient desire for such union. The will towards Divinity is a dynamic force which pierces everything and finds there Divinity itself. It is because Westerners and some Westernized Hindus do not understand the principles of Mantra; principles which lie at the center of Indian religious theory and practice, that they see nothing in it where they do not regard it as gross superstition. It must be admitted that Mantra Sadhana is often done ignorantly. Faith is placed in externals and the inner meaning is often lost. But even such ignorant worship is better than none at all. “It is better to bow to Narayana with one’s shoes on than never to bow at all.” Much also is said of “vain repetitions”. What Christ condemned was not repetition but “vain” repetition. That man is a poor psychologist who does not know the effect of repetition, when done with faith and devotion. It is a fact that the inner kingdom yields to violence and can be taken by assault. Indeed, it yields to nothing but the strong will of the Sadhaka, for it is that will in its purest and fullest strength. By practice with the Mantra, the Devata is invoked. This means that the mind itself is Devata when unified with Devata. This is attained through repetition of the Mantra (Japa).

Japa is compared to the action of a man shaking a sleeper to wake him up. The Sadhaka’s own consciousness is awakened. The two lips are Shiva and Shakti. The movement in utterance is the “coition” (Maithuna) of the two. Shabda which issues therefrom is in the nature of Bindu. The Devata then appearing is, as it were, the son of the Sadhaka. It is not the supreme Devata who appears (for It is actionless), but in all cases an emanation produced by the Sadhaka’s worship for his benefit only. In the case of worshippers of the Shiva-Mantra, a Boy-Shiva (Bala-Shiva) appears who is then made strong by the nurture which the Sadhaka gives him. The occultist will understand all such symbolism to mean that the Devata is a form of the Consciousness which becomes the Boy-Shiva, and which, when strengthened is the full-grown Divine Power Itself. All Mantras are forms of consciousness (Vijñanarupa), and when the Mantra is fully practiced it enlivens the Samskara, and the Artha appears to the mind. Mantras used in worship are thus a form of the Samskaras of Jivas; the Artha of which manifests to the consciousness which is pure. The essence of all this is — concentrate and vitalize thought and will power, that is Shakti.

The Mantra method is Shaktopaya Yoga working with concepts and form, whilst Shambhavopaya Yoga has been well said to be a more direct attempt at intuition of Shakti, apart from all passing concepts, which, as they cannot show the Reality, only serve to hide it the more from one’s view and thus maintain bondage. These Yoga methods are but examples of the universal principle of Sadhana, that the Sadhaka should first work with and through form, and then, so far as may be, by a meditation which dispenses with it.

It has been pointed out to me by Professor Surendra Nath Das Gupta that this Varna-Sadhana, so important a content of the Tantra Shastra, is not altogether its creation, but, as I have often in other matters observed, a development of ancient Vaidik teaching. For it was, he says, first attempted in the Aranyaka Epoch upon the Pradkopasana on which the Tantrik Sadhana is, he suggests, based; though, of course, that Shastra has elaborated the notion into a highly complicated system which is so peculiar a feature of its religious discipline. There is thus a synthesis of this Pratikopasana with Yoga method, resting as all else upon a Vedantic basis.

Chapter Twenty-five
Varnamala (The Garland of Letters)

The world has never altogether been without the Wisdom, nor its Teachers. The degree and manner in which it has been imparted have, however, necessarily varied according to the capacities of men to receive it. So also have the symbols by which it has been conveyed. These symbols further have varying significance according to the spiritual advancement of the worshipper. This question of degree and variety of presentation have led to the superficial view that the difference in beliefs negatives existence of any commonly established Truth. But if the matter be regarded more deeply, it will be seen that whilst there is one essential Wisdom, its revelation has been more or less complete according to symbols evolved by, and, therefore, fitting to, particular racial temperaments and characters. Symbols are naturally misunderstood by those to whom the beliefs they typify are unfamiliar, and who differ in temperament from those who have evolved them. To the ordinary Western mind the symbols of Hindusim are often repulsive and absurd. It must not, however, be forgotten that some of the Symbols of Western Faiths have the same effect on the Hindu. From the picture of the “Slain Lamb,” and other symbols in terms of blood and death, he naturally shrinks in disgust. The same effect on the other hand, is not seldom produced in the Western at the sight of the terrible forms in which India has embodied Her vision of the undoubted Terrors which exist in and around us. All is not smiling in this world. Even amongst persons of the same race and indeed of the same faith we may observe such differences. Before the Catholic Cultus of the “Sacred Heart” had overcome the opposition which it at first encountered, and for a considerable time after, its imagery was regarded with aversion by some who spoke of it in terms which would be to-day counted as shocking irreverence. These differences are likely to exist so long as men vary in mental attitude and temperament, and until they reach the stage in which, having discovered the essential truths, they become indifferent to the mode in which they are presented. We must also in such matters distinguish between what a symbol may have meant and what it now means. Until quite recent times, the English peasant folk and others danced around the flower-wreathed Maypole. That the pole originally (like other similar forms) represented the great Linga admits of as little doubt as that these folk, who in recent ages danced around it, were ignorant of that fact. The Bishop’s mitre is said to be the head of a fish worn by ancient near-eastern hierophants. But what of that? It has other associations now.

Let us illustrate these general remarks by a short study of one portion of the Kali symbolism which affects so many, who are not Hindus, with disgust or horror. Kali is the Deity in that aspect in which It withdraws all things which It had created, into Itself. Kali is so called because She devours Kala (Time) and then resumes Her own dark formlessness. The scene is laid in the cremation ground (Shmashana), amidst white sun-dried bones and fragments of flesh, gnawed and pecked at by carrion beasts and birds. Here the “heroic” (Vira) worshipper (Sadhaka) performs at dead of night his awe-inspiring rituals. Kali is set in such a scene, for She is that aspect of the great Power which withdraws all things into Herself at, and by, the dissolution of the universe. He alone worships without fear, who has abandoned all worldly desires, and seeks union with Her as the One Blissful and Perfect Experience. On the burning ground all worldly desires are burnt away. She is naked, and dark like a threatening rain-cloud. She is dark, for She who is Herself beyond mind and speech, reduces all things into that worldly, “nothingness,” which, as the Void (Shunya) of all which we now know, is at the same time the All (Purna) which is Peace. She is naked, being clothed in space alone (Digambari), because the great Power is unlimited; further, She is in Herself beyond Maya (Mayatita); that power of Hers which creates all universes. She stands upon the white corpse-like (Shavarupa) body of Shiva. He is white, because he is the illuminating transcendental aspect of consciousness. He is inert, because he is the changeless aspect of the Supreme and She, the apparently changing aspect of the same. In truth, She and He are one and the same, being twin aspects of the One who is changelessness in, and exists as, change. Much might be said in explanation of these and other symbols such as Her loosened hair, the lolling tongue, the thin stream of blood which trickles from the corners of the mouth, the position of Her feet, the apron of dead men’s hands around Her waist, Her implements and so forth. (See Hymn to Kali.) Here I take only the garland of freshly-severed heads which hangs low from Her neck.

Some have conjectured that Kali was originally the Goddess of the dark-skinned inhabitants of the Vindhya Hills taken over by the Brahmanas into their worship. One of them has thought that She was a deified Princess of these folk, who fought against the white in-coming Aryans. He pointed to the significant fact that the severed heads are those of white men. The Western may say that Kali was an objectification of the Indian mind, making a Divinity of the Power of Death. An Eastern may reply that She is the Sanketa (symbol) which is the effect of the impress of a Spiritual Power on the Indian mind. I do not pause to consider these matters here.

The question before us is, what does this imagery mean now, and what has it meant for centuries past to the initiate in Her symbolism? An exoteric explanation describes this Garland as made up of the heads of Demons, which She, as a power of righteousness, has conquered. According to an inner explanation, given in the Indian Tantra Shastra, this string of heads is the Garland of Letters (Varnamala), that is, the fifty, and as some count it, fifty-one letters, of the Sanskrit Alphabet. The same interpretation is given in the Buddhist Demchog Tantra in respect of the garland worn by the great Heruka. These letters represent the universe of names and forms (Namarupa), that is, Speech (Shabda) and its meaning or object (Artha) She the Devourer of all “slaughters” (that is, withdraws), both into Her undivided Consciousness at the Great Dissolution of the Universe which they are. She wears the Letters which, She as the Creatrix bore. She wears the Letters which, She as the Dissolving Power, takes to Herself again. A very profound doctrine is connected with these Letters which space prevents me from fully entering into here. This has been set out in greater detail in the Serpent Power (Kundalini) which projects Consciousness, in Its true nature blissful and beyond all dualism, into the World of good and evil. The movements of Her projection are indicated by the Letters subtle and gross which exist on the Petals of the inner bodily centers or Lotuses.

Very shortly stated, Shabda which literally means Sound — here lettered sound — is in its causal state (Para-Shabda) known as “Supreme Speech” (Para Vak). This is the Shabda-Brahman or Logos; that aspect of Reality or Consciousness (Cit) in which it is the immediate cause of creation; that is of the dichotomy in Consciousness which is “I” and “This”, subject and object, mind and matter. This condition of causal Shabda is the Cosmic Dreamless State (Sushupti). This Logos, awakening from its causal sleep, “sees,” that is, creatively ideates the universe, and is then known as Pashyanti Shabda. As Consciousness “sees” or ideates, forms arise in the Creative Mind, which are themselves impressions (Samskara) carried over from previous worlds, which ceased to exist as such, when the Universe entered the state of causal dreamless sleep on the previous dissolution. These re-arise as the formless Consciousness awakes to enjoy once again sensual life in the world of forms.

The Cosmic Mind is at first itself both cognizing subject (Grahaka) and cognized object (Grahya); for it has not yet projected its thought into the plane of Matter; the mind as subject cognizer is Shabda, and the mind as the object cognized, that is, the mind in the form of object is subtle Artha. This Shabda called Madhyama Shabda is an “Inner Naming” or “Hidden Speech”. At this stage, that which answers to the spoken letters (Varna) are the “Little Mothers” or Matrika, the subtle forms of gross speech. There is at this stage a differentiation of Consciousness into subject and object, but the latter is now within and forms part of the Self. This is the state of Cosmic Dreaming (Svapna). This “Hidden Speech” is understandable of all men if they can get in mental rapport one with the other. So a thought-reader can, it is said, read the thoughts of a man whose spoken speech he cannot understand. The Cosmic Mind then projects these mental images on to the material plane, and they there become materialized as gross physical objects (Sthula artha) which make impressions from without, on the mind of the created consciousness. This is the cosmic waking state (Jagrat). At this last stage, the thought-movement expresses itself through the vocal organs in contact with the air as uttered speech (Vaikhari Shabda) made up of letters, syllables and sentences. The physical unlettered sound which manifests Shabda is called Dhvani. The lettered sound is manifested Shabda or Name (Nama), and the physical objects denoted by speech are the gross Artha or form (Rupa).

This manifested speech varies in men, for their individual and racial characteristics and the conditions, such as country and climate in which they live, differ. There is a tradition that, there was once a universal speech before the building of the Tower of Babel, signifying the confusion of tongues. As previously stated, a friend has drawn my attention to a passage in Rigveda which he interprets in a similar sense. For, it says, that the Three Fathers and the Three Mothers, like the Elohim, made (in the interest of creation) all-comprehending speech into that which was not so.

Of these letters and names and their meaning or objects, that is, concepts and concepts objectified, the whole Universe is composed. When Kali withdraws the world, that is, the names and forms which the letters signify, the dualism in consciousness, which is creation, vanishes. There is neither “I” (Aham) nor “This” (Idam) but the one non-dual Perfect Experience which Kali in Her own true nature (Svarupa) is. In this way Her garland is understood.

“Surely,” I hear it said, “not by all. Does every Hindu worshipper think such an ordinary Italian peasant knows of, or can understand, the subtleties of either the catholic mystics or doctors of theology. When, however, the Western man undertakes to depict and explain Indian symbolism, he should, in the interest both of knowledge and fairness, understand what it means both to the high as well as to the humble worshipper.

Chapter Twenty-Six
Shakta Sadhana (The Ordinary Ritual)

Sadhana is that, which produces Siddhi or the result sought, be it material or spiritual advancement. It is the means or practice by which the desired end may be attained and consists in the training and exercise of the body and psychic faculties, upon the gradual perfection of which Siddhi follows. The nature or degree of spiritual Siddhi depends upon the progress made towards the realization of the Atma whose veiling vesture the body is. The means employed are numerous and elaborate, such as worship (Puja) exterior or mental, Shastric learning, austerities (Tapas), Japa or recitation of Mantra, Hymns, meditation, and so forth. The Sadhana is necessarily of a nature and character appropriate to the end sought. Thus Sadhana for spiritual knowledge (Brahmajñana) which consists of external control (Dama) over the ten senses (Indriya), internal control (Sama) over the mind (Buddhi, Ahamkara, Manas), discrimination between the transitory and eternal, renunciation of both the world and heaven (Svarga), differs from the lower Sadhana of the ordinary householder, and both are obviously of a kind different from that prescribed and followed by the practitioners of malevolent magic (Abhicara). Sadhakas again vary in their physical, mental and moral qualities and are thus divided into four classes, Mridu, Madhya, Adhimatraka, and the highest Adhimatrama who is qualified (Adhikari) for all forms of Yoga. In a similar way, the Shakta Kaulas are divided into the Prakrita or common Kaula following Viracara with the Pancatattvas described in the following Chapter; the middling (Madhyama) Kaula who (may be) follows the same or other Sadhana but who is of a higher type, and the highest Kaula (Kaulikottama) who, having surpassed all ritualism, meditates upon the Universal Self. These are more particularly described in the next Chapter.

Until a Sadhaka is Siddha, all Sadhana is or should be undertaken with the authority and under the direction of a Guru or Spiritual Teacher and Director. There is in reality but one Guru and that is the Lord (Ishvara) Himself. He is the Supreme Guru as also is Devi His Power one with Himself. But He acts through man and human means. The ordinary human Guru is but the manifestation on earth of the Adi-natha Mahakala and Mahakali, the Supreme Guru abiding in Kailasa. As the Yogini Tantra (Ch. 1) says Guroh sthanam hi kailasam. He it is who is in, and speaks with the voice of, the Earthly Guru. So, to turn to an analogy in the West, it is Christ who speaks in the voice of the Pontifex Maximus when declaring faith and morals, and in the voice of the priest who confers upon the penitent absolution for his sins. It is not the man who speaks in either case but God through him. It is the Guru who initiates and helps, and the relationship between him and the disciple (Shishya) continues until the attainment of spiritual Siddhi. It is only from him that Sadhana and Yoga are learnt and not (as it is commonly said) from a thousand Shastras. As the Shatkarmadipika says, mere book-knowledge is useless.

Pustake likhitavidya yena Sundari jap Yate

Siddhir and jayate tasya kalpakoti-shatairapi.

(O Beauteous one! he who does Japa of a Vidya (= Mantra) learnt from a book can never attain Siddhi even if he persists for countless millions of years.)

Manu therefore says, “of him who gives natural birth, and of him who gives knowledge of the Veda, the giver of sacred knowledge is the more venerable father.” The Tantra Shastras also are full of the greatness of the Guru. He is not to be thought of as a mere man. There is no difference between Guru, Mantra and Deva. Guru is father, mother and Brahman. Guru, it is said. can save from the wrath of Shiva, but in no way, can one be saved from the wrath of the Guru. Attached to this greatness there is, however, responsibility; for the sins of the disciple may recoil upon him. The Tantra Shastras deal with the high qualities which are demanded of a Guru and the good qualities which are to be looked for in an intending disciple (see for instance Tantrasara, Ch. I). Before initiation, the Guru examines and tests the intending disciple for a specified period. The latter’s moral qualifications are purity of soul (Shuddhatma), control of the senses (Jitendriya), the following of the Purushartha or aims of all sentient being (Purusharthaparayana). Amongst others, those who are lewd (Kamuka), adulterous (Para-daratura), addicted to sin, ignorant, slothful and devoid of religion should be rejected (see Matsyasukta Tantra, XIII; Pranatoshini 108; Maharudrayamala, I. XV, II. ii; Kularnava Tantra, Ch. XIII). The good Sadhaka who is entitled to the knowledge of all Shastra is he who is pure-minded, self-controlled, ever engaged in doing good to all beings, free from false notions of dualism, attached to the speaking of, taking shelter with and ever living in the consciousness of, the Supreme Brahman (Gandharva Tantra, Ch. ii).

All orthodox Hindus of all divisions of worshippers submit themselves to the direction of a Guru. The latter initiates. The Vaidik initiation into the twice-born classes is by the Upanayana. This is for the first three castes only, viz., Brahmana (priesthood and teaching), Kshattriya (warrior) Vaishya (merchant). All are (it is said) by birth Shudra (Janmana jayate Shudrah) and by sacrament (that is, the Upanayana ceremony) twice-born. By study of the Vedas one is a Vipra. And he who has knowledge of the Brahman is a Brahmana (Brahma jñanati brahmanah). From this well-known verse it will be seen how few there really are, who are entitled to the noble name of Brahmana. The Tantrik Mantra-initiation is a different ceremony and is for all castes. Initiation (Diksha) is the giving of Mantra by the Guru. The latter should first establish the life of the Guru in his own body; that is the vital power (Pranashakti) of the Supreme Guru in the thousand-petalled lotus (Sahasrara). He then transmits it to the disciple. As an image is the instrument (Yantra) in which Divinity (Devatva) inheres, so also is the body of the Guru. The candidate is prepared for initiation, fasts and lives chastely. Initiation (which follows) gives spiritual knowledge and destroys sin. As one lamp is lit at the flame of another, so the divine Shakti consisting of Mantra is communicated from the Guru’s body to that of the Shishya. I need not be always repeating that this is the theory and ideal, which to-day is generally remote from the fact. The Supreme Guru speaks with the voice of the earthly Guru at the time of giving Mantra. As the Yogini Tantra (Ch. I) says:

Mantra-pradana-kale hi manushe Naganandini

Adhishthanam bhavet tatra Mahakalasya Shamkari

Weaken guruta devi manushe natra samshayah.

(At the time the Mantra is communicated, there is in man (i.e., Guru) the Presence of Mahakala. There is no doubt that man is not the Guru.) Guru is the root (Mula) of initiation (Diksha). Diksha is the root of Mantra. Mantra is the root of Devata, and Devata is the root of Siddhi. The Mundamala Tantra says that Mantra is born of Guru, and Devata of Mantra, so that the Guru is in the position of Father’s Father to the Ishtadevata. Without initiation, Japa (recitation) of the Mantra, Puja, and other ritual acts are useless. The Mantra chosen for the candidate must be suitable (Anukula). Whether a Mantra is Svakula or Akula to the person about to be initiated is ascertained by the Kulakulacakra, the zodiacal circle called Rashicakra and other Cakras which may be found in the Tantrasara. Initiation by a woman is efficacious; that by the mother is eightfold so (ib.). For, according to the Tantra Shastra, a woman with the necessary qualifications, may be a Guru and give initiation. The Kulagurus are four in number, each of them being the Guru of the preceding ones. There are also three lines of Gurus (see The Great Liberation).

So long as the Shakti communicated by a Guru to his disciple is not fully developed, the relation of Teacher and Director and Disciple exists. A man is Shishya so long as he is Sadhaka. When, however, Siddhi is attained, Guru and Shishya, as also all other dualisms, and relations, disappear. Besides the preliminary initiation, there are a number of other initiations or consecrations (Abhisheka) which mark greater and greater degrees of advance from Shaktabhisheka when entrance is made on the path of Shakta Sadhana to Purnadikshabhisheka and Mahapurnadikshabhisheka also called Virajagrahanabhisheka. On the attainment of perfection in the last grade the Sadhaka performs his own funeral rite (Shraddha), makes Purnahuti with his sacred thread and crown lock. The relation of Guru and Shishya now ceases. From this point he ascends by himself until he realizes the great saying So’ham “He I am,” Sa’ham “She I am”. Now he is Jivan-mukta and Paramahamsa. The word Sadhana comes from the root Sadh, to exert or strive, and Sadhana is therefore striving, practice, discipline and worship in order to obtain success or Siddhi, which may be of any of the kinds, worldly or spiritual, desired, but which, on the religious side of the Shastras, means spiritual advancement with its fruit of happiness in this world and in Heaven and at length Liberation (Moksha). He who practices Sadhana is called (if a man) Sadhaka or (if a woman) Sadhika. But men vary in capacity, temperament, knowledge and general advancement, and therefore the means (for Sadhana also means instrument) by which they are to be led to Siddhi must vary. Methods which are suitable for highly advanced men will fail as regards the ignorant and undeveloped for they cannot understand them. What suits the latter has been long out-passed by the former. At least that is the Hindu view. It is called Adhikara or competency. Thus some few men are competent (Adhikari) to study Vedanta and to follow high mental rituals and Yoga processes. Others are not. Some are grown-up children and must be dealt with as such . As all men, and indeed all beings, are, as to their psychical and physical bodies, made of the primordial substance Prakriti-Shakti (Prakrityatmaka), as Prakriti is Herself the three Gunas, Sattva, Rajas and Tamas, and as all things and beings are composed of these three Gunas in varying proportions, it follows that men are divisible into three general classes, namely, those in which the Sattva, Rajas, and Tamas Gunas, predominate respectively. There are, of course, degrees in each of these three classes. Amongst Sattvika men, in whom Sattva predominates, some are more and some less Sattvika than others and so on with the rest. These three classes of temperament (Bhava) are known in the Shakta Tantras as the Divine (Divyabhava), Heroic (Virabhava) and Animal (Pashubhava) temperaments respectively. Bhava is defined as a property or quality (Dharma) of the Manas or mind (Pranatoshini, 570). The Divyabhava is that in which Sattva-guna predominates only, because it is to be noted that none of the Gunas are, or ever can be, absent. Prakriti cannot be partitioned. Prakriti is the three Gunas. Sattva is essentially the spiritual Guna, for it is that which manifests Spirit or Pure Consciousness (Cit). A Sattvika man is thus a spiritual man. His is a calm, pure, equable, refined, wise, spiritual temperament, free of materiality and of passion, or he possesses these qualities imperfectly, and to the degree that he possesses them he is Sattvik. Pashubhava is, on the other hand, the temperament of the man in whom Tamas guna prevails and produces such dark characteristics as ignorance, error, apathy, sloth and so forth. He is called a Pashu or animal because Tamas predominates in the merely animal nature as compared with the disposition of spiritually-minded men. He is also Pashu because he is bound by the bonds (Pasha). The term pasha comes from the root Pash to bind. The Kularnava enumerates eight bonds, namely, pity (Daya, of the type which Taoists call “inferior benevolence” as opposed to the divine compassion or Karuna), ignorance and delusion (Moha), fear (Bhaya), shame (Lajja), disgust (Ghrina), family (Kula), habit and observance (Shila), and caste (Varna). Other larger enumerations are given. The Pashu is the man caught by the world, in ignorance and bondage. Bhaskararaya, on the Sutra “have no converse with a Pashu,” says that a Pashu is Bahirmukha or outward looking, seeing the outside only of things and not inner realities. The injunction, he says, only applies to converse as regards things spiritual.

The Shaiva Shastra speaks of three classes of Pashu, namely, Sakala bound by the three Pashas, Anu, Bheda, Karma, that is, limited knowledge, the seeing of the one Self as many by the operation of Maya, and action and its product. These are the three impurities (Mala) called Anavamala, Mayamala, and Karmamala. The Sakala Jiva or Pashu is bound by all three, the Pralayakala by the first and last, and the Vijñanakala by the first only. (See as to these the diagram of the 36 Tattvas.) He who is wholly freed of the remaining impurity of Anu is Shiva Himself. Here however Pashu is used in a different sense, that is, as denoting the creature as contrasted with the Lord (Pati). In this sense, Pashu is a name for all men. In the Shakta use of the term, though all men are certainly Pashu, as compared with the Lord, yet as between themselves one may be Pashu (in the narrower sense above stated) and the other not. Some men are more Pashu than others. It is a mistake to suppose that the Pashu is necessarily a bad man. He may be and often is a good one. He is certainly better than a bad Vira who is really no Vira at all. He is, however, not, according to this Shastra, an enlightened man in the sense that the Vira or Divya is, and he is generally marked by various degrees of ignorance and material-mindedness. It is the mark of a bad Pashu to be given over to gross acts of sin. Between these two comes the Hero or Vira of whose temperament (Virabhava) so much is heard in the Shakta Shastras. In him there is prevalent the strongly active Rajas Guna. Rajas is always active either to incite Tamas or Sattva. In the former case the result is a Pashu, in the latter case either a Vira or Divya. Where Sattva approaches perfection of development there is the Divyabhava. Sattva is here firmly established in calm and in high degree. But, until such time, and whilst man who has largely liberated himself through knowledge of the influence of Tamas, is active to promote Sattva, he is a Vira. Being heroic, he is permitted to meet his enemy Tamas face to face, counter-attacking where the lower developed man flees away. It has been pointed out by Dr. Garbe (Philosophy of Ancient India, 481), as before him by Baur, that the analogous Gnostic classification of men as material, psychical, and spiritual also corresponds (as does this) to the three Gunas of the Samkhya Darshana.

Even in its limited Shakta sense, there are degrees of Pashu, one man being more so than another. The Pashas are the creations of Maya Shakti. The Devi therefore is pictured as bearing them. But as She is in Her form as Maya and Avidya Shakti the cause of bondage, so as Vidya Shakti She breaks the bonds (Pashupasa-Vimocini) (see v. 78, Lalita-sahasranama), and is thus the Liberatrix of the Pashu from his bondage.

Nitya Tantra says that the Bhava of the Divya is the best, the Vira the next best, and Pashu the lowest. In fact, the state of the last is the starting point in Sadhana, that of the first the goal, and that of the Vira is the stage of one who having ceased to be a Pashu is on the way to the attainment of the goal. From being a Pashu, a man rises in this or some other birth to be a Vira and Divyabhava or Devata-bhava is awakened through Virabhava. The Picchila Tantra says (X, see also Utpatti Tantra, LXIV) that the difference between the Vira and the Divya lies in the Uddhatamanasa, that is, passionateness or activity by which the former is characterized, and which is due to the great effort of Rajas to procure for the Sadhaka a Sattvik state. Just as there are degrees in the Pashu state, so there are classes of Viras, some being higher than others.

The Divya Sadhaka also is of higher or lower kinds. The lowest is only a degree higher than the best type of Vira. The highest completely realize the Deva-nature wherein Sattva exists in a state of lasting stability. Amongst this class are the Tattvajñani and Yogi. The latter are emancipated from all ritual. The lower Divya class may apparently take part in the ritual of the Vira. The object and end of all Sadhana, whether of Pashu or Vira or Divya, is to develop Sattvaguna. The Tantras give descriptions of each of these three classes. The chief general distinction, which is constantly repeated, between the pure Pashu (for there are also Vibhavapashus) and the Vira, is that the former does not, and the latter does, follow the Pañcatattva ritual, in the form prescribed for Viracara and described in the next Chapter. Other portions of the description are characteristics of the Tamasik character of the Pashu. So Kubjika Tantra (VII) after describing this class of man to be the lowest, points out various forms of their ignorance. So it says that he talks ill of other classes of believers. That is, he is sectarian-minded and decries other forms of worship than his own, a characteristic of the Pashu the world over. He distinguishes one Deva from another as if they were really different and not merely the plural manifestations of the One. So, the worshipper of Rama may abuse the worshipper of Krishna, and both decry the worship of Shiva or Devi. As the Veda says, the One is called by various names. Owing to his ignorance “he is always bathing,” that is, he is always thinking about external and ceremonial purity. This, though good in its way, is nothing compared with internal purity of mind. He has ignorant or wrong ideas, or want of faith, concerning (Shakta) Tantra Shastra, Sacrifices, Guru, Images, and Mantra, the last of which he thinks to be mere letters only and not Devata (see Pranatoshini, 547, et seq., Picchila, X). He follows the Vaidik rule relating to Maithuna on the fifth day when the wife is Ritusnata (Ritu-kalam vina devi ramanam parivrajayet). Some of the descriptions of the Pashu seem to refer to the lowest class. Generally, however, one may say that from the standpoint of a Viracari, all those who follow Vedacara, Vaishnavacara and Shaivacara are Pashus. The Kubjika Tantra (VII) gives a description of the Divya. Its eulogies would seem to imply that in all matters which it mentions, the Pashu is lacking. But this, as regards some matters, is Stuti (praise) only. Thus he has a strong faith in Veda, Shastra, Deva and Guru, and ever speaks the truth which, as also other good qualities, must be allowed to the Pashu. He avoids all cruelty and other bad action and regards alike both friend and foe. He avoids the company of the irreligious who decry the Devata. All Devas he regards as beneficial, worshipping all without drawing distinctions. Thus, for instance, whilst an orthodox upcountry Hindu of the Pashu kind who is a worshipper of Rama cannot even bear to hear the name of Krishna, though both Rama and Krishna are each Avatara of the same Vishnu, the Divya would equally reverence both knowing each to be an aspect of the one Great Shakti, Mother of Devas and Men. This is one of the first qualities of the high Shakta worshipper. As a worshipper of Shakti he bows down at the feet of women regarding them as his Guru (Strinam padatalam drishtva guruvad bhava pet sada). He offers everything to the supreme Devi regarding the whole universe as pervaded by Stri (Shakti, not “woman”) and as Devata. Shiva is (he knows) in all men. The whole universe (Brahmanda) is pervaded by Shiva Shakti.

The description cited also deals with his ritual, saying that he does daily ablutions, Sandhya, wears clean cloth, the Tripundra mark in ashes or red sandal, and ornaments of Rudraksha beads. He does Japa (recitation of Mantras external and mental) and worship (Arcana). He worships the Pitris and Devas and performs all the daily rites. He gives daily charity. He meditates upon his Guru daily, and does worship thrice daily and, as a Bhairava, worships Parameshvari with Divyabhava. He worships Devi at night

(Vaidik worship being by day), and after food (ordinary Vaidik worship being done before taking food). He makes obeisance to the Kaula Shakti (Kulastri) versed in Tantra and Mantra, whoever She be and whether youthful or old. He bows to the Kula-trees (Kulavriksha). He ever strives for the attainment and maintenance of Devatabhava and is himself of the nature of a Devata.

Portions of this description appear to refer to the ritual and not Avadhuta Divya, and to this extent applicable to the high Vira also. The Mahanirvana (I. 56) describes the Divya as all but a Deva, ever pure of heart, to whom all opposites are alike (Dvandvatita) such as pain and pleasure, heat and cold, who is free from attachment to worldly things, the same to all creatures and forgiving. The text I have published, therefore, says that there is no Divya-bhava in the Kaliyuga nor Pashubhava; for the Pashu (or his wife) must, with his own hand, collect leaves, flowers and fruit, and cook his food, which regulations and others are impossible or difficult in the Kali age. As a follower of Smriti, he should not “see the face of a Shudra at worship, or even think of woman” (referring to the Pañcatattva ritual). The Shyamarcana (cited in Haratattvadidhiti, 348) speaks to the same effect. On the other hand, there is authority for the proposition that in the Kaliyuga there is only Pashubhava. Thus, the Pranatoshini (510-517) cites a passage purporting to come from the Mahanirvana which is in direct opposition to the above:

Divpa-vira-mayo bhavah kalau nasti kadacana

Kevalampashu-bhavena mantra-siddhir bhaven nrinam.

(In the Kali age there is no Divya or Virabhava. It is only by the Pashu-bhava that men may attain Mantra-siddhi.)

I have discussed this latter question in greater detail in the introduction to the sixth volume of the series of “Tantrik Texts”.

Dealing with the former passage from the Mahanirvana, the Commentator explains it as meaning “that the conditions and characters of the Kaliyuga are not such as to be productive of Pashubhava, or to allow of its Acara (in the sense of the strict Vaidik ritual). No one, he says, can now-a-days fully perform the Vedacara, Vaishnavacara, and Shaiva-cara rites without which the Vaidik and Pauranic Yajña and Mantra are fruitless. No one now goes through the Brahmacarya Ashrama or adopts, after the fiftieth year, Vanaprastha. Those whom the Vaidik rites do not control cannot expect the fruit of their observances. On the contrary, men have taken to drink, associate with the low and are fallen, as are also those who associate with them. There can, therefore, be no pure Pashu. (That is apparently whilst there may be a natural Pashu disposition the Vaidik rites appropriate to this bhava cannot be carried out.) Under these circumstances, the duties prescribed by the Vedas which are appropriate for the Pashu being incapable of performance, Shiva, for the liberation of men of the Kali age, has proclaimed the Agama. Now there is no other way.”

We are, perhaps, therefore, correct in saying that it comes to this: In a bad age, such as the Kali, Divya men are (to say the least) very scarce, though common-sense and experience must, I suppose, allow for exceptions. Whilst the Pashu natural disposition exists, the Vaidik ritual which he should follow cannot be done. It is in fact largely obsolete. The Vaidik Pashu or man who followed the Vaidik rituals in their entirety is non-existent. He must follow the Agamic rituals which, as a fact, the bulk of men do. The Agama must now govern the Pashu, Vira and would-be Divya alike.

As I have frequently explained, there are various communities of the followers of Tantra of Agama according to the several divisions of the worshippers of the five Devatas (Pañcopasaka). Of the five classes, the most important are Vaishnava, Shaiva and Shakta. I do not, however, hesitate to repeat a statement of a fact of which those who speak of “The Tantra” ignore.

The main elements of Sadhana are common to all such communities following the Agamas; such as Puja (inner and outer), Pratima or other emblems (Linga, Shalagrama), Upacara, Sandhya, Yajña, Vrata, Tapas, Mandala, Yantra, Mantra, Japa, Purashcarana, Nyasa, Bhutasuddhi, Mudra, Dhyana, Samskara and so forth. Even the Vamacara ritual which some wrongly think to be peculiar to the Shaktas, is or was followed (I am told) by members of other Sampradayas including Jainas and Bauddhas. Both, in so far as they follow this ritual, are reckoned amongst Kaulas though, as being non-Vaidik, of a lower class.

A main point to be here remembered, and one which establishes both the historical and practical importance of the Agamas is this: That whilst some Vaidik rites still exist, the bulk of the ritual of to-day is Agamic, that is, what is popularly called Tantrik. The Puranas are replete with Tantrik rituals.

Notwithstanding a general community of ritual forms, there are some variances which are due to two causes: firstly, to difference in the Devata worship, and secondly, to difference of philosophical basis according as it is Advaita, Vishishtadvaita, or Dvaita. The presentment of fundamental ideas is sometimes in different terms. Thus the Vaishnava Pancaratra Agama describes the creative process in terms of the Vyuhas, and the Shaiva-Shakta Agamas explain it as the Abhasa of the thirty-six Tattvas. I here deal with only one form, namely, Shakta Sadhana in which the Ishtadevata is Shakti in Her many forms.

I will here shortly describe some of the ritual forms above-mentioned, premising that so cursory an account does not do justice to the beauty and profundity of many of them.

There are four different forms of worship corresponding to four different states and dispositions (Bhava) of the Sadhaka himself. The realization that the Supreme Spirit (Paramatma) and the individual spirit (Jivatma) are one, that everything is Brahman, and that nothing but the Brahman has lasting being is the highest state or Brahma-bhava. Constant meditation with Yoga-processes upon the Devata in the heart is the lower form (Dhyanabhava). Lower still is that Bhava of which Japa (recitations of Mantra) and Hymns of praise (Stava) are the expression; and lowest of all is external worship (Bahyapuja).

Pujabhava is that which arises out of the dualistic notions of worshipper and worshipped, the servant and the Lord, a dualism which necessarily exists in greater or less, degree until Monistic experience (Advaita-bhava) is attained. He who realizes the Advaita-tattva knows that all is Brahman. For him there is neither worshipper nor worshipped, neither Yoga, nor Puja nor Dharana, Dhyana, Stava, Japa, Vrata or other ritual or process of Sadhana. For, he is Siddha in its fullest sense, that is, he has attained Siddhi which is the aim of Sadhana. As the Mahanirvana says, “for him who has faith in and knowledge of the root, of what use are the branches and leaves’?” Brahmanism thus sagely resolves the Western dispute as to the necessity or advisability of ritual. It affirms it for those who have not attained the end of all ritual. It lessens and refines ritual as spiritual progress is made upwards; it dispenses with it altogether when there is no longer need for it. But, until a man is a real “Knower”, some Sadhana is necessary if he would become one. The nature of Sadhana, again, differs according to the temperaments (Bhava) above described, and also with reference to the capacities and spiritual advancement of each in his own Bhava. What may be suitable for the unlettered peasant may not be so for those more intellectually and spiritually advanced. It is, however, a fine general principle of Tantrik worship that capacity, and not social distinction such as caste, determines competency for any particular worship. This is not so as regards the Vaidik ritual proper. One might have supposed that credit would have been given to the Tantra Shastra for this. But credit is given for nothing. Those who dilate on Vaidik exclusiveness have nothing to say as regards the absence of it in the Agama. The Shudra is precluded from the performance of Vaidik rites, the reading of the Vedas, and the recital of Vaidik Mantras. His worship is practically limited to that of his Ishtadevata, the Vana-lingapuja with Tantrik and Pauranik mantra and such Vrata as consist in penance and charity. In other cases, the Vrata is performed through a Brahmana. The Tantra Shastra makes no caste distinction as regards worship, in the sense that though it may not challenge the exclusive right of the twice-born to Vaidik rites, it provides other and similar rites for the Shudra. Thus there is both a Vaidik and Tantrik Gayatri and Sandhya, and there are rites available for worshippers of all castes. All may read the Tantras which contain their form of worship, and carry them out and recite the Tantrik Mantras. All castes, even the lowest Candala may, if otherwise fit, receive the Tantrik initiation and be a member of a Cakra or circle of worship. In the Cakra all the members partake of food and drink together, and are then deemed to be greater than Brahmanas, though upon the break-up of the Cakra the ordinary caste and social relations are re-established. It is necessary to distinguish between social differences and competency (Adhikara) for worship. Adhikara, so fundamental a principle of Brahmanism, means that all are not equally entitled to the same teaching and ritual. They are entitled to that of which they are capable, irrespective (according to the Agama) of such social distinctions as caste. All are competent for Tantrik worship, for, in the words of the Gautamiya which is a Vaishnava Tantra (Chap. I) the Tantra Shastra is for all castes and all women.

Sarva-varnadhikarash narinam condensing or eva ca ca.

Though according to Vaidik usage, the wife was co-operator (Sahadharmini) in the household rites, now-a-days, so far as I can gather, they are not accounted much in such matters, though it is said that the wife may, with the consent of her husband, fast, take vows, perform Homa, Vrata and the like. According to the Tantra Shastra, a woman may not only receive Mantra, but may, as Guru, initiate and give it (see Rudrayamala II, ii, and XV). She is worshipped both as wife of Guru and as Guru herself (see ib., I. i. Matrikabheda Tantra (c. vii), Annadakalpa Tantra cited in Pranatosini, p. 68, and as regards the former Yogini Tantra chap. i. Gurupatni Maheshani gurur eva). The Devi is Herself the Guru of all Shastras and woman, as indeed all females Her embodiments, are in a peculiar sense, Her representatives. For this reason all women are worshipful, and no harm should be ever done them, nor should any female animal be sacrificed.

Puja is the common term for ritual worship, of which there are numerous synonyms in the Sanskrit language such as Arcana, Vandana, Saparyya, Arhana, Namasya, Arca, Bhajana, though some of these stress certain aspects of it. Puja as also Vrata which are Kamya, that is, done to gain a particular end, are preceded by the Sankalpa, that is, a statement of the resolve to worship, as also of the particular object (if any) with which it is done. It runs in the form, “I–of–Gotra and so forth identifying the individual) am about to perform this Puja (or Vrata) with the object — “. Thereby the attention and will of the Sadhaka are focused and braced up for the matter in hand. Here, as elsewhere, the ritual which follows is designed both by its complexity and variety (which prevents the tiring of the mind) to keep the attention always fixed, to prevent it from straying and to emphasize both attention and will by continued acts and mental workings.

The object of the worship is the Ishtadevata, that is, the particular form of the Deity whom the Sadhaka worships, such as Devi in the case of a Shakta, Shiva in the case of the Shaiva (in eight forms in the case of Ashtamurti-puja as to which see Todala Tantra, chap. V) and Vishnu as such or in His forms as Rama and Krishna in the case of the Vaishnava Sadhaka.

An object is used in the outer Puja (Bahyapuja) such as an image (Pratima), a picture and emblem such as a jar (Kalasa), Shalagrama (in the case of Vishnu worship), Linga and Yoni or Gauripatta (in the case of the worship) of Shiva (with Devi), or a geometrical design called Yantra. In the case of outer worship the first is the lowest form and the last the highest. It is not all who are capable of worshipping with a Yantra. It is obvious that simpler minds must be satisfied with images which delineate the form of the Devata completely and in material form. The advanced contemplate Devata in the lines and curves of a Yantra.

In external worship, the Sadhaka should first worship inwardly the mental image of the Devata which the outer objects assist to produce, and then by the life-giving (Prana-Pratishtha) ceremony he should infuse the image with life by the communication to it of the light, consciousness, and energy (Tejas) of the Brahman within him to the image without, from which there then bursts the luster of Her whose substance is Consciousness Itself (Caitanyamayi). In every place She exists as Shakti, whether in stone or metal as elsewhere, but in matter is veiled and seemingly inert. Caitanya (Consciousness) is aroused by the worshipper through the Pranapratishtha Mantra. An object exists for a Sadhaka only in so far as his mind perceives it. For and in him its essence as Consciousness is realized.

This is a fitting place to say a word on the subject of the alleged “Idolatry” of the Hindus. We are all aware that a similar charge has been made against Christians of the Catholic Church, and those who are conversant with this controversy will be better equipped both with knowledge and caution against the making of general and indiscriminate charges.

It may be well doubted whether the world contains an idolater in the sense in which that term is used by persons who speak of “the heathen worship of sticks and stones”. According to the traveler A. B. Ellis (“The Tshi speaking peoples of the Gold Coast of West Africa”), even “negroes of the Gold Coast are always conscious that their offerings and worship are not paid to the inanimate object itself but to the indwelling God, and every native with whom I have conversed on the subject has laughed at the possibility of its being supposed that he would worship or offer sacrifice to some such object as a stone”. Nevertheless a missionary or some traveler might tell him that he did. An absurd attitude on the part of the superior Western is that in which the latter not merely tells the colored races what they should believe, but what notwithstanding denial, they in fact believe and ought to hold according to the tenets of the latter’s religion.

The charge of idolatry is kept up, notwithstanding the explanations given of their beliefs by those against whom it is made. In fact, the conviction that Eastern races are inferior is responsible for this. If we disregard such beliefs, then, anything may be idolatrous. Thus; to those who disbelieve in the “Real Presence,” the Catholic worshipper of the Host is an idolater worshipping the material substance, bread. But, to the worshipper who believes that it is the Body of the Lord under the form of bread, such worship can never be idolatrous. Similarly as regards the Hindu worship of images. They are not to be held to worship clay or stone because others disbelieve in the efficacy of the Prana-Pratishtha ceremony. When impartially considered, there is nothing necessarily superstitious or ignorant in this rite. Nor is this the case with the doctrine of the Real Presence which is interpreted in various ways. Whether either rite has the alleged effect attributed to it is another question. All matter is, according to Shakta doctrine, a manifestation of Shakti, that is, the Mother Herself in material guise. She is present in and as everything which exists. The ordinary man does not so view things. He sees merely gross unconscious matter. If, with such an outlook, he were fool enough to worship what was inferior to himself, he would be an idolater. But the very act of worship implies that the object is superior and conscious. To the truly enlightened Shakta everything is an object of worship, for all is a manifestation of God who is therein worshipped. But that way of looking at things must be attained. The untutored mind must be aided to see that this is so. This is effected by the Pranapratishtha rite by which “life is established” in the image of gross matter. The Hindu then believes that the Pratima or image is a representation and the dwelling place of Deity. What difference, it may be asked, does this really make? How can a man’s belief alter the objective fact? The answer is, it does not. God is not manifested by the image merely because the worshipper believes Him to be there. He is there in fact already. All that the Pranapratishtha rite does is, to enliven the consciousness of the worshipper into a realization of His presence. And if He be both in fact, and to the belief of the worshipper, present, then the Image is a proper object of worship. It is the subjective state of the worshipper’s mind which determines whether an act is idolatrous or not. The Prana-Pratishtha rite is thus a mode by which the Sadhaka is given a true object of worship and is enabled to affirm a belief in the divine omnipresence with respect to that particular object of his devotion. The ordinary notion that it is mere matter is cast aside, and the divine notion that Divinity is manifested in all that is, is held and affirmed. “Why not then” (some missionary has said) “worship my boot?” There are contemptible people who do so in the European sense of that phrase. But, nevertheless, there is no reason, according to Shakta teaching, why even his boot should not be worshipped by one who regards it and all else as a manifestation of the One who is in every object which constitutes the Many. Thus this Monistic belief is affirmed in the worship by some Shaktas of that which to the gross and ordinary mind is merely an object of lust. To such minds, this is a revolting and obscene worship. To those for whom such object of worship is obscene, such worship is and must be obscene. But what of the mind which is so purified that it sees the Divine presence in that which, to the mass of men, is an incitement to and object of lust? A man who, without desire, can truly so worship must be a very high Sadhaka indeed. The Shakta Tantra affirms the Greek saying that to the pure all things are pure. In this belief and with, as the as the Jñanarnava Tantra says, the object of teaching men that this is so, we find the ritual use of substances ordinarily accounted impure. The real objection to the general adoption or even knowledge of such rites lies, from the Monistic standpoint, in the fact that the vast bulk of humanity are either of impure or weak mind, and that the worship of an object which is capable of exciting lust will produce it, not to mention the hypocrites who, under cover of such a worship, would seek to gratify their desires. In the Paradise Legend, just as amongst some primitive tribes, man and woman go naked. It was and is after they have fallen that nakedness is observed by minds no longer innocent. Rightly, therefore, from their standpoint, the bulk of men condemn such worship. Because, whatever may be its theoretical justification under conditions which rarely occur, pragmatically and for the bulk of men they are full of danger. Those who go to meet temptation should remember the risk. I have read that it is recorded of Robert d’Arbrissel, the saintly founder of the community of Fonte d’Evrault that he was wont on occasions to sleep with his nuns, to mortify his flesh and as a mode of strengthening his will against its demands. He did not touch them, but his exceptional success in preserving his chastity would be no ground for the ordinary man under