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Tantrism Reference Definitions

Subject: Tantrism Reference Definitions

	... Tantrism (is) a category of its own and (to) define it generally as a
	practical path to supernatural powers and to liberation, consisting in the
	use of specific practices and techniques -- ritual, bodily, mental -- that
	are always associated with a particular doctrine.  These practices are
	intrinsically grounded in the doctrine that gives them their aim and meaning
	and organizes them into a pattern.  Elements of the doctrine as well as of
	practices may also be found elsewhere in Indian religions, but when both are
	associated and welded into a practical worldview, Tantrism is there.
	Tantrism may be briefly characterized as a practical way to attain
	supernatural powers and liberation in this life through the use of specific
	and complex techniques based on a particular ideology, that of a cosmic
	reintegration by means of which the adept is established in a position of
	power, freed from worldly fetters, while remaining in this world and
	dominating it by union with (or proximity to) a godhead who is the supreme
	power itself.  All practices and notions constituting the Tantric way
	correspond to a particular conception of the deity, polarized as masculine
	and feminine, and of the universe and man, both imbued with this divine
	power (shakti).  Thus is may be said that, for a Tantric adept, the quest
	for liberation and the acquisition of supernatural powers result from a
	tapping, a manipulating of this ubiquitous power.
	'Tantrism' entry, The Encyclopedia of Religion, Mircea Eliade, 
	 quoting André Padoux, Macmillan, New York, 1986.

	Constituents of Tantrism:
	1.  A practical, individual road to salvation provides an alternative 
	    to the Vedic one.
	2.  Mundane aims are valued as well as spiritual emancipation.
	3.  A special form of yoga transforms animal instincts by rousing bodily
	    energy upward through yogic centers.
	4.  A mystic physiology identifies the microcosm of the body with the
	    macrocosm of the universe.
	5.  An assumed parallel between material phenomena and sounds is explored
	    through speculation on the mystic nature of speech.
	6.  Certain verbal formulas (mantras) are ritually invested with power.
	7.  Concrete devices like formulas, geometrical designs (mandala, yantra,
	    cakra) are employed to express metaphysical principles.
	8.  The supernatural world is realized through specific methods of
	    meditation often involving the creation of mental images.
	9.  Reality is unitary, but characterized by complementary opposites 
	    at both divine and human levels.
	10.  Female manifestations called shaktis are important.
	11.  Realization of the double-sided nature of reality is accomplished
	     through intentional, regulated contact with socially disapproved 
	     persons and entities.
	12.  Initiation by a qualified teacher is essential.
	13.  A complete set of ritual practices beside the Vedic is developed.
	14.  Reality is elaborately categorized, especially in number and 
	     speech symbolism.
	15.  Speculation begun in Brahmanical circles is further articulated.
	16.  The distinctive form of yoga is often related to alchemy and 
	     body culture.
	17.  A special religious geography is developed.
	18.  Special terminology and "code language" require special forms 
	     of exegesis.
	"Hindu Tantrism", Teun Goudriaan, in Gupta, Hoens and 
	 Goudriaan, E.J. Brill, Leiden/Koln, 1979.


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