Tantra. Shaktas. Part 2

The literature of the shakta sect is extensive. Many of its texts are widely known and utilized. They include the following: kularnava, kamadhenu, kubjika, tantraraja, varahi, nila, jnanarnava, gayatri, yogini, rudra yamala and the bhuttashuddhi tantras. There are many, many more. The kama sutra, kama ratna and other texts concerning sexual relations and techniques can also be included among shakta literature. One of the most recent and compre-hensive tantric texts is called the Maha Nirvana Tantra (supreme liberation of enlightenment). It covers a wide range of subjects, covering metaphysics, philosophy, everyday life, as well as the spiritual path. It deals with the creation and destruction of the universe, mode of liberation from ignorance, nature of Shiva and Shakti, the worship of Brahman, origin and worship of devas (celestial beings), description of the various levels of being (lokas) and many other subjects. It is mainly orientated towards practise, and deals extensively with rituals, mantras, yantras, japa, yoga and other forms of practice (sadhana). It also deals with everyday life and prescribes rules for harmonizing an individual’s interaction with society.

Traditionally, there are 64 texts of the shakta sect, ranging from the Mahamaya Shambhar to the Devimata Tantra. These texts seem to deal with many things that would appear rather strange to the average person of today. They deal with rituals carried out in graveyards (in the Yogini Balashambhar), methods of fulfilling desires (in the Brahmayamala, Vishnuyamala, etc.), as well as practices for experiencing and knowing the supreme (in the Brahmi Tantra, Maheshwari Tantra, etc.). Many of them are concerned with magic of all types. That is, methods of influencing and controlling the internal and external world through the power of invocation, mantras, etc. A number of the books are intended primarily for monks (san-nvasins), these including the Purvamnaya, Paschimamnaya Tantras, etc. The subjects that these tantras cover are vast and many of them would be easily open to misuse and abuse. If practised by the wrong people, they could be misapplied and used for selfish, destructive ends; this is the realm of what is commonly called ‘black magic’. For this reason most of these texts have remained secret, for if they were openly published, they could lead to more harm than good. The prime aim of tantra is enlightenment and these other subjects, if performed for selfish ends, would merely lead one from the prime experience of life.

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