Tantra has grown naturally throughout the past eons. It has never really been rigidly defined as a whole, which actually is a point in its favour, for it allows tantra to adapt to the continually changing conditions and not become frozen with fixed dogmas.
Actually, as we have already pointed out, tantra is probably the only system that fully realizes that its written texts become semi-redundant in the course of time. People’s tastes and attitudes, social rules and conditions change and so forth. Each society has specific characteristics with which the individual has to come to terms on the path of physical and mental well being and higher awareness. It is for this reason that tantric tradition says that new tantric texts will be revealed and recorded. These will automatically replace archaic texts that have lost their relevance. This is not merely an idea, for it has actually occurred; most of the age-old traditional tantric texts are no longer available; they have either been lost, hidden or destroyed. Most of the tantric texts that are now in circulation are comparatively new. That is, they have been written during the last few hundred years. The old texts seem to have faded away according to the edicts and predictions of tantric traditions.
One might wonder why tantra, being such a fundamental and life-enriching system, is not now widely practised in India. Actually tantra is still practised, but it is disguised and has been absorbed into Hinduism, the compen-dium of religions which has tended to absorb everything into its bosom. Its significance however has been widely forgotten, or even worse, it has been extensively misunderstood and abused. For this reason, tantra has tended to be regarded with some contempt; it is associated with mad sorcerers and so many malpractices. But this reputation is harsh, to say the least, and is generally unfounded. The reason for this reputation is complex, but one of the main reasons is that many of the tantric texts are written in the so-called meaningful ‘twilight language’. That is, the practices of tantra are explained in symbolic terms, which can only be understood with personal guidance from a guru. This was done to protect the contents of the tantric texts from misinterpretation, misuse and abuse. This ruse or device did network, however, and tantra was misapplied and misconstrued on a wide scale. You must remember that some of the tantric rituals are very technical and complex. It is therefore so easy to misinterpret them without the guidance of a competent teacher.