Shakti and Shakta

by John Woodroffe | 1929 | 243,591 words

A collection of papers and essays addressing the Śakti aspect of the Śākta school of Hindu philosophy by John Woodroffe, also known as Arthur Avalon....

Chapter III - 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), Śāstra generally or treatise. Thus Śañjara calls the Sāṅkhya 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 Kāśikā-Vṛtti (7-2-9) from the root ‘Tan’ ‘to Spread’ by the Auṇādika rule Sarvadhātubhyaḥ tran, with the addtion of the suffix ‘tran.’ Vācaspati, Ānandagiri, and Govindānanda, however, derive the word from the root ‘Tatri’ or ‘Tantri’ in the sense of Vyutpādana, origination or knowledge. In Gaṇapātha, 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 Vyutpādana is also probably derived by narrowing the general sense of Vistāra 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 (Jñāna) is spread (Tanyate, vistāryate jñānam 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 Kāmika Āgama of the Śaiva Siddhānta (Tantrāntara Paṭala) says:—

Tanoti vipulān arthān tattvamantra-samanvitān
Trānanca kurute yasmāt tantram ityabhidhīyaye

(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 Śāktas or worshippers of Śakti. This is not so. There are Tantras of other sects of the Āgama, Tantras of Śaivas, Vaiṣṇavas and so forth. We cannot speak of “The Treatise” nor of “The Tantra” any more than we can or do speak of the Puṛāṇa, the Saṃhitā. We can speak of “the Tantras” as we do of “the Purāṇas”. These Tantras are Śāstras of what is called the Āgama. In a review of one of my works it was suggested that the Āgama is a class of Scriptures dealing with the worship of Saguṇa Īśvara which was revealed at the close of the age of the Upaniṣads, and introduced partly because of the falling into desuetude of the Vaidika Ācāra, and partly because of the increasing numbers of persons entering the Hindu fold who were not competent (Adhikāri) for that Ācāra. I will not however deal with this historical question beyond noting the fact that the Āgama is open to all persons of all castes and both sexes, and is not subject to the restrictions of the Vaidika Ācāra. This last term is a common one and comes from the verbal root car, which means to move or to act, the prefix Ā being probably used in the sense of restriction. Ācāra thus means practice, way, rule of life governing a Sādhaka, or one who does Sādhanā or practice for some desired end (Siddhi).

The Āgamas are divided into three main groups according as the Iṣṭadevatā, worshipped is Śakti, Shiva or Viṣṇu. The first is the Śākta Āgama, the second the Śaivāgama, and the third the Vaiṣṇava Āgama or Pañcarātra. This last is the Scripture to which the Śrīmad Bhāgavata (X. 90. 34) refers as Sāttvata Tantra in the lines,

Tenoktaṅg sāttvataṅg tantram jay jnāttvā muktibhāg bhavet
Yatra strīśūdradāsānāṅg-saṃskāro vaiṣṇavaḥ smṛtaḥ

Some Āgamas are called Vaidik (Vaidika Āgama) and some non-Vaidik (Avaidika). The Kūrma Purāṇa (XVI. 1) mentions as belonging to the latter, Kapāla, Lākula, Vāma, Bhairava, Pūrva, Paschima, Pañcarātra, Pāśupata and many others. Pāśupata again is said to be both Vaidika and Avaidika such as Lākula. Kūrma Puraṇa (Uttarabhāga, Ch. 38) says “By Me was first composed, for the attainment of Liberation, Śrauta (Vaidika) Pāsupata which is excellent, subtle, and secret, the essence of Veda (Vedasāra). The learned devoted to Veda should meditate on Śiva Paśupati. This is Pāśupata Yoga to be practised by seekers of Liberation. By Me also have been spoken Pāśupata, Soma, Lākula, and Bhairava opposed to Veda (Vedavādaviruddhāni). These should not be practised.

They are outtide Veda.” Sanatkumāra Saṃhitā says:—

Śrautāśrautavibhedena dvividhastu śivāgamaḥ
Śrutisāramayaḥ śrautah saḥ punar dvividho mataḥ
Svatantra itaraś cheti svatantro daśadhā purā
Tathā’ śṭadaśadhāpaścat siddhānta iti gīyate Itaraḥ
śrutisāras tu śatakoṭi-pravistaraḥ

(See also Vāyu Saṃhitā, Ch. I. 28).

[Śaivāgama is of two kinds, Śrauta and Aśrauta. Śrauta is Śrutisāramaya and of two kinds, Svatantra and Itara. Svatantra is first of ten kinds and then Siddhānta of eighteen kinds. (This is the Śaivasiddhānta Āgama wikh 28 Mūla Āgamas and 207 Upāgamas. It is Shuddhādvaita because in it there is no Videshaṇa.) Itara is Śrutisāra with numerous varieties.] Into the mass of sects I do not attempt to here enter, except in a general way. My subject is the doctrine and ritual of the Śāktas. There are said to be Śaiva, Vaiṣṇava, and Śākta Upaniṣads favouring 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 Āgamas, whatever be their origin, claim now to be based on Śruti, though of counse as different interpretations are put on Śruti, 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 Śaivas; and there are Śāktas with their nine Āmnāyas, four Sampradāyas (Kerala, Kaśmīra, Gauda, and Vilāsa) each divided into two-fold division of inner and outer worship (Sammohana Tantra, Ch. V). There is for instance the Northern Śaiva School called Trika of Kashmir, in which country at one time Tantra Śāstras were very prevalent. There is again the Southern Śaiva Sohool called Śaivasiddhānta. The Śāktas who are to be found throughout India are largely prevalent in Bengal and Assam. The Śāktas are rather allied with the Northern Advaita Śaiva than with the others, though in them also there is worship of Śakti. Śiva and Śakti are one and he who worships one necessarily worships the other. But whereas the Śaiva predominantly worships Śiva, the Śākta predominantly worships the Śakti side of the Ardhanārīśvara Mūrti, which is both Śiva and Śakti.

Mahāviṣṇu and Sadāśiva are also one. As the Sammohana Tantra (Ch. VIII) says “Without Prakṛ ̣ti the Saṃsāra (World) cannot be. Without Puruṣa true knowledge cannot be attained. Therefore should both be worshippcd; with Mahākālī, Mahākāla.” Some, it says, speak of Śiva, some of Śakti, some of Nārāyaṇa (Viṣṇu). But the supreme Nārāyaṇa (Ādinārāyaṇa) is supreme Śiva (Paraśambhu), the Nirguṇa Brahman pure as crystal. The two aspects of the Supreme reflect the one in the other. The Reflection (Pratibimba) is Māyā whence the WorldLords (Lokapāas) and the Worlds are born. The Ādyā Lalitā (Mahāśakti) at one time assumed the male form of Kṛṣṇa and at another that of Rāma (Ch. IX). For all aspects are in Mahākālī, one with Bhairava Mahākāla, Who is Mahāviṣṇu. “It is only a fool” it says, “who sees any difference between Rāma and Śiva.” This is of course to look at the matter from the high Vedāntik standpoint of Śākta doctrine. Nevertheless separate worship and rituals exist among the Sects. A common philosophical basis of the Śaivas and those of Śāktas, who are Āgamavādins, is the doctrine of the Thirty-six Tattvas. These are referred to in the Tantra (Ch. VII) so well known in Bengal which is called Kulārṇava. They are also referred to in other Śākta works and their commentaries such as the Ānandalaharī. The Śāradā Tilaka, a great authority amongst the Bengal Śāktas, is the work of Lakṣmanācārya, an author of the Kashmir Śaiva school. The latter school as also the Śāktas are Advaitins. The Śaiva Siddhānta and Pañcarātra are Śuddhādvaita and Viṣiśṭādvaita respectively. There is also a great body of Buddhist Tantras of differing schools. [I have published one—the Śricakra Sambhara Tantra as Vol. VII of Tāntrik Texts.] Now all these schools have Tantras of their own. The original connection of the Śaiva schools is said to be shown amongst other things, by the fact that some Tantras are common, such as Mṛgendra and Mātaṅga Tantras. It has been asserted that the Śākta school is not historically connected with the Śaivas. 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 Śākta literature may find out for himself. In fact Śākta literature is in parts unintelligible to one unacquainted with some features of what is called the Śaiva Darśana. How otherwise is it that the 36 Tattvas and Ṣaḍadhvā [see my “Garland of Letters”] are common to both?

The Śāktas have again been divided into three groups. Thus the esteemed Pandit R. Ananta Śāstri in the Introduction to his edition of the Ānandalaharī speaks of the Kaula or Śākta Śāstras with sixty-four Tantras; the Miśra with eight Tantras; and the Samaya group which are said to be the most important of the Śākta Āgamas, 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 other of the Puruṣārthas. Pañcarātra 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 Saṃhitā by my friend Dr. Otto Schrader, with an Introduction by the learned Doctor on the Pañcaṛātra system where many Vaiṣṇava Tantras and Saṃhitās are cited. The Trika school has many Tantras of which the leading one is Mālinīvijaya. The Svacchanda Tantra comes next. Jagadīśa Candra Cattopādhyāya Vidyāvāridhi has written with learning and lucidity on this school. The Śaivasiddhānta has twenty-eight leading Tantras and a large number of Upāgamas, such as Tāraka Tantra, Vāma Tantra and others, which will be found enumerated in Schomerus’ “Der Śaivasiddhānta,” Nallasvami Pillai’s “Studies in Śaivasiddhānta” (p. 294), and “Śivajñānasiddhiyar” (p. 211). The Sammohana Tantra (Ch. VI) mentions 64 Tantras, 327 Upatantras, as also Yāmalas, Ḍāmaras, Saṃhitās and other Scriptures of the Śākta class; 32 Tantras, 125 Upatantras, as also Yāmalas, Ḍāmaras, Purāṇas and other Scriptures of the Śaiva class; 76 Tantras, 205 Upatantras, as also Yāmalas, Ḍāmaras, Saṃhitās of the Vaiṣṇava class; numerous Tantras and other scriptures of the Gāṇapatya and Saura classes, and a number of Purāṇas, Upapurāṇas and other variously named Scriptures of the Bauddha class. It then (Ch. VII) mentions over 500 Tantras and nearly the same amount of Upatantras, of some 22 Āgamas, Chīnāgama (see Ch. V1 post), Bauddhāgama, Jaina, Pāhupata, Kāpālika, Pañcārātra, Bhairava and others. There is thus a vast mass of Tantras in the Āgamas 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 Āgama as a whole is. In this book I briefly deal with one section of it only. Nevertheless when these Āgamas have been examined and are better known, it will, I think, he 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 (Parāhantā) 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 (Ābhāsa, Vyūha) as of “fire from fire” from subtle to gross; doctrine of Śakti; pure and impure creation; the denial of unconscious Māyā such as Śaṃkara teachesdoctrine of Māyā Koṣa and the Kañcukas (the six Śaiva Kañcukas being, as Dr. Schrader says, represented by the possibly earlier classification in the Pañcarātra of the three Saṅkocas); the carrying of the origin of things up and beyond PuruṣaPrakṛti; acceptance at a later stage of Puruṣa-Prakṛti, the Sāṅkhyān Guṇas, and evolution of Tattvas as applied to the doctrine of Śakti; 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, Bīja, Yantra, Mudrā, Nyāsa, Bhūtashuddhi, Kuṇḍalīyoga, construction and consecration of temples and images (Kriyā), religious and social observances (Caryā) such as Āhnika, Varṇāśramadharma, Utsava; and practical magic (Māyāyoga). Where there is Mantra, Yantra, Nyāsa, Dīkṣā, Guru and the like, there is Tantra Śāstra. In fact one of the names of the latter is Mantra Śātra. With these similarities there are certain variations of doctrine 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 Pañcarātra we speak of Lakṣmi Śakti, Vyūha, Saṅkoca; or whether in terms of other schools we speak of Tripurasundarī and Mahākālī, 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 Dakṣinācāra and Vāmācāra. The secret Sādhanāof 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 Āgamas, Śaiva, Śākta and Vaiṣṇava. Though there are certain common features which may be called Tāntrik 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 is largely indebted to the Tāntrikas.

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 later Shivâic or Sakti 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 unnecesaarily 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 Śāstra, 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,” Mudrā as “mystical gestures” and Yantra as “mystical diagrams” does not imply knowledge. These erroneous notions as to the nature of the Āgama 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 Śāstra 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 Āgamas 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 Śāstra (I think he meant the Śākta) 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 Āgamavādins claim to base their doctrine on Veda. The Vedānta is the final authority and basis for the doctrines set forth in the Tantras, though the latter interpret the Vedānta in various ways. The real meshing of Vedānta is Upaniṣad and nothing else. Many persons, however, speak of Vedānta as though it meant the philosophy of Śaṅkara, or whatever other philosopher they follow. This of course is incorrect. Vedānta is Śruti. Śaṅkara’s philosophy is merely one interpretation of Śruti just as Rāmānuja’s is another and that of the Śaivāgama or Kaulāgama is a third. There is no question of competition between Vedānta as Śruti and Tantra Śāstra. It is, however, the fact that each of the followers of the different schools of Āgama contend that their interpretation of the Śruti 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 Saṃhitā of the Pañcarātra Āgama 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 Śaṅkara included. The latter by his Māyāvāda 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 Śruti or experience and the Āgama interprets Śruti in its own way. Thus the Śaiva-Śākta doctrines are specific solutions of the Vedāntic theme which differ in several respects from that of Śaṅkara, though as they agree (I speak of the Northern Śaiva School) with him on the fundamental question of the unity of Jīvātmā and Paramātmā, they are therefore Advaita.

The next question is how the experience of which the Āgama speaks may be gained? This is also prescribed in the Śāstra in the form of peculiar Sādhanās 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 (Śuddhacitta). But to attain and keep this state, as well as progress therein, certain specific means, practice, 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 Sādhanāwhich comes from the root “Sādh,” to exert. Sādhanā is that which leads to Siddhi. Sādhanā is the development of Śakti. Man is Consciousness (Ātmā) vehicled by Śakti in the form of mind and body. But this Śakti is at base Pure Consciousness, just as Ātmāis; for Ātmā and Śakti are one. Man is thus a vast magazine of both latent and expressed power. The object of Sādhanā is to develop man’s Śakti, whether for temporal or spiritual purposes. But where is Sādhanāto be found? Seeing that the Vaidika Ācāra has fallen into practical desuetude we can find it nowhere but in the Āgamas and in the Purāṇas which are replete with Tāntrik rituals. The Tantras of these Āgamas 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 Āyurveda. The test of medicine is that it cures. If Siddhi is not obtained, the fact that it is written “Śiva uvāca” (Shiva speaks) or the like counts for nothing. The Āgama 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 Sādhanā. This term means work or practice, which in its result is the gradual unfolding of the Spirit’s vast latent magazine of power (Śakti), enjoyment and vision which everyone possesses in himself. The philosophy of the Āgama is, as a friend and collahorator of mine Professor Pramathanātha Mukhyopādhyāya 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 Sādhanā 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 Āgama 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 Sādhanā suitable to them. Thus, amongst Christians, the Catholic Church prescribes a full and powerful Sādhanā in its sacraments (Saṃskāra) and Worship (Pūjā, Upāsanā), Meditation (Dhyāna), Rosary (Japa) and the like. But any system to be fruitful must experiment to gain experience. The significance of the Tantra Śāstra 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 Śūnyatā the Void, nor Saccidāanda in the sense of mere Consciousness—Being—Bliss. They appeal to personal Bodhisattvas, Buddhas, Śiva, Viṣṇu, Devī 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 virtue of the sacraments. They need a definite picture of their object of worship, such as is detailed in the Dhyāna of the Devatā, 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 Mahāyāna (Thegpa Chhenpo) was produced. Nāgārjuna 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 Yogacaryā and other Buddhist systems. The worship of images and an elaborate ritual was introduced. The worship of the Śaktis spread. The Mantrayāna and Vajrayāna 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 Mother, theology, astrology and natural science, as do their Indian counterparts. These are of four classes, the Kriyā, Caryā, Yoga, Anuttara Tantras, the latter comprising Mahā, Anu and Ati-yoga Tantras. The Tan-gyur similarly contrlins manv volumes of Tantras (Rgyud). Then, at length, Buddhhism 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 Śāstra 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 Sādhanāof 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.

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