THE notoriety of the Śākta Pañcatattva ritual with wine and woman has thrown into the shade not only the practical topics with which I have dealt, but every other, including the valuable philosophical presentment of Vedānta contained in the Śakta Tantra. Notwithstanding, and indeed because of, the off-hand and (in certain respects) ignorant condemnation which this ritual has received, the interests of both scholarship and fairness (which by the way should be identical) require that we should first ascertain the facts, think clearly and fearlessly, and then determine without prejudice. From both the Śāstrik and historical point of view the subject is of such importance that it is not possible for me to here deal with it otherwise than in a very general way. It is necessary, however, in a paper on Upāsāna, to at least touch upon the matter because as against everything one says about the Tantras, there is raised the express or implied query “That may be all very well. But what about the infamous Pañcamakara?” Anything said in favour of the Śāstra is thus discounted in advance.
We must first disentangle the general principles involved from their particular application. The principle may be sound and yet the application may not be so. We may, for instance, approve striving for Vedāntik detatchment (Audāsīnya), whilst at the same time we may reject the Aghora’s application of it in eating human carrion. Next, let us see what in fact is the ritual application of these principles. Then let us judge the intention with which the ritual was prescribed. A principle may be good and the intention may be good, but its application may be intrinsically bad, or at least dangerous, and therefore inexpedient as leading to abuse. In life it is a mistake to altogether neglect the pragmatical aspect of any theory. Logic and life do not always go hand in hand. Lastly, let us see whether the application is good or bad or inexpedient; or whether it is partially one or the other.
In the first place it is necessary to clear the air of some common misconceptions. It is commonly thought that all the practitioners of the Pañcatattva ritual. with wine, woman, and so forth are immoral men, professing to follow a Scripture which does not accept the ordinary rules of morality as regards food, drink and woman which enjoin that men should curb their sensual desires. Rather is it thought that it teaches that men should yield to them and thus “enjoy” themselves. This view turns at least this portion of the Śākta Tantra into a scripture of libertinism, thinly veiling itself in pseudo-religious forms. Its followers are supposed to be in the condition of a sensual man who finds his wishes thwarted by the rules of morality of his fellows around him and who, asking himself how he can infringe those rules under colour of some supposed authority, gives to the fulfilment of desire a “religious” sanction. In the words of an English writer, the bent towards religion of some sort is so strong in India that some of its people even “sin religiously.” They are, on this view, hypocrites putting themselves to a deal of unnecessary trouble, for men can and do in India, as elsewhere, gratify their desires without religious rituals, and if wishful to establish a theory of enjoyment justifying their conduct, they can, as some have also done in India as elsewhere, advocate an “epicurean” materialism for that purpose. For the true sensualist who wishes to get at the object of his desire, these long Tāntrik rituals would be obstructive and wearisome. Whatever may be thought of the ritual in question, these notions of it are wrong. The charge, however, if unrefuted, constitutes a blot on this country’s civilization, which has been allowed to remain because some who know better are either afraid to acknowledge that they follow these rites, or if they do not, that it may be supposed that they do so. This blot, in so far as it is not justified by actual fact, I propose in the present Chapter to remove.
The word Śāstra or Scriptures comes from the root Śās, to control, because its object is to control the conduct of men otherwise prone to evil. Whether its methods be mistaken or not, the Śākta Scripture is a Śāstra. Morality or Dharma is preached by all Śāstra whether of East or West. That morality (Dharma) is in its essentials the same in all the great Scriptures. For what purpose is conduct controlled? The Indian answer is—in order that man may make for himself a good Karma which spells happiness in this and the next world (Paraloka), and that then he may at length free himself of all Karma and attain Liberation (Mokṣa). Bad Karma leads to suffering here and in the Hells of the after-life. This is taught in the Śākta, as in other Śāstras, which seek to train the Sādhaka to attain Liberation. In a work of the present scope, I have not the space to cite authority in support of all these elementary propositions. There is, however, an abundance of Texts in support of them. Consult, for instance, the grand opening Chapter of the Kulārṇava Tantra, which points out the frailty of Man, the passing nature of this world and of all it gives to Man, and his duty to avail himself of that Manhood which is so difficult of attainment so that he does not fall but rises and advances to Liberation. I cite the Kulārṇava not merely because it is reputed to be a great Tantra and authority readily accessible, but because it teaches in full the practice of the rituals under consideration. But what is Liberation? It is the state of Brahman the Pure. How can the Pure be attained by counselling the practice of what the author of the Śāstra thought to be impure? Every Tantra counsels the following of Dharma or morality. The same Tantra (above cited) in its Chapter dealing with the necessary qualifications of a disciple points out that he must be of good character and in particular must not be lewd (Kāmuka) and given over to drink, gluttony and woman. If he is so, he is not competent for this particular ritual and must be trained by other disciplines (Paśvācāra).
I here and hereafter deal with these particular infractions of morality because they alone in this matter concern us in our attempt to understand a ritual which is supposed to be an instance of the commission of these very sins.
The Mahānirvāṇa Tantra, which is of special interest because it is an attempt to provide a general code including law (in its European sense) for the followers of its cult, makes provision, amongst other matters, for general decency and so forth, for the state-punishment (unknown to English legislation) of men who go with prostitutes (XI. 43) as also with unmarried girls (ib., 29-34), with women of prohibited degree (ib.), with the wives of others (ib., 35-41), or who merely look with an eye of lust upon them (ib., 47), stating (ib., 46) “A man should consider as wife only that woman who has been married to him accorcling to Brāhma (the common) or Śaiva form. A;; other women are the wives of others.” It deplores (1-37) the evil customs of the present age (Kaliyuga) with its irreligion, lust, adultery, gluttony and addiction to strong drinks. How strangely hypocritical are these laments in a Śāstra which is supposed to consciously promote the very tendencies it deplores. It has been said that the Mahānirvāṇa is a worthy exception in an unworthy class. It is true that this Tantra evidences what may be called a reforming tendency on account of abuses which had occurred and thus puts restrictions on the ordinary householder as regards particular portions of the ritual, a fact which made a Pandit, of whom I was told, say that in comparison with the Mahānīla Tantra it was “a woman’s Śāstra.” Nevertheless on the general matters here dealt with it is not an exception. Possibly those who so speak had only read the Mahānirvāṇa which is the sole Tantra which has been translated in English. Certainly nothing that they say indicates any real acquaintance with any other. There are in fact other fine and more philosophical Tantras, and all the great authoritative Scriptures are at one, so far as I am aware, on the general question of morality and the search for Liberation with which I here deal. How, as I have said, could it, on commonly accepted principles, be otherwise? Whether the Sādhanāthey teach is good and effective for the end sought is another matter, and still more so is the question whether it has been productive in fact of abuse.
What then are the general Indian rules touching drinking, eating, and sexual intercourse? In ancient Vaidik times intoxicating liquor was taken in the form of Soma. Such drink was found, however, in the course of time to be productive of great evils, and was thrice cursed by Brahmā, Śukrācārya and Kṛṣṇa. It was then prohibited with the result that lndia has been the most temperate among the great peoples of the world, Manu having declared that though the drinking of wine was a natural tendency, abstention therefrom was productive of great fruit. The Uśanaḥ-saṃhitā says “Wine should not be drunk, given or taken” (Madyam apyam adeyam agrāhyam). The drinking of wine is one of the great sins (Mahāpātaka) involving expiation (Prāyaścitta), and otherwise leading the sinner to that great Hell in which the slayer of a Brāhmana is confined (Viṣṇu Purāṇa, 11. c. vi). In ancient Vaidik times, meat was eaten by the fair-coloured auburn-haired Aryans, including even beef, as is done by their fellow-Aryans of the West. But in process of time the slaughter of cattle for food was absolutely prohibited and certain meats such as that of the domesticated fowl and pig were held to be impure. As regards the eating of flesh and fish to-day, I believe the higher castes (outside Bengal) who submit to the orthodox Smārta discipline take neither. Nor do high and strict Brāhmaṇas in that province. But the bulk of the people there, both men and women, eat fish, and men consume the flesh of male goats previously offered to the Deity. Grain of all kinds is a common diet. I speak, of course, of orthodox Hindus. Some who have adopted Western civilization have taken over with it the eating of beef, the whisky peg and champagne, the curses of Brahmā, Śukra, Kṛṣṇa, and the Hell of their Śāstras beiug nothing to them.
As regarda Durgā Devī the absurd statement has been made (“Empire of India” by Sir Bampfylde Fuller, 161) that “to extremists among Her votaries any sexual restraint is a denial of Her authority.” Yet it is common ground to all Śāstras that sexual intercourse (Maithuna) by a man with a woman who is not lawful to him is a sin. The Vaidik Dharma is strict on this point. It forbids not merely actual Maithuna but what is called Aṣṭāṅga (eightfold) Maithuna, namely, Smaranam (thinking upon it), Kīrttanam (talking of it), Keli (play with women), Prekṣanam (making eyes at women), Guhyabhāśanam (talk in private with women), Saṃkalpa (wish or resolve for sexual union), Adhyavasāya (determinationn towards it), Kriyāniṣpatti (actual accomplishment of the sexual act).
In short, the Paśu or follower of the ordinary ritual (and except for ritual purposes those who are not Paśu) should, in the words of the Śāktakramīya (cited by Mahāmahopādhyāya Kṛṣṇanātha Nyāyapañchāna Bhattācāryya in his Commentary to v. 15 of the Karpūrādistotra, Tāntrik Texts, Vol. IX), avoid Maithuna, conversation on the subject and assemblies of women.
Maithunam tatkathālāpam tadgoṣṭhīm parivarjayet.
Even in marriage certain rules are to be observed such as that which prescribes intercourse on the fifth day after the termination of the period (Ritukālam vinā devi ramanam parivarjayet) which is said by the Nityā Tantra to be a characteristic of the Paśu. Polygamy is permissible to all Hindus.
The Divinity in woman, which the Śākta Tantra in particular proclaims, is also recognised in the ordinary Vaidik teaching. The wife is a House-Goddess (Gṛ̣ hadevatā) united to her husband by the sacrament (Saṃskāra) of marriage and is not to be regarded merely as an object of enjoyment. Further, Vaidik Dharma (now neglected) prescribes that the householder should ever worship with his wife as necessary partner therein, Sastrīko dharmamācaret (see also Matsyasūkta Tantra, XXXI). According to the sublime notions of Śruti the union of man and wife is a veritable sacrificial rite—a sacrifice in fire (Homa) wherein she is both hearth (Kunda) and flame—and he who knows this as Homa attains Liberation (see Mantra 13 of Homaprakarana of Bṛhadāranyaka Upaniṣad and Edward Carpenter’s remarks on what is called the “obscenity” of this Upaniṣad). Similarly, the Tāntrik Mantra for Maithuna runs (see Prāṇatoṣiṇi and Tantrasāra 698), “Oṃ, Into the Fire which is Spirit (Ātmā) brightened by (the pouring thereon) of the ghee of merit and demerit, I by the path of Suṣumnā (the central ‘nerve’) ever sacrifice (do Homa of) the functions of the senses using the mind as the ladle. Svāhā.” (In the Homa rite the performer pours ghee into the fire which causes it to shoot up and flame. The ghee is poured in with a ladle.
This being internal Homa the mind is the ladle which makes the offering of ghee).
Dharmādharma-havirdīpte ātmāgnau manasā srucā
Suṣumnāvartmanā nityam akṣavṛttīr juhomyaham: Svāhā.
Here sexual union takes on the grandeur of a great rite (Yajña) compared with which the ordinary mere animal copulation to ease desire, whether done grossly, shamefacedly, or with flippant gallantry is base. It is because this high conception of the function is not known that a “grossness” is charged against the association of sexual function with religion which does not belong to it. Grossness is properly attributable to those who mate like dumb animals, or coaraely and vulgarly, not to such as realize in this function the cosmic activity of the active Brahman or Śiva-Śakti with which they then, as always, unify themselves.
It has been already explained that Sādhakas have been divided into three classes—Paśu, Vīra and Divya, and for each the Śāstra prescribes a suitable Sādhanā, Tāmasik, Rājasik and Sāttvik accordingly. As later stated, the Pañcatattva ritual in its full literal sense is not for the Paśu, and (judging upon principle) the Divya, unless of the lower ritual order, should be beyond it. In its fullest and literal sense it is for the Vīra and is therefore called Rājasik Sādhanā or Upāsanā. It is to be noted however that Paśu, Vīra and Divya are the three primary classes (Mukhyasādhaka). Besides these there are secondary divisions (Gaunasādhaka). Thus in addition to the primary or Svabhāva Paśu there is the Vibhāva Paśu who is a step towards Vīrācāra. Vīras again have been said to be of three kinds, Svabhāva Vīra, Vibhāva Vīra, and Mantrasiddha Vīra.
It is to this Rājasik Pūjā that the Hymn to Chinnamastā from the Devīrahasyakhaṇḍa of the Rudrayāmala refers when the Vīra therein says,
Paśujanavimukho’ham Bhairavīm aśrito’ham
Gurucaranarato’ham Bhairavo’ham Śivo’ham
(“I follow the worship wherein there is enjoyment of wine, flesh and wife as also other different forms of Kula worship. In Bhairavī (the Goddess) I seek my refuge. To the feet of Guru I am devoted. Bhairava am I. Śiva am I.”)
To the ordinary English reader the association of eating, drinking, and sexual union with worship will probably be incongruous, if not downright repulsive. “Surely,” he might say, “such thmgs are far apart from prayer to God. We go and do them, it is true, because they are a necessity of our animal nature, but prayer or worship have nothing to do with such coarseness. We may pray before or after (as in Grace) on taking food, but the physical acts between are not prayer.” Such notions are based partly on that dualism which keeps separate and apart God and His creature, and partly on certain false and depreciatory notions concerning matter and material functions. According to Indian Monism such worship is not only understandable but (I am not speaking of any particular form of it) the only religious attitude consistent with its principles. Man is, in his essence or spirit, divine and one with the universal Spirit. His mind and body and all their functions are divine, for they are not merely a manifestation of the Power (Śakti) of God but that Power itself. To say that matter is in itself low or evil is to calumniate that Power. Nothing in natural function is low or impure to the mind which recognizes it as Śakti and the working of Śakti. It is the ignorant and, in a true sense, vulgar mind which regards any natural function as low or coarse. The action in this case is seen in the light of the inner vulgarity of mind. It has been suggested that in its proper application the Maithuna Karma is only an application to sexual function of the principles of Yoga (Masson-Oursel Histoire de la Philosophie Indienne, pp. 231-233). Once the reality of the world as grounded in the Absolute is established, the body seems to be less an obstacle to freedom, for it is a form of that self-same Absolute. The creative function being natural is not in itself culpable. There is no real antinomy between Spirit and Nature which is an instrument for the realization of the Spirit. The method borrows, it is said (ib.), that of Yoga not to frustrate, but to regulate enjoyment. Conversely enjoyment produces Yoga by the union of body and spirit. In the psycho-physiological rites of these Śāktas enjoyment is not merely an obstacle to Yoga but may also be a means to it. This, he says, is an important conception which recalls the discovery of the Mahāyāna that Saṃsāra and Nirvāṇa are one. For here are made one, Yoga which liberates and Bhoga which enchains (ib.). It will then be readily understood that according to this doctrine only those are competent for this Yoga who are truly free, or on the way to freedom, of all dualism.
External worship demands certain acts and instruments, such as bodily attitude, speech, and materials with which the rite is done, such as flowers, incense, lights, water and other offerings. These materials and instruments are called Upacāra. Ordinarily there are sixteen of these, but they may be more or less. There is nothing absolute in either the quality, quantity or nature of the offerings. Ordinarily such things are offered as might be given to guests or friends or others whom the worshipper loves, such as seat (Āsana), welcome (Svagata), water to wash the feet (Pādya), food (Naivedya), cloths (Vaṣana), jewels (Ābharana), with other things such as lights, incense and flowers. In inner or mental worship (Mānasapūjā) these are not things material, but of the mind of the worshipper. Pleasing things are selected as offering to the Devatābecause the worshipper wishing to please Devatā offers what he thinks to be pleasant and would be glad himself to receive. But a man who recognized the divinity (and therefore value) of all things might offer any. With such a disposition a piece of mud or a stone would be as good an offering as any other. There are some things the ordinary man looks upon as “unclean” and, as long as he does so, to offer such a thing would be an offence. But, if to his “equal eye” these things are not so, they might be given. Thus the Vīra-sādhanāof the Śākta Tantra makes ritual use of what will appear to most to be impure and repulsive substances. This (as the Jñānārṇava Tantra says) is done to accustom the worshipper not to see impurity in them but to regard them as all else, as manifestation of Divinity. He is taught that there is nothing impure in itself in natural functions though they be made, by misuse or abuse, the instruments of impurity. Here again impurity consists not in the act per se but in the way and in the intention with which it is done. To a Vīra all things, acts, and functions, done with right intention, may be instruments of worship. For, a Vīra is one who seeks to overcome Tamas by Sattva. Therefore, the natural functions of eating, drinking and sexual union may be used as Upacāra of' worship. This does not mean that a man may do what he likes as regards these things and pass them off as worship. They must be rightly done, otherwise, a man would be offering his sin to Devatā. The principle of all this is entirely sound. The only question which exists is as regards the application to which the ritual in question puts it. Worship and prayer are not merely the going aside at a particular time or place to utter set formulæ or to perform particular ritual acts. The whole of life, in all its rightful particulars, without any single exception, may be an act of worship if man but makes it so. Who can rightly deny this? Of course, as long as a man regards any function as impure or matter of shame, his mental disposition is such that he cannot worship therewith. To do so would distract and perturb him. But both to the natural-minded and illuminate man this is possible. The principle here dealt with is not entirely peculiar to this school. Those Hindus who are not Monists, [and whatever be their philosophical theories, no worshippers in practice are so, for worship connotes the dualism of worshipped (Upāsya) and worshipper (Upāsaka), of the means or instrument (Sādhana) and that to be attained thereby (Sādhya)], yet make offering of their acts to Devatā. By thus offering all their daily speech, each word they say becomes, in the words of Śāstra, Mantra. Nor, if we examine it, is the principle alien to Christianity, for the Christian may, in opening his day, offer all his acts therein to God. What he thereafter does is worship. The difference in these cases and that of the Vīra principle lies (at any rate in practice) is this, that the latter is more thorough in its application, no act or function being excluded, and in worship, the Śākta being a Monist is taught to regard the offering not as given to someone other than his own essential Self, but to That. He is thus, according to the theory of this practice, led to divinise his functions, and by their constant association with the thought of Brahman his mind is, it is said, purified and led away from all carnal desires. If these functions are set apart as something common or impure, victory is not easily won. There is still some part of his life into which Brahman does not enter and which remains the source of distraction. By associating them with religon, it is the religious feeling which works first through and then supersedes them. He thus gradually attains Divyabhāva and the state of the Devatā he has worshipped. For it is common Indian principle that the end of worship is to assimilate oneself to its object or Devatā. Thus it is said in the Agni Purāṇa that by worship of Rudra one becomes Rudra, by worship of Viṣṇu one becomes Viṣṇu, and by worship of Śakti one becomes Śakti. This is so because the mind mentally transforms itself into the likeness of that on which it is set. By thinking always, on the other hand, on sensual objects one becomes sensual. Even before worship, one should strive to attain the true attitude of worship, and so the Gandharva Tantra says, “He who is not Deva (Adeva) should not worship Deva. The Deva alone should worship Deva.” The Vira or strictly the Sādhaka qualified to enter Vīrācāra—since the true Vīra is its finished product—commences Sādhanā with this Tāmasik Upāsanāwith the Pañcatattva as Upacāra which are employed for the transformation of the sensual tendencies they connote. I have heaid the view expressed that this part of the Śāstra was really promulgated for Śūdras. Śiva knowing the animal propensities of their common life must lead them to take flesh and wine, prescribed these rites with a view to lessen the evil and to gradually wean them from enjoyment by promulgating conditions under which alone such enjoyment could be had, and in associating it with religion. “It is better to bow to Nārāyana with one’s shoes on than never to bow at all.” A man with a taste for drink will only increase his thirst by animal satisfaction (Paśupāna). But if when he drinks he can be made to regard the liquid as a divine manifestation and have thought of God, gradually such thoughts will overcome and oust his sensual desires. On the same principle children are given powders in jam, though this method is not confined to actual children only. Those who so argue contend that a Brāhmaṇa should, on no account, take wine, and Texts are cited which are said to support this view. I have dealt with this matter in the Introduction to the sixth volume of “Tāntrik Texts.” It is sufficient to say here that the reply given is that such Texts refer to the unauthorized consumption of wine as by uninitiated (Anabhiṣikta) Brahmaṇas. In the same place I have discussed the question whether wine can be taken at all by any one in this Kali age. For, according to some authorities, there is only Paśubhāva in the Kaliyuga. If this be correct then all wine-drinking, whether ritual or otherwise, is prohibited.
For the worship of Śakti, the Pañcatcattva are declared to be essential. Without the Pañcatattva in one form or another Śaktipūjā cannot be performed (Mahānirvāṇa, V. 23-24). The reason of this is that those who worship Śakti, worship Divinity as Creatrix and in the form of the universe. If She appears as and in natural function, She must be worshipped therewith, otherwise, as the Tantra cited says, worship is fruitless. The Mother of the Universe must be worshipped with these five elements, namely, wine, meat, fish, grain, and woman, or their substitutes. By their use the universe (Jagad-brahānda) itself is used as the article of worship (Upacāra). The Mahānirvāṇa (VII. 103-111) says that wine which gives joy and dispels the sorrows of men is Fire; flesh which nourishes and increases the strength of mind and body is Air; fish which increases generative power is Water, cereals grown on earth and which are the basis of life are Earth, and sexual union, which is the root of the world and the origin of all creation, is Ether. They thus signify the Power (Śakti) which produces all fiery elements, all terrestrial and aquatic life, all vegetable life, and the will, knowledge and action of the Supreme Prakṛti productive of that great bliss which accompanies the process of creation. (See also Haratattvadīdhiti XV, Kāmākhya Tantra, Nigamatattvasāra IV). The Kailāsa Tantra (Pūrvākhyā, Ch. XC) identifies this Pentad (Pañcatattva) with the five vital airs (Prānādi) and the five Mahāpreta which support the couch of Tripurasundarī.
With these preliminrtries, and postponing for the moment further comment, we may proceed to an examination in greater detail of the five (Pañca) elements (Tattva), namely, Wine (Madya), Meat (Māṃsa), Fish (Matsya), Parched Cereal (Mudrā), and Sexual Union (Maithuna) which stand for drinking, eating and propagation. Because they all commence with the letter M, they are vulgarly called Pañca-ma-kāra (or five M’s).
These Pañcatattva, Kuladravya or Kulatattva as they are called, have more esoteric names. Thus the last is known as “the fifth.” Woman is called Śakti or Prakṛti. A Tāntrik commonly calls his wife his Śakti or Bhairavi. Woman is also called Latā or “creeper,” because woman clings to and depends on man as the creeper does to the tree. Hence the ritual in which woman is enjoyed is called Latāsādhanā. Wine is called “causal water” (Kāranavāri) or Tīrtha water (Tīrthavāri).
But the Pañcatattva have not always their literal meaning. The meaning differs according as they refer to the Tāmasik (Paśvācāra), Rājasik (Vīracāra) or Sattvik (Divyācāra) Sādhanās respectively. “Wine” is only wine and Maithuna is only sexual union in the ritual of the Vīra. To the Paśu, the Vira ritual (Vīrācāra) is prohibited as unsuitable to his state, and the Diva, unless of the lower ritual kind, is beyond such things. The result is that the Pañcatattva have each three meanings. Thus “wine” may be wine (Vīra ritual), or it may be cocoanut water (Paśu ritual) or it may mean the intoxicating knowledge of the Supreme attained by Yoga, according as it is used in connection with the Vīra, the Paśu, or the Divya respectively. The Pañcatattva are thus threefold, namely, real (Pratyakṣatattva) where “wine” means wine, substitutional (Anukalpatattva) where wine means cocoanut water or some other liquid, and symbolical or divine (Divyatattva) where it is a symbol to denote the joy of Yoga-knowledge. The Paśu worships with the substitutional Tattvas mentioned later and never takes wine, the Vīra worships with wine, and the Divya’s “wine” is spiritual knowledge. There are further modifications of these general rules in the case of the intermediate Bhāvas. Thus the author next cited says that whilst the Svabhāva Vīra is a drinker of wine, the Vibhāva Vīra worships internally with the five mental Tattvas and externally with substitutes. The Mantrasiddhavīra is free to do as he pleases in this matter, subject to the general Śāstrik rules. In an essay by Pandit Jayachandra Siddhāntabhūśana, answering certain charges made against the Tantra Śāstra, he, after stating that neither the Vibhāva Vīra nor Vibhāva Paśu need worship with real wine, says that in modern Bengal this kind of worship is greatly prevalent. Such Tāntriks do not take wine but otherwise worship according to the rule of Tantra Śāstra. It is, its he says, an erroneous but common notion that a “Tāntrika” necessarily means a drinker of wine. Some Sādhakas again, in lieu of the material Maithuna, imagine the union of Śiva and Śakti in the upper brain centre known as the Sahasrāra.
The Divya Pañcatattva for those of a truly Sāttvika or spiritual temperament (Divyabhāva) have been described as follows:—“Wine” (Madya) according to Kaula Tantra (see p. 85 of Pañcatattva-vic ra by Nīlamani Mukhyopādhyāya) is not any liquid, but that intoxicating knowledge acquired by Yoga of the Parabrahman which renders the worshipper senseless as regards the external world. “Meat” (Māṃsa) is not any fleshly thing. but the act whereby the Sādhaka consigns all his acts to Me (Mām), that is, the Lord. “Fish” (Matsya) is that Sāttvik knowledge by which through the sense of “Mineness” (a play upon the word Matsya) the worshipper sympathises with the pleasure and pain of all beings. Mudrā is the act of relinquishing all association with evil which results in bondage. Coition (Maithuna) is the union of the Śakti Kuṇḍalinī, the “Inner woman” and World-force in the lowest centre (Mūlādhāra Cakra) of the Sādhaka’s body with the Supreme Śiva in the highest centre (Sahasrāra) in the upper Brain (see Essay on Kuṇḍalinī Śakti post).
This, the Yogini Tantra (Ch. VI) says, is the best of all unions for those who are Yati, that is, who have controlled their passions.
Sahasrāropari bindau kundalyā melanam Śive.
Maithunam paramuṃ dravyam yatinām parikīrtitam
According to theĀgamasāra, ‘wine’ is the Somadhārāor lunar ambrosia which drops from the Sahasrāra. “Meat” (Māṃsa) is the tongue (Mā) of which its part (Aṃśa) is speech. The Sādhaka in eating it controls his speech. “Fish” (Matsya) are those two (Vāyu or currents) which are constantly moving in the two “rivers” (that is, Yoga “nerves” or Nāḍis) called Iḍāand Piṅgala, that is, the sympathetics on each side of the spinal column. He who controls his breath by Prāṇāyāma, "eats" them by Kumbhaka or retention of breath. Mudrā is the awakening of knowledge in the pericarp of the great Sahasrāra Lotus (the upper brain) where the Ātmā resplendent as ten million suns and deliciously cool as ten million moons is united with the Devī Kuṇḍalinī, the World-force and Consciousneas in individual bodies, after Her ascent thereto from the Mūlādhāra in Yoga. The esoteric meaning of coition or Maithuna is thus stated in the Āgama. The ruddy hued Ra is in the Kunda (ordinarily the seed-mantra Raṃ is in Maṇipūra but perhaps here the Kunda in the Mūlādhāra is meant). The letter Ma [white like the autumnal moon, Sattvaguna, Kaivalyarūpa-prakṛtirūpī(Ch. 2, Kāmadhenu Tantra)] is in the Mahāyoni (not I may observe the genitals but the lightning-like triangle or Yoni in the Sahasāra or upper brain) in the form of Bindu (a Ghanībhūta or “condensed” form of Śakti and transformation of Nāda-śakti). When M (Makāra) seated on the Haṃsa (the “bird” which is the pair Śiva-Śakti as Jīva) in the form of A (A-kāra) unites with R (Ra-kāra) then Brahman knowledge (Brahmajñāna) which is the source of supreme bliss is gained by the Sādhaka who is then called Ātmārāma (Enjoyer with the Self), for his enjoyment is in the Ātmā in the Sahasrāra. (For this reason too the word Rāma, which also means sexual enjoyment, is equivalent to the liberator-Brahman, Ra + a + ma.) The union of Śiva and Śakti is described (Tantrasāra, 702) as true Yoga (Śivaśaktisamāyogo yoga eva na saṃśayah) from which, as the Yāmala says, arises that Joy which is known as the Supreme Bliss (ib., 703) (Samyogāj jāyate saukhyam paramānandalakṣanam).
This is the union on the purely Sāttvik plane which corresponds in the Rājasik plane to the union of Śiva and Śakti in the persons of their worshippers. It will have been observed that here in this Divya or Sāttvik Sādhanā “Wine,” “Woman” and so forth are really names for Yogik operations.
The substitutional Tattvas of Paśvācāra also do not answer to their names, being other substances which are taken as substitutes of wine, meat, fish (see Kulacūdāmani; Bhairavayāmala, Ch. I). These have been variously described and sometimes as follows:—In lieu of wine the Paśu should, if a Brāhmaṇa, take milk, if a Kṣatiya ghee, if a Vaiśya honey, and if a Śūdra a liquor made from rice. Cocoanut water in a bell-metal utensil is also taken as a substitute. Salt, ginger, sesamum, wheat beans (Māśakalāi) and garlic are some of the substitutes for meat; the white brinjal vegetable, red radish, masur (a kind of gram), red sesamum and Pāniphala (an aquatic plant) take the place of fish. Paddy, rice, wheat and grain generally are Mudrāboth in Tāmasik (Paśvācāra) and Rājasik (Vīrā-c āra) Sādhanās. In lieu of Maithuna there may be an offering of flowers with the hands formed into the gesture called Kacchapa-mudrā, the union of the Karavīra flower (representative of the Liṅga) with the Aprājitā(Clitoris) flower which is shaped as and represents the female Yoni and other substitutes, or there may be union with the Sādhaka’s wife. On this and some other matters here dealt with there is variant practice.
The Kaulikārcanadīpikāspeaks of what is called the Ādyatattvas. Ādyamadya or wine is hemp (Vijayā), Ādyaśuddhi or meat is ginger (Ādraka), Ādyamīna or fish is citron (Jandha), Adyamudrā is Dhānyaja, that is, made from paddy and Ādyaśakti is the worshipper’s own wife. Quoting from the Tantrātara it says that worship without these Ādya forms is fruitless. Even the strictest total abstainer and vegetarian will not object to “wine” in the shape of hot milk or cocoanut water, or to ginger or other substitutes for meat. Nor is there any offence in regarding sexual union between the Sādhaka and his wife not as a mere animal function but as a sacrificial rite (Yajña).
At this point we may pass to the literal Tattvas. Wine here is not merely grape-wine but that which is made from various substances such as molasses (Gaudi), rice (Paiṣṭi) or the Madhūka flower (Mādhvī) which are said by the Mahānirvāṇa Tantra (Ch. VI) to be the best. There are others such as wine made from the juice of the Palmyra and date tree, and aniseed (Maureya wine). Meat is of three kinds, that is, animals of the water, earth, and sky. But no female animal must be slain. Superior kinds of fish are Śāla, Pāthīna, and Rohita. Mudrā which every Orientalist whom I have read calls “ritual gesture” or the like is nothing of the kind here, though that is a meaning of the term Mudrā in another connection.
Bhṛṣṭadhānyādikam yadyad carvanīyam pracakṣate
Sā mudrā kathitā Devi sarveśām Naganandini.
(Oh Daughter of the Mountain, fried paddy and the like—in fact all such (cereals) as are chewed—are called Mudrā.)
The Mahānirvāṇa (Ch. VI) says that the most excellent is that made from Śāli rice or from barley or wheat and which has been fried in clarified butter. Meat, fish, Mudrāoffered to the Devatā along with wine is technically called Śuddhi. The Mahānirvāṇa says that the drinking of wine without Śuddhi is like the swallowing of poison and the Sādhanā is fruitless. It is not difficult to see why. For, wine taken without food has greater effect and produces greater injury. Moreover, another check on indiscriminate drinking is placed, for wine cannot be taken unless Śuddhi is obtained, prepared, and eaten with the necessary rites. Woman, or Shakti, as She is properly called, since She is purified and consecrated for the rite and represents the Devī, is of three kinds, namely, Svīyā or Svakīyā (one’s own wife), Parakīyā the wife of another or some other woman, and Sādhārani or one who is common. This aspect of the subject I deal with later. Here I will only say that, where sexual union is permitted at all, the ordinary Shakti is the Sādhaka’s Brbhmi wife. It is only under certain conditions that there can be any other Śakti. Śaktis are also of two kinds, namely, those who are enjoyed (Bhogyā) and those who we worshipped only (Pūjyā). A Sādhaka who yields to desire for the latter commits the sin of incest with his own mother.
Here again, according to Śākta notions, one must not think of these substances as mere gross matter in the form of wine, meat and so forth, nor on woman as mere woman; nor upon the rite as a mere common meal. The usual daily rites must be performed in the morning, midday and evening (Mahānirvāṇa, V. 25). These are elaborate (ib.) and take up a large part of the day. Bhūtaśuddhi is accomplished, at which time the Sādbaka thinks that a Deva body has arisen as his own. Various Nyāsas are done. Mental worship is performed of the Devī, the Ādyā Kālikā, who is thought of as being in red raiment seated on a red lotus. Her body dark like a rain-cloud, Her forehead gleaming with the light of the crescent moon. Japa of Mantra is then done and outer worship follows. A further elaborate ritual succeeds. I pause here to ask the reader to conceive the nature of the mind and disposition of the Sādaka who has sincerely performed these rites. Is it likely to be lustful or gluttonous? The curse is removed from the wine and the Sādhaka meditates upon the union of Deva and Devi in it. Wine is to be considered as Devatā. After the consecration of the wine, the meat, fish and grain are purified and are made like unto nectar. The Śakti is sprinkled with Mantra and made the Sādhaka’s own. She is the Devī Herself in the form of woman.
The wine is charged with Mantras ending with the realization (Mahānirvāṇa Tantra, VI. 42) when Homa is done, that offering is made of the excellent nectar of “This-ness” (Idantā) held in the cup of “I-ness” (Ahantā) into the Fire which is the Supreme I-ness (Parāhantā).
Parāhantāmaye vahnau homasvīkāralākṣanam.
Here the distinction is drawn between the “I” (Ahaṃ) and the “This.” The former is either the Supreme “I” (Parāhntāor Śiva) or the individual “I” (Jīva) vehicled by the “This” or Vimarśa-Śakti. The Sādhaka is the cup or vessel which is the individual Ego. “This-ness” is offered to the Supreme. Drinking is an offering to that Fire which is the transcendent Self “whence all individual selves (Jīva) proceed.” Wine is then Tārā Dravamayī, that is, the Saviouress Herself in the form of liquid matter (Mahānirvāṇa, XI. 105-107). None of the Tattvas can be offered unless first purified and consecrated, otherwise the Sādhaka goes to Hell. With further ritual the first four Tattvas are consumed, the wine being poured as an oblation into the mouth of Kuṇḍalī, after meditation upon Her as Consciousness (Cit) spread from Her seat, the Mūlādhāra to the tip of the tongue. The whole ritual is of great interest, and I hope to give a fuller exposition of it on some future day.
Worship with the Panchatattva generally takes place in a Cakra or circle composed of men and women, Sādhakas and Sādhikās, Bhairavas and Bhairavīs sitting in a circle, the Śakti being on the Sādhaka’s left. Hence it is called Cakrapūjā. A Lord of the Cakra (Cakreśvara) presides sitting with his Śakti in the centre. During the Cakra, there is no distinction of caste, but Paśus of any caste are excluded. There are various kinds of Cakra—productive, it is said, of differing fruits for the participator therein. As amongst Tāntrik Sādhakas we come across the high, the low, and mere pretenders, so the Cakras vary in their characteristics from say the Tattva-cakra for the Brahmakaulas, and the Bhairavi-cakra (as described in Mahānirvāṇa, VIII. 153) in which, in lieu of wine, the householder takes milk, sugar and honey (Madhura-traya), and in lieu of sexual union does meditation upon the Lotus Feet of the Divine Mother with Mantra, to Cakras the ritual of which will not be approved such as Cūdācakra, Ānandabhuvanayoga and others referred to later. Just as there are some inferior “Tāntrik” writings, so we find rituals of a lower type of men whose notions or practices were neither adopted by high Sādhakas in the past nor will, if they survive, be approved for practice to-day. What is wanted is a discrimination which avoids both unjust general condemnations and, with equal ignorance, unqualified commendations which do harm. I refer, in my Essay on “Śakti and Śākta,” to a modern Cakra. I heard a short time ago of a Guru, influenced by an English education, whose strictness went so far that the women did not form part of the Cakra but sat in another room. This was of course absurd.
The two main objections to the Rājasik Pūjā are from both the Hindu and European standpoint the alleged infraction of sexual morality, and from the former standpoint, the use of wine. By “Hindu” I mean those who are not Śāktas. I will deal with the latter point first. The Vīra Śākta admits the Smārta rule against the drinking of wine. He, however, says that drinking is of two kinds, namely, extra-ritual drinking for the satisfaction of sensual appetite, and the ritual drinking of previously purified and consecrated wine. The former is called Paśupāna or “animal drinking,” and Vṛthāpāna or “useless drinking”: for, being no part of worship, it is forbidden, does no good, but on the contrary injury, and leads to Hell. The Western’s drinking (even a moderate “whisky and soda”) is Paśupāna. The Vīrācārī, like every other Hindu, condemns this and regards it as a great sin. But drinking for the purpose of worship is held to stand on a different ground. Just as the ancient Vaidiks drank Soma as part of the Sacrifice (Yajña), so does the Vīra drink wine as part of his ritual. Just as the killing of animals for the purpose of sacrifice is accounted no “killing,” so that it does not infringe against the rule against injury (Ahiṃsā), so also drinking as part of worship is said not to be the drinking which the Smṛtis forbid. For this reason it is contended that the Tāntrik secret worship (Rahasya-pūjā) is not opposed to Veda. The wine is no longer the gross injurious material substance, but has been purified and spiritualized, so that the true Sādhaka looks upon it as the liquid form of the Saviour, Devī (Tārā Dravamayī). The joy it produces but a faint welling up of the Bliss (Ānanda), which in its essence it is. Wine, moreover, is then taken under certain restrictions and conditions which should, if adhered to, prevent the abuse which follows on merely sensual drinking (Paśupāna). The true Sādhaka does not perform the ritual for the purpose of drinking wine, (though. possibly in these degenerate days many do) but drinks wine in order that he may perform the ritual. Thus, to take an analogous case, a Christian abstainer might receive wine in the Eucharist believing it to be the blood of his Lord. He would not partake of the sacrament in order that he might have the opportunity of drinking wine, but he would drink wine because that is the way by which he might take the Eucharist, of which wine together with bread (Mudrā) is an element. I may here mention in this connection that not only are drops of wine sometimes sprinkled on the Prasāda (sacred food) at Durgāpūjāand thus consumed by persons who are not Vīrācārīs, but (though this is not generally known and will perhaps not be admitted) on the Prasāda which all consume at the Vaiṣṇava shrine of Jagannātha at Puri.
This question about the consumption of wine will not appear to the average European a serious affair, though it is so to the non-Śākta Hindu. So strong is the general feeling against it that when Babu Keshah Chandra Sen, in one of his imitations of Christian doctrine and ritual, started an Eucharist of his own, the elements were rice and water. It is, however, a matter of common reproach against these Tāntriks that some at least drink to excess. That may be so. From what 1 have heard but little credit attaches to the common run of this class of Tāntriks to-day. Apart from the general degeneracy which has affected all forms of Hindu relikion, it is to be remembered that in ancient times nothing was done except under the authority of the Guru. He alone could say whether his disciple was competent for any particular ritual. It was not open to any one to enter upon it and do as he pleased. Nevertheless, we must clearly distinguish between the commands of the Śāstra itself and abuses of its provisions by pretended Sādhakas. It is obvious that excessive drinking prevents the attainment of success and is a fall. As the Mahāṇirvāna (VX. 195-197; see also VIII. 171) with good sense says, “How is it possible for a sinner who becomes a fool through drink to say ‘I worship Adyā Kālikā.” William James says (“Varieties of Religious Experience,” 387) “The sway of alcohol over mankind is unquestionably due to its power to stimulate the mystical faculties of human nature, usually crushed to earth by the cold fact and dry criticisms of the sober hour. It unites. It is in fact the greatest exciter of the “Yes” function in man. It brings him from the chill periphery of things to the radiant core.” In its effect it is one bit of the mystic consciousness. Wine, as is well-known, also manifests and emphasizes the true disposition of a man (“In vino verifas.”). (As to wine, drugs and ‘anaesthetic revelation’ as to the clue to the meaning of life see R. Thouless, “Introduction to Psychology of Religion,” 61.) When the worshipper is of a previously pure and devout disposition, the moderate use of wine heightens his feelings of devotion. But if it is drunk in excess there can be no devotion at all, but only sin. This same Tantra therefore, whilst doing away with wine in the case of one class of Cakra, and limiting the consumption in any case for householders, says that excessive drinking prevents success coming to Kaula worshippers, who may not drink to such an extent that the mind is affected (literally “goes round”).
“To drink beyond this,” it says, “is bestial.”
Yāvan na cālayed dṛṣṭir yāvan na cālayen manah
Tāvat pānam prakurvvīta paśu-pānam atah param
Yet the fact that the Mahānirvāṇa thought it necessary to give this injunction is significant of some abuse. Similar counsel may be found however elsewhere; as in the Śyāmarahasya which says that excessive drinking leads to Hell.
Thus also the great Tantrarāja (Kādimata) says (Ch. VIII)
(Tāntrik Texts, Vol. VlII).—
Na kadācit pivet siddho devyarghyam aniveditam
Pānañca tāvat kurvīta yāvatā syān manolayah
Tatah karoti cet sadyah pātakī bhavati dhruvam
Devatāgurusevānyat pivannāsavam āśayā
Pātakīrājadandyaś cāvidyopāsaka eva ca.
(The Siddha should never drink the Arghya (wine) meant for the Devī, unless the same has been first offered (to Her). Drinking, again, should only be continued so long as the mind is absorbed (in the Devī). He who does so thereafter is verily a sinner. He who drinks wine through mere sensual desire and not for the purpose of worship of Devatā and Guru is a worshipper of Ignorance (Avidyā) and a sinner punishable by the King.)
It must be admitted, however, that there are to be found words and passages which, if they are to be taken literally, would indicate that wine was not always taken in moderation. (See Āsavollāsa in Kulārṇava. The Ullāsas, however, are stated to be stages of initiation.) In reading any Hindu Scripture, however, one must allow for exaggeration which is called “Stuti.” Thus if there is much meat and wine we may read of “mountains of flesh” and “oceans of wine.” Such statements were not made to be taken literally. Some descriptions again may refer to Kaulbvadhūtas who, like other “great” men in other matters, appear to have more liberty than ordinary folk. Some things may not be “the word of Śiva” at all. It is open to any one to sit down and cite a “Tantra,” “Stotra” or what not. The Ānanda Stotra, far example, reads in parts like a libertine’s drinking song. Though it has been attributed both to the Kulacūdāmani and Kulārṇava, a learned Tātrik Pandit, to whom I am much indebted and to whom I showed it, laughed and said, “How can this be the word of Shiva. It is not Śiva Śāstra. If it is not the writing of some falleu Upāsaka (worshipper), it is the work of Ācāryyas trying to tempt disciples to themselves.” Though a man of Tāntrik learning of a kind rarely met with to-day, and a practitioner of the Cakrapūjā, he told me that he had never heard of this Stotra until it was sung at a Cakra in Benares. On asking another Pandit there about it, he waa told not to trouble himself over “what these kind of people did.” Even when the words Śiva uvāca (Śiva said) appear in a work, it does not follow that it has any authority. Though all the world condemns, as does the Śāstra itself, excessive drinking, yet it cannot be said that, according to views generally accepted by the mass of men in the world to-day, the drinking of alcohol is a sin. General morality may yet account it such in some future day.
I pass then to the other matter, namely, sexual union. The ordinary rule, as the Kaulīkārcana-Dīpikā says (I refer to the exception later), is that worship should be done with the wornhipper’s own wife, called the Ādyā Śakti. This is the general Tāntrik rule. Possibly because the exception to it led to abuse, the Mahanirvāṇa (VIII. 173), after pointing out that men in the Kali age are weak of mind and distracted by lust, and so do not recognize woman (Śakti) to be the image of Deity, prescribes for such as these (in the Bhairavi Cakra) meditation on the Feet of the Divine Mother in lieu of Maithuna, or where the worship is with the Śakti (Bhogyā) in Bhairavi and Tattva Cakra the worshipper should be wedded to his Śakti according to Śaiva rites. It adds (ib., 129) that “the Vīra, who without marriage worships by enjoyment a Śakti, is without doubt guilty of the sin of going with another woman.” Elsewhere (VI. 14) it points out that when the evil age (Kaliyuga) is at its strength, the wife alone should be the fifth Tattva for “this is void of all defect” (Sarva-dośa-vivarjita). The Sammohana Tantra (Ch. 2) also says that the Kali age is dominated by lust (Kāma) and it is then most difficult to subjugate the senses and that by reason of the prevalence of ignorance (Avidyā) the female Yoni is used for worship. That is, by reason of the material nature of man a material form is used to depict the supreme Yoni or Cause of all. The commentator on the Mahāṇirvāna Tantra, Pandit Jaganmohana Tarkālankāra (see Bhakta Ed. 345) says, however, that this rule is not of universal application. Śiva (he says) in this Tantra prohibited Sādhanā with the fifth Tattva with other Śaktis in the case of men of ordinary weak intellect ruled by lust; but for those who have by Sādhanā conquered their passions and attained the state of a true Siddha Vīra, there is no prohibition as to the mode of Latāsāhanā. With this I deal later, but meanwhile I may observe that because there is a Śakti in the Cakra it does not follow that there is sexual intercourse, which, when it occurs in the worship of householders, ordinarily takes place outside the Cakra. Śaktis are of two kinds—those who are enjoyed (Bhogyā Śakti) and those who are worshipped only (Pūjyā) as earthly representatives of the Supreme Mother of all. Those who yield to desire, even in thought, as regards the latter commit the sin of incest with their mother. Similarly, there is a widespread practice amongst all Śāktns of worship of Virgins (Kumārīp ūyā)—a very beautiful ceremony. So also in Brahmarājayoga there is worship of virgins only.
It is plain that up to this point there is (apart from the objection of other Hindus to wine) nothing to be said against the morality of the Sādhanā prescribed, though some may take exception to the association of natural function of any kind, however legitimate, with what they regard as worship. This is not a question of morality and I have dealt with it. The reader will also remember that the ritual already described applies to the general mass of worshippers, and that to which I am passing is the ritual of the comparatively few, and so-called advanced Sādhakas. The charge of immorality against all Śāktas, whether following this ritual or not, fails, and people need not run away in fear on hearing that a man is a “Tāntrik.” He may not be a Śākta Tāntrik at all, and if he is a Śākta, he may have done nothing to which the world at large will take moral exception.
I now pass to another class of cases. Generally speaking, we may distinguish not only between Dakṣinācāra and Vāmācāra in which the full rites with wine and Śakti are performed, but also between a Vāma and Dakṣina division of the latter Ācāra itself. It is on the former side that there is worship with a woman (ParakīyāŚakti) other than the Sādhaka’s own wife (Svakīyā Śakti). But under what circumstances? It is necessary (as Professor de la Vallée Poussin, the Catholic Belgian Sanskritist, says (Adhikarma-pradīpa, 142) of the Buddhist Tantra) to remember the conditions under which these Tāntrik rituals are, according to the Śāstra, admissible, when judging of their morality, otherwise, he says condemnation becomes excessive (“Je crois d’ailleurs qu’on a exageré la charactére d’immoralite des actes liturgiques de Maithuna faute d’avoir fixé les diverses conditions dans lesquelles ils doivent etre practiqués.” See also Masson-Oursel Esquisse d’une Histoire de la Philosophie Indienne 1923, p. 230, who says that Western people often see obscenity where there is only symbolism.) As I have said, the ordinary rule is that the wife or Ādyā Śakti should be co-performer (Sahadharminī) in the rite. An exception, however, exists where the Sādhaka has no wife or she is incompetent (Anadhikārinī). There seems to be a notion that the Śāstra directs union with some other person than the Sādhaka’s wife. This is not so. A direction to go after other women as such would be counsel to commit fornication or adultery. What the Śāstra says is—that if the Sādhaka has no wife, or she is incompetent (Anadhikārinī), then only may the Sādhaka take some other Śakti. Next, this is for the purpose of ritual worship only. Just as any extra-ritual drinkiug is sin, so also outside worship any Maithuna, otherwise than with the wife, is sin. The Tattvas of each kind can only be offered after purification (Śodhana) and during worship according to the rules, restrictions, and conditions of the Tāntrik ritual. (See Tantrasāra, 698, citing Bhāvacūdāmani, Uttara-Kulāmṛta. In Ch. IV, Bṛhannīla Tantra it is said Pradārān na gaccheran gacchec ca prāpayed yadi, but that is for purposes of worship).
Pūjākālam vinā nānyam puruṣam manasā srpṛṣet
Pūjā-kāle cha Deveśi veśyevan paritośayet.
What then is the meaning of this “competency” the non-existence of which relaxes the ordinary rule?
The principle on which worship is done with another Śakti is stated in the Guhyakālīkhaṇḍa of the Mahākāla Saṃhitā as follows:—
Yādriśah sādhakah proktah sādhikā ’pi ca tādṛṣī
Tatah siddhim av avāpnoti nānyathā varśa-kotibhih.
(“As is the competency of the Sādhaka so must be that of the Sādhikā. In this way only is success attained and not otherwise even in ten million years.”)
That is both the man and the woman must be on the same level and plane of development. Thus, in the performance of the great Śodhānyāsa, the Śakti must be possessed of the same powers and competency as the Sādhakā. In other words, a Sahadharminī must have the same competency as the Sādhaka with whom she perfomis the rite. Next, it is not for any man at his own undisciplined will to embark on a practice of this kind. He can only do so if adjudged competent by his Guru. A person of an ignorant, irreligious, and lewd disposition is, properly, incompetent. Then, it is commonly thought, that because another Śakti is permitted, unlimited promiscuity is allowed. This is of course not so. It must be admitted that the Śākta Tantra at least pretends to be a religious Scripture, and could not as such directly promote immorality in this way. For, under no pretence can morality, or Sādhanāfor spiritual advancement, be served by directions for, or tacit permissions of, uncontrolled promiscuous sexual intercourse. There may, of course, have been hypocrites wandering around the country and its women who sought to cover their lasciviousness with the cloak of a pretended religion. But this is not Sādhanābut conscious sin. The fruit of Sādhanā is lost by license and the growth of sensuality. The proper rule, I am told, is that the relationship with such a Shakti should be of a permanent character; it being indeed held that a Śakti who is abandoned by the Sādhaka takes away with her the latter’s merit (Punya). The position of, such a Śakti may be described as a wife “in religion” for the Sādhaka, one who being of his competency (Adhikāra) works with him as Sahadharminī, in the performance of the rituals of their common cult. In all cases, the Śakti must be first made lawful according to the rules of the cult by the performance of the Śaiva sacrament (Śaiva-saṃskāra). From a third party view it may, of course, be said that the necessity for all this is not seen. I am not here concerned with that, but state the rules of the cult as I find it. It is desirable, in the interests both of the history of religion and of justice to the cult described, to state these facts accurately. For, it is sound theology, that good faith is inconsistent with sin. We cannot call a man immoral who is acting according to his lights and in faith. Amongst a polygamous people such as were the Jews and as are the Hindus, it would be absurd to call a man immoral, who in good faith practised that polygamy which was allowable by the usage which governed him. Other Hindus might or might not acknowledge the status of a Śaiva wife. But a Śaiva who was bound to a woman in that form would not be an immoral man. Immorality, in the sense in which an individual is made responsible for his actions, exists where what is believed to be wrong is consciously followed. And so whilst a Tāntrik acting in good faith and according to his Śāstra is not in this sense immoral, other Tāntriks who misused the ritual for their libidinous purposes would be so. So, of course, would also be those who to-day, without belief in the Tantra Śāstra, and to satisfy their passions, practised such rituals as run counter to prevalent social morality. Though the genuine Tāntrik might be excused, they would not escape the charge. When, however, we are judging a religion by the standard of another, which claims to be higher, the lower religion may be considered immoral. The distinction is commonly overlooked which exists between the question whether an individual is immoral and whether the teaching and practice which he follows is so. We may, with logical consistency, answer the first in the negative and the second in the affirmative. Nevertheless, we must mention the existence of some practices which seem difficult to explain and justify, even on the general principles upon which Tāntrik Sādhanā proceeds. Peculiar liberties have been allowed to the Siddha Vīras who are said to have taken part in them. Possibly they are non-existent to-day. A Siddha Vīra, I may incidentally explain, is a Vīra who has become accomplished (Siddha) by doing the rite called Puraṣcarana of his Mantra the number of times multiplied by one lakh (100,000) that the Mantra contains letters. A Pandit friend tells me that the Siddhamālarahasya describes a rite (Chūdācakra) in which fifty Siddha Vīras go with fifty Śaktis, each man getting his companion by lot by selecting one out of a heap of the Śaktis’ jackets (Chūdā). His Śakti is the woman to whom the jacket belongs. In the Snehacakra (Love Cakra), the Siddha Vīras pair with the Śaktis according as they have a liking for them. Ānandabhuvanayoga is another unknown rite performed with not less than three and not more than one hundred and eight Śaktis who surround the Vīra. He unites with one Śakti (Bhogyā śakti) and touches the rest. In the Urnā Cakra (Urnā = spider’s web) the Vīras sit in pairs tied to one another with cloths. A clue to the meaning of these rites may perhaps be found in the fact that they are said to have been performed at the instance, and at the cost, of third parties for the attainment of some worldly success. Thus the first was done, I am told, by the Rājās to gain success in battle. If this be so they belong rather to the side of magic than of religion, and are in any case no part of the ordinary Sādhanā to attain the true Siddhi which is spiritual advancement. It may also be that just as in the ordinary ritual Brāhmaṇas are fed and receive gifts, these Cakras were, in part at least, held with the same purpose by the class of people who had them performed. It is also to be noted (I report what I am told) that the body of the Śakti in the Cakra is the Yantra. By the union of Vīra and Śakti, who is a form (Ākāra) of the Devī, direct union is had with the latter who being pleased grants all that is desired of Her. There is thus what is technically called Pratyakṣa of Devatāwheras in Kumārī-pūjā and in Śavasādhanā the Devī speaks through the mouth of the virgin or the corpse respectively. The Siddha Vīras communicate with Śiva and Śakiti in Avadhūtaloka.
The quedion of differing views and practice was noted long ago by the author of the Dabistan (Vol. 2, pp. 154, 164, Ed. 1843) who says that on a learned Śākta being shown a statanent, apparently counselling immorality, in a book abused it, saying thst the Text was contrary to custom and that no euch thing was to be found in the ancient books. The Muslim author of the Dabistan says that there is another clam of Śāktas, quite different from those previously alluded to by him, who drink no wine and never have intercourse with the wife of another.
I, the more readily here and elsewhere state what is unfavourable to this Śāstra, as my object is not to “idealise” it (a process to which my strong bent towards the clear and accurate statement of facts is averse) but to describe the practice as I find it to be; on which statement a just judgment may be founded. After all men have been and are of all kinds high and low, ignorant and wise, bad and good, and just as in the Āgamas there are differing schools, so it is probble that in the Śākta practices themselves there are the same differences.
Lastly, the doctrine that the illuminate knower of Brahman (Brahmajñānī) is above both good (Dharma) and evil (Adharma) should be noted. Such an one is a Svecchācārī whose way is Svecchāchāra or “do as you will.” Similar doctrines and practice in Europe are there called Antinomian. The doctrine is not peculiar to the Tantas. It is to be found in the Upaniṣads, and is in fact a very commonly held doctrine in India. Here again, as so stated and as understood outside India, it has the appearance of being worse than it really is. If Monistic views are accepted, then theoretically we must admit that Brahman is beyond good and evil, for these are tern of relativity applicable to beings in this world only. Good has no meaning except in relation to evil and vice versa. Brahman is beyond all dualities, and a Jñānī who has become Brahman (Jīvanmukta) is also logically so. It is, however, equally obvious that if a man has complete Brahman-consciousness he will not, otherwise than unconsciously, do an act which if done consciously would be wrong. He is ex hypothesi beyond lust, gluttony and all other passions. A theoretical statement of fact that a Brahmajñāni is beyond good and evil is not a statement that he may will to do, and is permitted to do, evil. Statements as regards the position of a Jīvanmukti are mere praise or Stuti. In Svecchāchāra there is theoretical freedom, but it is not consciously availed of to do what is known to be wrong without fall and pollution. Svecchācārini is a name of the Devī, for She does what She pleases since She is the Lord of all. But of others the
Śaktisaṃgama Tantra (Part IV) says—
Thatā ’pi laukikācāram manasāpi na langhayet.
(“Though a man be a knower of the Three Times, past, present, and future, and though he be a Controller of the three worlds, even then he should not transgress the rules of conduct for men in the world, were it only in his mind.”)
What these rules of conduct are the Śāstra provides. Those who wrote this and similar counsels to be found in the Tantra Śāstras may have prescribed methods of Sādhanā which will not be approved, but they were not immoralminded men. Nor, whatever be the actual results of their working (and some have been evil) was their Scripture devised with the intention of sanctioning or promoting what they believed to be immoral. They promoted or oountenanced some dangerous practices under certain limitations which they thought to be safeguards. They have led to abuse as might have been thought to be probable.
Let us now distil from the mass of material to which I have only cursorily referred, those principles underlying the practice which are of worth from the standpoint of Indian Monism of which the practice is a remarkable illustration. The three chief .physical appetites of man are eating and drinking whereby his body is sustained, and sexual intercourse whereby it is propagated. Considered in themselves they are natural and harmless. Manu puts this very clearly when he says, “There is no wrong (Dośa) in the eating of meat and drinking of wine, nor in sexual intercourse, for these are mtural inclinations of men. But abstention therefrom is productive of great, fruit.” Here I may interpose and say that the Tāntrik method is not a forced abstention but a regulated use with the right Bhāva, that is, Advaitabhāva or monistic feeling. When this is perfected, natural desires drop away (except so far as their fulfilment is absolutely necessary for physical existence) as things which are otherwise of no account. How is this done? By transforming Paśubhhva into Vīrabhāva. The latter is the feeling, disposition, and character of a Vīra.
All things spring from and are at base Ānanda or Bliss whether it is perceived or not. The latter, therefore, exists in two forms; as Mukti which is Ānandasvarūpa or transcendent, unlimited one, and as Bhukti or limited worldly bliss. Tāntrik Sādhanāclaims to give both, because the one of dual aspect is both. The Vīra thus knows that Jīvātmā and Paramātmā are one; that it is the One Śiva who appears in the form of the multitude of men and who acts, suffers, and enjoys through them. The Śivasvarūpa is Bliss itself (Paramānanda). The Bliss of enjoyment (Bhogānanda) is one and the same Bliss manifesting itself through the limiting forms of mind and matter. Who is it who then enjoys and what Bliss is thus manifested? It is Śiva in the forms of the Universe (Viśvarūpa) who enjoys, and the manifested bliss is a limited form of that Supreme Bliss which in His ultimate nature He is. In his physical functions the Vīra identifies himself with the collectivity of all functions which constitute the universal life. He is then consciously Śiva in the form of his own and all other lives. As Śiva exists both in His Svarūpa and as the world (Viśvarūpa), so union may, and should, be had with Him in both aspects. These are known as Sūkṣma and Sthūla Sāmarasya respectively. The Sādhaka is taught not to think that we are one with the Divine in Liberation only, but here and now, in every act we do. For in truth all such is Śakti. It is Śiva who as Śakti is acting in and through the Sādhaka. So though, according to the Vaidik injunctions, there is no eating or drinking before worship, it is said in the Śākta Tantra that he who worships Kālikā when hungry and thirsty angers Her. Those who worship a God who is other than their own Essential Self may think to please Him by such acts, but, to the Śākta, Śiva and Jīva are one and the same. Why then should one give pain to Jīva? It was, I think, Professor Royce who said, borrowing (though probably unconsciously) an essential Tāntrik idea, that God suffers and enjoys in and as and through man. This is so. Though the Brahmasvarūpa is nothing but the perfect, actionless Bliss, yet it is also the one Brahman who as Jīva suffers and enjoys; for there is none other. When this is realized in every natural function, then, each exercise thereof ceases to be a mere animal act and becomes a religious rite—a Yajña. Every function is a part of the Divine Action (Śakti) in Nature. Thus, when taking drink in the form of wine the Vīra knows it to be Tārā Dravamayī, that is, “the Saviour Herself in liquid form.” How (it is said) can he who truly sees in it the Saviour Mother receive from it harm? Meditating on Kuṇḍalinī as pervading his body to the tip of his tongue, thinkinehimself to be Light which is also the Light of the wine he takes, he says, “I am She,” (Sā’ham) “I am Brahman,” “I Myself offer offering (Ahuti) to the Self, Svāhā.” When, therefore, the Vīra eats, drinks or has sexual intercourse he does so not with the thought of himself as a separate individual satisfying his own peculiar limited wants; an animal filching as it were from nature the enjoyment he has, but thinking of himself in such enjoyment as Śiva, saying “Śivo’ham,” “Bhairavo’ham.” Right sexual union may, if assooiated with meditation and ritual, be the means of spiritual advance; though persons who take a vulgar and animal view of this function will not readily understand it. The function is thereby ennobled and receivee a new significance. The dualistic notions entertained, by both some Easterns and Westerns, that the “dignity” of worship is necessarily offended by association with natural function is erroneous. As Tertullian eays, the Eucharist was established at a meal. (As to sacramental meals and “Feeding on the Gods,” see Dr. Angus’ “The Mystery Religions and Christianity,” p.
127.) Desire is often an enemy but it may be made an ally. A right method does not exclude the body, for it is Devatā. It is a phase of Spirit and belongs to, and is an expression of, the Power of the Self. The Universe was created by and with Bliss. That same Bliss manifests, though faintly, in the bodies of men and women in union. At such time the ignorant Pashu is intent on the satisfaction of his passion only, but Kulasādhakas then meditate on the Yogānanda Mūrti of Śiva-Śakti and do Japa of their Iṣṭamantra thus making them, in the words of the Kālīkulasarvasva, like sinless Śuka. If the union be legitimate what, I may ask, is wrong in this? On the contrary the physical function is ennobled and divinised. An act which is legitimate does not become illegitimate because it is made a part of worship (Upāsanā). This is Vīrabh va. An English writer has aptly spoken of “the profound pagan inethct to glorify the generative impulse with religious ritual” (Times Lit. Supp., 11-6-1926). The Śākta is s developed and typical case.
The notions of the Paśu are in varying degree the reverse of all this. If of the lowest type, he only knows himself as a separate entity who enjoys. Some more sophisticated, yet in truth ignorant, enjoy and are ashamed; and thus think it unseemly to implicate God in the supposed coarseness of His handiwork as physical function. Some again, who are higher, regard these functions as an acceptable gift of God to them as lowly creatures who enjoy and are separate from Him. The Vaidikas took enjoyment to be the fruit of the sacrifice and the gift of the Devas. Others who are yet higher offer all that they do to the One Lord. This dualistic worship is embodied in the command of the Gītā, “Tat madarpanam kuruśv.” “Do all this as an offering to Me.” What is “all”? Does it mean all or some particular things only? But the hlghest Sādhanāfrom the Monistic standpoint, and which in its Advaitabhāva differs from all others, is that of the Śākta Tantra which proclaim that the Sādhaka is Śiva and that it is Śiva who in the form of the S ādhaka enjoys.
So much for the principle involved to which, whether it be accepted or not, cannot be truly denied nobility and grandeur.
The application of this principle is of greatly less interest and importance. To certain of such ritual applications may be assigned the charges commonly made against this Śāstra, though without accurate knowledge and discrimination. It was the practice of an age the character of which was not that of our own. The particular shape which the ritual has taken is due, I think, to historical causes. Though the history of the Āgamas is still obscure, it is possible that this Pañcatattva-Karma is in substance a continuation, in altered form, of the old Vaidik usage in which eating and drinking were a part of the sacrifice (Yajña), though any extra-ritual drinking called “useless” (Vrithāpāna) or Paśu drinking (Paśupāna) in which the Western (mostly a hostile critic of the Tantra Śāstra) so largely indulges, is a great sin. The influence, however, of the original Buddhism and Jainism were against the consumption of meat and wine; an influence which perhaps continued to operate on postBuddhistic Hinduism up to the present day, except among certain followers of the Āgamas who claimed to represent the earlier traditions and usages. I say “certain,” because (as I have mentioned) for the Paśu there are substitutes for wine and meat and so forth; and for the Divya the Tattvas are not material things but Yoga processes. I have shown the similarities between the Vaidik and Tāntrik ritual in my paper on “Śakti and Śākta” to which I refer. If this suggestion of mine be correct, whilst the importance and prevalence of the ancient ritual will diminish with the passage of time and the changes in religion which it effects, the principle will always retain its inherent value for the followers of the Advaita Vedānta. It is capable of application according to the modern spirit without recourse to Cakras and their ritual details in the ordinary daily life of the householder within the bounds of his Dharmaśāstra.
Nevertheless the ritual has existed and still exists, though at the present day often in a form free from the objections which are raised against certain ancient liberties of practice which led to abuse. It is necessary, therefore, both for the purpose of accuracy and of a just criticism of its present adherents, to consider the intention with which the ritual was prescribed and the mode in which that intention was given effect to. It is not the fact, as commonly alleged, that the intention of the Śāstra was to promote and foster any form of sensual indulgence. If it was, then, the Tantras would not be a Śāstra at all whatever else they might contain. Śāstra, as I have previously said, comes from the root “Śās” to control; that is, Śāstra exists to control men within the bounds set by Dharma. The intention of this ritual, when rightly understood, is, on the contrary, to regulate natural appetite, to curb it, to lift it from the trough of mere animality; and by associating it with religious worship, to effect a passage from the state of desire of the ignorant Paśu to the completed Divyabhāva in which there is desirelessness. It is another instance of the general principle to which I have referred that man must be led from the gross to the subtle. A Sādhaka once well explained the matter to me thus: Let us suppose, he said, that man’s body is a vessel filled with oil which is the passions. If you simply empty it and do nothing more, fresh oil will take its place issuing from the Source of Desire which you have left undestroyed. If, however, into the vessel there is dropped by slow degrees the Water of Knowledge (Jñāna), it will, as being heavier than oil, descend to the bottom of the vessel and will then expel an equal quantity of oil. In this way all the oil of passion is gradually expelled and no more can re-enter, for the water of Jñāna will then have wholly taken its place. Here again the general principle of the method is good. As the Latins said, “If you attempt to expel nature with a pitchfork it will come back again.” You must infuse something else as a medicament against the ills which follow the natural tendency of desire to exceed the limits which Dharma sets.
The Tantrik Pandit Jaganmohana Tarkhlānkāra in his valuable notes appended to the commentary on the Mahānirvāṇa Tantra of Hariharānanda Bharati, the Guru of the celebrated “Reformer” Rājā Ram-Mohan Roy (Ed. of K. G. Bhakta, 1888), says, “Let us consider what most contributes to the fall of a man, making him forget his duty, sink into sin and die an early death. First among these are wine and women, fish, meat, Mudrāand accessories. By these things men have lost their manhood. Śiva then desires to employ these very poisons in order to eradicate the poison in the human system. Poison is the antidote for poison. This is the right treatment for those who long for drink or lust for women. The physician must, however, be en experienced one. If there be a mistake as to the application the patient is likely to die. Śiva has said that the way of Kulācāra is as difficult as it is to walk on the edge of a sword or to hold a wild tiger. There is a secret argument in favour of the Pañcatattva, and those Tattvas so understood should be followed by all. None, however, but the initiate can grasp this argument, and therefore Śiva has directed that it should not be revealed before anybody and everybody. An initiate when he sees a woman will worship her as his own mother and Goddess (Iṣṭadevatā) and bow before her. The Viṣṇu Purāṇa says that by feeding your desires you cannot satisfy them. It is like pouring ghee on fire. Though this is true, an experienced spiritual teacher (Guru) will know how, by the application of this poisonous medicine, to kill the poison of the world (Saṃsāra). Śiva has, however, prohibited the indiscriminate publication of this. The object of Tāntrik worship is Brahmasāyujya or union with Brahman. If that is not attained nothing is attained. And with men’s propensities as they are, this can only be attained through the special treatment prescribed by the Tantras. If this is not followed, then the sensual propensities are not eradicated and the work is, for the desired end of Tantra, as useless as harmful magic (Abhicāra) which, worked by such a man, leads only to the injury of himself and others.” The passage cited refers to the necessity for the spiritual direction of the Guru. To the want of such is accredited the abuse of the system. When the patient (Śiṣya) and the disease are working together, there is poor hope for the former: but when the patient, the disease and the physician are on one, and that the wrong side, then nothing can save him from a descent in that downward path which it is the object of Sādhanā to prevent.
All Hindu schools seek the suppression of mere animal worldly desire. What is peculiar to the Kaulas is the particular method employed for the transformation of desire. The Kulārṇava Tantra says that man must be taught to rise by the means of those very things which are the cause of his fall. “As one falls on the ground, one must lift oneself by aid of the ground.” So also the Buddhist Subhāsita Saṅgraha says that a thorn is used to pick out a thorn. Properly applied the method is a sound one. Man falls through the natural functions of drinking, eating, and sexual intercourse. If these are done with the feeling (Bhāva) and under the conditions prescribed, then they become (it is taught) the instruments of his uplift to a point at which such ritual is no longer necessary and is surpassed.
In the first edition of the work, I spoke of Antinomian Doctrine and Practice, and of some Śākta theories and rituals which have been supposed to be instances of it. The word, however, requires explanation, or it may (I have since thought) lead to error in the present connection. There is always danger in applying Western terms to facts of Eastern life. Antinomianism is the name for heretical theories and practices which have arisen in Christian Europe. In short, the term, as generally understood, has a meaning in reference to Christianity, namely, contrary or opposed to Law, which here is the Judaic law as adopted and modified by that religion. The Antinomian, for varying reasons, considered himself not bound by the ordinary laws of conduct. It is not always possible to state with certainty whether any particular sect or person alleged to be Antinomian was in fact such, for one of the commonest charges made against sects by their opponents is that of immorality. We are rightly warned against placing implicit reliance on the accounts of adversaries. Thus charges of nocturnal orgies were made against the early Christians, and by the latter against those whom they regarded as heretical dissidents, such as Manichæans, Montanists, Priscillianists and others, and against most of the mediæval sects such as the Cathari, Waldenses and Fracticelli. Nor can we be always certain as to the nature of the theories held by persons said to be Antinomian, for in a large number of cases we have only the accounts of orthodox opponents. Similarly, hitherto every account of the Śākta Tantra was given by persons both ignorant of, and hostile to it. In some cases it would seem (I speak of the West) that Matter was held in contempt as the evil product of the Demiurge. In others Antinomian doctrine and practice was based on “Pantheism.” The latter in the West has always had as one of its tendencies a leaning towards, or adoption of Antinomianism. Mystics in their identification with God supposed that upon their conscious union with Him they were exempt from the rules governing ordinary men. The law was spiritualized into the one precept of the Love of God which ripened into a conscious union with Him, one with man’s essence. This was deemed to be a sinless state. Thus Amalric of Bena (d. 1204) is reputed to have said that to those constituted in love no sin is imputed (Dixerat etiam quod in charitate constitutis nullum peccatum imputabatur). His followers are alleged to have maintained that harlotry and other carnal vices are not sinful for the spiritual man, because the spirit in him, which is God, is not affected by the flesh and cannot sin, and because the man who is nothing cannot sin so long as the Spirit which is God is in him. In other words, sin is a term relative to man who may be virtuous or sinful. But in that state beyond duty, which is identification with the Divine Essence, which at root man is, there is no question of sin. The body at no time sins. It is the state of mind which constitutes sin, and that state is only possible for a mind with a human and not divine consciousness. Johann Hartmann is reputed to have said that he had become completely one with Godthat a man free in spirit is impeccable and can do whatever he will, or in Indian parlance he is Svecchācāri. (See Dollinger’s Beiträge zur Sektengeschichte des Mittelalter’s ii. 384.) This type of Antinomianism is said to have been widespread during the later middle ages and was perpetuated in some of the parties of the so-called Reformation. Other notions leading to similar results were based on Quietistic and Cadvinistic tenets in which the human will was so subordinated to the Divine will as to lose its freedom. Thus Gomar (A.D. 1641) maintained that “sins take place, God procuring and Himself willing that they take place.” God was thus made the author of sin. It has been alleged that the Jesuit casuists were “constructively antinomian” because of their doctrines of philosophical sin, direction of attention, mental reservation, and probabilism. But this is not so, whatever may be thought of such doctrines. For here there was no question of opposition to the law of morality, but theories touching the question “in what that law consisted” and whether any particular act was in fact a violation of it. They did not teach that the law could in any case be violated, but dealt with the question whether any particular act was such a violation. Antinomianism of several kinds and based on varying grounds has been charged against the Manichæans, the Gnostics generally, Cainites, Carpocrates, Epiphanes, Messalians (with their promiscuous sleeping together of men and women), Adamites, Bogomiles, followers of Amalric of Bena, Brethren of the Free Spirit, Beghards, Fratricelli, Johann Hartmann (2a man free in spirit is impeccable”); the pantheistic “Libertines” and “Familists” and Ranters of the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries (“Nothing is sin but what a man thinks to be so”; “God sees no sin in him who knows himself to be in a state of grace”; see Gataker’s ‘Antinomianism Discovered and Refuted,’ A.D. 1632 and see Rufus Jones’ “Studies in Mystical Religion,” Ch. XIX), the Alumbrados or Spanish Illuminate (Prabuddha) Mystics of the Sixteenth Century; Magdalena de Cruce d’Aguilar and others (Mendes y Pelayo—“Historia de los Heterodoxos Espanoles”) whose teachings according to Malvasia (Catalogus onmium haeresium et conciliorum) contained the following proposition, “A perfect man cannot sin; even an act which outwardly regarded must be looked upon as vicious cannot contaminate the soul which lives in mystical union with God.” “The Holy and Sinless Baptists” held that the elect could not sin, an antinomian doctrine which has often appeared in the history of theological-ethical speculation to the effect that the believer might do what he liked, since if he sinned, it affected the body only, with which his soul had no more to do than with any of the other things of this world (Belfort Bax Ambaptists 35). The Free Brothers held that for the rebaptized, sin was impossible as no bodily act could affect the soul of the believer. Women did not sin who went with Brethren because there was a spiritual bond between them (ib., 38). Kessler alleges that the Votaries practised sensuality on the plea that their souls were dead to the flesh and that all the flesh did was by the will of God (ib., 62). The Alumbrada Francisca Garcia is alleged to have said that her sexual excesses were in obedience to the voice of God and that “carnal indulgence was embracing God” (Lea’s Inquisition in Spain, III. 62). Similar doctrines are alleged of the French Illuminés called Guerinets of the Seventeenth Century; the German “Theosophers” of Schonherr: Eva Von Buttler: the Muckers of the Eighteenth Century; some modern Russian sects (Tsakni “La Russie Sectaire”) and others. Whilst it is to be remembered that in these and other cases we must receive with caution the accounts given by opponents, there is no doubt that Antinomianism, Svecchācāra and the like is a wellknown phenomenon in religious history often associated with so-called “Pantheistic” doctrines. The Antinomian doctrines of the Italian nuns, Spighi and Buonamici, recorded by Bishop Scipio de Ricci “L’uomo e nato libero y nessuno lo puo legare nello spirito:” “man is born free and none can chain his free Spirit” are here dealt with in more detail, for the writer Edward Sellon (“Annotations on the writings of the Hindus”) thought that he had found in the last cited case an instance of “Tāntrik doctrine” in the convents of Italy in the Eighteenth Century. I will give some reasons, which refute his view, the more particularly because they are contained in a very rare work, namely, the fist edition of De Potter’s “Vie de Scipion de Ricci Eveque de Pistoie et Prato,” published at Brussels in 1825, and largely withdrawn at the instance of the Papal Court. The second edition is, I believe, much expurgated. Receiving report of abuses in the Dominican convent of St. Catherine de Prato, the Bishop of Pistoia and Prato made an inquisition into the conduct of the nuns, and in particular as to the teaching and practice of their leaders, the Sister Buonamici, formerly Prioress and afterwards novice-mistress, and the Sister Spighi, assistant novice-mistress. De Potter’s work contains the original interrogatories, in Italian (I. 381) in the writing of ‘Abbe Laurent Palli,’ Vicar-Episcopal at Prato, taken in 1781 and kept in the archives of the Ricci family. The Teaching of the two Sisters I summarise as follows:— “God” (I. 413, 418) “is a first principle (Primo principio) who is a collectivity (in Sanskrit Samaṣṭi) of all men and things (un complesso di tutti le cose anzi di tutto il genere umano). The universal Master or God is Nature (ci e il maestro, ohe e Iddio ceve la natura). As God is the totality of the universe and is nothing but Nature we all participate in the Divine Essence (Questo Dio non e altre che la Natura, Noi medesimi per questo ragione participiano in qualche maniera dell’esser divino). Man’s soul is a mortal thing consisting of Memory, Intelligence and Will. It dies with the body disappearing as might a mist. Man is free and therefore none can enchain his free spirit (I. 428). The only Heaven and Hell which exists is the Heaven and Hell in this world. There is none other. After death there is neither pleasure nor suffering. The Spirit, being free, it is the intention which renders an act bad.
It is sufficient (I. 460) to elevate the spirit to God and then no action, whatever it be, is sin
(Essendo il nostro spirito libro, l’intenzione e quello que rende cattiva l’azione. Basta dunque colla mente elevarsi a Dio perche qualsivoglia azione non sia peccato).
There is no sin. Certain (impure) acts are not sin provided that the spirit is always elevated to God. Love of God and one’s neighbour is the whole of the commandments. Man (I. 458) who unites with God by means of woman satisfies both commandments. So also does he who, lifting his spirit to God, has enjoyment with a person of the same sex or alone (Usciacmo con alcuno d’equal sesso o da se soli). To be united with God is to be united as man and woman.
The eternal life (I. 418) of the soul and Paradise in this world is the transubstantiation (or it may be transfusion) which takes place when man is united with woman
(Depone credere questa vita eterna dell’anima essere la transustanziazione (forse transfusione) nell’unirsi che fa l’uomo con la donna).
Marie Clodesinde Spighi having stated that Paradise consisted in the fruition in this world of the Enjoyment of God (la fruizione de Dio) was asked “How is this attained?” Her reply was, by that act by which one unites oneself with God. “How again,” she was questioned, “is this union effected?”
To which the answer was “by co-operation of man and woman in which I recognize God Himself.” I. 428.
(Mediante l’uomo nel quale ci riconosco Iddio.)
Everything was permissible because man was free, though sots might obey the law enjoyed for the general governance of the world. Man, she said, (I. 420) can be saved in all religions
(In tutti le religione ci possiamo salvare).
In doing that which we erroneously call impure is real purity ordained by God, without which man cannot arrive at a knowledge of Him who is the truth
(e esercitundo erroncamente quello che diciamo impurita era la vera purita: quall Iddio ci comanda e virole noi pratichiamo, e senza della quale non vi e maniera di trovare Iddio, che e verita).
“Where did you get all this doctrine?” The sister said “I gathered it from my natural inclinations”
(L’ho ricevato dall inclinazione della natura).
Whilst it will not be necessary to tell the most ignorant Indian that the above doctrines are not Christian teaching, it is necessary (as Sellon’s remark shows) to inform the English reader that this pantheistic libertinism is not “Tāntrik.” This imperfect charge is due to the author’s knowledge of the principles of Kaula Sādhanā. I will not describe all the obscene and perverse acts which these “Relgious” practised. It is sufficient that the reader should throw his eye back a few lines and see that their teaching justified sodomy, lesbianism and masturbation, sins as abhorrent to the Tantra Shbstra as any other. Owing, however, to ignorance or prejudice, everything is called “Tāntrik” into which woman enters and in which sexual union takes on a religious or so-called religious character or complexion. The Śāstra, on the contrary, teaches that there is a God who transcends Nature, that Dharma or morality governs all men, that there is sin and that the acts here referred to are impurities leading to Hell; for there is (it says) both suffering and enjoyment not only in this but in an after-life. It was apparently enough for Edward Sellon to adjudge the theories and practices to be Tāntrik, that these women preached the doctrine of intention and of sexual union with the feeling or Bhāva (to use a Sanskrit term) that man and woman were parts of the one Divine essence. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing, and this is an instance of it. These corrupt theories are merely the “religious” and “philosophical” basis for a life of unrestrained libertinism which the Tantra Śāstra condemns as emphatically as any other Scripture. The object of the Tāntrik ritual is to forward the morality of the senses by converting mere animal functions into acts of worship. The Scripture says in effect, “Just as you offer flowers, incense and so forth to the Devatā, in the Rājasik worship let these physical functions take their place, remembering that it is Śiva who is working in and through you.” The doctrine of the Brethren of the Free Spirit (Delacroix “Le Mysticisme speculatif en Allemagne au quatorziême siecle) so far as it was probably really held, has, in points, resemblance to some of the Tāntrik and indeed Aupaniṣadic teachings, for they both hold in common certain general principles to which I will refer (see also Preger’s “Geshichte der Deutschen Mystik im Mittelalter”). Other doctrines and practices with which they have been charged are wholly hostile to the Śākta Darśana and Sādhanā. Amalric of Bena, a disciple of Scotus Erigena, held that God is all, both creature and creator, and the Essence of all which is. The soul which attains to Him by contemplation becomes God Himself. It was charged against him that man could act in the manner of God’s action and do what he pleased without falling into sin. The doctrhie that the Brahmajñānī is above good and evil is so generally misunderstood that it is probable that, whatever may have been the case with some of his disciples, the charges made against the master himself on this point are false. It has been well said that one is prompt to accuse of immorality any one who places himself beyond traditional morality. As regards the Brethren of the Free Spirit also, this alleged doctrine comes to us from the mouths of their adversaries. They are said to have held that there were two religions, one for the ignorant (Mūdha), the other for the illuminate (Prabuddha), the first being the traditional religion of the letter and ritual observance, and the other of freedom and spirituality. The soul is of the same substance as God (identity of Jīvātmāand Paramātmā). When this is realized man is deified. Then he is (as Brahmajñānī) above all law (Dharma). The ordinary rules of morality bind only those who do not see beyond them, and who do not realize in themselves that Power which is superior to all these laws. United with God (Anima deo unita) man enjoys blessed freedom. He sees the inanity of prayers, of fasts, of all those supplications which can do nothing to change the order of nature. He is one with the Spirit of all. Free of the law he follows his own will (Svecchācārī). What the vulgar call “sin,” he can commit without soiling himself. There is a distinction between the act which is called sinful and sin. Nothing is sin but what the doer takes to be such.
The body does not sin. It is the intention with which an act is done which constitutes sin.
“The angel would not have fallen if what he did had been done with a good intention” (Quod angelus non occidessit si bonā intentione fecissitquod fecit).
Man becomes God in all the powers of his being including the ultimate elements of his body. Therefore, wisdom lies not in renunciation, but in enjoyment and the satisfaction of his desires. The tormenting and insatiable passion for woman is a form of the creative spontaneous principle.
The worth of instinct renders noble the acts of the flesh, and he who is united in spirit with God can with impunity fulfil the sensual desires of the body
(item quod unitus deo audacter possit explere libidinam carnis).
There is no more sin in sexual union without marriage than within it and so forth. With the historian of this sect and with our knowledge of the degree to which pantheistic doctrines are misunderstood, we may reasonably doubt whether these accusations of their enemies represent in all particulars their true teaching. It seems, however, to have been held by those who have dealt with this question that the pantheistic doctrine of the Brethren led to conclusions contrary to the common morality. It is also highly probable that some at least of the excesses condemned were the work of false brethren, who finding in the doctrine a convenient excuse for, and an encouragement of their licentiousness, sheltered themselves behind its alleged authority. As this remark of Dr. Delacroix suggests, one must judge a doctrine (and we may instance that of the Śāktas) by what its sincere adherents hold and do, and not by the practices of impostors who always hie to sects which seem to hold theories offering opportunities for liberinism.
One may here recall Milton who says with insight
“That sort of men who follow Antinomianism and other fanatic dreams be such most commonly as are by nature gifted to religion, of life also not debauched and that their opinions having full swing do end in satisfaction of the flesh.”
Whilst there is a similarity on some points between Kaula teaching and some of the Western pantheistic theories above alluded to, in others the two are manifestly and diametrically opposed. There are some who talk as if intellectual and moral aberrations were peculiar to India. No country is without them, but the West, owing to its chaos of thought and morals, has exhibited the worst. With the exception of the atheistic Cārvākas and Lokāyatas no sect in India has taught the pursuit of sensual enjoyment for its own sake, or justified the commission of any and every (even unnatural) sin. To do so would be to run counter to ideas which are those of the whole intellectual and moral Cosmos of India. These ideas include those of a Law (Dharma) inherent in the nature of all being; of sin as its infraction, and of the punishment of sin as bad Karma in this and the next world (Paraloka). It is believed and taught that the end of man is lasting happiness, but that this is not to be had by the satisfaction of worldly desires. Indeed the Kaula teaches that Liberation (Mokṣa) cannot be had so long as a man has any worldly desires whether good or bad. Whilst, however, there is an eternal Dharma (Sanātana Dharma), one and the same for all, there are also particular forms of Dharma governing particular bodies of men. It is thus a general rule that a man should not unlawfully satisfy his sexual desires. But the conditions under which he may lawfully do so have varied in every form and degree in times and places. In this sense, as the Sarvollāsa says, marriage is a conventional (Pāribhāśika) thing. The convention which is binding on the individual must yet be followed, that being his Dharma. Sin again, it is taught, consists in intention, not in a physical act divorced therefrom. Were this otherwise, then it is said that the child which, when issuing from the mother’s body, touches her Yoni would be guilty of the heinous offence called Guru-talpaga. The doctrine of a single act with differing intentions is illustrated by the Tāntrik maxim, “A wife is kissed with one feeling; a daughter’s face with another” (Bhāvena cumbitā kāntā bhāvena duhitānanam). In the words of the Sarvollāsa, a man who goes with a woman, in the belief that by commission of such act he will go to Hell, will of a surety go thither. On the other hand it may be said that if an act is really lawful but is done in the belief that it is unlawful and with the deliberate intention of doing what is unlawful, there is subjective sin. The intention of the Śāstra is not to unlawfully satisfy carnal desire in the way of eating and drinking and so forth, but that man should unite with Śiva-Śakti in worldly enjoyment (Bhaumāmānanda) as a step towards the supreme enjoyment (Paramānanda) of Liberation. In so doing he must follow the Dharma prescribed by Śiva. It is true that there are different observances for the illuminate, for those whose power (Śakti) is awake (Prabuddha) and for the rest. But the Sādhanā of these last is as necessary as the first and a stepping stone to it. The Kaula doctrine and practice may, from a Western standpoint, only be called Antinomian, in the sense that it holds, in common with the Upaniṣads, that the Brahmajñāni is above both good (Dharma) and evil (Adharma), and in the sense that some of these practices are contrary to what the general body of Hindu worshippers consider to be lawful. Thus Śākta Darśana is said by some to be Avaidika. It is, however, best to leave to the West its own labels and to state the case of the East in its own terms.
After all, when everything unfavourable has been said, the abuses of some Tāntriks are not to be compared either in nature or extent with those of the West with its widespread sordid prostitution, its drunkenness and gluttony, its sexual perversities and its so-called pathological but truly demoniacal enormities. To take a specific example. Is the drinking of wine, by a limited number of Vāmācāri Tāntriks in the whole of this country to be compared with (say) the consumption of whisky in the single city of Calcutta? Is this whisky drinking less worthy of condemnation because it is Paśupāna or done for the satisfaction of sensual appetite alone? The dualistic notion that the “dignity” of religion is impaired by association with natural function is erroneous.
The well-known English writer, Sir Conan Doyle, doubtless referring to these and other wrongs, has expressed the opinion that during the then last quarter of a century we Westerns have been living in what (with some few ameliorating features) is the wickedest epoch in the world’s history. However this may be, if our own great sins were here known, the abuses, real and alleged, of Tāntriks would be seen in better proportion. Moreover an effective reply would be to hand against those who are always harping on Devadāsīs and other sensualities (supposed or real) of, or, connected with, Indian worship. India’s general present record for temperance and sexual control is better than that of the West. It is no doubt a just observation that abuses committed under the supposed sanction of religion are worse than wrongs done with the sense that they are wrong. That there have been hypocrites covering the satisfaction of their appetites with the cloak of religion is likely. But all Sādhakas are not hypocrites, and all cases do not show abuse. I cannot, therefore, help thinking that this constant insistence on one particular feature of the Śāstra, together with ignorance both of the particular rites, and neglect and ignorance of all else in the Āgama Scripture is simply part of the general polemic carried on in some quarters against the Indian religion. The Tantra Śāstra is doubtless thought to be a very useful heavy gun and is therefore constantly fired in the attack. There may be some who will not readily believe that the weapon is not as formidable as was thought. All this is not to say that there have not been abuses, or that some forms of rite will not be considered repugnant, and in fact open to objection founded on the interests of society at large. All this again is not to say that I counsel the acceptance of any theories or practice, not justified by the evolved morality of the day. According to the Śāstra itself, some of these methods, even if carried out as directed, have their dangers. This is obvious in the actions of a lower class of men, whose conduct has made the Scripture notorious. The ordinary man will then ask:— “Why then court danger when there is enough of it in ordinary life?” I may here recall an observation of the Emperor Akbar which, though not made with regard to the matter in hand, is yet well in point. He said, “I have never known of a man who was lost on a straight road.”
It is necessary for me to so guard myself because those who cannot judge with detachment are prone to think that others who deal fairly and dispassionately with any doctrine or practice are necessarily its adherents and the counsellors of it to others.
My own view is this.—Probably on the whole it would be, in general, better if men took neither Alcohol in the form of Spirits or Meat, particularly the latter, which is the source of much disease. Though it is said that killing for sacrifice is no “killing,” it can hardly be denied that total abstention from slaughter of animals constitutes a more complete conformity with Ahiṃsā or doctrine of non-injury to any being. Moreover, at a certain stage meat-eating is repugnant. A feeling of this kind is growing in the West, where even the Meat-eater, impelled by disgust and a rising regard for decency, hides away the slaughter houses producing the meat which he openly displays at his table. In the same way, sexual errors are common to-day. Whatever license any person may allow himself in this matter, few if any will claim it for others and foster their vices. Nor was this the intention of the Śāstra. It is well-known, however, that much of what passes for religious sentiment is connected with sex instinct even if religious life is not a mere “irradiation of the reproductive instinct” (see “Religion and Sex,” Cohen).
I understand the basis on which these Tāntrik practices rest. Thus what seems repellent is sought to be justified on the ground that the Sādhaka should be above all likes and dislikes, and should see Brahman in all things. But the Western critic will say that we must judge practice from the practical standpoint. It was this consideration which was at the back of the statement of Professor de la Vallée Poussine (Boudhism. Études et Materiaux) that there is in this country what Taine called a ‘reasoning madness’ which makes the Hindu stick at no conclusion, however strange, willingly accepting even the absurd. (Il y regnedes l’origine ce que Taine appelle la folie raisonate. Les Hindous vont volontiers jusquâ l’absurde). This may be too strongly put; but the saying contains this truth that the Indian temperament is an absolutist one. But such a temperament, if it has its fascinating grandeur, also carries with it the defects of its qualities; namely, dangers from which those, who make a compromise between life and reason, are free. The answer again is, that some of the doctrines and practices here described were never meant for the general body of men.
After all, as I have elsewhere said, the question of this particular ritual practice is largely of historical interest only. Such practice to-day is, under the influences of the time, being transformed, where it is not altogether disappearing, with other ritual customs of a past age. Apart from my desire to clear away, so far as is rightly possible, charges which have lain heavily on this country, I am only interested here to show firstly that the practice is not a modern invention but seems to be a continuation in another form of ancient Vaidik usage; secondly that it claims, like the rest of the ritual with which I have dealt, to be an application of the Advaitavāda of the Upaniṣads; and lastly that (putting aside things generally repugnant and extremist practices which have led to abuse) a great principle is involved which may find legitimate and ennobling application in all daily acts of physical function within the bounds of man’s ordinary Dharma.
Those who so practise this principle may become the true Vīra who has been said to be not the man of great physical or sexual strength, the great fighter, eater, drinker, or the like, but
Jitendriyah satyavādī nityānuṣṭhāna-tatparah
Kāmādi-validānuśca sa vīra iti gīyate.
“He is a Hero who has controlled his senses, and is a speaker of truth; who is ever engaged in worship and has sacrificed lust and all other passions.”
The attainment of these qualities is the aim, whatever is said of some of the means, of all such Tāntrik Sādhanā.