What is the role of women in Tantra Sadhanas?
Why is a woman called Shakti?
Presented here are amazing facts about the role of women in Tantra.
Tantra has two opposite poles called Shiva and Shakti. If we observe carefully we shall find that they are not just omnipresent rather they influence the creation everywhere. In human society a man and a woman represent Shiva and Shakti. On level of the world time and place represent Shiva and Shakti. And in spiritual planes the mind and the soul represent Shiva and Shakti. According to texts of Hatth Yoga, Ida and Pingala represent the life energy in the human body.
These two energies are opposite poles. In the normal course they remain separated but when creation takes place they come together. On the level of the world when time and place conjoin they lead to some event. Time represents positive energy and place negative.
Activation of divine energy within
In the human society man and woman are the two opposite poles of energy. The ancient texts throw light on different aspects of these two poles. You might have seen the picture of Mother Goddess Kali in a naked form with one foot on the chest of Lord Shiva. In it the face of Kali is furious. She has many hands and her long tongue drips blood. This is said to be the activated form of Goddess Kali.
You might have seen still another picture with Lord Shiva seated in Padmasan with half his form looking like that of a woman. This is the Ardhnaarishwar (half man-half woman) form i.e. the Supreme with both opposite powers together.
Still another picture shows Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati as Guru and disciple respectively. Lord Shiva is seated in Padmasan and Goddess Parvati is seated on a lower plane and the Lord is imparting secret knowledge of Tantra to her.
These three pictures are different examples of confluence of the two opposite energies. You might have heard of or seen yet another picture. Near Munger in Bihar is the spiritual seat of Goddess Tara. There is a picture that shows Goddess Tara breast feeding Lord Shiva.
These are different forms of Lord Shiva and Goddess Shakti. In one depiction Shiva is the Guru and Shakti is the disciple. In another they are fused into one another. Their bodies and minds are one. In yet another picture Shakti is depicted as being more powerful than Shiva and she is shown dancing over Shiva. These pictures actually depict the stages in the process of activation of the hidden energy in each human being.
Woman's spiritual power
In Tantra a woman is considered more powerful than a man although reverse is the situation in the society. This view is prevalent in Tantra because of the highest level of spiritual thinking in the process of spiritual development. As far as beauty, feelings and spiritual development go a woman is certainly better than a man. It is a fact that the activation of the Kundalini is easier for a woman than for a man.
There is still another fact that is very important. When a man dives deep into the world of subtle feelings he is not able to retain the experiences as well as a woman can. The reason for this is that a woman's outer and inner conscience are both similar. On the other hand man is different outside and inside. When he enters into the inner world he has very special experiences which he is not able to retain when he returns to the outer world. There appears to be an invisible wall between the inner conscience and the outer in case of a man. But in case of a woman there is no such obstruction.
Also the spiritual body of a woman is replete with tremendous spiritual power. The attraction to beauty, art, music and all tender things in life that are seen in a woman are just a natural expression of what is within. I often feel that if all women were to depart from this world then this earth would be reduced to a huge barren desert devoid of beauty, fragrance, music, colour and smiles. What I mean to say is that the inner conscience of a woman is very active and sensitive. It always remains ready to express itself. If women are allowed the freedom and proper opportunities then they could do a lot of creative things.
If we talk in terms of Kundalim Power then the body of a woman remains linked to a particular Chakra or energy centre. In the human body the Muladhar Chakra is at a very complex point. In men mostly it remains inactive. But in women the Muladhar is so situated that it can be touched with a finger. This is why in a woman activation of Kundalini is easier than in a man.
Another important fact is there about which you might have thought some time. And it is that a woman is the source of energy and man is a medium of its propagation. A woman might not necessarily be you wife. She could be your mother, daughter or disciple. Mariam was the mother of Lord Jesus and in Sri Arvind's Ashram, the Mother was his disciple.
The Tantra texts speak of 64 Yoginis or different forms of women. These are worshipped all over India. The energy of a woman has 64 aspects and for each a temple has been erected. There are 64 spiritual seats dedicated to each of these 64 Yoginis.
Vaam Maarg - the true meaning
If we study the texts of Tantra we find that Shakti is the source of creation and Shiva is the medium. Shiva is never considered to be the creator. One of the greatest spiritual scholars of India, Adi Shankaracharya has written in the very first line of his famous text that without Shakti, Shiva cannot create. This is why the science of Tantra has considered the confluence of man and woman to be very sacred.
Because there exist so many cultures in the world the relationship between a man and a woman has been viewed from different perspectives. But in India the confluence of a man and a woman has been considered as the basis of spiritual development. In Tantra a woman is always depicted as seated on the left hand side of a man. During a marriage ceremony a woman sits on the right hand side of a man but after marriage she sits on the left hand side. This is why a wife is called Vaamaa. In Sanskrit Vaam means left. The Ida nerve related to activation of the Kundalini is also called Vaamaa.
In the western countries there exists misconception regarding the Vaam Maarg or the left path in Tantra. There it is called Vaam Tantra which is a completely wrong translation. If you read any text on Tantra you shall never find any term like Vaam Tantra. In Tantra, Vaam Maarg means the path of spiritual development. This can be done with one's wife also. Hence Vaam means wife and Maarg means path.
Relation to Tantra
In Vaam Maarg energy is used not only in sex play but also for spiritual development and Sadhanas. In the process of creation and in spiritual Sadhanas Shakti has the most important role to play. In the Hindu tradition no ritual can be accomplished without a wife. The male in fact has to play a secondary role. The woman is one who performs all actions. A man is merely an accomplice. All religious rituals and fasts are commenced by women. A man merely follows a woman in them. In India this tradition is called Diksha of a man by a woman.
What is the actual meaning of Vaam Maarg? Vaam Maarg is that spiritual Sadhana that you can perform with your wife. One part of this path is Koulaachaar. In this the mother gives Diksha to her son. This tradition is prevalent in North Bihar, Nepal, Assam and parts of Eastern Uttar Pradesh. Just as on Sunday Christians go to the Church and the Hindus on particular days go to temples to bow to the Lord, similarly in Koulaachaar a son bows reverentially to his mother whom he considers his Guru. This feeling of devotion of the son for his mother is very different from the respect that a person ordinarily gives to elders. The son in fact worships the mother as his spiritual Guru.
In the Vaam Maarg of Tantra a similar devotion is shown to a woman. But here they are not Guru and disciple rather they are partners. A follower of Vaam Maarg bows to his wife. After this the woman blesses the man and makes some sign on his body. Thus in Tantra a woman has a dual role to play. In the field of Tantra considering a woman to be a mere instrument of gratifying one's lust is a sin. Sex play has its significance but this is not the only relation between a man and a woman. Even a mother, a sister and a daughter are women. We do have a relation with them but not one based on lust.
Misuse of Tantra
In the present times people in the West are struggling against their own religion. This is the very reason for the wrong conception that they have of Tantra. They are in a way trying to create chaos even in the sex life of humans. Some so called experts of Tantra in India too have a wrong notion about Tantra. One need not fight with one's religion or beliefs. Hindu tradition does not believe that sex play is a sin. It believes that sex play is natural. If one believes it is necessary part of life then one should indulge in it. But the western belief is that sex play is a sin and only one man till now has been born without taking recourse to this sin and all other humans have been born of this sin. It is high time that the western world comes out of this strange complex.
To prove that sex play is invaluable the science of Tantra was developed. The Hindu belief is very clear and easy. In an ancient text on Tantra it has been clearly stated drinking liquor, eating meat and sex are not bad because these reflect human tendencies. But one can be free of these tendencies and baser instincts. What I want to say is that if you want to satisfy some craving do it but do not try to say that we do this because Tantra allows it. Do not make Tantra a medium of your lust.
Woman as a true partner
The great Guru Ramkrishnna Paramhans considered his wife Sharda to be divine and worshipped her as a Goddess. After enlightenment he never considered her as his wife rather he revered her like a mother. He had a feeling of devotion for her. In Tantra one has to be very careful how one treats a woman. She can prove to be a means of awakening of one's Kundalini. One need not fear her or be in awe of her but one needs to treat her well. The reason for this is that a woman has the capability of retaining the explosive energy of the Kundalini. If a woman is just your wife then it does not matter. Otherwise if she is a partner in Tantra Sadhanas then you ought to treat her differently.
In the ancient times there used to be a tradition. Whenever a husband and wife were introduced the woman's name would precede the man's. We do not say Ram Sita. Always we say Sita Ram. Similarly we say Radha Krishna and Gouri Shankar. The reason for this is that in the process of spiritual development Shakti plays a more important role than Shiva. If you start your spiritual journey with this thought then your partner shall be more active and you shall be able to progress faster. A man might successfully accomplish great Sadhanas yet he cannot attain totality till he seeks the help of a woman.
Another path in Tantra is called Dakshinn Maarg or Vedic Maarg. In it a woman is not necessary in any form - wife, mother, daughter or disčiple. The reason for this is that in a human both energy poles are present. The Ida nerve is believed to represent a female and Pingla a male. The confluence of the brain and the Kundalini Shakti is equivalent to the confluence of a man and a woman. This is the basis of Hatth Yoga.
Ida is Shakti and Pingla is Shiva. When these two conjoin in the Third Eye or Aagya Chakra it is a divine confluence. Shakti is based in the Muladhar and Shiva in the Sahastrar. Shiva remains lost in deep spiritual sleep. He is inactive and static. He is not concerned with either creation or destruction. His consciousness is concentrated. Hence the Sahastrar remains inactive. Shakti is based in Muladhar. Through special Yogic processes the Muladhar can be activated and the Shakti made to rise through the Sushumna channel to the Third Eye. As soon as the Kundalini Shakti reaches Aagya Chakra a wonderful change occurs because two opposite poles have come together.
Shiva Taandav - divine dance
When you press an electric switch the bulb is lit because wires carry electricity to the bulb. Similarly through the channels of Ida and Pingla the Kundalini rises and an explosion occurs due to which the energy further produced in Aagya Chakra rises to the Sahastrar. There Shiva and Shakti come together and Shiva starts to dance. You might have seen the dancing form of Shiva called Natraaj. Natraaj represents Lord Shiva in an active state. As soon as Shiva comes out of spiritual sleep he starts to dance. Here I am talking about the activation of an energy not of some human. The activation of energy in a human is depicted by Natraaj. When they come together the combined energy of Shiva and Shakti reaches the Muladhar through Sushumna. Both return to a gross plane.
This is the reason for incarnation of great souls on earth from time to time. If you read the philosophy of Sri Arvind you shall understand the meaning of activation of energy and confluence of Shiva and Shakti. When they come together first they dance together and then come to the gross plane. This is the very basis of process of rising of the Kundalini and its return to the base in Kriya Yoga.
The energy of the cosmos is believed to be feminine. That is why various forms of Shakti or divine energy are in the form of the Goddesses like Durga and the Mahavidyas. It is only through full respect to women that one can attain to success in Tantra Sadhanas.