Origins of Tantra
A precursor to Hinduism and Buddhism, Tantra dates back some 6000 years to the Dravidian culture that flourished in the Indus Valley. A very free and refined society, Dravidians lived life in a loose and natural way. Tantra evolved as a system for self-realization in ancient India thousands of years ago.
The most ancient Tantric scripture was recorded in India between 5-700 years ago.It is called Vigyan Bhairav Tantra, originally a conversation between Shiva, a Tantric master and his consort Devi (or Parvati) Shiva’s teachings consist of 112 methods of meditation which use each aspect of the human experience as a door to spiritual awakening.
Those methods, also called “Sutra”, are condensed teachings, conveyed in a poetic way.
Each Sutra contains the essence of a particular facet of our being. This approach embraces sensual love between men and women as an integral part of spiritual evolution. An important aspect of Shiva’s teaching is an equal balance between male and female principles.
The re-discovery of Vigyan Bhairav Tantra happened through an Indian mystic named Gorakh, who lived in the 12th century and was of enormous influence for the Tantric renaissance.
The impact of Gorakh’s teachings was symbolized through the creation of the magnificent temples of Kajuraho, in central India. In those temples, the object of worship is a stone carving of the male and female genitals, symbolizing the balance between feminine and masculine principles.
The name given to the male genitals is Lingam, meaning “Wand of Light”. The name given to the female genitals is Yoni, meaning “Sacred Place”.
Another symbol of the masculine and feminine principle is the God Ardhanareshwara, represented as half man, half woman. Ardhanareshwara evokes the reunification of both principles within us, honoring the total expression of one’s essential nature.