What is Classical Tantra?
The word “Tantra” is defined as “to weave, to expand, and to spread”. According to some masters of the ancient practice of Tantra, it can be thought of as the “fabric” of life that has the potential to offer deep fulfillment only when all its threads are woven in alignment with the pattern outlined by the Universe. When we first come into this world, life automatically conforms to this pattern. As we evolve, our desires, fears, attachments and inaccurate perceptions of ourselves and others rip at the threads and consequently weaken our fabric. Tantric practices work with the transformation of energy and to balance various polarities in order to strengthen our fabric and rework it so it can return to its original, authentic pattern. The powerful practices involved in yoga on a larger scale cultivate spiritual growth and wisdom. They merge beautifully in the Tantric tradition.
Origins of Classical Tantra:
The origins of Classical Tantra may go back as far as 20,000 years. Drawings and carvings that resemble symbols still used in Tantra today are found at that time. Tantra was actively taught in India and China more than 7,000 years ago.
The exact history of Classical Tantra is not well documented, but here is one story about its origins. Classical Tantra emerged in India during an important historical period. At that time, the Aryans, a nomadic warrior culture, were fighting to conquer the indigenous people. Although the Aryans thought of the indigenous people as inferior in other ways, the Aryan Rishis (sages), who posed questions about the origin and destiny of the Universe, were interested in the Spiritual practices of these people. The two cultures influenced each other.
During this time of warfare, it is said that Shiva was born. While some tantric practices existed before his birth, it was Shiva that first gave humanity a systematic approach to spirituality. His teachings became known as the Tantra Shastras (Tantric Scriptures). They included:
The Nigamas and Agamas became the foundation for Classical Tantra. After Shiva’s death, there were no more teachers of the same quality and Tantra fell into decline. Some of the teachings were then lost or altered because the writings became indecipherable or because the teachings were passed on only in secret. This explains why the history of Classical Tantra can be difficult to trace and why some modern mysteries and misconceptions around Tantra persist today.
Classical Tantra is still practiced in the East with great reverence and respect for the ancient traditions established thousands of years ago.