That translation of the 'Tantras' ! Wonderful!... Well, he's gone his own way: God be with him.... When do you want to start?" "As soon as possible sooner. I've not a day to lose not an hour." "Urgent as that, eh?" Quain peered keenly into his face. "I wish I knew what you know. I wish to Heaven I might go with you. But I'm married now and respectable.
The SHRUTIS are the "directly heard" or "revealed" scriptures, the VEDAS. The SMRITIS or "remembered" lore was finally written down in a remote past as the world's longest epic poems, the MAHABHARATA and the RAMAYANA. PURANAS are literally "ancient" allegories; TANTRAS literally mean "rites" or "rituals"; these treatises convey profound truths under a veil of detailed symbolism.
Śâktism never inspired any popular or missionary movement, but it was powerful among the aristocracy and instigated persecutions against the Vishnuites. The more respectable Tantras show considerable resemblance to the later Upanishads such as the Nṛisinhatâpanîya and Râmatâ-panîya, which mention Śakti in the sense of creative energy.
Sanh. 3. 57 and Taittir. Br. See the curious legends about an attendant of Śiva called Bhriṅgi who would not worship Pârvatî. The Chinese, who are equally fond of using these two principles in their cosmological speculations, adopt the opposite view. On the other hand Buddhist works called Tantras are said to have been composed in north-western India.
One does not incur any fault or stain by eating the meat of animals slain in sacrifices with the aid of Tantras from the Yajur Veda. The flesh of the back-bone, or that of animals not slain in sacrifice, should be avoided even as one avoids the flesh of one's own son. One should never cause one's guest to go without food whether when one resides in one's own country or in a foreign land.
Tantras, Âgamas and Saṃhitâs all treat of their subject-matter in four divisions the first of which relates to the great problems of philosophy, the second to the discipline necessary for uniting the self and God; the third and fourth to ceremonial.
But the names Śâkta and Śâktism are usually restricted to those sects in Bengal and Assam who worship the Consort of Śiva with the rites prescribed in the Tantras. Śâktism regards the goddess as the active manifestation of the godhead. Similar ideas appear in a philosophic form in the Sâṅkhya teaching. Here the soul is masculine and passive: its task is to extricate and isolate itself.
Thou art the maker of those declarations that are contained in the Tantras and the Puranas and that are embodied in language that is human. Thou art possessed of great learning. Thou art the grinder of foes in battle. Thou art he that resides in the awful clouds that appear at the time of the universal dissolution.
It is arguable that this condemnation is unjust, for like other forms of Hinduism the Tantras make the liberation of the soul their object and prescribe a life of religious observances including asceticism and meditation, after which the adept becomes released even in this life.
Thus we hear of Vishnuite Tantras and in this sense there is a real similarity between Buddhist and tantric teaching, for both set aside Brahmanic tradition as needlessly complicated and both profess to preach a simple and practical road to salvation.