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Tantrism in Karnataka - An unexplored, unsung hero of spirituality

Hinduism is practiced in most of Karnataka's cities, accounting for more than half of the state's current population. This area has generated various dynasties and empires. These dynasties, in turn, have led to the rise of Hinduism in this region, affecting its implications on the region's life and traditions. When it comes to divine beings of this region, Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu are commonly discussed. It was also the birthplace of numerous Hindu movements.

Derived from the Sanskrit words, ‘tanoti’ denoting expansion and ‘rayati’ denoting liberation, the word, ‘Tantra’ essentially means the expansion of one’s consciousness and the liberation of energy. Tantras are a wide range of scriptures related to various occult doctrines grounded in Hindu and Buddhist ethos. Tantric religious culture is primarily Hindu, and Buddhist Tantric content that has originated from Hindu source materials. Tantras centered on Vishnu, Shiva, or Shakti began to appear in the early generations of the classic period. Tantric clans exist in all major elements of contemporary Hinduism, including the Shaiva Siddhanta culture, the Sri-Vidya Shakta school of thought, the Kaula, and Kashmir Shaivism. Tantras are most commonly of two types - Agama and Nigama. Agamas are scriptures in which the Goddess asks questions and the God responds. In Nigama texts, God posed questions, to which the Goddess responded. This conversation between Gods and Goddesses is a distinctive characteristic of Tantric Hinduism. 

Popular Tantric practices

  • Hindu Tantra

Tantra is a Hindu term referring to a text which might or might not be "tantric." Multiple tantric manuscripts, on the other hand, are not always referred to as tantras (rather, they may be referred to as Agama, Jnana, Samhita, Siddhanta, and Vidya). Tantric Upanishads, which are the later Upanishads, exist alongside tantric Puranas. Aside from these forms of writing, tantric "sastras" (treatises) can be "discourses, digests, collections, monographs, collections of hymns or pseudonyms of deities, and mantras and written material on mantras." While much of the tantric literary works are written in Sanskrit, others have been authored in Indian local dialects. It can also be seen that the majority of these tantric writings have Shaiva connotations. Tantric texts and scholars ("tantrikas" and "tantrinis") are usually contrasted with Vedic texts and experts ("Vaidikas"). 

  • Saiva and Shakta Tantra

The Mantramarga tradition of Saiva Tantra is frequently seen as distinct from the puritanical "Atimarga" culture (which involves the Pasupatas and Kapalikas). Shaiva Tantra has many doctrines, text-based sects, and belief systems that frequently intersect with the Shakta customs in varied contexts. There are multiple Vidyapitha cultures that center on a bipolar, bisexual divinity, Saiva and Sakta, who is equal amounts male and female. Bhairava is worshiped by the Yamalatantras alongside Kapalini, the deity of the skull. The goddess-centered belief systems are known as the Kulamarga, which refers to the goddess factions and their Shakti tantras. It involves sex rituals, macabre practices, ritual liquor intake, and the significance of supernatural forces. It involves numerous sub-traditions formed in various regions of India, like the Trika genealogy, the ferocious goddess Guhyakali, the Krama tradition, concentrating on the goddess Kali, the Kubjika cult, and the southern tradition, which venerates the magnificent goddess Kamesvari or Tripurasundari.

  • Vaisnava Tantras

The Pacharatra is the primary Vaisnava cultural practice linked to tantrism. This culture developed a couple of tantric texts, the majority of which have since been lost. This faction, however, does not classify itself as "tantric."  The devotion and rituals of the majority of Vaishnava temples in South India adhere to this tradition, which is ritualistically comparable to the Shaiva Siddhanta. 


Q1. What is the role of Tantrism? 

Originating in ancient India, Tantrism has been prevalent in Indian traditions, specifically, Hindu traditions for a long time. Tantrism puts emphasis on ceremonial attributes of accessing the divine via the use of the tangible in sacrosanct and reverent setups.

Q2. In Tantrism, who is considered the supreme deity? 

The Legendary Goddess, Devi is considered the Supreme Goddess and Divine Mother in Hindu Tantrism. Tantric texts claim that only the Goddess is competent enough to grant both Mukti and Bhukti.