Sunday, August 12, 2007

Birth of the Tantras

"In the beginning of the satyuga, Lord Siva appeared in the form of Svacchandanatha. As Svacchandanatha, He appeared with five heads and eighteen arms. The five heads came into manifestation through His five great energies, cit sakti, all consciousness, ananda sakti, all bliss, iccha sakti, all will, jnana sakti, all knowledge, and kriya sakti, all action. And these five energies, which appeared in His five mouths and which are known as Isana, Tatpurusa, Sadyojata, Vamadeva and Aghora, because of the grace (anugraha) of Lord Siva, experienced the sensation of illuminating the Universe."

"You see, Lord Siva wanted to enlighten the universe by manifesting the existence of the Tantras. In order to accomplish this, He manifested the Tantras through His five mouths. Initially each of these mouths, Isana, Tatpurusa, Sadyojata, Vamadeva and Aghora, created one Tantra. Then two mouths joined together and created one Tantra from each of the combination of two mouths. And then three mouths joined together [and] created one Tantra from each combination of three mouths. And then four mouths joined together, and then five mouths, and these combinations of mouths produced all of the Tantras of our Saivism."

~Source: Swami Lakshman Jee. Kashmir Shaivism: The Secret Supreme. 1988. The State University of New York Press, Albany, NY.

Swami Lakshman Jee (Joo) goes on to say how the Tantras manifested from the five faces of Siva came under three classes of Saiva Tantras ~ the Siva, Rudra and Bhairava.

How does this correlate with the five classes of Saiva Tantras (Agamas) previously mentioned? Well, the three classes of Tantras - Siva, Rudra and Bhairava fall within the two of the five catagories of Tantras that make up the greater Saivite Tantric canon. The Siva + Rudra Tantras together are referred to as Siddhanta Agamas and number 28. The Bhairava Tantras are referred to as Dakshina Agamas and number 64.

An alternative tradition tells us that each of the class of Saiva Tantras manifested from a different face of Siva. This tradition is as follows:

1. Bhuta Tantras ~ emanated from the Sadyojata or western face
2. Garuda Tantras ~ emanated from the Tatpurusa or eastern face
3. Vama Tantras ~ emanated from the Vamadeva or northern face
4. Dakshina Tantras ~ emanated from the Aghora or southern face
5. Siddhanta Tantras ~ emanated from the Isana or upper face

Among other places, the above is mentioned in a commentary of Tantraloka called Viveka, which quotes the Srikanthi Samhita. In the Saivite Tradition, therefore, the four Vedas and all the Saiva Agamas are revelations of Siva Himself.

ॐ नमः शिवाय

© Agnideva, 2007

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