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The Philosophy of Tantras

The ultimate Reality is one and only one. It is Siva or Sakti or Siva-Sakti and is ('samvit') of the nature of pure consciousness. The relationship between Siva and Sakti is like that of fire and its burning power or the word and its meaning. They are two in one or one in two, always inseparable. In the inactive state it is Siva and in the active state it is Sakti. The former is also called Nirguna- paramesvara (the Lord without attributes) wherein the Sakti is inherent and dormant. When this Sakti starts awakening, Paramesvara becomes 'Saguna'. The first evolute of the process of creation is Sakti. From Sakti proceeds para-nada (the unmanifest sound or vibration which gives rise to para-bindu, the higher bindu or point). From it proceed the apara-bindu (lower bindu or point, identified with the Siva-principle), the bija (identified with the Sakti-principle) and the apara- nada (the lower sound or vibration) considered as the union of the Siva and the Sakti principles.

From bija or Sakti (also called Sabda- brahma, Parasakti or Paradevata) proceed the 23 tattvas or cosmic principles, viz., mahat, ahankara, the ten indriyas and the mind, the five subtle elements and the five gross elements like the earth, water etc. Together with Sakti, they are 24.

From the apara-bindu, identified with Siva, proceed the five deities viz., Sadasiva, Isana, Rudra, Visnu and Brahma. By adding seven more principles like purusa (the individual soul) and kala (time), the total number of tattvas is raised to 36.

In the human body, Sakti resides as the Kundalini/a>, the power resembling a coiled serpent at the muladhara-cakra, situated at the base of the spine. When roused through proper sadhanas or spiritual exercises, it rises through five more cakras like the svadhisthana and the anahata, and, finally reaches the">sahasrara in the crown of the head, resembling a lotus of a thousand petals. there it merges with Siva, resulting in moksa or liberation for that individual self.

The jiva or the individual soul is none other than Siva himself, with his freedom covered over or limited by avidya or nescience, also called anava-mala, the impurity that makes him appear small. Through spiritual disciplines, the most important aspect of which is upasana or worship and meditation, on Sakti as Devi or Divine Mother, he is liberated, attaining unity with the Deity.