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TANTRASpiritualMysticismoftheEast

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TANTRASPIRITUALMYSTICISMANDESOTERICISMOFTHEEAST
TantrawasfirstsystematizedbyLordShiva,alsocalledSadashiva,whowasanenlightenedyogiliving
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intheHimalayasmorethan7000yearsago.TantrahaditsorigininIndiaandSouthAsia.Tantrainits
KshmiiriiandGaud'iiyaSchoolsdidexistbeforeShiva,butinascatteredandcrudeform.Shivawas
bornandbroughtupinanenvironmentofTantra,althoughitwasnotclassicalTantra.Hewasthe
originalpropounderofTantra,collecting,developingandsystematizingallitsbranches.
"Tantra"meansliberationfromdarkness,theroot"tan"meaningdarkness,and"tra"liberation.Sensual
orerotictantra,astheterm"tantra"isoftenmistakenlyassociatedtointheWest,isnotapartofthe
originaltantranoroftheShaivitaorShaktatantratradition.InthetantrictraditionofHimalayasthe
spiritualaspirantiscalledasadhaka,andhepracticessadhana.Sadhanasignifiestheeffortthrough
whichapersonbecomescompletelyrealized.Inthetantrictraditionthespiritualmaster,theGuru
(Master,Guide),playsaspecialrole.TheGuruguidesandleadsstudentsonthespiritualpaththatis
likenedbyyogisofknowledge(jinniis)toasharprazor.Throughdevotionalpracticeshowever,the
spiritualpathiscomparedtotheallroundstruggleofabloomingflower.Itisalsostatedinthetantric
traditionthatthestudentdoesntfindtheteacher,buttheteacherfindsthestudent.
Tantrismdoesn'texcludeaspectsofthehumanexperience.Itistruethatsexualimageryisvery
prominentinTantriciconography.Imagesofnakeddeitiesinsexualembracearecommon.Thisstandsin
markedcontrasttomostotherspiritualtraditions,wheresexualimageryisconspicuouslyabsent.Not
onlysexualityispresentintantricimagery,butalsoaggression,intheformofferociouslookingdeities,
yoginis(femaleyogis)wearingskullornamentsandbrandishingknives.Thisimagerydoesnotmean
Tantricspiritualityencouragesorprescribesaggression.Inreality,thestudyoftheTantrictraditionis
verydeepandcomplex.ScholarsquestionwhethertherereallyissuchathingasaunitaryTantric
tradition,orifitisasloppytermforcoveringarangeoftraditions,likethetermHinduism.
ThewordTantraisSanskrit,thesacredlanguageofVedaandHinduism.Itderivesfromtherootword
tan,whichtranslatesas"toextend,expand,spread,continue,spinout,weavetoputforth,show,or
manifest."Liketheuniverseweinhabit,Tantraiscontinuallyexpanding,spreading,andmanifesting
itselflikea"cosmicweave,"madeupofdifferentenergies.Wearepartofthisweave,asareour
forefathersandforemothers,alllife,andeverytypeofenergyandmatter.Thisincludesthoughts,actions,
andallphysicalmatter.BecauseTantraisamysticalsubject,itisnearlyimpossibletodefine.Even
eminentscholarshavehadahardtimeexplainingwhatTantraactuallyis.Thedifferentexplanationsof
Tantraindicateitsmultifacetednature.Tantraisaspiritualscience,whichmeansitisalsomystical,inits
interconnectedness,theholisticwisdomlinkbetweenourselvesandtheuniverseweinhabit.
BuddhistTantraisalsocalledMantrayanaandVajrayana.Mantrayanareferstotheimportanceof
mantrasinTantricpractice.Vajrayanacomesfromthewordvajra,whichmeansthunderbolt,or
diamond,orthatwhichisindestructible.WhetheritcalledTantrayana,Mantrayana,orVajrayana,none
ofthesewordsdirectlyreferencessexuality.AnotherwordforTantrayanais"FruitionVehicle"because
itissaidthatin
Tantraoneidentifiesdirectlywiththeresult.Thatis,Tantraispredicatedontheideathatthe
enlightenednatureisalreadypresentwithin,thoughtemporarilyobscured.Throughtheuseof
visualization,meditation,andmantrarecitation,ordinaryperceptionistransformedinto"pure
perception"orasacredoutlook.Tantraisalsoaboutenergy,becomingawareof,sensitiveto,and
receptiveofenergy.Workingwithenergyandtransmutingenergy.Tantracaninvolveintegratingthe
"male"and"female"energies.Thiscouldbedoneinternally,sinceeachofushasbothenergies.Itcould
alsobedoneexternally,withapartner.Hope,thisclarifiesthatTantraisnotprimarilyaboutsexualityas
thinkssexualabusedliders.Tantradoesnotexcludesexuality.Infact,Tantracanwelcomeit.ButTantra
isprimarilyaboutviewandperceptionandaboutunionwiththeShivaGod.
TantrahasbeenoneofthemostneglectedbranchesofIndianspiritualstudiesdespitetheconsiderable
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numberoftextsdevotedtothispractice,whichdatesbacktothe5th9thcenturyAD.Manypeoplestill
considertantratobefullofobscenitiesandunfitforpeopleofgoodtaste.Itisalsooftenaccusedofbeing
akindofblackmagic.However,inreality,tantraisoneofthemostimportantIndiantraditions,
representingthepracticalaspectoftheVedictradition.Thereligiousattitudeofthetantriksis
fundamentallythesameasthatoftheVedicfollowers.Itisbelievedthatthetantratraditionisapartof
themainVedictree.ThemorevigorousaspectsofVedicreligionwerecontinuedanddevelopedinthe
tantras.GenerallytantriksworshipeitherGoddessShaktiorLordShiva.
Today'spracticalphilosophyandyogicpracticesofAnandaShivaTantraarenotonlydeeplyrootedin
theancientoriginalTantraofShiva,butfurtherdevelopsTantratorefineitinasystemofpersonal
developmentbalancedwithtwowingsofsocialtransformation.Tantrahasabroadmetaphysicalbase
whichallowsforwaysofknowing,feelingandprocessingwhichgofarbeyondintelectualityorlimited
rationality.
Prioritiesaregiventothespiritualdevelopment,becausespirituallifecontrolsallotherarenasofhuman
life.Tantraisaprinciple,asciencewhichifpracticedwillleadtothedesiredobjective.Theessenceof
TantraistoawakenthelatentspiritualforceinthehumanpersonalityandunifyoneselfwiththeCosmic
Consciousness.Itisnotareligionoremptyphilosophywhichcanbeconfinedtotherealmsofabstract
speculationortheoreticaldebate.Tantraisaprocessofsubjectivetransformation,whichmaybe
practicedbyanyoneirrespectiveofgender,culturalbackground,education,socialstatusorintellectual
evolution,asanadequatesystemofspiritualendeavoristhebirthrightofall.
TraditionaldictionarydefinitionsofTantraarerevealing.ASanskritword,Tantraissometimes
translatedas"leadingprinciple,essentialpart,model,system,framework,doctrine,rule,theory,
scientificwork,"alsoas"order,chiefpart,rule,authority,science,mysticworks,magicalformulas,
means,expedient,stratagem,medicine."Finally,aTantraissometimesdefinedas"atypeofmystical
teachingsetoutmostlyintheformofdialogsbetweenacosmiccouple.intimateinsightfuldialogs,
betweenGodandGoddess,ShivaandShakti,themaleandfemaleTantricadepts,wereattimeswritten
downandbecameknownasTantras.
Tantrahasbeenwelltestedoverthousandsofyears,notinworldlylaboratoriesbutinthelaboratoriesof
thehumanbody,byYogiscientistsandTibetanLamaswhowerenotdrivenbycommercebutbythe
earnestdesireforspiritualknowledgeandliberation.Theirobservationsandinsightshavebeenpassed
downtous.
Theword"Tantra"maybederivedfromthecombinationoftwowords"tattva"and"mantra"."Tattva"
meansthescienceofcosmicprinciples,while"mantra"referstothescienceofmysticsoundand
vibrations.
Tantrathereforeistheapplicationofcosmicscienceswithaviewtoattainspiritualascendancy.In
anothersense,tantraalsomeansthescripturebywhichthelightofknowledgeisspread:Tanyate
vistaryatejnanamanemnaititantram.ThereareessentiallytwoschoolsofIndianscriptures"Agama"
and"Nigama".AgamasarethosewhicharerevelationswhileNigamaarethetraditions.Tantraisan
Agamaandhenceitiscalled"srutishakhavisesah",whichmeansitisabranchoftheVedas.
ThepractitionerofHimavantiSampradayatantrayogaseesthenatureofthemindasa"trappedmonkey"
strivingtoescapefromitscage.Thetantrapathisthepathofthebrave,becauseitrequiresthe
practitionertofollowstrictdisciplinesastotheirspiritualpractice.Meditationisthemainpracticeofthis
tantrictradition,andthroughitthepractitionerstrugglestoovercomeweaknessesandimperfections.
Throughdailymeditationthepractitionersfacetheirminds'deepestsecretsandcontents,andtoproceed
inthepractices/hemustmanagetoovercomewhateverobstacless/hefacesinthepathofself
emancipation.Becausethepathmaybespeciallychallenginginthebeginning,oftenrequiringchanges
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oflifestylehabitsandmentalbreakthroughsthatsupersededogmasandingrainedirrationalbeliefs,many
peoplestraytemporarilyfromthepathwhennotabletosucceedintriumphingovertheinitial
difficulties.
Whentheaspirantdecidestofollowthepathofbliss,s/hewillbeinitiatedbyaqualifiedmeditation
teachercalledacarya,Sanskritfor"onewhoteachesthroughexample".Anacaryaismostcommonlya
monkornun,butintheNathaSampradayaorintheHimavantiSampradayatraditiontherearealso
familyacaryas.Intheinitiationtheaspirantmakesacommitmenttopracticemeditationandtolivein
harmonywiththeuniversalbalance,andisthentaughtthetechniqueitself.Theaspirantisthenrequired
tokeeptheindividuallessonspersonal.ThemaindeitiesworshippedareShivaandShakti.InTantra
thereisagreatsignificanceof"bali"oranimalsacrifices.ThemostvigorousaspectsofVedictraditions
evolvedasanesotericsystemofknowledgeintheTantras.TheAtharvaVedaisconsideredtobeoneof
theprimetantrikscriptures.
Tantraisdifferentfromothertraditionsbecauseittakesthewholeperson,andhis/herworldlydesires
intoaccount.Otherspiritualtraditionsordinarilyteachthatdesireformaterialpleasuresandspiritual
aspirationsaremutuallyexclusive,settingthestageforanendlessinternalstruggle.Althoughmost
peoplearedrawnintospiritualbeliefsandpractices,theyhaveanaturalurgetofulfilltheirdesires.With
nowaytoreconcilethesetwoimpulses,theyfallpreytoguiltandselfcondemnationorbecome
hypocritical.Tantraoffersanalternativebutsimplepath.
ThepractitionersofhigherTantra(Anuttara,Para)wouldlookuponthingsfromabroaderpointofview,
renouncingallnarrowthinking.Theywouldalwaysstrivehardtoadvancethewelfareofthemasses.
Throughselfrealizationandselflessservicetheywouldovercomethefettersofthemind,suchashatred
andshame.TheunpreparedpractitionerswhofollowedthelessdevelopedorcrudeTantrawouldyet
behaveintheoppositeway,indulgingincasteism,superstitionsofuntouchability,andinmanifestations
ofhatredandenvyinrelationtoothergroups.InIndianvillages,tantriksarestillnotquitehardtofind.
Manyofthemhelpthevillagerssolvetheirproblemslikeshamansorhealers.Everypersonwhohas
livedinthevillagesorhasspenthischildhoodthere,hasastorytotell.Whatissoeasilybelievedinthe
villagesmightappearillogicalandunscientifictotherationalurbanmind,butthesephenomenaare
realitiesoflife.
Apersonwho,irrespectiveofcaste,creedorreligion,aspiresforspiritualexpansionordoessomething
concrete,isaTantric.Tantrainitselfisneitherareligionnoran'ism'.Tantraisafundamentalspiritual
science.Sowhereverthereisanyspiritualpracticeitshouldbetakenforgrantedthatitstandsonthe
Tantriccult.Wherethereisnospiritualpractice,wherepeoplepraytoGodforthefulfilmentofnarrow
worldlydesires,wherepeoplesonlysloganisGiveusthisandgiveusthatonlytheredowefindthat
Tantraisdiscouraged.SoonlythosewhodonotunderstandTantra,orevenafterunderstandingTantra
donotwanttodoanyspiritualpractice,opposethecultofTantra.
Thereare18"Agamas",whicharealsoreferredtoasShivatantras,andtheyareritualisticincharacter.
TherearethreedistincttantriktraditionsDakshina,VamaandMadhyama.Theyrepresentthethree
"shaktis"orpowersofShivaandarecharacterisedbythethree"gunas"orqualities"sattva","rajas"and
"tamas".TheDakshinatradition,characterisedbythe"sattva"branchoftantraisessentiallyforgood
purpose.TheMadhyama,characterisedby"rajas"isofmixednature,whiletheVama,characterisedby
"tamas"isthemostimpureormagicalformoftantra.Tantradoesnotdiscriminatebyanyracial,
genealogical,political,nationaloreconomicdifferencesamongsthumanbeings,asthelatermightform
thebasisforonehumangrouptoassertsuperiorityoveranother.Tantradoes,however,giverecognition
toindividualvigorandthedevelopmentoflatenthumanpotentialities,whichmakesomepeopleoutstand
intheirlives.ConsequentlyTantraputsgreateremphasisonhumanvaluesthanonsocialvalues.
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TantraSchooltaughtmanysystemsofmeditationsuchasPrrambhikaYoga,SdharanaYoga,Sahaja
YogaandVisheshaYoga.Inaddition,TantraalsotaughtKapalikameditationtomanysanysins.Tantra
systemofyogacanbetermedasRjadhirjaYoga,TantraYoga,orsimply"nandaYoga".Thebasic
nandaShivaMrgameditationsystemiscalledSahajaYoga,meaning'simpleyoga'or'naturalyoga'.
Thesahajasystemconsistsof6meditationtechniquesorlessons.Thelessonsaretaughtonebyone,ona
personalbasis.Thereisnospecificsystemastowhenonecanlearnanewtechnique,butitdependson
thelevelofinterestanddedicationofthestudent.Thussomestudentslearnallsixlessonsinayearor
two,whilesomecompletealllessonsinover20years.Thereisalsoasetofhighermeditationlessons
taughtbyAnandaMargatoadvancedpractitionerscommittedtodedicatemoretimeforspiritual
practicesanduniversalservice.
ForsuccessonthepathofTantra,theproperpreceptorandtheproperdisciplearebothessential.Sothe
firststepinTantraistheselectionofacompetentpreceptorbyaworthydisciple.AccordingtoTantra,
disciplesareofthreecategories.Thefirstcategorydisciplesacquirespiritualknowledgewhentheyarein
closecontactwiththepreceptor,butassoonastheyareapartfromthepreceptortheyforgetallhis/her
teachings.Thesecondcategoryofdiscipleslearnmanythingsfromthepreceptorwithgreathardship,but
donottakepropercaretopreservethoseinstructions.Theylosetheirhardearnedknowledgeoutof
negligence.Thebestcategoryofdisciplescarefullypreservesdeepintheirmindsandheartswhatever
theyhavelearnedfromtheirpreceptorbywiselyputtingthoseteachingsintopractice.
Thetantrikapproachtolifeavoidspitfall.Tantraitselfmeans"toweave,toexpand,andtospread",and
accordingtotantrikmasters,thefabricoflifecanprovidetrueandeverlastingfulfillmentonlywhenall
thethreadsarewovenaccordingtothepatterndesignatedbynature.Whenweareborn,lifenaturally
formsitselfaroundthatpattern.Butaswegrow,ourignorance,desire,attachment,fear,andfalseimages
ofothersandourselvestangleandtearthethreads,disfiguringthefabric.Tantra"sadhana"orpractice
reweavesthefabric,andrestorestheoriginalpattern.Thispathissystematicandcomprehensive.The
profoundscienceandpracticespertainingtohathayoga,pranayama,mudras,rituals,kundaliniyoga,
nadayoga,mantra,mandala,visualizationofdieties,alchemy,ayurveda,astrology,andhundredsof
esotericpracticesforgeneratingworldlyandspiritualprosperityblendperfectlyinthetantrik
disciplines.
ThephysicalpracticeofTantracomprisesyogasanas,mudras,bandhas,pranayama,selfmassageand
specificdanceslikeshamanickaos'ikiiandtandava.Sentientdietandfastingarealsoconsideredtobean
integralpartofyogicpractices.Sentientdietisgenerallyavegetarianyogicdiet.TheTantricsystemof
yogacomprises84yogasanapostureswhichwerespecificallyselectedbyShivaGodfortheir
complementarybenefitstohealthandforpreparingbody/mindformeditation.IntheTantrasystemyoga
asanasshouldbeperformedatleastonceaday,butpreferablytwice,inthemorningandintheevening.
Afterthepracticeafullbodymassageandfinalrelaxationisperformed.
TandavaisavigorousdanceassociatedwithShivainhiscosmicdancerimageofNataraja.Thename
tandavaisderivedfromtheSanskritwordtandu,whichmeanstojump.Thisdanceisonlyperformedby
malefollowersinAnandaMargabecauseofitstestosteroneproducingeffect,whichconsequently
strengthensmalecharacteristicsinbodyandmind.Thedanceisperformedtoimbuethepractitioner's
mindwithcourageandhonour,dispellingallsortsofcomplexesandfear,evenfearofdeathitself.Thus
thedancealsohasanassociatedideation.Thedancerstartsoffwiththetwoarmsoutstretched,theleft
armwithanopenpalm,andtherightarmwithaclenchedfist.Thedancerideatesholdingahumanskull
inthelefthand,symbolizingdeath,andideatesonholdingaknifeintheright,symbolizingthefightfor
life.Theactualobjects(humanskullandknife)maybealsoused.Thedancestartswithavigorousjump
andlandinginapositionofbentknees.Anotherjumpfollows,andthedancecontinuesinajumping
mannerliftingonelegthentheothercontinuously.
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Kaoshikii,the"danceformentalexpansion",isaphysicopsychospiritualexercisewhichcanbe
performedbyallandconsistsof18mudrasaligningwith6physicalpostures,eachassociatedwitha
specificidea.Thespiritualideationiscarriedalongwiththedanceinordertoestablishasubtlelinkwith
thedivine,whilestrengtheningbodyandmindandmakingthemflexible.Thereisalsoaclaimthatthe
exercisestrengthensthenervousandendocrinesystemtogivefullbodybalance.
TantraMarga(Way,Path)advocatesaworldofjustice,securityandpeaceforall.TothisendTantra
Margagivesapractical,rational,andsystematicwayoflifeforthebalanceddevelopmentofallhuman
potentialities:physical,psychicandspiritual.Itisasystemthatincorporatespracticesthatarebeneficial
forpersonalandsocialupliftment.Theserangefromproperhygieneanddiet,yogapostures,toa
scientifictechniqueofmeditationbasedonmoralityandleadingtocompletepeaceandinnerfulfillment.
Itrecognizesthatabalanceisneededbetweenthespiritualandmundaneaspectsofexistence,andthat
neitheroneshouldbeneglectedattheexpenseoftheother.Hence,thegoalofTantraMargais"self
realizationandthewelfareofall".Tantraemphasisisplacedonsolvingtheproblemsofthelocalpeople,
whatevertheymaybe,byempoweringtheminmanagingalltheirpersonalandsocialresourcesforthe
prosperityofall.
Generallyspeaking,theHindugodandgoddessShivaandShaktiareperceivedasseparateanddistinct.
However,inTantra,evenintheprocessofevolution,Reality(Tat)remainspureconsciousness,pure
beingandpurebliss,andTantradeniesneithertheactnorthefactofthisprocess.Infact,Tantraaffirms
thatboththeworldprocessitself,andtheindividualjiva,arethemselvesReal.Inthisrespect,Tantra
distinguishesitselfbothfrompuredualismandfromthequalifiednondualismofVedanta.Evolution,or
the"outgoingcurrent,"isonlyhalfofthefunctioningofMaya.Involution,orthe"returncurrent,"takes
thejivabacktowardsthesource,ortherootofReality,revealingtheinfinite.Tantraisunderstoodto
teachthemethodofchangingthe"outgoingcurrent"intothe"returncurrent,"transformingthefetters
createdbyMayaintothatwhich"releases"or"liberates."ThisviewunderscorestwomaximsofTantra:
"Onemustrisebythatbywhichonefalls,"and"theverypoisonthatkillsbecomestheelixiroflifewhen
usedbythewise."
Tantram(Sanskritfortantrism)isareligiousphilosophyaccordingtowhichShaktiisusuallythemain
deityworshipped,andtheuniverseisregardedasthedivineplayofshaktiandshiva.ThewordTantra
alsoappliestoanyofthescripturescommonlyidentifiedwiththeworshipofShakti.Tantradeals
primarilywithspiritualpracticesandritualformsofworship,whichaimatliberationfromignoranceand
rebirth.ThetantricmovementhasinfluencedtheHindu,Bn,Buddhist,SikhandJainreligious
traditions.TantrainitsvariousformshasexistedinIndia,Nepal,China,Japan,Tibet,Korea,Cambodia,
Burma,IndonesiaandMongolia.
ThesacredJaina,HinduandBuddhistscripturesknownasTantrasprovidedetailedinstructionsona
widerangeoftopics,includingspiritualknowledge,technology,andscience.Theircontentisoften
paradoxical.InTantra,scienceandmysticismgohandinhand,asdosensualityandasceticism.Justas
advancedscientifictreatisesaredifficultforthelaypersontocomprehend,sotraditionalTantrasrequire
adequatepreparationbeforetheycanbeproperlyunderstood.TheTantricaimistosublimateratherthan
tonegaterelativereality.Thisprocessofsublimationconsistsofthreephases:purification,elevation,and
the"reaffirmationofidentityontheplaneofpureconsciousness."Themethodsemployedby
Dakshinachara(righthandpath,pingala,masculine)interpretationsofTantraareverydifferentfromthe
methodsusedinthepursuitoftheVamachara(lefthandpath,Ida,feminine).
TheprimarysourcesofwrittenHinduTantriclorearetheagama,whichgenerallyconsistoffourparts,
delineatingmetaphysicalknowledge(jnana),contemplativeprocedures(yoga),ritualregulations(kriya),
andethicalandreligiousinjunctions(charya).Schoolsandlineagesaffiliatethemselveswithspecific
agamictraditions.HindutantraexistsinShaiva,Vaisnava,Ganapatya,SauryaandShaktaforms,amongst
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others,sothatindividualtantrictextsmaybeclassifiedasShaivagamas,VaishnavaPcartra
Sahits,andShaktaTantras,thoughthereisnocleardividinglinebetweentheseworks.Theexpression
Tantragenerallyincludesallsuchworks.
Linguisticallythethreewordsmantram,tantramandyantramarerelatedintheancienttraditionsofIndia,
aswellasphonologically.Mantramdenotesthechant,or"knowledge."Tantramdenotesphilosophy,
occultismorritualactions.Yantramdenotesthemeansbywhichahumanisexpectedtoleadhislife.
AccordingtoTantra,"beingconsciousnessbliss"orSatchidanandahasthepowerofbothselfevolution
andselfinvolution.Prakritior"reality"evolvesintoamultiplicityofcreaturesandthings,yetatthesame
timealwaysremainspureconsciousness,purebeing,andpurebliss.Inthisprocessofevolution,Maya
(illusion)veilsRealityandseparatesitintoopposites,suchasconsciousandunconscious,pleasantand
unpleasant,andsoforth.Ifnotrecognizedasillusion,theseopposingdeterminingconditionsbind,limit
andfetter(pashu)theindividual(jiva).
TheordinaryritualorpujamayincludeanyofelementsasinotherHindu,JainaandBuddhistyoga
traditions,mantraandyantraplayanimportantroleinTantra.Themantraandyantraareinstrumentsto
invokespecificHindudeitiessuchasShiva,Shakti,orKaliDurga.Similarly,pujamayinvolvefocusing
onayantraormandalaassociatedwithadeity.Tantra,asadevelopmentofearlyHinduVedicthought,
embracedtheHindugodsandgoddesses,especiallyShivaandShakti,alongwiththeAdvaitaphilosophy
thateachrepresentsanaspectoftheultimateParaShiva,orBrahman.Thesedeitiesmaybeworshipped
externallywithflowers,incense,andotherofferings,suchassinginganddancing.But,moreimportantly,
thesedeitiesareengagedasattributesofIshtaDevatameditations,thepractitionerseithervisualizing
themselvesasthedeity,orexperiencingthedarshan(thevision)ofthedeity.TheseTantricpractices
formthefoundationoftheritualtempledanceofthedevadasis,andarepreservedintheMelatturstyleof
BharatanatyambyGuruMangudiDorairajaIyer.

TANTRACHAKRASSYSTEM
Tantrachakrasusesthesevenchakra(cakras)levels(sixinthebody)ofenergytoraiseandallowour
energytoflowupwardsinthebodyandspirit.Practicallyspeakingitmeanswhereverapersonis
blockedorwoundedbyconditioningorrepressionofsexualenergyitshowsinthecontractionsofthe
body,mind,emotionsandsointheclosenessofthecorrespondingchakra.Forexample:Sexualand
physicalabuseoftencreatesacontractioninthefirsttheSexorRootchakraMuladhara.Certainhealing
methodscanfreeandunlockthephysicalandemotionalknotinthesystem.Tantrachakras:Theword
chakraisSanskritfor"movingwheel."Thetraditional7majorchakrasarethepsychicenergycentresor
betterthesoulorganslocatedalongthespine.Theyserveaschannels,orportalsforpranatheuniversal
lifeforcethatanimatesus.Variouslifetraumascanupsetourtantrachakras,causingthemtobecome
blockedordamaged.Whenthishappens,itcanaffectourlivesinadverseways.Knowingwhatour
tantrachakrasaretryingtotellus,andfollowingtheirguidancecanhelpusovercomeallkindsof
obstaclesinlife.
ChakraisaconceptoriginatingfromHindutextsandusedinHindupractices.Itsnamederivesfromthe
Sanskritwordfor"wheel"or"turning"(cakra
).Chakraisaconceptreferringtowheellike
vorticeswhich,accordingtotraditionalIndianmedicine,arebelievedtoexistinthesurfaceoftheetheric
doubleofman.TheChakrasaresaidtobe"forcecenters"orwhorlsofenergypermeating,fromapoint
onthephysicalbody,thelayersofthesubtlebodiesinaneverincreasingfanshapedformation.Rotating
vorticesofsubtlematter,theyareconsideredthefocalpointsforthereceptionandtransmissionof
energies.DifferentsystemspositavaryingnumberofchakrasthemostwellknownsystemintheWestis
thatofsevenchakras.Itistypicalforchakrastobedepictedaseitherflowerlikeorwheellike.Inthe
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former,"petals"areshownaroundtheperimeterofacircle.Inthelatter,spokesdividethecircleinto
segmentsthatmakethechakraresembleawheel(or"chakra").Eachchakrapossessesaspecificnumber
ofsegmentsorpetals.TextsdescribingthechakrasgobackasfarasthelaterUpanishads,forexample
theYogaKundaliniUpanishad.
Thestudyofthechakrasisapartofmanyphilosophicalandspiritualtraditions,aswellasmany
therapiesanddisciplines.Ineasterntraditions,thetheoryofchakrasisacentralpartoftheHinduand
Buddhisttantra,andtheyplayanimportantroleinattainingdeeplevelsofrealisation.InHinduism,
particularlyintantricLayaYogaandKriyaYoga,theconceptofchakrasispartofacomplexofideas
relatedtoesotericanatomy.ThechakrasaredescribedinthetantrictextsliketheSatCakraNirupana,
andthePadakaPancaka,inwhichtheyaredescribedasemanationsofconsciousnessfromBrahman,an
energyemanatingfromthespiritualwhichgraduallyturnsconcrete,creatingthesedistinctlevelsof
chakras,andwhicheventuallyfindsitsrestintheMuladharachakra.Theenergythatwasunleashedin
creation,calledtheKundalini,liescoiledandsleepingatthebaseofthespine.Itisthepurposeofthe
tantricorkundaliniformsofyogatoarousethisenergy,andcauseittorisebackupthroughthe
increasinglysubtlechakras,untilunionwithGodisachievedintheSahasrarachakraatthecrownofthe
head.
ThecentralroleofthechakrasinthismodelistheraisingofKundalini,whereitpiercesthevarious
centers,causingvariouslevelsofrealisationandresultingintheobtentionofvarioussiddhisoroccult
powers,untilreachingthecrownofthehead,resultinginunionwiththeDivine.Themethodsonhowto
raisekundaliniaregenerallysecret,butanumberofmethodshavebeenpublished,forexamplethe
tantricschoolofLayaYogabeginwithanumberofpreparatorypracticessuchasasanasandpranayama
topurifythenadis(meridians),andthenanumberofpracticesandmeditationsspecifictoeachchakra,
andfinallytheraisingofthekundalinithroughspecialkriyas,whichterminateinthevisionofones
causalself.
Foto:KundaliniLayaChakrasHimavantiSadhana

SEVENMAINTANTRACHAKRAS
1Muladhara(Mldhra)Rootchakra(red).TheRootchakraisaboutbeingphysicallythereand
feelingathomeinsituations.Ifitisopen,youfeelgrounded,stableandsecure.Youdon'tunnecessarily
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distrustpeople.Youfeelpresentinthehereandnowandconnectedtoyourphysicalbody.Youfeelyou
havesufficientterritory.Ifyoutendtobefearfulornervous,yourRootchakraisprobablyunderactive.
You'deasilyfeelunwelcome.Ifthischakraisoveractive,youmaybeverymaterialisticandgreedy.
You'reprobablyobsessedwithbeingsecureandresistchange.Bijamantraforgrowingthiscakrais
sound"LAM".
Muladharaorrootchakraisrepresentedasayellowsquare,with4redpetals.TheseedsyllableisLam,
thedeityisGanesh,andtheShaktiisDakini.TheassociatedanimalistheelephantGanesha.Thischakra
iswherethe3channelsaremerged,thenseparateandbegintheirupwardmovement.Insideofthis
chakraiswrappedupthegoddesskundalinithreetimesaroundaindigoblacklingam.Itistheseatofthe
redbindu,thefemaledrop(whichinTibetanvajrayanaislocatedatthenavelchakra).
Muladharaisrelatedtoinstinct,security,survivalandalsotobasichumanpotentiality.Thiscenteris
locatedintheperineum,whichistheregionbetweenthegenitalandtheanus.Althoughnoendocrine
organisplacedhere,itissaidtorelatetothegonadsandtheadrenalmedulla,responsibleforthefight
orflightresponsewhensurvivalisunderthreat.Thereisamusclelocatedinthisregionthatcontrols
ejaculationinthesexualactofthehumanmale.Aparallelischartedbetweenthespermcellandthe
ovumwherethegeneticcodeliescoiledandthekundalini.Muladharaissymbolizedbyalotuswithfour
petalsandthecolourredforhealing.Keyissuesinvolvesexuality,lustandobsession.Physically,
Muladharagovernssexuality,mentallyitgovernsstability,emotionallyitgovernssensuality,and
spirituallyitgovernsasenseofsecurity.
ThereisnochakrathatisusedinthispositionwithinTibetanbuddhism.Instead,belowthesecretplace
wheel,thereare2otherwheels,thejewelwheel,whichislocatedinthemiddleofthesexorgan,andthe
wheellocatedatthetipofthesexorgan.Thesewheelsareextremelyimportantforthegenerationof
greatbliss,andareinvolvedwithtantricconsortpractices.
2Svadhishthana(Svdhihna)Sacralchakra(orange).TheSacralchakraisaboutfeelingand
sexuality.Whenitisopen,yourfeelingsflowfreely,andareexpressedwithoutyoubeingover
emotional.Youareopentointimacyandyoucanbepassionateandlively.Youhavenoproblems
dealingwithyoursexuality.Ifyoutendtobestiffandunemotionalorhavea"pokerface,"theSacral
chakraisunderactive.You'renotveryopentopeople.Ifthischakraisoveractive,youtendtobe
emotionalallthetime.You'llfeelemotionallyattachedtopeopleandyoucanbeverysexual.Bijamantra
forgrowingthiscakraissound"VAM".
Swadhisthana,Svadisthanaoradhishthanaissymbolizedbyawhitelotuswithinwhichisacrescent
moon,withsixvermillion,ororangepetals.TheseedmantraisVam,andthepresidingdeityisVishnu,
withtheShaktibeingRakini(orChakini).TheanimalassociatedisthecrocodileofVaruna.TheSacral
Chakraislocatedinthesacrum(hencethename)andisconsideredtocorrespondtothetestesorthe
ovariesthatproducethevarioussexhormonesinvolvedinthereproductivecycle.Swadisthanaisalso
consideredtoberelatedto,moregenerally,thegenitourinarysystemandtheadrenals.Thekeyissues
involvingSwadisthanaarerelationships,violence,addictions,basicemotionalneeds,andpleasure.
Physically,Swadisthanagovernsreproduction,mentallyitgovernscreativity,emotionallyitgovernsjoy,
andspirituallyitgovernsenthusiasm.InTibetanbuddhism,thisisknownastheSecretPlacewheel.
BelowthispointtheShaktatantraandVajrayanasystemsdivergesomewhat.
3Manipura(Maipra)Navelchakra(yellow).TheNavelchakraisaboutassertingyourselfina
group.Whenitisopen,youfeelincontrolandyouhavesufficientselfesteem.WhentheNavelchakrais
underactive,youtendtobepassiveandindecisive.You'reprobablytimidanddon'tgetwhatyouwant.
Ifthischakraisoveractive,youaredomineeringandprobablyevenaggressive.Bijamantraforgrowing
thiscakraissound"RAM".
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Manipuraormanipurakaissymbolisedbyadownwardpointingtrianglewithtenpetals.Theseed
syllableisRam,andthepresidingdeityisRudra,withLakiniastheShakti.Manipuraisrelatedtothe
metabolicanddigestivesystems.ManipuraisbelievedtocorrespondtoIsletsofLangerhans,whichare
groupsofcellsinthepancreas,aswellastheouteradrenalglandsandtheadrenalcortex.Theseplaya
valuableroleindigestion,theconversionoffoodmatterintoenergyforthebody.Thecolourthat
correspondsforhealingtoManipuraisyellow.KeyissuesgovernedbyManipuraareissuesofpersonal
power,fear,anxiety,opinionformation,introversion,andtransitionfromsimpleorbaseemotionsto
complex.Physically,Manipuragovernsdigestion,mentallyitgovernspersonalpower,emotionallyit
governsexpansiveness,andspiritually,allmattersofgrowth.
InTibetanbuddhism,thiswheelisrepresentedasatrianglewith64upwardpointingpetals.Itisthe
homeoftheReddrop,orredbodhicitta,whichistheessenceoffeminineenergy(asopposedtothe
Shaktasystem,wherethekundalinienergyresidesinMuladhara).ItcontainstheseedsyllableshortAh,
whichisofprimaryimportanceintheTummoinnerfiremeditation,whichisthesystembywhichthe
energyofthereddropisraisedtothewhitedropinthecrown.
4Anahata(Anhata)Heartchakra(green).TheHeartchakraisaboutspirituallove,kindnessand
affection.Whenitisopen,youarecompassionateandfriendly,andyouworkatharmonious
relationships.WhenyourHeartchakraisunderactive,youarecoldanddistant.Ifthischakraisover
active,youaresuffocatingpeoplewithyourloveandyourloveprobablyhasquiteselfishreasons.Bija
mantraforgrowingthiscakraissound"YAM".
Anahata,orAnahatapuri,orpadmasundaraissymbolisedbyacircularflowerwithtwelvegreenpetals.
(Seealsoheartmind).Withinitisayantraof2intersectingtriangles,formingahexagram,symbolisinga
unionofthemaleandfemale.TheseedmantraisYam,thepresidingdeityisIshvaraShiva,andthe
ShaktiisKakiniDevi.Anahataisrelatedtothethymus,locatedinthechest.Thethymusisanelementof
theimmunesystemaswellasbeingpartoftheendocrinesystem.ItisthesiteofmaturationoftheTcells
responsibleforfendingoffdiseaseandmaybeadverselyaffectedbystress.Anahataisrelatedtothe
coloursgreenforhealing,bluelikeskyforairelementorpinkforspiritualloveprinciple.Keyissues
involvingAnahatainvolvecomplexemotions,compassion,tenderness,unconditionallove,equilibrium,
rejectionandwellbeing.PhysicallyAnahatagovernscirculation,emotionallyitgovernsunconditional
lovefortheselfandothers,mentallyitgovernspassion,andspirituallyitgovernsdevotion.
InTibetanbuddhism,thiscentreisextremelyimportant,asbeingthehomeoftheindestructiblered/white
drop,whichcarriesourconsciousnesstoournextlives.Itisdescribedasbeingwhite,circular,with8
downwardpointingpetals,andtheseedsyllableHuminside.Duringmantrarecitationinthelower
tantras,aflameisimaginedinsideoftheheart,fromwhichthemantraringsout.Withinthehigher
tantras,thischakraisveryimportantforrealisingtheClearLight.Inreality,Tibetanbuddhismuse
anothercakrathanAnahata,calledSecretEightPetalHritCakram...
5Vishuddha(Viuddha)Throatchakra(blue).TheThroatchakraisaboutselfexpressionand
talking.Whenitisopen,youhavenoproblemsexpressingyourself,andyoumightbedoingsoasan
artist.Whenthischakraisunderactive,youtendnottospeakmuch,andyouprobablyareintroverted
andshy.Notspeakingthetruthmayblockthischakra.Ifthischakraisoveractive,youtendtospeaktoo
much,usuallytodomineerandkeeppeopleatadistance.You'reabadlistenerifthisisthecase.Bija
mantraforgrowingthiscakraissound"HAM".
Vishuddha(alsoVishuddhi)isdepictedasasilvercrescentwithinawhitecircle,with16lightorpale
blue,orturquoisepetals.TheseedmantraisHam,andtheresidingdeityisPanchavaktrashivaor
Sadashiva,with5headsand4arms,andtheShaktiisShakini(akini).Colorforhealingyogaisblue.
Vishuddhamaybeunderstoodasrelatingtocommunicationandgrowththroughexpression.Thischakra
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isparalleledtothethyroid,aglandthatisalsointhethroatandwhichproducesthyroidhormone,
responsibleforgrowthandmaturation.Physically,Vishuddhagovernscommunication,emotionallyit
governsindependence,mentallyitgovernsfluentthought,andspiritually,itgovernsasenseofsecurity.
InTibetanbuddhism,thischakraisred,with16upwardpointingpetals.Itplaysanimportantrolein
DreamYoga,theartofluciddreaming.
6Ajna(j)ThirdEyechakra(indigo).TheThirdEyechakraisaboutinsightandvisualization.
Whenitisopen,youhaveagoodintuition.Youmaytendtofantasize.Ifitisunderactive,you'renot
verygoodatthinkingforyourself,andyoumaytendtorelyonauthorities.Youmayberigidinyour
thinking,relyingonbeliefstoomuch.Youmightevengetconfusedeasily.Ifthischakraisoveractive,
youmayliveinaworldoffantasytoomuch.Inexcessivecaseshallucinationsarepossible.Bijamantra
forgrowingthiscakraissound"OM".
Ajnaissymbolisedbyalotuswithtwopetals,andcorrespondstothecolorsviolet,indigoordeepblue.It
isatthispointthatthe2sidenadisIdaandPingalaaresaidtoterminateandmergewiththecentral
channelSushumna,signifyingtheendofduality.TheseedsyllableforthischakraisthesyllableOM,
andthepresidingdeityisArdhanarishvara,whoisahalfmale,halffemaleShiva/Shakti.TheShakti
goddessofAjnaiscalledHakini.Ajna(alongwithBindu),isknownasthethirdeyechakraandislinked
tothepinealglandwhichmayinformamodelofitsenvisioning.Thepinealglandisalightsensitive
glandthatproducesthehormonemelatoninwhichregulatessleepandwakingup.Ajna'skeyissues
involvebalancingthehigher&lowerselvesandtrustinginnerguidance.Ajna'sinneraspectrelatestothe
accessofintuition.Mentally,Ajnadealswithvisualconsciousness.Emotionally,Ajnadealswithclarity
onanintuitivelevel.
InTibetanBuddhism,thispointisactuallytheendofthecentralchannel,sincethecentralchannelrises
upfromthesexualorgantothecrownofthehead,andthencurvesovertheheadanddowntothethird
eye.Whilethecentralchannelfinisheshere,thetwosidechannelscontinuedowntothe2nostrils.
7Sahasrara(Sahasrra)Crownchakra(violet).TheCrownchakraisaboutwisdomandbeingone
withtheworld.Whenthischakraisopen,youareunprejudicedandquiteawareoftheworldand
yourself.Ifitisunderactive,you'renotveryawareofspirituality.You'reprobablyquiterigidinyour
thinking.Ifthischakraisoveractive,youareprobablyintellectualizingthingstoomuch.Youmaybe
addictedtospiritualityandareprobablyignoringyourbodilyneeds.Bijamantraforgrowingthiscakrais
sound"SAM".
Sahasrara,whichmeans1000petalledlotus,isgenerallyconsideredtobethechakraofpure
consciousness,withinwhichthereisneitherobjectnorsubject.WhenthefemaleKundaliniShaktiorSri
Himavantienergyrisestothispoint,ituniteswiththemaleShivaenergy,andastateofliberating
samadhiisattained.Symbolizedbyalotuswithonethousandmulticolouredpetals,itislocatedeitherat
thecrownofthehead,orabovethecrownofthehead.Sahasraraisrepresentedbythecolourwhiteand
itinvolvessuchissuesasinnerwisdomandthedeathofthebody.Itsrolemaybeenvisionedsomewhat
similarlytothatofthepituitarygland,whichsecreteshormonestocommunicatetotherestofthe
endocrinesystemandalsoconnectstothecentralnervoussystemviathehypothalamus.Sahasrara'sinner
aspectdealswiththereleaseofkarma,physicalactionwithmeditation,mentalactionwithuniversal
consciousnessandunity,andemotionalactionwith"beingness".
InTibetanbuddhism,thepointatthecrownoftheheadisrepresentedbyawhitecircle,with32
downwardpointingpetals.Itisofprimaryimportanceintheperformanceofphowa,orconsciousness
projectionafterdeath,inordertoobtainrebirthinaPureLand.WithinthischakraiscontainedtheWhite
drop,orBodhicitta,whichistheessenceofmasculineenergy.
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Tantraisanaccumulationofpracticesandideas,characterizedbyritualthatseekstoaccessthesupra
mundanethroughthemundane,identifyingthemicrocosmwiththemacrocosm.TheTantricpractitioner
seekstouseprana,anenergythatflowsthroughtheuniverse(includingone'sownbody)toattaingoals
thatmaybespiritual,materialorboth.Mostpractitionersoftantraconsidermysticalexperience
imperative.SomeversionsofTantrarequiretheguidanceofaguru.Longtrainingisgenerallyrequired
tomasterTantricmethods,intowhichpupilsaretypicallyinitiatedbySriGuru.
Yoga,includingbreathingtechniquesandpostures(asana),isemployedtosubjectthebodytothecontrol
ofthewill.Mudras,orgestures,mantrasorsyllables,wordsandphrases,mandalasandyantras,symbolic
diagramsoftheforcesatworkintheuniverse,areallusedasaidsformeditationandfortheachievement
ofspiritualandmagicalpower.DuringmeditationtheinitiateidentifieswithanyofthenumerousHindu
godsandgoddesses,visualizesthemandinternalisesthem,aprocesslikenedtosexualcourtshipand
consummation.TheTantrika,ortantricpractitionermayusevisualizationsofdeities,identifyingwiththe
deitysothattheaspirant"becomes"theIshtadevaormeditationaldeity.
ExcerptsfromMasterL.M.B.Teachings
(becontinued)

Seealso
SrimadDeviBhagavatamTheKundaliniGoddessHolyScripture
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