imitation of the union of Siva and Sakti.
     Great power is said to result from the worship of Sakti, but from the
philosophical point of view the emergence of the Goddess is the result of the
low level of spirituality. Hence only ‘sexuality’ can be utilised to attain
     Tantrism has two main divisions—the socalled left-hand’ (vamachara)
cult and the ‘righthand’ (dakshinachara) cult. The practices of the
dakshinachara are not as extreme as those of the vamacharis, and their rites,
although similar to the vamachara, are never performed physically but only
symbolically. Neither cult recognises caste distinctions and all aspirants have
to undergo complex initiatory rites. The vamachara adepts deliberately flout
all the social rules and prohibitions of Hinduism under ritual conditions, in an
attempt to free themselves from the limitations of mundane existence and so
attain greater spiritual power.
     Initially the erotic and esoteric aspects of Tantrism were intended only for
the fully initiated use as liberating techniques. In Tantric ritual copulation the
female partner (who incorporates Sakti) should be worshipped with deep
devotion, and the sexual rites performed without losing one’s purity, keeping
one’s mind uninvolved. In the highest form of Tantric meditation the female
generative organ (yoni) symbolises the universal womb, the source of all
existence. When liberated, the souls merge with the cosmic essence in the joy
of pure consciousness.
     Yantras, geometric symbolic patterns having great spiritual significance,
are also employed. They are equivalent to the concrete personal expression of
the unapproachable Divine. Yantras operate in the visible sphere as mantras
do in the audible. By means of yantras devotees are able to participate
ritually in the powers of the universe. The best known is the sriyantra
consisting of a number of interlocking triangles with a central point (bindu)
symbolising the eternal, undifferentiated principle (Brahman).
     The Sahajiya Tantrists reject the use of mantras, texts, images, and
meditation, since only sunya is one’s true nature. The difficulty in defining
sunya, and its metaphysical ambiguity, encouraged many extreme sexual