The Aryans were not the original inhabitants of the present India. When the Aryans entered India through the Northwest Frontier Province, they contemptuously called the indigenous population whom they defeated in battle, “Anáryas” [“Non-Aryans”]. The appellation “Anáryas” did not apply to any group in particular, but rather to all the then inhabitants of India in general: the Mongolians, the Austrics and the Dravidians (a mixture of Austric and Negro). My discourse today will give a brief overview of the transformation that occurred in the civilizations of these peoples after the arrival of the Aryans, and of the effect that the Aryan migration had on the Aryans themselves. I will try to concentrate particularly upon the influence of Tantra on the Aryans.
The original home of the Aryans was in the northern part of Central Asia. By descent they were a fair, tall and healthy race. They were people of nomadic nature whose main means of subsistence was hunting. When, however, it became impossible for them to procure enough food by hunting, they started rearing cattle. But the merciless nature of Central Asia made their lives unbearable: snowstorms diminished the numbers both of their people and of their animals, and there was a chronic shortage of animal fodder. Just to survive, they had to spend almost all their time collecting food. Not only did this acute food shortage force them to make unending efforts as a group to collect food and rear cattle, it also led to perpetual inter-group skirmishes and even slaughter.
The constant fighting during this period, this kśatriya-dominated era, led to the eventual emergence of a class of intellectuals who greatly assisted the kśatriya-dominated society. They provided the kśatriya leaders with new inventions and discoveries, and satisfied their mental hunger by sharing their knowledge and wisdom. In the language of the day, these intellectuals were called rśis. The group leaders bowed their heads in reverence before these mighty intellectuals and followed the precepts framed by them. The society used to call their ideology Árśa Dharma [Religion of the Sages].
There can be no doubt that these rśis were wiser and more intelligent than the people of the time. But as script had not yet been invented, there was no means to keep a record of the wise discourses given by the rśis. The rśis’ disciples had no choice but to learn the rśis’ discourses by heart as they were being spoken. Since the discourses were memorized upon being heard, they were called shruti [literally, “ear”].
The level of intelligence of the Aryan mass at that time was so low that it hardly merits any mention. Actually, they were unable to understand these profound discourses, and as a consequence called them veda, meaning “knowledge”. They believed that the innovative rśis and intellectual munis were not men of ordinary stuff, but superior beings who heard the words of wisdom directly from the mouths of the gods. They also called them draśt́a [seers], as they “saw” with their own eyes the supernatural phenomena that they talked about, and uttered with their own mouths the benign incantations and mantras which produced those phenomena. Thus, every composer of the Vedic mantras was called a seer, and not a writer or composer. Generally, people believed that the composers of the Vedas were not men but veritable gods.
Even though the Vedas were considered as the creations of God and as such infallible, theism or spirituality was not fully awakened among the Aryans of that time. They only sang hymns and eulogies to appease the different natural forces.
In that age of undeveloped science they thought that smoke and the clouds in the sky were the same thing. That was why they burned ghee in sacrificial fires: they wanted to make smoke out of it to propitiate the different gods. They believed that the smoke would soar into the sky and turn into clouds; that rain would pour down from the clouds and nourish the earth causing an abundance of trees, plants and grass to sprout forth; and that their domestic animals, strengthened by the fresh grass, would multiply. That was why yajiṋas [sacrifices] were very common among the different groups and tribes. Those simple people believed that some gods would be propitiated by ghee, some by wine, and some by animal blood.
Human nature is such that one thinks that what is dear to oneself must be dear to everybody. So the ghee-, meat- and wine-loving Aryans thought that such food items would be liked by the gods also. Thus, after each inter-clan war, the chief of the conquering clan would offer that clan’s favourite food to the gods, either in Ashvamedha Yajiṋa [Horse Sacrifice] or in Gomedha Yajiṋa [Cow Sacrifice] or in Rájasúya Yajiṋa [sacrifice performed by a sovereign ruler], etc.
Each of the gods and goddesses of the polytheistic Aryans had his or her individual nature, characteristics and váhana [mount]. Although they were polytheists and nature-worshippers, they did not worship idols, not because they understood the philosophical defects of idol-worship, but because they lacked the refined artistic sense necessary to make the idols.
All their gods and goddesses were laokik figures [creations of the people]. They arose out of the peoples’ worldly needs. Hence the storm, the thunder, the lightning, the rain, the sun, and the moon were all their gods. In that era of undeveloped science what they feared most was the darkness of night, so they not only regarded the night and the evening as their gods, they actually revered them as well. In their fear, they would try to escape from the darkness by making fire with flint. They would never dare to displease the night and the evening, so whenever they made a fire they would first make obeisance to the evening with the fire before doing anything else. At night’s end, when the eastern horizon glowed red, the Aryans would sing the song of the dawn in unison. Aruńa, the mythological charioteer of the sun’s seven-horsed chariot (the seven horses corresponding to the seven distinct colours of the sun’s rays), was also their god, as, indeed, was the sun itself.
Some of the rśis understood, however, in a vague way if not in a clear way, the truth that there was a Supreme Entity above these gods, a Supreme Controller – the fundamental power of all their powers. This God of gods was the rśis’ Brahma. The common people were not familiar with the word Brahma.
The kings or chieftains staged sacrifices with great pomp and ostentation to appease the gods. The common people used these occasions for boisterous revelry. Since they lived in cold countries, of course, wine and meat were not particularly harmful to them. They would often entertain their guests with meat-cakes and wine. The children were given honey instead of wine. In the Aryan language of that time, wine was often called “honey”.
The oldest portion of the Vedas, that is, the Rgveda, was composed outside India. The remaining portions, that is, the Yajurveda and Atharvaveda, were partly Indian and partly non-Indian. Sámaveda is not a separate Veda by itself but is the compilation of the lyrical and musical portions of the different Vedas. So only the Rgveda can be regarded as an ancient relic of the non-Indian Aryan civilization. The Yajurveda was composed in Iran, Afghanistan, northwest India and certain parts of what is modern Russia, so it cannot be called entirely non-Indian, particularly since the then Afghanistan (Gándhár) and certain parts of Russia were regarded as part of India at that time.
The original Rgvedic civilization belonged, in spirit and language, to the non-Indian Aryans. But the Yajurveda was composed by a particular branch of the Vedic Aryans who, when the Aryans later began to spread out in search of food (especially wheat), migrated to India via Iran (Áryańya Vraja) and Afghanistan. When we say “Indo-Aryan civilization”, we basically mean the civilization of these people.
These nomadic Aryans, on coming in contact with the different groups of people of Iran, Afghanistan and northwest India, took up farming and developed the techniques of strategic warfare. The impact of this new thought bred in them, to some extent, a refined intelligence.
In the beginning, during the Rgvedic era, the cattle-rearing Aryans were only acquainted with barley and a few other crops. After they came to the present Iran they learned to cultivate wheat and, to some extent, rice. The more they progressed on their march, the more they came to realize the importance of growing different crops. Still, their staple was generally barley.
They learned wheat cultivation from the Asuras, the primitive natives of Iran. Though they became acquainted with paddy, or briihi (briihi → riihi → rihi → risi → “rice”, as in modern English), they did not cultivate it extensively. They learned the use of boiled rice in India.
The Yajurvedic era saw the all-round development of these people, and the resultant development of the Brahmaváda of the Yajurveda – the doctrine of monotheism. During this era not only was there a noticeable intellectual development among the general mass of the Aryans; among the munis [intellectuals or seers] and the rśis, philosophy and spirituality also attained a brilliant height of expression. The Brahmaváda of the Yajurveda was a lot deeper and clearer than that of the Rgveda.
The Atharvaveda was initially composed in India. During the composition of this Veda the Aryans came in close contact with the non-Aryans, resulting in an exchange of thought between the two. The Tantra of the non-Aryans had a marked influence on the Atharvaveda.
Being non-Aryan, the Atharvaveda cannot be regarded as a representation of Aryan civilization. In the subtle philosophy of the Atharvaveda, particularly of the Nrsiḿha Tápańiiya Shruti, there is a far greater influence of the non-Aryan Tantra than of the Aryan Veda.
The migrating Aryans first settled in the hilly valleys of northern India. Although there was not much intermixture of blood between the Aryans and the inhabitants of this area, the Aryans were greatly influenced by non-Aryan culture. The Aryans settled down in this area, which was known as Kash (or Khash) after defeating its ancient non-Aryan inhabitants. Using the original name, Kash, they renamed the area “Kashmeru” or “Kashmiira” [Kashmir]. Although the Aryans of Kashmiira did not give up their Vedic study, in the spiritual field they did cultivate the indigenous Indian Tantra.
As the southern part of Kashmiira was littered with pebbles resembling the jambu fruit [Eugenia jambolana Lam], the Aryans named it “Jambu Dviipa” (modern Jammu). Subsequently, Jambu Dviipa came to mean the whole of India. Possibly in the sandy beds of the many rivers that transect Jambu Dviipa they discovered gold for the first time, and so gold came to be known as jámbunada. When still later they settled throughout the entire land of India, they realized that it was ideal not only for habitation, but also for self-development. Thus they named it “Bháratavarśa”. Bhara means “that which feeds”; ta means “that which gives”, or “that which helps in the process of expansion”; and varśa means “a vast stretch of land”. Thus, bháratavarśa means “a vast expanse of land which helps in the all-round development of its inhabitants”.
The Aryans did not have their own script and thus were first introduced to the [written] alphabet after coming in contact with the Dravidians. The Dravidians of the Harappa and Mahenjodaro civilizations of India were already using a script, the Saendhavii script; after the Aryan migration into India, that script became transformed into the Bráhmii and Kharośt́hi scripts.
The inconvenience that the non-Indian Aryans had faced for want of script no doubt disappeared after the Indianized Aryans learned it, but owing to their old superstitions, most of the Aryans were reluctant to put the Vedas in black and white. They refused to believe that the reason that the Vedas were not written at the time of their composition was simply the lack of script. They adhered to their illogical reasoning even after the scripts came into being: they thought that the rśis had not written out the Vedas, one, because it was improper, and two, because the Vedas were named shruti. However, much later, in Kashmiira,(1) the Vedas were written down in the Sáradá script in use there at the time. There was really no alternative to writing them down, because there was almost nobody left who knew all the Vedas by heart, and the number of people who knew even parts of them was very small. When the Kashmiira scholars finally did write down the Vedas, it was discovered that many parts of them were missing for good.
It was not difficult for the healthy, martial, almost invincible Aryans to conquer northern India. The victorious Aryans treated the vanquished non-Aryans as slaves, trampling them underfoot to the bottom of their trivarńa [three-caste] society – their society of Bráhmańas, Kśatriyas and Vaeshyas. There the non-Aryans became the fourth class, or Shúdra Varńa, while society became a cáturvarńa [four-caste] society. In the beginning the Aryans tried their utmost to avoid blood relationships with the Shúdras – overwhelming proof of this is found in the Vedas and later books – but eventually it became impossible for them to avoid intermixture.
Although in northern India the Aryans enjoyed predominance in the political sphere, the non-Aryans’ influence in the social sphere gradually increased, and persists even today. It was not possible for the Aryans to extend their political power into southern India. There they did exert some social influence, but even less than in the north.
The courage, strength and physical beauty of the Aryans was conspicuous in the north, south and east of India, so in these areas, the non-Aryans were very eager to establish social relations with the Aryans, and often proudly called themselves Árya-Vipras [Vipra = Bráhmańa, or Brahman], Árya-Kśatriyas or Árya-Vaeshyas. Although the Aryans’ predominance was mainly political, and the non-Aryans maintained social and cultural predominance, the Aryan influence over the language spread everywhere. Moreover, the influential leaders of society everywhere began to introduce themselves as Aryans. The anti-Aryan sentiment gradually weakened, causing a widespread inferiority complex to take root among the non-Aryan population. This inferiority complex proved extremely detrimental to the interests of the non-Aryans.
The Aryan leader Agastya was the first to go to southern India to popularize the ideas and ideals of the Aryans. He explained the greatness of the Aryans to the people there allegorically. According to this mythological tale, Vindhya Hill on the northern frontier of the Deccan bent its head out of reverence for Agastya, enabling him to cross into southern India, and has kept its head bent in reverence ever since. The great epic Rámáyańa depicts the Aryan invasion of southern India. Needless to say, the monkeys of Kiśkindhyá and the rákśasas [demons] of Lanka, as described in the Rámáyańa, were in fact neither monkeys nor demons, but the people of different sub-castes of the Dravidian society itself. The proof that the non-Aryans, particularly the Dravidians, were a highly developed community in regard to knowledge, learning, intellect, city and town building, cultivation of science, and social order and discipline, is traceable in every line of the Rámáyańa. It was extremely difficult for the Aryans to hold their own in an intellectual duel with the Dravidians. At every step they found themselves outwitted, and said, “Queer are the ways of demons.”
As a result of co-existing with the non-Aryans for a long time, the Aryans learned many things from them. In fact there is hardly anything of Aryanism left in them today. Of course, the non-Aryans also took on certain Aryan traits, among them their fair complexion, their proficiency in various activities, and their ostentatious lifestyle. From the non-Aryans the Aryans acquired a well-knit social system, a subtle insight, spiritual philosophy and Tantra sádhaná. In the beginning the Aryans tried hard to preserve the purity of their blood – Shúdras used to be kept scrupulously at arm’s length – but such endeavours and precautions eventually proved a failure. More or less everywhere in India there was intermixing between the Aryans and the non-Aryans – the Dravidians, the Austrics, and the Mongolians - which resulted in a new mixed race. This is why dark Vipras and fair Shúdras are not at all rare in India today. Their very colours pay testimony to the intermixture of Aryan and non-Aryan blood running in their veins.
The victorious Aryans, coming from cold countries, were a skilled and competent race. Their competence, their sense of superiority over the non-Aryans, and their unity born out of hatred for the non-Aryans, helped them in their victory over India. Though the non-Aryans were defeated by the Aryans in northern India, though the non-Aryans of southern and eastern India were under the spell of an inferiority complex, none of them surrendered to the Aryans without a fight. As they were constantly engaged in warfare with the Aryans, they became much more proficient in battle. Thus Aryan victory in southern and eastern India eventually became impossible. In the accounts of major battles fought between the Aryans and the non-Aryans, as depicted in the Sanskrit books written in the subsequent period,(2) the non-Aryans display no less competence than the Aryans.
Aryan life was full of noisy revelry and pomp, whereas the non-Aryan life was simple and unostentatious, although it was the non-Aryans who had access to more materials of enjoyment. But when the non-Aryans came in contact with the Aryans, they became tempted to enjoy pomp and splendour. Such a lifestyle proved more harmful to the comparatively inactive non-Aryans, inhabitants of a tropical country, than to the active and hardy Aryans.
The Aryans outside India had no well-structured social system nor any clearly-defined marital discipline. “Might is right” was the order of society. Nevertheless there was a predisposition in them to mould a society. The non-Aryans had happy families. They were characterized by a well-knit social structure and strong conjugal relationships. Even those nature-worshipping ethnic groups forming part of the Austric population of non-Aryan society, though comparatively backward, had very strong family relationships. So when the Aryans came in contact with these non-Aryans, they found new light for the formation of a society.
With the exception of a few munis and rśis, the militant (kśatriya-predominant) Aryans used to view the world with an extoversial outlook. After major battles they would kill the men of the conquered community, employ their children as servants, and either marry the women or employ them as maid-servants. For that reason there was a large number of male and female slaves in their society.
War-loving races are generally careful to honour the rules and laws of war, and frame new laws to suit the convenience of warring armies. Thus, the Aryans displayed a commendable sense of discipline during war. Being a war-loving race, it was but natural for them to do so. The non-Aryans, however, were backward in this regard. During their battles with the Aryans they did not respect the rules and laws of war (such as not to strike at the defenceless, not to employ more than one fighter against another, not to kill a retreating or surrendering soldier or a soldier begging for mercy). Not only was this highly irritating to the Aryans; the lack of a disciplined military mentality was actually one of the main reasons for the non-Aryans’ defeat.
Usually the non-Aryans were content with little. What was developed in them was their introspective nature, which not only made them devotees of God, but infused in them a surging love for spiritual philosophy. The religious practices of the Aryans, however, entailed performing certain sacrifices in order to attain certain materialistic gains. That is, their religious observances were mainly ritualistic. On the whole, the non-Aryans were followers of Tantra, or subjective sádhaná. Of course the non-Aryans, depending on their different degrees of intellectual development, ranged all the way from animists to Brahma sádhakas [intuitional practitioners whose goal is the Absolute]; but in general, individual sádhaná ranked very high. The religion of the Vedic Aryans was, as a rule, one of prayer. It did not include even the subtlest hint of any intuitional meditation. And here lies the difference between the Brahmaváda of the Vedas and the Upanishads on the one hand, and that of Tantra on the other.
As previously mentioned, by “non-Aryans” no particular ethnic group was meant. When the Aryans first migrated to India, the non-Aryans were, on the whole, divided into three populations. Of these, the Negro-Austric Dravidians were the most developed intellectually and spiritually. Their Tantra sádhaná bore a predominance of jiṋána and bhakti. The next groups deserving mention are those of the Mongolian population. In their Tantra sádhaná, karma and bhakti were predominant. The groups which constituted the Austric population were almost equal to the Aryans intellectually, but in the practical and spiritual spheres they gradually lagged behind due to the comparative lack of dynamism of their society. This Austric society was content to practise the extroversial aspects of Tantra (witchcraft, invultuation, magic, magical incantation for evil purposes, hypnotism, etc.)
Tantra flourished in Bengal due to the pervasive intermixture of Dravidian and Mongolian blood.
Vauṋge prakáshitá vidyá Maethilye prabaliikrtá
Kvácit kvácit Maháráśt́re Gurjjare pralayaḿgatá.
[Tantra was practised in Bengal, but was more widely practised in Mithila. It was not very popular in Maharashtra, and was totally non-existent in Gujarat.]
Bengal was the home of both the Mongolian and the Dravidian populations, the Dravidians being more widespread in the southwestern areas and the Mongolians in the northeastern areas. Some groups of Austrics lived in the western parts. In the southeastern parts of Bengal, the Mongolians held an overwhelming majority over the Dravidians. The Chakmas, Tripuris, Bodos, Kochas, Kiratas, and Chuaras of the Mongolian population; the Kaevarttas, Bagdis, Dules, Shavaras, Kurmis, Mahatas, and Kherias of the Dravidian population; and the Santhaliis, Baoriis, Mála Páháriis [[(Mála or Málo)]], etc., of the predominantly Austric population, were the original Bengalees.
The present Bengali society and civilization are the outcome of the mutual exchange of thought among these peoples. The greatest contribution of this civilization has been the well-structured and well-disciplined Tantra sádhaná. Tantra wields the greatest influence over the customs and usages of modern Bengal and eastern India. As a matter of fact, Tantra has had a more pervasive influence throughout all of India than have the Vedas, yet nowhere has this Tantric or non-Aryan influence been greater than in the eastern part of India. The iron bangles of the women, the vermilion mark in the parting of their hair, the various marriage customs and rites, etc., are all different social practices borrowed from the non-Aryans. The custom of addressing all women as “mother” (masiimá, pisiimá, kákiimá [aunts], didimá [grandmother], etc.) bears the mark of Tantric influence, because in Tantra the social dominance of women was widely accepted. Even the little non-Tantric or patrilineal influence that exists in the upper castes of Bengali society is not borrowed from the Aryans of northern India, but is a result of the close and intimate trans-oceanic relations that Bengal had in those days with regions outside India.
In the life of Bengal, Tantra has surrendered to Veda only with respect to language. In fact there was no alternative but to acknowledge this defeat: The Bengalees of those days were followers of Tantra who spoke many different languages. When they decided to formulate a new language of their own, they were bound to accept the language of the foreign Aryans due to its highly expressive power. The Dravidian and Mongolian languages [although also a form of Sanskrit] were not so expressive as the Sanskrit language of the Vedas.
Although the Aryan conquerors were unable to influence the social life of Bengal to any appreciable degree, due to their influence the Tantric matrilineal social system of Bengal (the Tantric matrilineal order prevails even today in the Dravid-Keralite and Mongolo-Khashian societies) partially accepted the patrilineal order as well. As a result Bengal, though not governed by the Mitákśará, or patrilineal, system of northern India, built up a new social order according due respect to both father and mother. Subsequently, in recognition of this new social system, Bengal officially rescinded the Mitákśará system [insofar as it officially existed], and in its place established the Dáyabhága(3) system.
The second result of the Aryan influence was the Bengali language. The language that the Bengalees of the Vedic era used to speak had no connection with the Vedic language. Neither could the Vedic Aryans understand it. The Aryans used to say, “That is a country of birds. We don’t understand what those birds chirp and twitter.” Be that as it may, due the Vedic influence, particularly due to the influence of the eastern Vedic dialect, Mágadhii Prákrta, there emerged a Sanskrit-based Aryan language in Bengal. Later on the Tantrics of this area composed Tantric literature using Sanskrit(4) and the new Sanskrit-based Bengali.
In spite of their accepting the Aryan language, the Tantrics never gave up their own style of pronunciation. Even today the Mágadhii group of languages, particularly the Eastern Demi-Mágadhii group (Bengali, Oriya, Assamese and Maethilii), has a style of pronunciation that is completely its own. In spite of later distortions in the mode of pronunciation in northern India, due to the non-cultivation of the Sanskrit language and the heavy use of Arabic- and Persian-influenced Urdu, eastern and southern India did not give up their ancient modes of pronunciation. In ancient times the people speaking Shaorasenii and Málavii dialects used to make fun of the people speaking the Mágadhii dialect, which was heavily influenced by Tantra. Thus the people of the western part of the Mágadhii-speaking area, that is, the Magahii- and Bhojpuri-speaking people, tried to pronounce in the Shaorasenii style. Though there is, as a result, some influence of Shaorasenii and Hindi on the pronunciation of the Magahii and Bhojpuri dialects, the intonation of the saḿvrta(5) a has remained unchanged. The Tantric pronunciations of jiṋa, ńa, śa, hya, and kśa are also still prevalent in eastern India today.
The Aryans had a developed language but no script. It was indeed the Tantrics, and not the Vedics, who invented script and acoustic science. So far as correctness of pronunciation is concerned, the Tantric mode is to be accepted, not the Vedic. Remember that each of the fifty letters of the Sanskrit akśaramálá [alphabet] constitutes one acoustic root of Tantra. It was for the purpose of spiritual practice that the Tantrics had discovered these roots. Here the Aryans deserve no credit at all.
The Tantric influence exists in all the Indian languages;(6) it is also prominent in observances and ceremonies. The non-Aryan and Tantric influence is prominent not only in social functions, but in religious ceremonies as well, due to the influence of the Tantric gods and goddesses. In eastern India, particularly in Bengal, popular gods and goddesses such as Shiitalá (the goddess of smallpox), Manasá (the goddess of snakes), Niila T́hákura and Bat́uka Bhaerava [a Buddhist Tantric deity] are all Tantric gods and goddesses but are nevertheless worshipped in Hindu temples as Hindu gods and goddesses. (Bat́uka → Baŕua → Baŕuyá → Baŕo – in the rural areas of Bengal, Boŕo Shiva or Buŕo Shiva.(7) )
Even the Satyanáráyańa of eastern India is a non-Aryan deity. Of course in this worship we also find some influence by the Muslims who came from the Arab world. Betels, plantains, areca nuts and coconuts [as used to worship Satyanáráyańa] are the main paraphernalia of non-Aryan worship, because they are Dravidian in origin. Perhaps the Vedic Aryans had never heard of these things, and perhaps there were no words for them in the Vedic language or in old Sanskrit. Words like nágavallarii [a kind of creeping plant], kadalii [plaintain] and nárikela [coconut] are modern Sanskrit, but these things are widely used in the worship of Satyanáráyańa and in other popular worship. Only the shirńii [food offered to a god] of the Muslims in the worship of Satyanáráyańa is imported.
Sugar cane, coconut, limes, grapefruit, powdered rice, etc., used in the Chat́ Pújá [Sun Worship] are important food items in Dravidian festivities. Another noteworthy fact is that in the Chat́ and a number of other popular pújás, the Vedics or Brahmans have no place at all, or if they do participate, have a secondary role. The women play a most significant role in these pújás. The speciality of non-Aryan ceremonies is that the women’s role is predominant. Yet another remarkable factor is that although the Vedic sun-god is a male god, the non-Aryan sun-god is female, a goddess. Thus in eastern India worshippers address the sun-god as “Chat́ Máyii” instead of “Chat́ Pitá”. The non-Aryan worship of Dalapati or Gańapati (group leader or people’s leader) prevalent in the non-Aryan Austric society, is also prevalent in the Aryan society in the name of Gańapati Pújá or Gańesha Pújá [actually this worship meant the worship of the group or society of the Austric people]. The head of an elephant, a big and mighty animal, placed on the shoulders of the deity’s body, was only symbolic of the superiority of the group leader of the society concerned. It is noteworthy that such worship was also prevalent in the non-Aryan Mayan civilization of America.
As said before, the Aryans became acquainted with paddy at a much later period. Previously they had had no idea how to get rice out of paddy, and only learned when they came in contact with the non-Aryans. It was the non-Aryans who taught them to eat boiled rice. It is noteworthy that powdered rice or its paste was widely used in the popular worship of the gods and goddesses of south and east India. It would appear that rice seemed to be rather a queer thing to the Aryans, because in the Vedas it is called tańd́ula. Evidently the Aryans saw grains of rice jumping from the mortar while the paddy was being threshed and husked in the traditional hand-driven or foot-driven husking devices, and thus named it tańd́ula. Tańd́ula means “one whose characteristic is to jump”. The word cál or cául [husked but uncooked rice] is derived from the Bengali root cálá – which means “sifting” in order to separate the rice from the chaff.
Spiritual practice was common in the Tantric society. There is no spiritual vigour whatsoever in the lives of those who support pompous, so-called religious, ceremonies, as there is in the lives of introspective spiritual practitioners. After the Aryans came into India, two types of practice used to take place side by side: on the one side the sacrificial fires of the rśis, characterized by the smell of burning ghee and the sonorous refrains of those paying homage to the manes while offering oblations into the fire; and on the other side, the non-Aryans’ Tantra sádhaná, the practice of self-control and attainment of divine power. Spiritual depth and power of sádhaná brought fearlessness into the spiritual lives of the non-Aryans, as befitting staunch Tantrics.
The non-Aryans regarded the Aryans’ sacrificial ceremonies as a time-killing childish pastime and would sabotage them whenever convenient. The Aryan munis and rśis asked the Aryan kings for protection against these saboteurs – or, in the language of the Aryans, these rákśasas, pashus and pishácas. Innumerable stories to this effect can be found in different Sanskrit books, even today. Although the words rákśasa [demon], pashu [beast] and pisháca [ghoul] were used in a general way to describe the non-Aryans, actually the Dravidians were normally called rákśasas (the short-statured among them “monkeys”), the Mongolians, asuras [monsters], and those Tantrics who did shava sádhaná [sádhańa upon dead bodies] in cemeteries and cremation grounds, pishácas. The Aryans also declared that these gangs of rákśasas and pishácas were cannibals. They drew horrible sketches of the dark-complexioned Dravidians and high-cheekboned and flat-nosed Mongolians, with grotesque forms and features, to prove them contemptible and vile. Actually they were a lot more civilized and educated than the Aryans.
Apart from this there were many Aryans who married the daughters of these rákśasas and asuras, entranced by their beauty and qualities (those who had a mixture of Mongolian and Dravidian blood had particularly beautiful features). Bhiima married Hid́imbá, a non-Aryan girl; Arjuna married Citráuṋgadá, also a non-Aryan girl. Rávańa, the leader of the rákśasas, had a father from an Aryan Brahman family – Maharśi Vishvashravá, the descendent of Pulasta Rśi – and a non-Aryan mother – Nikaśá, or Kaekasii. In other words, though the Aryans had been proud of their colour and features, that pride faded away within a short time. At that time and also later, even though a few Aryan-proud individuals attempted to defame these rákśasas and asuras, the general mass did not pay much attention to them.
On the one hand the Aryan-proud pandits of Bengal engaged in scurrilous and abusive attacks on the Mongolians and the original Bengalees –
Sarve máḿsaratáh múŕháh
Mleccháh gobrahma ghátakáh,
Kuvacakáh pare múŕhá ete kút́ayonayoh,
Teśaḿ paeshácikii bháśá lokácáro na vidyate.
[They are all excessive meat eaters. They are fools. Killers of cows and Brahmans, they speak foul and meaningless words. These are foolish people born out of bad women. Their language is gibberish. They don’t follow decent customs.]
– but on the other hand we observe the emergence of a new civilization in Bengal, out of the Austrico-Mongolo-Dravidian combination, at about 1000 BC.
This civilization, though similar to other civilizations in India, had its own customs and rites, language and mode of pronunciation, manners and behaviour, religious and social systems, rights of inheritance and disinheritance under the Dáyabhága code of law, and dress and food habits. Proud of its own speciality and uniqueness, it never agreed to be a part of the Áryávartta [northern India dominated by the Aryan culture]. In order to keep itself free from Aryan subjugation, Bengal rebelled again and again. The northern Indian orthodox Aryans, full of Aryan chauvinism (actually they too were Tantrics, but outwardly displayed an enamel coating of Aryanism), were reluctant to accept the highly Tantric areas such as Auṋga [Monghyr and its adjacent areas], Vauṋga [Bengal]),(8) Kaliuṋga [Orissa], Mithila and Magadha [Bihar] as parts of their Áryavartta. For them Káshii [Benares] served as the eastern border of the Áryavartta.
These orthodox, but internally Tantric, people could not avoid being influenced by the Tantric civilization of eastern India even in their external life. The predominance of the Bengali script of east India (Shrii Harśa Lipi) extended up to Prayága in the far west. Most Sanskrit books on Hindu and Buddhist Tantra were written in this Bengali script. After the Muslim invasion, the influence of east India upon north India began to wane gradually. At about that time some Nagar Brahmans from Vedic Gujarat went to northern India to propagate the Vedas and the Sanskrit language. They used Nágrii script for writing Sanskrit, and under the Brahmans’ influence the Nágrii script too gradually became popular in northern India. The use of Bengali script became confined to eastern India only. It is worth noting that many of the Nágar Brahmans of Gujarat were followers of Tantra, particularly Vaeśńava Tantra.
The greatest difference between the Aryans and the non-Aryans was in their outlook. The Aryans wanted to establish their dominance on the basis of their racial superiority, whereas the non-Aryans, following the precepts of Tantra, did not recognize any distinction among people. The identity of everyone was the same: all belonged to the same family, the family of Shiva. In the first stage of sádhaná, everyone is an animal. To merge in Brahmatva [Cosmic Consciousness], after first elevating themselves to devatva [god-hood], was their sádhaná. But in the first stage, while still rising above crude animality, their adorable Shiva was known as “Pashupati”, “Lord of Animality”.
Here it is necessary to remember that Tantra is not a religion, but a way of life, a system of sádhaná. The fundamental goal of this sádhaná is to awaken the dormant jiivashakti [unit force], known as kulakuńd́alinii, and, after elevating it stage by stage, to merge it in Brahmabháva [Cosmic Consciousness]. Tantra is a science of spiritual meditation or sádhaná which is equally applicable to anyone no matter what their religious affiliation might be. Tantra is certainly older than the Vedas. Just as the shlokas or mantras of the Vedas were handed down from guru to disciple in a genealogical tradition, the Tantra sádhaná of the Mongolo-Dravidian society was handed down from guru to disciple hereditarily. The Vedas are theoretical – full of ritualistic ceremonies and formalisms. It would be incorrect to regard Tantra as a more recent version of those Vedic rituals: Tantra’s esoteric practices had long been known in the society of sádhakas. Its theoretical portion was not as elaborate as that of the Vedas, which took years and years to memorize.
When the Aryans came to India, roughly during the period of the Atharvaveda, they learned Tantra sádhaná to some extent after coming in contact with the Indian Tantrics. This resulted in the Atharvaveda being pervasively influenced by Tantra. Even if the orthodox Vedics try to reject the many Tantra-influenced portions of the Vedas as later interpolations, they will not be too convincing, for Tantra has now infiltrated into the marrow of the so-called Aryans. Although during the post-Vedic Buddhist era as well as the post-Buddhist Brahmanical era changes in the religious outlook of the people were apparent, the process of sádhaná remained Tantric as it does even today, for without Tantra spiritual sádhaná is impossible. Yoga, which is the paramount factor in spiritual practices, is itself based on Tantra. The great Tantric Vashiśt́ha, when he returned from China after learning the Chinese techniques of sádhaná, brought about a great improvement in Tantra sádhaná. He was widely acclaimed as a great yogi. His book Yogaváshiśt́ha is a philosophical exposition of the subtle spirituality of Tantra sádhaná.
There are many who try to make a distinction between Hindu Tantra and Buddhist Tantra. This is absolutely wrong, for as I have said earlier, Tantra is one and only one. It is based on one sentiment, on one idea. The Buddhist and Hindu Tantras express the same thing in different words. For example, Hindu Tantras use the word kulakuńd́alinii for the dormant unit force and id́a, piuṋgalá and suśumná for the three psycho-spiritual channels. They state that the kulakuńd́alinii pierces through the six cakras – (1) múládhára [situated above the perineum], (2) svádhiśt́hána [in the region of the genital organ], (3) mańipura [in the region of the navel], (4) anáhata [in the region of the heart], (5) vishuddha [in the region of the vocal cord] and (6) ájiṋá [between the eyebrows], and finally unites with Paramashiva at the seventh cakra, the sahasrára cakra [at the crown of the head], giving the sádhakas, or intuitional practitioners, the bliss of Cosmic Consciousness. The Buddhist Tantras say the same thing in different words. They have named the mańipura cakra, nirmáńa cakra, the anáhata, dharma cakra, the vishuddha, sambhoga cakra, and the sahasrára, uśniiśa kamala or mahásukha cakra.
Some have named the múládhára, mańipadma. In both the Buddhist and Hindu Tantras, hummm is the acoustic root of the unit force, the kulakuńd́alinii, lying dormant in mańipadma. The so-called Buddhist Tantrics also say, Oṋḿ mańipadme hummm. To them id́á, piuṋgalá and suśumná are lalaná, rasaná and avadhútikárespectively. So where, in reality, is the ideological difference between the Hindu Tantras such as Mahánirváńa Tantra, Kulárńava Tantra, Ajiṋána-bodhinii Tantra, Jiṋána-saḿkalinii Tantra, Rudrayámala Tantra, Bhaerava-yámala Tantra, Niila Tantra, etc., and the Buddhist Tantras such as Hevajra Tantra, Vajra-váráhii Kalpamahá Tantra, Ekallaviira Cańd́arośańa Tantra, D́ákárnava Tantra, Advaya Siddhi Tantra, etc.? Kauṋkalamálinii Tantra cannot be called either a Hindu Tantra or a Buddhist Tantra with any clear certainty.
Even the popular assumption that the Hindus borrowed idolatry from the Buddhists is totally wrong. Although there was a conception of gods and goddesses among the Aryan Vedics, there was no custom of modelling images for worship. But in the lowest stratum of Tantra sádhaná (that is, the lowest of the low grade) idolatry was prescribed:
Madhyamá dhyána dháŕańá;
[Ideation on Brahma is the best, dhyána and dhárańá are second best, repetitious incantation and eulogistic prayer are the worst, and idol worship is the worst of the worst.]
The word uttama in the first line of the shloka is interchangeable with sahajávasthá. Sahajáavasthá, the “tranquil state” of the Buddhists, is no different from the ideation on Brahma of the Hindus.
According to their respective intellectual strata, the primitive non-Aryan Tantrics utilized all the practices, from the lowest-of-the-low image worship to the highest-of-the-high Brahma sádhaná. Thus idolatry is as much a part of Hindu Tantra as it is of Buddhist Tantra. Neither has borrowed it from the other.
I have just referred to the ideological unity of the Hindu and the Buddhist Tantras. So far as the goal is concerned, the ultimate object of both is to merge the unit force in the introversial force and the introversial force in Parama Puruśa. In various places in the Hindu Tantras, Parama Puruśa has been called Paramashiva, Puruśottama and Krśńa, and Paramá Prakrti has been called Kálii, Rádhá, etc. In the Buddhist Tantras Parama Puruśa or Bhagaván Sarveshvara has been called Shriiman Mahásukha, Vajrasatva, Vajradhara, Vajreshvara, Heruka or Hevajra – or in places Cańd́arośańa – and the Maháshakti of Mahákaola has sometimes been called Bhagavatii Sarveshvarii, sometimes Vajraváráhii, sometimes Vajradhátviishvarii, sometimes Prajiṋá Páramitá, and sometimes, in sandhyá bháśá,(9) D́ombii, Cańd́álii, etc.
In both the Hindu and Buddhist Tantras, men and women are permitted to do sádhaná together. In the Hindu Tantras, males are advised to ideate that they are Bhaerava, and sádhikás [female spiritual aspirants] to ideate that they are Bhaeravii. Buddhist Tantras prescribe the same thing. There the sádhaka is Vajradhara and the sádhiká is Vajrayośita.
Naráh Vajradharákáráh śośitah Vajrayośitah.
–Ekallaviira Cańd́arośańa Tantra
[The male aspirants are called Vajradhara, and the female aspirants Vajrayośita.]
Actually Tantra is one. Therefore it is as much a mistake to distinguish between the Hindu and the Buddhist Tantras as it is to grope in vain for any differences in the inner import or final goals of the Hindu Tantras such as Shaeva Tantra, Shákta Tantra, Saora Tantra, Gáńapatya Tantra, Vaeśńaviiya Tantra (Rádhá Tantra), etc.
The similarity between the gods and goddesses of the Hindu Tantras and those of the Buddhist Tantras is also particularly noteworthy. Each Tantra has either absorbed or discarded the other’s gods and goddesses according to its own convenience. Tárá is one of the famous deities of the Buddhist Tantras. The worships of Bhrámarii Tárá in China, Ugratárá or Vajratárá in Mongolia, and Niila Sarasvatii Tárá or Ekajátá Devii in Tibet, date from very ancient times. Tibet’s Niila Sarasvatii Tárá has been absorbed in Hindu Tantra as the second Mahávidyá of the Ten Mahávidyás, and today those Hindus who worship idols do not regard Tárá as a non-Hindu deity.
Káliká Devii, the first Mahávidyá of the so-called Hindu Tantras, has been accepted by Buddhist Tantra. Clad in betel leaves (parńa means “betel leaves” or “turmeric leaves”), Parńa Shavarii Devii of the Buddhist Tantra is one of the names of the goddess Durgá of Hindu Tantra. Prajiṋá Páramitá, the Buddhist deity, continues to be worshipped in post-Buddhist India as Sarasvatii. The bull-mounted Sarasvatii of the Vedas has not even a hint of similarity with the swan-mounted Sarasvatii, either in appearance or in nature.(10)
There are some goddesses whose sources – Buddhist or Hindu – are impossible to determine. That is to say, they are deities common to both schools of Tantra, such as Váráhii, Kaoveŕii, Bhiimá, Kapálinii, Chinnamastá, etc. Goddesses of the Hindu Tantras such as D́ákinii, Rákinii, Lákinii, Kákinii, Shákinii, Hákinii, etc., have been accepted by the Buddhist Tantras.
The savikalpa samádhi [trance of determinate absorption – or vacuity] of the Hindu Tantras is the prabhásvara shúnyatá [luminous vacuity] of the Buddhists. The Hindus’ nirvikalpa [trance of objectless or indeterminate absorption – or vacuity] is the Buddhists’ vajra shúnyatá [complete vacuity]. And the goddess of vajra shúnyatá, of the unmanifest Prakrti, is Vajraváráhii, D́ombii, Naerátma Devii or Naerámańi in the language of the Buddhists. The different stages of savikalpa samádhi related to the upward movement of the kulakuńd́alinii are called sálokya [within the same loka], sámiipya [closest proximity], sárupya [identity], sarśt́hi [the stage between savikalpa and nirvikalpa], etc., in the Hindu Tantras; and in the Buddhist Tantras, viśáyánanda [objective bliss] in the nirmáńa cakra, paramánanda [supreme bliss] in the dharma cakra, virámánanda [intermittent bliss] in the sambhoga cakra and sahajánanda [absolute bliss] in the mahásukha cakra. In this mahásukha cakra, Naerátma Devii is Bhagavatii Prajiṋá Sarveshvarii, an embodiment of sahajánanda [bliss]. This sahajánanda is the Brahmánanda [absolute bliss] of the Hindu Tantras.
After the Aryan settlement in India a great man was born into the non-Aryan society. Born into a Mongolo-Aryan family, this great man had a high nose and fair complexion. He was a great Tantric - a great yogi. The name of this Mahápuruśa of the non-Aryan society was Shiva. For one man to have so many qualities and endowments at the same time was beyond the comprehension of the people, so He was called Guńátiita or Nirguńa [Transcendental or Non-Attributional] Puruśa. As the result of His Tantra sádhaná He attained extraordinary powers, which He employed for the good of humanity. It was He who systematized the science of Tantra and thus He was the guru or the father of Tantrics and yogis. To this Self-realized Mahápuruśa there was no distinction of high and low. People of all classes, from the highest to the lowest, were dear to Him. Irrespective of class - Aryan, non-Aryan, Dravidian, Austric or Mongolian – all flocked to Him. He showered His grace on them all equally. As the battles raged between the “gods” on the one hand and the “demons” and “monsters” on the other (needless to say, “gods” meant the handsome Aryan leaders, and “demons” meant the non-Aryans in general), the non-Aryan “demons” and “monsters” became more and more powerful through the blessings of this Shiva. All the rákśasas and asuras were Shiva’s obedient devotees and followers. With the help and blessings of Shiva they destroyed the might and power of the “gods”. According to Sanskrit stories, when the gods would seek the help of Brahmá and Viśńu, even those two would not dare to oppose Shiva; rather they would save the gods through a compromise with Him.
Shiva had such a forgiving nature, born out of His spirit of benevolence, that even the most wicked could easily draw on His kindness. That is why to everybody He became “Áshutośa” (“Easy to Please”). Due to Shiva’s pervasive influence over their society, the non-Aryans, that is, the Tantrics, used to worship Him as God, and according to their respective intellectual strata they regarded and accepted Him in His different bearings. Just as the Aryans began to identify Shiva with their own gods and goddesses, the kaola mahátántrikas [great Tantrics in the tradition of kulakuńd́alinii yoga] began to regard their Shiva as identical with Nirguńa Brahma. The foremost cause behind this conception of theirs was the absolute detachment and self-forgetful bearing of Shiva, the lord of supernatural and miraculous power. Shiva’s self-sacrificing nature earned Him the name “Bholánátha” [“one absolutely indifferent to his own status”] among the non-Aryans. All were attracted to Shiva’s supernatural power, His imposing personality, His limitless qualities and the calm, tranquil radiance of His features.
Enthralled by the physical grace and the virtues of Shiva, Princess Gaorii, the daughter of the Aryan king Dakśa, was attracted towards Him. King Dakśa was not at all in favour of his daughter marrying a non-Aryan, but eventually he gave way before her adamant attitude. And so Shiva and Princess Gaorii were married. But envy born out of his knowledge of Shiva’s formidable influence over both the Aryan and the non-Aryan societies had already made King Dakśa mad. Thus one day he publicly insulted Shiva at a large sacrifice specially planned for the purpose. Shiva’s devotees, unable to bear the insult, made a pandemonium of Dakśa’s ceremonial sacrifice. It is written in the books of the Aryans that Shiva’s two servant-spirits, Nandii and Bhrngii, destroyed Dakśa’s yajiṋa. Actually, Nandii and Bhrngii, the alleged spirits, were none other than two ardent non-Aryan Tantric devotees of Shiva.
Many Aryans supported the marriage of Gaorii and Shiva, because, on account of Shiva’s extraordinary influence, they felt it would be more in their interest to establish kinship with Him than to remain hostile to Him. Whatever the reason, after Dakśa’s yajiṋa, in Shiva’s presence, all the Aryan and non-Aryan clashes and disputes came to a permanent end. In other words, the Aryans accepted the predominance of Shiva.
The non-Aryans were very happy to have Gaorii in their midst. Just as they revered Shiva as their god, they regarded Gaorii as their goddess. The non-Aryans were yellow-, black- or brown-complexioned, but Gaorii, being of purely Aryan origin, was white-complexioned. It was for this reason that she was named “Gaorii” [which means “white-complexioned”]. After the marriage, Gaorii lived in the Himalaya Mountains, and was thus often called “Parvata Kanyá” [“Daughter of the Mountains”], or “Párvatii” in common language. I told you a little while ago that the non-Aryans used to do Tantra sádhaná according to their respective intellectual development. They worshipped a pair of gods – Puruśa and Prakrti. Whatever their intellectual and spiritual standards, all of them regarded their primary god as Shiva, or, in subsequent periods, some avatára [incarnation] of Shiva; and their primary goddess as Gaorii, or, later, some partial manifestation of Gaorii.
Among the backward non-Aryan society, phallus worship was prevalent. Although originally there was some social history behind this phallus worship (due to the perpetual warfare between the various clans and tribes, each group felt a constant necessity to increase its numerical strength, and thus they began to worship both the genital organs), in later periods, under the influence of Tantra, it took on a more subtle spiritual form. When, due to the influence of Shiva, everyone began to accept Shiva as their chief god, this liuṋga pújá [worship of genitals] became [the worship of] Shiva-liuṋga and Gaorii-piit́ha, or Gaorii-pat́t́a. Subsequently the Aryans also accepted phallus worship and gave it a philosophical interpretation: Liuṋgate gamyate yasmád talliuṋgam [“The entity from which all things originate [[and towards which all things are moving]] is called liuṋga”].
After Dakśa’s yajiṋa Shiva’s influence over the Aryans increased more and more. The Aryans began to feel that, being so indebted to Shiva, they could no longer afford to disregard Him. It was Shiva who had taught them spiritual sádhaná, ásanas and práńáyáma; the secret of good health; the science of medicine; and the developed art of dance and music. For His excellence in dancing, both the Aryans and non-Aryans used to call Him “Nat́arája”, and for His proficiency in vocal music, “Nádatanu”. No one has counted the number of medicines He invented for every kind of disease. He was the first preceptor of the áyurvedácáryas [teachers of áyurveda, the science of medicine to increase longevity]. The asuras were cured of many serious diseases due to His grace. Both the Aryans and the non-Aryans thought that since Shiva knew so many remedies, He was perhaps immortal, and so they named Him “Mrtyuiṋjaya” [“Conqueror of Death”]. When, even today, people come across some incurable disease, they say, “Even Shiva has no cure for this disease.” Like the non-Aryans, the Aryans eventually accepted Shiva as their god and Gaorii as their goddess.
The tiger is one of the oldest animals of India. In the distant past these tigers came into India from the non-Aryan countries of China, Tibet, etc. Lions came much later from the Aryan countries bordering on the northwest corner of India. It is noteworthy that in the dhyána mantra of Shiva, he has been described as wearing a tiger skin, that is, the skin of an animal of the non-Aryan countries (vyághra-krttiḿ vasánaḿ); and the daughter of the Aryans, Gaorii, has been depicted as siḿha-váhinii [“riding on a lion”].
In all the Aryan books of knowledge the word Shiva was invariably used to describe Parama Puruśa. The racially chauvinistic Aryans could not remain at peace after their acceptance of Shiva as God. Thinking that the non-Aryans would make capital of this and boast about their triumph over the Aryans, they threw themselves into the task of proving that Shiva was an Aryan. The non-Aryan Shiva used to live in cemeteries, cremation grounds, lonesome plains and on the different peaks of the Himalayas. (That is why even today the non-Aryans, pointing to the Himalayan peaks such as Kailash, Gaurishankar, Everest, etc., say, “There live our Hara-Gaorii.”) But the Aryans turned Him into a full-fledged divinity of the scriptures. To prove that he was Aryan they hung a sacred thread on his left shoulder. (Needless to say, the non-Aryan Shiva had no such sacred thread; he wore a snake around his neck.) Strangely enough, the image of the Aryan god Brahmá shows no sign of any such sacred thread. No one doubted that Brahmá was an Aryan by race, but in the case of Shiva, the only way to prove that he was an Aryan was to hang a sacred thread on his shoulder.
We can still observe today that Shiva is the god of all, regardless of caste or colour, high or low, learned or ignorant, Brahman or pariah. No other deity in India enjoys such tremendous universal popularity. Even if one does not know a mantra, one can worship Shiva. Young maidens model earth into images of Shiva and worship Him; the philosophical sádhakas of old used to attain samádhi in Shivatva [Cosmic Consciousness]; and the so-called low castes such as Doḿa and Cańd́ála become sannyásiis of Shiva. No other divinity would even touch the shadows of these so-called pariahs.
The present social system of India (which is fundamentally Tantric) was developed by Shiva. After accepting Shiva as God without any reservation, the Aryans appropriated everything good of the Dravidians and the other non-Aryans. Of course this did not diminish the Aryans’ prestige – rather it enhanced it. After this appropriation there was a propaganda attempt to prove that Tantra was originally propounded by the Aryans themselves. The Aryans used to say:
Ágataḿshivavaktrebhyoh gataiṋca Girijáshrutao;
Mataiṋca Vásudevasya tasmádágama ucyate.
That is to say, “This Tantra, or Ágama Shástra, was actually composed by Vásudeva [Krśńa, who was considered Aryan], and Shiva only revealed it to Párvatii.” Áre Bábá!(11) – if Vásudeva had at all been the propounder of this doctrine, why on earth would He have put it into the mouth of the non-Aryan Shiva instead of saying it Himself? In the beginning the Aryans used to recognize the superiority of Tantra sádhaná but practise it in secret; but after acknowledging Shiva, they openly declared themselves to be Tantrics.
Not only in India, but in quite a large part of the world, in every sphere of life, the laws and injunctions of Shiva alone prevailed for a long time. Even today the civilization of modern India is intrinsically Tantric. On the outside only is there a Vedic stamp. Or if we take the Indian civilization as an enamelled ornament, then its gold is Tantric, and the enamel Vedic. For both the wandering sannyásiis of the cemeteries and cremation grounds, and the householders, this Shiva alone is the ideal man, and Gaorii the ideal woman. Shiva is the universal father and Gaorii the universal mother. Shiva’s household is the three worlds.
Hararme pitá Gaorii mátá svadesho bhuvanatrayam.
[Hara is my father, Gaorii is my mother, and the three worlds of earth, heaven and hell are my native land.]
When the Indians were about to forget the teachings of Shiva due to their fascination with the mundane objectivities of the world, there came another sublime entity like Shiva, who reminded them of those teachings. That great personality was Shrii Krśńa. The question as to which of the two was greater, Krśńa or Shiva, does not arise, because all knowers of Brahma are one: all are Brahma. Shrii Krśńa was the supreme teacher and ideal politician of the world, what to speak of India alone. Shiva was the guru, the father, of the human society of the world – a completely different kind of role. Shiva is the universal father. Just as Cándá Mámá [The Uncle in the Moon] is the uncle of all, Shiva is the father of all.
All three worlds are Shiva’s family. His reputation is not confined to any particular country. Yet if anyone is to be singled out as the father of Indian civilization, or of Indian society, or of the so-called Indian nation – then I can say emphatically that Shiva alone is eligible to be the father, not only of the Indian nation, but of the universal human nation. Ancient Shiva alone, and no one else, can qualify to be the father of this more-than-five-thousand-year-old so-called Indian race.
May 1959, Muzaffarpur
(1) Author’s note: It is wrong to write “Káshmiira”, for the word káshmiira means “pertaining to Kashmiira”, or “saffron”. The Aryans saw saffron for the first time in Kashmiira.
(2) Author’s note: In these books the non-Aryans were sometimes called rákśasas [demons], sometimes pishácas [ghouls], and sometimes asuras [monsters].
(3) Editors’ note: Mitákśará entails the heirs’ equal rights of inheritance, not subject to the father’s discretion. Dáyabhága entails the heirs’ right of inheritance subject to the father’s discretion (the father enjoys the right to disinherit any of the heirs).
(4) Editors’ note: A mixture of the Vedic Sanskrit and the Bengalis’ original laokik, or dialectal, Sanskrit (the “bird language”).
(5) Editors’ note: One of three styles of pronunciation of Sanskrit – saḿvrta, vivrtta and tiryak.
(6) Author’s note: The people of eastern India make common use of the Tantric mystic syllable phat́. For example, Se phat́ kare bale phelle… “He said all of a sudden…”; or Lokt́ár baŕa phat́phat́áni, “That person is very verbose.”
(7) Editors’ note: “Old Shiva”.
(8) Editors’ note: The va sound was later changed to ba under the influence of Muslim pronunciation, so the letter was changed as well. In modern Bengali there is no difference in pronunciation between ba and va, but the difference in spelling persists.
(9) Editors’ note: A “twilight language” of dual meanings.
(10) Editors’ note: There was a Vedic Sarasvatii in existence before the Buddhist Prajiṋá Páramitá, but the swan-mounted Sarasvatii modelled after Prajiṋá Páramitá is not the same goddess.
(11) Editors’ note: An exclamation, like “Good Lord!”
Shrii Shrii A'nandamu'rti
Discourses on Tantra Volume One