What Does Tantra Mean?

The word Tantra is Sanskrit for “weave” or “woven together.” Sometimes it is also translated to mean “to expand” or “to liberate.” It is a system of beliefs and traditions — based on the art of consciousness — dating back to ancient times. The roots of Tantra are obscure. Some say the practice dates back many thousands of years to early goddess worship. Tantra became extremely popular in India in the eighth through twelfth centuries, working its way across the country and even making its way to rural villages.

Sanskrit is a classical language used in Hinduism and Buddhism. Some people believe it is the world's oldest language. It is one of India's twenty-two official languages, but has mainly become a language for research scholars. It is not used as a common form of communication.

The term Tantra has been used loosely over the years, applied to several different bodies of beliefs — mostly those based on Hindu and Buddhist traditions celebrating the union of what appear to be opposites. In other words, celebrating the union of masculine and feminine, positive and negative, etc., in order to transcend the perceived separateness and regain the actual oneness of reality. Tantra also involves the idea of using the union of man and woman — meaning intercourse — as a route to a divine place. In some cases, intercourse was seen as a path to God or a higher spiritual universe.

A main tenet of the Tantra philosophy is that all aspects of life, all living things and of creation, are special and sacred. Simply put, it's the basic idea of creating “heaven on earth” and viewing yourself as a god or goddess. Using Tantric teachings, people learn to form a spiritual connection with everything and everyone around them.

People who practice the traditional art of Tantra are called Tantrics (also Tantrikas or Tantricas). In traditional Tantra, Tantrics would spend years studying under a guru and would engage in elaborate, often time-consuming, rituals and exercises to perfect their skills and sharpen their minds and spirits.

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