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Latasadhana: Worship with a Woman

latasadhanaThe śakti [feminine aspect] of this sādhana [religious practice] is ordinarily the own wife of the sādhaka [practitioner], married according to the Vaidik injunctions; the svaśakti or ādyāśaktī, as she is technically called in Tantra. One's own wife is Ādyā-Śaktī [original or primordial feminine energy] and Sādhana should be done with her aid (Ādyā-śaktīh svadārāh syāt tāmevaśṛtya sādhayet). With her is practised that śaktīsādhana, the aim of which is the acquirement of self-control, which, checking [ceasing] the outward-going current [the orgasm], places the sādhaka upon the path of nivṛtti [cessation of suffering]. Indeed, the Kaulikārcanadīpikā says, "Without ādyā, śakti worship is but evil magic". (Ādyāśaktiṁ vinā pūjā abhicārāya kalpate). It is only the siddha, which term is here used in the special sense of one who has obtained complete control over his passions, to whom is permitted another śakti (paraśakti). So the Prāṇatoṣinī quotes, "a man shall obtain siddhi [power] with his own śakti, and afterwards (that is, when he is siddha) he should make japa [mantra] with paraśakti" (Svaśaktau siddhim āpnuyāt paraśaktau tadā japet). And similarly Niruttara Tantra says, that the sādhaka who is siddha in Kulācāra may worship "another" woman. (Siddhamantrī kulācāre parayoṣām prapūjayet). In both these cases paraśakti has a double meaning viz., "another" woman that is corporeal woman, or "Supreme" that is the Supreme Woman who in the body is Kuṇdalinī-Śakti. This latter appears to be sense in the quotation which speaks of the siddhamantrī. It has been said also, as in the Mahānirvāṇa Tantra, that paraśakti must (if unmarried) be married either by Vaidika or Śaiva rites, or (if married and the husband is dead) according to the latter rite. Further, that which determines the moral character of an act is the intention with which it is done. As the Kaulāvalīya says, when a man's intention is bad then his act is so, otherwise there is no fault:

Ata eva yadā yasya vāsanā kutsitā bhavet.
Tadā doṣāya bhavati nānyathā dūṣaṇaṁ kvacit.

As an example of the same act and varying intention, it is aptly said: "A wife is kissed with one feeling and a daughter's face with another". (Bhāvena cumbitā kāntā bhāvena duhitrānanam). A Mantrin who is given over to lust, for the subjugation of which the sādhana is prescribed, goes, as is said in the Tantrasāra, to the Hell called Raurava. (Lingayonirato mantrī raurakang narakang brajet). In the words of the Āhārabheda-Tantra—Vāmācāro bhavet tatra vāmā bhūtvā yajet parām. "One may be a Vāmācārī if one can worship Vāmā being oneself a woman." This is on the principle that a worshipper should always be like the object of his worship. Woman is Devatā, and the embodiment of the Supreme Śakti, and is as such honoured and worshipped, and is, when pūjyā śakti, never the subject of enjoyment.


By such sādhana the last vestiges of the most powerful of such bonds is sought to be destroyed, and with such destruction the seed of karma and rebirth. He, like Śiva, becomes destroyer of Smara, and Śiva Himself. Verses 4, 18, and 20 refer directly to this fruit of sādhana. Others indicate the material and intellectual greatness on earth of the sādhaka, who devoutly worships the Devī [Divine Mother]. To him is given mastery over all persons and things of the world, which on death, if siddha, he leaves for the dwelling by the Supreme Feet (verse 17), or Nirvāṇa. As Śiva says in the Kālīvilāsa-Tantra "I have told you, my beloved, all about the five Tattvas, Sādhana in the cremation ground and with the funeral pyre now listen to the doctrine of the Siddha-vīra."

Madyaṁ matsyaṁ tathā māṁsaṁ mudrāṁ maithunam-eva ca.
Śmaśānasādhanaṁ bhadre citāsādhanam eva ca.
Etat to kathitaṁ sarvaṁ siddhaviramataṁ śṛiṇu.

It is the sādhana of the cremation-ground on which all passion is burnt away. There are two kinds of cremation-ground, of which the one is the funeral pyre (citā), and the other yonirūpā mahākālī. As the first Chapter of the Niruttara-Tantra says there are two cremation grounds namely that which is the funeral pyre and the yoni which, in its sūkṣma sense, is the Devī, the śmasāna being in the same sense dissolution or pralaya. (Śmaśānam dvividhaṁ devi chitā yoni prakīrtitā). In even the sthūla sense the sādhaka must be susādhaka, for union without right disposition—japa [mantra], dhyāna [meditation] etc.—is the animal maithuna [sexual union] of a paśu [beast].

Excerpted from Hymn to Kali by Arthur Avalon (Sir John Woodroffe) [1922].