The Deities of Tantric Mythology
Tantric mythology includes a wide range of deities, symbols, and stories that are used to convey spiritual and philosophical concepts, and to help practitioners connect with the divine energy that permeates all of creation.
Tantric mythology is a rich and complex tradition that has evolved over thousands of years, originating in ancient India as part of the Tantra tradition. Tantric mythology includes a wide range of deities, symbols, and stories that are used to convey spiritual and philosophical concepts and to help practitioners connect with the divine energy that permeates all of creation.
The deities of Tantric mythology are numerous and diverse, representing various aspects of the divine energy that permeates all of creation. In this article, I will introduce you to the most commonly worshipped deities in Tantric mythology.
The Deities of Tantric Mythology
Shiva is one of the most important deities in Tantric mythology, representing the masculine principle of creation. He is often depicted as a yogi, meditating in the Himalayas, and is associated with the power of transformation.
The concept of God Shiva is an integral part of tantra, meditation, and Vedic Tradition. However, it is interesting to explore if there are any equivalent figures in other traditions across the world.
One such figure is Lord Shiva's equivalent in Buddhism, who is known as Mahakala. Mahakala is a fierce and powerful deity who is regarded as a protector and destroyer of obstacles. He is often depicted with multiple arms and weapons, much like Lord Shiva.
Another equivalent of Lord Shiva can be found in ancient Egyptian mythology, where the god Osiris embodies some similar characteristics. Osiris is known as the god of fertility, agriculture, and resurrection. He is associated with rituals that celebrated death and rebirth, much like Lord Shiva, who is also regarded as the god of destruction and rebirth.
In Greek mythology, the god Dionysus is considered to be an equivalent of Lord Shiva. Dionysus is the god of wine and ecstasy, and like Lord Shiva, he is often depicted in a state of trance or dance. In both traditions, these states of being represent a connection to divine energy.
Goddess Shakti is the Divine Feminine principle in Hinduism and Tantra. She is the universal energy that animates all life, and her worship is an integral part of Tantra. Goddess Shakti is also known by other names such as Devi, Adi Parashakti, and Tripura Sundari. She is believed to be the embodiment of all the goddesses, and hence, she is considered the highest form of divine feminine energy.
The worship of Goddess Shakti is very important in the Hindu tradition and is celebrated through various festivals and rituals. During Navratri, a nine-day festival dedicated to the worship of the goddess, devotees fast and engage in various spiritual practices in her honor.
In Tantra, Goddess Shakti is often depicted as a cosmic energy that flows through all living beings. She is associated with the kundalini energy, which is believed to be located at the base of the spine. The awakening of this energy is said to lead to spiritual enlightenment and the union of the individual soul with the divine.
Goddess Shakti is often depicted as a fierce and powerful goddess, holding weapons in her multiple arms, symbolizing her ability to destroy evil and protect her devotees. Her iconic form of creation, sustenance, and destruction is represented by the three eyes in the center of her forehead.
In Tantra, the worship of Goddess Shakti is seen as a way to connect with the divine feminine energy within oneself. This connection is believed to bring about positive changes in an individual's life by helping them access their inner power and potential.
In the Vedic tradition, Goddess Shakti is the consort of Lord Shiva. Their union represents the balance between masculine and feminine energies. They are often depicted in various forms, such as Ardhanarishvara, a form that represents the unity of both masculine and feminine principles in one body. In this form, the right half of the body is that of Lord Shiva, while the left half is that of Goddess Shakti.
In the realm of Tantra and Hindu mythology, Kali is a revered goddess celebrated for her power, intensity, and transformative energy. Known as the goddess of death and destruction, Kali represents the cyclical nature of life, death, and rebirth. However, beyond her fearsome exterior, Kali also symbolizes the creative potential for transformation and growth that is often born out of destruction.
Kali's visual depiction portrays her fierce, wild, and untamed nature. She is often depicted with blue or black skin, long disheveled hair, and a necklace made of human skulls. Her tongue often protrudes from her mouth, and her eyes are wide-open, representing her raw and unbridled energy.
The necklace of skulls around her neck represents her power over death and her ability to move beyond the physical boundaries of life. Kali is also often depicted with multiple arms, each holding a weapon or symbol. These arms represent her ability to multi-task and her mastery over various domains of creation and destruction.
There are many myths and stories associated with Kali, each highlighting different aspects of her complex nature. In one story, Kali is depicted as the ultimate warrior, defeating demons and seeking justice for those who have been wronged. In another, she is a loving mother, fiercely protective of her children and willing to do whatever it takes to keep them safe.
Perhaps one of the most famous and powerful myths about Kali is the story of her origin. According to legend, Kali was born from the brow of the goddess Durga in order to defeat the demon Raktabija. Raktabija had the power to create new demons every time a drop of his blood fell to the ground, making him nearly impossible to defeat. Kali, with her fierce energy and unyielding determination, was able to destroy Raktabija by drinking his blood before it could touch the ground.
Another well-known myth about Kali involves her relationship with her husband Shiva. In this story, Kali becomes so enraged with her husband that she begins to destroy everything in her path. Shiva attempts to calm her down by laying at her feet, but Kali is so consumed with her power and rage that she does not recognize him. Finally, the gods intercede by placing a corpse at Kali's feet, causing her to snap out of her fury and remember the balance and interconnectedness of all things.
Kali is a complex goddess, both terrifying and awe-inspiring. She represents the raw power and energy of creation and destruction, and her ability to transform and bring about rebirth is an essential part of her nature. Through her myths and stories, we can glean important insights into the nature of power, justice, and the cyclical nature of life itself.
Kali's reputation for destruction and death marks her as an intimidating figure in Hindu mythology. However, her role as a goddess is more complex and multifaceted than that. According to tradition, Kali emerged as a form of the goddess Durga, created to combat and slay the demon Mahishasura, who had threatened the stability of the universe.
In Tantric literature, Kali is often revered as the divine mother, who represents the ultimate source of creative energy and consciousness. She is regarded as a symbol of transcendence and transformation, teaching her followers to embrace change and face their fears without apprehension. Kali is also said to help individuals overcome their egos and attachments, leading them to a state of spiritual liberation.
Kali is an embodiment of both death and life, representing the constant evolution of the universe and the transformative nature of existence. She is a deity of fierce power and transformative energy who demands respect from her devotees. Despite her fearsome appearance, Kali is a symbol of transcendence and growth, reminding us that even in the face of destruction, new life, and opportunities for transformation can emerge.
While Kali is primarily associated with the Indian subcontinent, similar deities can be found across cultures and in various spiritual traditions. For example, in Tibetan Buddhism, the goddess Vajrayogini is often portrayed with a similar fierce appearance and is considered a powerful deity of transformation and liberation.
Similarly, the ancient Greek goddess Hecate is often depicted with black hair and holding a torch, as well as wielding a knife or sword, much like Kali. Hecate is also associated with witchcraft and magic, and is believed to be able to cross the boundaries between the living and the dead.
In Celtic mythology, the goddess Morrigan is associated with battle and death and is often depicted as a shape-shifter taking the form of a crow or a raven. Much like Kali, she is a dark and powerful feminine force with the ability to both create and destroy.
In the Vedic tradition of Hinduism, the goddess Durga is often seen as a more benevolent form of Kali. Like Kali, Durga possesses the power to vanquish evil and protect her devotees, but her appearance is more gentle and serene.
In many ways, these powerful Goddesses serve as archetypes of the feminine energy present in all human beings. They represent the raw power and potentiality of life, the ability to create and to destroy, to protect and to conquer. Whether in Hindu myth, Buddhist practice, or the myths of other cultures, the feminine divine continues to inspire and empower those who seek her wisdom and guidance.
“Om Krim Kali”
Ganesh, also known as Ganesha or Ganapati, is one of the most beloved gods in Hindu mythology. He is worshipped as the remover of obstacles and the bringer of good luck, making him a popular figure in both spiritual and secular life. Ganesh is often depicted with an elephant head, which symbolizes his immense wisdom and intelligence.
According to Hindu mythology, Ganesh was created by the goddess Parvati, who molded him out of clay and brought him to life. Legend has it that when Parvati was taking a bath, she created Ganesh to guard the door and make sure no one disturbed her. When Shiva, the god of destruction, tried to enter the bathroom, Ganesh refused to let him in. In a fit of rage, Shiva chopped off Ganesh's head. When Parvati found out what happened, she was devastated and demanded that Shiva bring her son back to life. Shiva then instructed his followers to bring the head of the first creature they encountered, which happened to be an elephant. Shiva then placed the elephant's head on Ganesh's body, bringing him back to life and giving him his distinctive appearance.
Ganesh is often worshipped before the start of any new venture or project. His image is prominently displayed in homes and offices to symbolize good luck and success. His role as the remover of obstacles is also significant, as he is believed to help people overcome any hurdles or challenges that may come their way.
In Tantra, Ganesh is revered as the embodiment of wisdom and knowledge. His elephant head represents the ability to see beyond the surface and into the deeper meaning of things. He is also associated with the root chakra, which governs our sense of safety and security. Meditating on Ganesh is said to help activate this chakra and promote a sense of grounding and stability.
Ganesh is celebrated in a number of festivals throughout the Hindu calendar, including Ganesh Chaturthi and Anant Chaturdashi. During these festivals, colorful processions are held in honor of the god, and devotees perform puja (worship) ceremonies to seek his blessings.
Lord Ganesh is a widely revered deity in the Hindu pantheon. But did you know that there are similar deities in other spiritual traditions and mythology as well?
In the Tantric tradition, which is a spiritual path within Hinduism, Lord Ganesh is symbolized by the Muladhara chakra, which is located at the base of the spine. This chakra is associated with stability, grounding, and the physical body. It is said that by awakening this chakra, one can attain spiritual enlightenment and transcendence.
In the Vedic tradition, which is the oldest and most sacred tradition of Hinduism, Lord Ganesh is worshipped as the son of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. He is known as Vighneshvara, which means the Lord of Obstacles. It is said that he has the power to remove any obstacles that stand in the way of one's spiritual or material aspirations.
In mythology, Lord Ganesh has many equivalents in other cultures. For example, in the Buddhist tradition, there is a similar deity known as Vinayaka, who is also known as the remover of obstacles. In the Japanese tradition, there is a deity known as Kangiten, who is depicted as a male and female deity embracing each other, symbolizing the union of wisdom and compassion.
In the ancient Greek tradition, there is a god named Janus, who is also known as the god of beginnings and transitions. He is depicted with two faces, one looking to the past and one looking to the future. This symbolizes his ability to simultaneously look back and reflect on the past, while also looking forward and planning for the future.
In the Egyptian tradition, there is a god named Thoth, who is known as the god of wisdom and learning. He is often depicted as a man with the head of an ibis bird, symbolizing his ability to soar above the mundane world and see things from a higher perspective.
Tara is a popular deity in the Tantric tradition of Hinduism and Buddhism. She is known as the Goddess of compassion and protection, and her name literally means "Star" or "Polar Star" in Sanskrit. In art, Tara is often depicted seated cross-legged on a lotus flower, with multiple arms and serene facial expression.
In the Tantric tradition, Tara is associated with the practice of mantra recitation, meditation, and visualization. She is believed to be a powerful ally for those who seek her assistance, as she has the ability to overcome obstacles, heal illness, and grant spiritual growth. Tara is also known to protect her devotees from physical harm and psychic disturbances and to guide them on the path of enlightenment. According to this tradition, Tara is believed to have manifested in order to help sentient beings navigate the path to enlightenment. Her compassionate and protective nature is said to be a reflection of the divine feminine energy that permeates all of existence.
One of the most distinctive features of Tara is her multiple arms. In some depictions, she has four arms, while in others, she has eight or even twelve. Each arm represents a different quality or power of Tara. For example, her first right arm is often depicted holding a lotus flower, which symbolizes purity and beauty. Her second right arm holds a rosary, which symbolizes spiritual practice and devotion. Her third right arm is extended in a gesture of refuge or protection, while her fourth right arm holds a sword, which symbolizes the cutting away of ignorance and negative emotions.
Similarly, her left arms hold objects that are associated with compassion and wisdom. Her first left arm holds a vase of nectar, which symbolizes long life and healing. Her second left arm holds a book, which symbolizes the wisdom of Buddhist teachings. Her third left arm holds a bow and arrow, which symbolizes the ability to overcome obstacles and conquer negative emotions. Her fourth left arm holds a blue lotus flower, which symbolizes the highest spiritual attainment.
Tara is also associated with colors, each of which represents a different aspect of her personality. The most common colors of Tara are white, green, and blue. White Tara represents purity, peace, and healing. Green Tara represents activity, compassion, and protection. Blue Tara represents wisdom, creativity, and spiritual insight.
In addition to the Tantric tradition, Tara is also venerated in other spiritual traditions and mythology. Tara is associated with the goddess Saraswati, who is the patroness of music, art, and learning. Tara is also identified with the goddess Durga, who is a fierce warrior and defender of justice. In Tibetan Buddhism, there is a special form of Tara known as Dolma, which is considered to be the mother of all the Buddhas and bodhisattvas.
Tara, a revered figure in Buddhist tradition too. She is believed to have emerged out of the tears of Avalokiteshvara, a prominent bodhisattva, and is often associated with the feminine aspect of divinity.
Tara's significance extends beyond the Hindu and Buddhist traditions, as she has also been associated with various mythological figures and archetypes. In ancient Greek mythology, for example, Tara shares similarities with the goddess Athena, who represents wisdom, courage, and strategic thinking. Both Athena and Tara are often depicted with a spear or sword, symbolizing their ability to defend their devotees and overcome adversity.
Similarly, in the Norse tradition, the goddess Freya is often associated with Tara, as they share qualities of fertility, beauty, and strength. Freya is also known as the goddess of love, and her association with Tara underscores the feminine aspect of divinity and the power of compassion.
In contemporary spiritual practices, Tara has been embraced by practitioners of various faiths and belief systems as a symbol of strength, compassion, and resilience. Her image and teachings have been incorporated into meditation practices, yoga practices, and other rituals aimed at cultivating inner peace, wisdom, and spiritual growth.
Tara's significance in spiritual traditions and mythology is a testament to the enduring power of the divine feminine energy and the human quest for wisdom, compassion, and protection. Through her teachings and symbolism, Tara offers a roadmap for navigating the challenges of life and realizing our true potential.
Tantric mythology is also rich in stories and legends that are used to convey spiritual and philosophical concepts. Some of the most famous stories in Tantric mythology include:
This story tells of the gods and demons who churned the ocean in order to obtain the nectar of immortality. The story represents the struggle between good and evil, and the search for spiritual enlightenment.
The Marriage of Shiva and Shakti:
This story tells of the marriage between Shiva and Shakti, symbolizing the union of the masculine and feminine principles of creation. The story represents the importance of balance and harmony in all aspects of life.
The Battle between Kali and Raktabija:
This story tells of the battle between Kali and the demon Raktabija, who had the power to create new demons with every drop of his blood. The story represents the power of transformation and the ability to overcome even the most difficult obstacles.
The Legend of Tara:
This story tells of the goddess Tara, who saved a king from a life-threatening situation by taking the form of a ferocious tiger. The story represents the power of compassion and the importance of protecting those in need.
The Stories of Tantric Mythology
Tantric mythology is a rich and diverse tradition that offers a wealth of stories, symbols, and deities for spiritual seekers to explore. Whether you are drawn to the power of transformation represented by Kali, the wisdom and intelligence of Ganesh, or the compassion and protection of Tara, the myths and legends of Tantric mythology offer a window into the divine energy that permeates all of creation. By exploring the stories and deities of Tantric mythology, practitioners can deepen their understanding of spiritual concepts and connect more deeply with the divine energy that surrounds us all.