P.R. SARKAR'S CONTRIBUTION TO TANTRA
The word Tantra means liberation from crudeness or dullness. Tantra as an integrated way of life developed ten to twelve thousand years ago in India. About 7000 years ago Lord Shiva, who was born in a Dravidian-Mongolian family, laid the foundation of classical Tantra. Five thousand years later it was divided into Shakta, Vaesnava, Shaeva, Ganapatya and Saura Tantra. Later, when Jainism and Buddhism flourished in India, we also find Buddhist Tantra and Jaina Tantra. By this time the Tantric system had synthesized with the Vedic system, and Tantra lost its original form. P.R. Sarkar, known as Shrii Shrii Anandamurtijii and also as Sarkar to his disciples, revived Tantra and simultaneously changed certain traditional forms and notions. He also interpreted Tantric symbols and symbolic terms in their real sense.
The differences between classical Tantra (today known as Hindu Tantra), Buddhist Tantra and Vaesnav Tantra are very little except for those name and symbols.
The four main aspects of Tantra are Yantra (tool or symbol), Mantra (word with special power), Diiksa (initiation) and Guru. Lord Shiva used the yantra (symbol) Bhaeravii Cakra, also known in Israel as the Star of David. The triangle with a lower vertex means infinite knowledge, and that with the upper vertex infinite energy or creative principle. Lord Krsna used the same Bhaeravii Cakra with a lotus at the centre, which means non-attachment. Sarkar introduced the Bhaeravii Cakra with a sun and swastika in the middle, which mean all-round progress and victory, respectively. As far as Ista Mantras are concerned, Sarkar did not change any, but he did make them available to everyone quite easily. As per the classical Tantric tradition, hard penance and total surrender to Guru were prequisites to get Ista Mantra. Aspirants sometime had to wait years to get initiation. But strangely, Sarkar made it available to even half-sincere aspirants through his acharyas (teachers).
Tantra is divided into two branches - Kapalika and Yoga Marga. The Kapalika system is an esoteric process to be done in a secluded place like a graveyard or forest. This is subdivided into three further branches - Pasvachara, Viirachara and Diivyachara. Sarkar introduced Viirachara and some aspects of Diivyachara. Yoga Marga is a simpler form and is divided into several branches - Hatha Yoga, Raja Yoga and Rajadhiiraj Yoga.
Sarkar was critical of both Hatha Yoga and Raja Yoga as introduced by Patanjaili. He made a critical analysis of yoga philosophy in his book, Namami Krsna Sundaram, and called his system Rajadhiiraj Yoga. In Ananda Marga it is known also as Sadharan Yoga, Sahaj Yoga and Vishesa Yoga. Sarkar also revived the Avadhuta system, which is different from its traditional connotations. Avadhutas are those who renounce family and adopt the life of a monk or nun. Traditionally they were not supposed to remain in normal society. But Sarkar changed the tradition and asked them to remain in society. He defined Avadhuta as follows: Svashane va' grhe, hiranye va' trine tawuje va' ripu, huta'she va' jale Svakiye va' pare samatvena Buddhya viraje avadhutam dvitiya mahesa.
Either in the cremation ground or at home, Either in a bed of gold or of grass,
Either with friends or enemies,
Either in fire or in water,
Either amidst relatives or with unrelated persons - Who can remain unaffected
S/he is avadhuta, second embodiment of Shiva.
Sarkar's system is a synthesis of three philosophical schools: Shakta (fighter), Vaesnava (universalist) and Shaeva (conscious). Every aspirant should start as Shakta, become Vaesnava and and culminate in Shaeva. Amongst the psychological schools - Vamachara, Daksinachara and Madhyamachara - Sarkar, like Buddha, adopted Madhyamachara or the middle path. Vamachara, which is loosely known as left-hand Tantra, developed to a large extent in China. Three thousand years ago a Tantric named Vashistha brought it back to India from China. The "Five M's" or so- called sex Tantra is part of it. Sarkar redefined the meaning of the Five M's as follows. Mamsa in the crude sense is meat eating, in the subtle sense control of the tongue or speech. Similarly, Matsya or fish eating in a subtle sense means opening of the Vishuddha Cakra. Madya or drinking wine means drinking the divine nectar from the Sahasrara Cakra. Mudra or use of crude symbols became the use of subtle symbols. And Maethuna or sex relations in the subtle sense means unity of the unit and consciousness, or the mystic union of Shiva (consciousness) and Shakti (the creative principle). Between Vidya and Avidya Tantra, Sarkar taught Vidya Tantra and discouraged Avidya Tantra, which is witchcraft or black magic.
Sarkar's main mission as a Tantric Guru was to bring change in the world's collective psychology. As a first step he introduced a systematic process of meditation and specific way of life, known as Ananda Marga. He also introduced a system of collective meditation once a week known as Dharmacakra. This system is similar to that introduced by Buddha. Buddha said that the Dharmacakra (wheel of Dharma) must not stop. It must move on. Apart from its spiritual significance, Dharmacakra creates a sense of unity and collective spirit. Besides Buddhism this system of weekly gathering is also followed by Christianity and Islam.
Sarkar also introduced a system of Dharma Maha Cakra, where he himself gave spiritual discourses which are compiled in his books Subhasita Samgraha. At the end of DMC he gave a special mudra known as varabhaya mudra. Through this mudra he radiated positive microvita for the welfare of society. From different status of Buddha it appears that Buddha was aware of the significance of this mudra and had acquired sufficient power to use it. Lord Shiva introduced classical Tantra, but he did not propound any philosophy. Lord Krsna introduced the philosophy of the Gita, which is a synthesis of the yogas of jinana (knowledge), karma (doctrine of action) and bhakti (devotion). Sarkar also introduced Ananda Marga philosophy, which is the synthesis of the above three. Buddha preached a philosophy of negation towards the relative world and created ideal monks and nuns. But he was not so much concerned with creation of ideal householders. Islam on the other hand stressed the need for ideal householders but did not introduce the concept of monkhood. Sarkar, in turn, stressed the need for both and introduced proper social codes for both. Christianity has a similar tradition.
We find Krsna's concept of the concept of action adopted by both Buddhist and Christian monks. Sarkar also stressed a similar doctrine of action, with a spirit of service, for all spiritualists.
In the Vedic system women were neither entitled to get Ista Mantra nor alowed to become acharyas (spiritual teachers). Catholicism and Islam also refused to recognize women priests. Sarkar revived the Tantric tradition and introduced Ista Mantra for all and created women acharyas.
Sarkar's system is a reflection of Tantric spirituality and fighting spirit, the doctrine of action of Krsna, the intuitional science of the Vedas, the humanistic essence of Buddhism, the missionary spirit of Christianity, the devotion of the Vaesnava, the social unity of Islam, the spirit of harmony of Taoism, the scientific aptitude of the ancient Greeks and the socio-economic awareness of socialist thinkers of Europe.
Sarkar's concept of Neo-Humanism is a spiritually aware collective psychology, in which the entire living world should be viewed in harmony with the spirit of unity in diversity.