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Odisha Review July - 2013

The Evolution and Philosophy of


Tantric-Buddhism

Pandit Antaryami Mishra

Buddhism is a religion of peace, kindness, regarding doctrinal questions which could not be
humanity and equality, which took birth in India settled in that council for which the controversy
during 6th century B.C. This religion became increased. The next council was held at Vaisali
popular as it threw open the doors of organized after one hundred years, where some Bhikshus
religious life to all without any distinction of caste of progressive nature demanded for relaxation of
and creed. Buddha strict rules. Their
was very liberal in demand were not
accepting the accepted in the
disciples into his council. Then the
religion, but the rules dissenters seceded
of morality imposed and convened another
by him were very Mahasangha. Thus
strict. Many of the the Sangha was
Bhikshus failed to divided into two
observe the strict separate groups. The
principles and orthodoxies were
openly objected, for styled as
which they were Sthabtrabadin or
driven out from the Sangha. They formed secret Therabadin and the progressive group as
conclaves and suggested relaxations even during Mahasanghika. Subsequently the
the life time of Lord Buddha.1 The first council of Stabirabadins are named as Hinayan and
the Sangha was held at Rajagriha after three Mahasanghika as Mahayan. The main point
months of the Mahaparinirvana of Lord Buddha. of difference between the two groups was that
Mahakasyapa presided over the same council the Stabirabadins or Hinayanists looked upon
and steps were taken to settle religious disputes Buddha as essentially a man of an exalted nature
among the Bhikshus. In that council the Suttas subject to human limitations of life and death, while
and the Vinaya Pitakas were recited for the first Mahayanists looked upon Buddha as a
time in which Upali and Ananda took important superhuman being. This controversy resulted in
parts. The disputes arose among the Bhikshus the growth of two separate schools within the

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July - 2013 Odisha Review

province of Buddhism itself. The Mahayanists Adhyekshana, Beddhichltaraptad and


worshipped Boddhistavas and read Mahayana Parinamana to enrich the Boddhi. Adoption of
Sutras, while Hinayanists adhered to strict Satparamita or six qualities like Dana,
observance of the rules and principles prescribed Sheela, Kshanti, Birya, Dhyana and
by Lord Buddha. Prajna are essential for Sadhaka. The
Sadhaka worships Prajnaparamita as
The Mahayanists are of the views that Goddess.
Lord Buddha is all might for which they were
called Vaipulyabadin. During reign of Kaniska The Mahayanic way of worship became
a number of Mahayani literature were composed Tantric system. Tantric elements such as
in the first century A.D. The Mahayana doctrines Dharini, Mantra, Mudra, Jantra and
achieved full fledged form during the period from Mandala were adopted and rules with rituals are
2nd Century to 5th Century A.D. Nagarjuna was being strictly observed during Tantric worship. The
a great philosopher and preacher of Mahayan, Mantra element seems to have been introduced
who was residing at parimalagiri of Odisha in Mahayan Buddhism first in the form of
during 2nd Century. He was famous for his Dharini. The meaning of Dharini is that by
Sadhana and renowned as Tantric Shiromani. which something is sustained or kept. According
In his literature Manjushree Mulakalpa he to faith of Tantric Buddhism Dharini is capable
remodelled Mahayan Sutras in to Tantras. After of keeping the religion. The philosopher
him, Asanga, Vasubandhu, Dingnag, Vasubandhu divided Dharinis in to four
Sankasaswami, Buddhaghosha and Dharmakirti categories such as Dharma Dharini, Artha
have composed different literature of Mahayan Dharini, Mantra Dharini and Kshanti Dharini.
sprang during 2nd century to 5th century A.D. He also adviced Sadhakas to realize essence of
They all belongs to Odisha, who composed all Mantras through concentration. There are 8000
the literatures in Sanskrit instead of Palli. The stanzas of Mantras in Astasahasrika Prajna
imagination of Boddhisattva is the noble idea Paramita, which is an important Tantric literature
of Mahayan, the meaning of which is Bouddhoya of Buddhism. This important literature has been
Sattwam aviprayosya it Boddhisattva or man reduced to few stanzas and known as Prajna
who desires to enrich the Boddhi. 2 The main Paramita Hrudayasutra, which was further
principles of Mahayan are Trikaya i.e. reduced to make room for the Prajnaparamita
Dhamakaya, Nirmanakaya and Dharini. The next step in this chain led to the
Sambhoyakaya, in which the super conception of a bija in one syllable pram, in
achievement of Boddhisattva has been described. response to which Sunya may transform itself
The aim of the Mahayanists was to attain into the form of the goddess by name Prajna
Buddhihood in and through different stages of Paramita, who is a veritable metamorphosis of
Boddhisattva hood, which is a state of perfect the Prajnaparamita literature.4 The Dharinis are
knowledge about the void-nature of the self and said to be endowed with great powers. The
nonself mixed up with an emotion of universal mantras which are regarded as carrying great
compassion for the redemption of all the suffering potency are composed of a string of syllables
beings.3 The Mahayan Buddhism introduced which bear no meaning etymologically. According
seven kinds of worships i.e. Vandana, Puja, to Vasuvandhu, the unmeaningness of Mantras is
Papadeshana,Purnyanumodan, their real significance which is to be realised

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through concentration only. 5 The Mantras are very Tantric realisation change the colour and tone of
powerful only when they are applied in a strict Mahayana to the extent of evolving a new yana,
manner. At the time of recitation of the Mantras which is popularly known as Mantrayana.
the mind should be kept away from all sorts of Accordingly Mahayana was devided into two
impure reflections and should be concentrated on school of thoughts i.e. Paramitanaya and
the letters of the Mantras only. Mantranaya. Paramitanaya is explained by the
theories of Sautrantrika or Yogachara or
In Tantric Buddhism Mudra is Madhyamika and Mantranaya is explained by
important. The Mudras are generally taken to be the theories of Yogachara and Madhyamika.8
mystic signs made by the particular position of The Mantranaya is blended with the theories :
hands and fingers. In Sadhanamala different of both Sunyavada and Vijnanavada.
types of Mudra such as Padma, Vajra, Ghanta, Prajnaparamita Sutra is the guide Literature of
Shankha, Khadgaetc have been described.6 In Sunyavada and Lankavatara Sutra is the ideal
Tantric literature Mudra expresses different literature of Vijnanavada. These two noble
meanings with the aim of obtaining final purification literatures are treated as Prasthandwaya or two
and final deliverance from the miseries of life.7 noble paths to enrich Buddhahood. On
Advaya vajra samgraha describes four types development of Tantrism Mahayana was
of Mudras which are related to four types of transformed into Mantayana. This
realisation of bliss. Mandala is also important as transformation is most important change of
Mudra. Mandala means the religious development in the history of Tantric Buddhism.
diagrammatic symbol. The Mandala is the magic
Tantric Buddhism grew within the
circle containing mystic figures and diagrams were province of Mahayan and new process of attaining
introduced to offer worship. After introduction of Buddhahood within shortest time was discovered
Dharini, Mantra, Mudra, Mandala and by Tantra Siddhas. The new process is called
Jantra the path to enrich Buddhahood became Guhyasamaja Tantra in which another element
easy, for which this Tantric system was accepted was introduced. The new element is Sakti or
by different catagories of Sadhakas. In the early woman was considered a manifestation of divine
period of Mahayana Manjushree Mulakalpa energy. The Guhyasamaj Tantra was also
was written by Tantra Shiromani Nagarjuna which introduced for the worship of five Dhyani
is contemporary to Prajna Paramita, in which Buddhas presiding over five skandhas or
the method and rituals of Tantric worship, names elements of which the universe is composed.9 The
of deities, Mudra or poses, Mandala or diagrams theory of five Dhyani Buddhas is important and
with all the processes have been described. noble idea for quick attainment of Buddhahood.
Nagarjuna has also expressed his realisation in Besides this, some secret and immoral practices
Madhyamika Karika for which he is called as are found introduced in the Guhyasamaja Tantra.
the founder of Sunyavada. His disciple Scholars opined that this new system is the full-
Aryadeva has written the findings of fledged development of Tantric Buddhism from
Sunyavada in Chatusataka and the same has which Vajrayana, Sahajayana and
been translated in Chinese language by Hiuen Kalachakrayana arose.10 These three divisions
Tsang under the title Satasastra Baipulya. are the result of different ritualistic traditions of
Nagarjuna and his followers by effort of their Guhyasamaja Tantra. The propounders of

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Vajrayana, Sahajayana and for Prajnabhisika or the initiation of disciples


Kalachakrayana were Indrabhuti, Laxminkara with Prajna or Sakti. The five Dhyanibuddhas are
and Pitopada respectively all of whom belonged of five different families (Kulas) with their saktis.
to Udiyan or Odisha.11 Vajradhatvisvari, Lochana, Mamaki,
Pandara and Aryatara are the families (Kulas)
Vajrayana is characterised as the Path of Vairochan, Aksobhya, Ratnasambhaba,
which leads to perfect enlightenment in Amitava and Amoghasiddhi respectively, who are
Sadhanamala, which may be termed as anuttara the real symbol of Moha, duesa, Chintamani.
Samyaka Sambodhi in Sanskrit.12 The word Raga and Samaya. The five Dhyanibuddhas
Vajra is used in a special sense to represent of five different Kulas (families) with their Saktis
Sunya. The Dharmakaya- Buddha of the (divine consorts), Skandhas (elements), Mudras
Mahayanists seem to have been gradually (Postures), Vahanas (vehicles), Varnas (Colours)
replaced by Vajrasattva or Vajrakaya. The and with their Boddhisattvas, Pratyeka Buddhas,
Vajrasattva is generally taken as the Supreme Bijamantras etc are regarded as the emancipation
Being in Tantric Buddhism, who is the Primal of the Vajrasattva, the Primal Enlightened one Adi-
Enlightened one-the Adi-Buddha. This Adi- Buddha, who is not only of the nature of Sunyata
Buddha is in possession of five kinds of but also of the non-dual state of Sunyata and
knowledge which are like five attributes of the Karuna. In Vajrayana everything is Vajra
lord. From these five attributes proceed five types or perfect void. The God worshipped is vajra,
of Dhyana(meditation) and from these five types his image is Vajra, the worshipper is Vajra, the
of Dhyana there emanate five deities who are materials of worship are Vajra, the Mantras
known as the five Dhyani- Buddhas. These five uttered are Vajra, the process of worship is Vajra
Dhyani-Buddhas are the five presiding deities and everything connected with the worship is
over the five Skandhas or elements of which Vajra. The supreme goddess of this school of
the universe is composed.13 They are Rupa thought are Vajrasvari, Vajradhari and Vajra-
(form), Vedana (feeling), Samjna (perception), Varahi.15 Women adopted for the yogic practices
Samskara (impression) and Vijnana were called Vajra-kanyas. Due to difference in
rituals, worship and yogic practices, the Vajrayana
(consciousness) and these five Skandhas,
divided into six categories i.e. Kriyatantrayana,
according to the Guhyasamajatantra, are presided
Caryatrantrayana, Yoatantrayana,
over by the Dhyanibuddha, viz-Vairochana,
Mahayogatantrayana, Anuttarayogatantrayana
Ratnasambhaba, Amitava, Amoghasiddhi
and Atiyogatantrayana. Vajrayan made
and Akshobhya respectively. The Dhyani
remarkable contributions to Buddhism. There
Buddhas, like the Skandhas, are considered were eminent teachers in the Buddhist Vihars to
eternal and they manifest themselves without impart teachings on the Tantras.16
passing through the intermediate stage of
Boddhisattva or in other words, without Sahajayana is an important school of
depending upon others for their origin.14 Another thought having a distinctive philosophy and
striking feature of Vajrayana is the introduction process of Yoga. There were eighty four numbers
of Sakti particularly for obtaining emancipation of Sahajiya Sidhas, who have composed many
through Yoga and Samadhi. According to literatures such as charya-songs and dohas.
Guhya Samajatantra this has been introduced Sahaja stands for the ultimate innate nature, that

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makes one realise this ultimate innate nature of Tantric development of the Adi-Buddha theory
the self as well as of the Dharma. The literal combined with the puerile mysticisms of the
meaning of the word Sahaja is that which is Mantrayana and it attempts to explain creation
inborn or which originates with the birth or and the secret powers of nature, by the union of
origination of any entity (Sahajayate iti Sahaja). the terrible Kali, not only with the Dhyani-
The word Sahaja literally means that which Buddhas, but even with Adi-Buddha himself.19
accompanies with birth and manifests itself as the The word Kalachakra literally means the wheel
primitive and natural propensities in man. The path of time. Scholars like H.P. Shastri explained that,
that helps man to realise the truth through satisfying Kalachakra is the wheel of destruction and
these inborn and fundamental propensities is, Kalachakrayana means the vehicle for protection
therefore, the most natural and easiest of all paths against the wheel of destruction.20 This definition
and hence, it is called the Sahajapath or has also been explained in the Tantric text Sri
Sahajayana.17 Sahaja can neither be explained Kalachakra Tantra, a manuscript preserved in
by anybody nor any speech can express it, it is the Cambridge University Library. 21 It is clear that,
only realised by the self through the merit of serving the study of Kalachakra does not prove the theory
at the feet of Guru. Santipada, Sarahapada, of demoniacal Buddhas. Kalachakra is a deity
Tadakapada, Kahnupada, Luipada and other and an embodiment of Sunyata and Karuna
Siddhas of Odisha have composed so many and is embraced by the goddess Prajna and
songs basing on the philosophy of Sahajayana, represents the philosophical conception of Advaya
which are called charyagiti. The Sahajiya or non- duality. He is regarded as the Adi-Buddha
Siddhacharyas, are in view that all the ways of or the progenitor even of Buddhas, that is to say,
religious worship should be through human the Dhyani-Buddhas. It is understood from the
instincts, for the reason that religion is meant for Kalachakratantra that the Mandala (circle) of
man and not the other way round. Hence the the deity is composed of all the planets and stars.
supremacy of human form must be recognised The central deity Kalachakra is encircled by
and under no circumstances should the natural minor deities who represent time or time factor.
and spontaneous transformations of mental and Kalachakra means the absolutely unified principle
physical passions or their sublimation be of Prajna and Upaya.22
suppressed. The Sahaja way of devotion does
not, however, mean unregulated sexual pleasure, Odisha had a vital role in evolving
but desires of the human beings to be allowed to Tantrayana. Tantrayana is a combination of
fulfill, form a part of it. Necessity of a Guru or a Vajrayana, Sahajayana and Kalachakrayana and
spiritual guide is must for Sahajasadhana to all these three branches of Tantrayana owes its
realise the Supreme Reality. 18 origin to Odisha. Kamakhya, Srihata, Purnagiri
and Uddiyana are four Tantric Pithas of which
Kalachakrayana is a phase of Uddiyana is the first and important Pitha. Most
Vajrayana. It is said that the extreme of the philosophers, scholars, Siddhacharyas and
development of the Tantric phase was reached Sadhakas are found connected with Uddiyana.
with the Kalachakra, which, although unworthy Nagarjuna, Aryadeva, Asanga, Vasubandhu,
if being considered a philosophy must be referred Dingnaga, Vasumitra, Triratnadas Sthiramati,
to here as a doctrinal basis. It is merely a coarse Dhamapala, Chandragomini, Chandrakirti and

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Dhamakirti all are connected to Odisha. Among 7. S.B. Dasgupta, Tantric Buddhism - P-62
eighty four Siddhacharyas Sarahapa, Nagarjuna 8. Advayavajra-Samgraha-P-14
(2nd), Savaripa, Luipa, Vajraghanta,
Kambalapada, Padmavajra, Anangavajra, 9. Guhya Samaja Tantra, Introduction
Indrabhuti, Padmasambhava, Laxminkara,
10. B.Bhattacharya, Sadhanamala, Vol-II,
Jalandharipada, Virupa, Kahnupa, Lilavajra, Introduction, P-XXI, Buddhist Esoterism P-52 ,
Darikapada, Pitopada, Bhusukupada, P.C. Bagchi, Cultural Heritage of India, Vol-IV P-
Kakkuripada and other prominent Siddhacharyas 220
took birth in Odisha. Padmasambhava was
11. S.B. Dasgupta, Tantric Buddhism P-53 and O.R.C.
regarded as Sakyamuni in Nepal and Tibet. P-17
Mantrayana, Vajrayana, Sahajayana,
Kalachakrayana grew in Odisha. Buddhakapala 12. B. Bhattacharya, Sadhanamala, Vol-II
Tantra, Yoginitantra, Hevajratantra, Samputa Introduction P-XXIV
tilaka Tantra, Krushnayamari Tantra, Vajramruta 13. Guhya Samaja Tantra, Ed-by B. Bhattacharya
Tantra, and Mahamaya Tantra were introduced (G.O.S. No.-53) P-137
by the Siddhacharyas of Odisha, which needs a
14. Ibid P-12
special discussion. There are so many
Tantrapithas named Surabhagiri, Bhojakagiri, 15. S.B. Dasgupta, Tantric Buddhism P-72-73
Puspagiri, Udayagiri, Lalitagiri, Ratnagiri, Vajragiri,
16. Cultural Heritage of India, Vol-IV-PP-268 F
Solamapur, Jayashram, Jagadala, Vanasuranasi,
Kuruma etc. were situated in Odisha. Tantric 17. N.K. Sahu, Buddhism in Orissa, P-137
Buddhism had a long career with all its
manifestations in Odisha that provided suitable 18. S.B. Dasgupta, O.R.C. P-87
field for its evolution, and development as reveal 19. L.A. Waddell, Buddhism and Lamaism of Tibet,
from the records and monuments. P-15

References : 20. Modern Buddhism and its followers in Orissa By


N.N.Vasu} Introduction - P-8
1. Cultural heritage of India, Vol-IV P-261
21. Tantric Buddhism, P-66 and O.R.C., P.-25
2. Boddhi Charyabatar Panjika, P-421
22. Sekoddesa-tika, Ed-by Mario E. Carelli-(G.O.S. No.-
3. S.B. Dasgupta, Obscure Religious Cults - P.15 90, P.-8

4. B. Bhattacharya, Buddhist Esoterism P-56

5. Boddhisattva Bhumi and S.B. Dasgupta, Tantric


Buddhism P-59 and O.R.C.-P-21
Pandit Antaryami Mishra, Member, Odisha Sahitya
6. B. Bhattacharya, Buddhist Iconography, Akademi, Dakhinakali Road, Dhenkanal 759001,
glossary, P-437 E-mail : antaryamimisra@gmail.com.

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