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The Most Important Tantric Text

An Introduction to the Vijanana Bhairava Tantra

best sun shining through the trees in Tantric way

The Vijnanabhairava Tantra is, in my humble opinion, one of the most important Tantric texts ever written. This is a practical text that introduces us to some fantastic and revolutionary methods of meditation. These methods help a practitioner to experience the infinite divine in their everyday life, both on and off the meditation cushion, in various sitting positions.

Essentially, this text presents 112 methods, but some of them are merged and built upon others, resulting in fewer than 112 distinct methods. At any rate, there are numerous practices in this sacred text, enough to last a lifetime.

This text is written as a dialogue between Bhairava and Bhairavi, also known as Shiva and Shakti, which is a common theme in many tantric texts. In this context, Shiva represents consciousness while Shakti represents the power of consciousness. In other words, Shiva is the unmanifest aspect of reality while Shakti is the manifest aspect of reality. Thus, the text can be seen as our Higher Self (Atman) speaking to our Lower Self (the Jivatman). Here, Devi is asking Bhairava several questions, such as: What is the nature of Bhairava (consciousness)? Can the transcendent and the immanent be the same thing? Bhairava then gives an explanation about his identity, clarifying what he is and what he is not, ultimately revealing that they are essentially the same. But the explanation is not too long, as he then proceeds to provide many methods to help individuals achieve and embody the vibratory resonance of Divine Consciousness.

The version I prefer is the one written by Jai Deva Singh, which may not be the most academically rigorous but is still quite good. The commentary provides enough information to begin implementing some of the methods. The practices may not be accessible to everyone; they require a deep understanding of the esoteric aspects of Tantra and Yoga. Knowledge of chakras, mantras, the Sanskrit alphabet, and other related concepts can help clarify one's practice. And, of course, studying with a teacher is very important to decipher the text as well.


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