The Tantras are of two types: higher and lower. The lower tantra is a form of Magic of various colours and hues : white, black, grey. The higher tantra is a path of yoga, that too an integral yoga, like that of the Gita, which forges a synthesis of all the extant yogic systems of Indian like the hatha yoga, raja yoga, and the triune path of works, knowledge and devotion of the Gita. So the higher Tantra is a path towards self-transformation and also a great daring attempt towards the spiritual transformation of human life as a whole, inner and outer. But popular conceptions of Tantra are very much confined to the activities of the lower tantra, or at its best to a superficial understanding of some aspects of the higher tantra like for example kundalini yoga. As a result, in popular language the word “tantric” in India is mostly associated with someone who practices occultism and magic of various kinds, like excercising evil powers or witch-craft, or rituals for worldly success and doing petty “miracles” like materialising things etc.
We are making this distinction between higher and lower tantra for a practical purpose in order to distinguish between the popular conceptions of Tantra and the yogic or spiritual dimension of Tantra. But from the point of view of the yogic vision of Tantra this distinction looses much of its validity. For in this integral vision of Tantras, the “lower” worldly interests and motives are not antagonistic to the “higher” spiritual motives; the “lower” is only a partial or distorted expression of some truth of the “higher”. One of the aims of the Tantra yoga is to remove this distortion and make the “lower” worldly life a perfect expression of the “higher” spiritual consciousness. But still the distinction we are making has a practical validity because it help us to clear our perceptions from the popular errors associated with the word “tantric”.
The series of essays we are presenting here is exclusively on the higher Tantra that is on the Tantra as Yoga, with an emphasis on the psychological dimensions of Tantra Yoga. In these essays the word “tantric” is used in the sense of “pertaining to Tantra”.