The Three Types Of Seekers-M.S.Srinivasan

A core idea of tantric psychology is the classification of seekers into three categories.  This article presents a brief review of this classification, which will be discussed in greater detail in our subsequent articles.

Adhikari Beda: The Principle of Graded Idealism

One  of the dominant features of the Tantric psychology is that it  very clearly  perceived with an unsentimental practicality the inequality of  human life created by the large variation in capacity, temperament and  evolutionary status  of human being.  This ideal or intuition, called as Adhikari Beda,  is not  something special to tantric thought but one of the unique  features  of ancient  Indian thought in general.  But in Tantric yoga this idea  comes  to the front prominently and consciously as an important and integral part of the sadhana.

The  central perception behind this principle of Adhikari Beda  is  that mental,  moral  and  spiritual capacity of individuals are not  the  same  but differ  according to their stage of evolution.  Even those who are  among  the same  stage  of  evolution,  all  are not  of  the  same  temperament;  natural temperament   of   individuals  also  differ  according   to   their   psychological   disposition.    In  other  words  all  are  not   capable   of understanding,  living  or  realising the highest ideal.  So  to  prescribe  a uniform   discipline  for  all  irrespective  of  their  capacities,   natural temperament  and  evolutionary conditions is to disregard the  laws  of  human nature.  Each individual has to be gradually lifted to the highest; taking  him as  he  is  in his present condition of evolution; giving him  the  ideal  and discipline which he can understand and practice, which is in harmony with  his natural  temperament and capacities; which will help him to raise to  a  higher level  of  consciousness  and  life.  This  ideal  and  discipline  should  be sufficiently high and difficult to evoke in the individual a strong aspiration to raise beyond his present condition to a higher level of life governed by  a higher  system of values.  But at the same time the ideal and  the  discipline should  not be too remote to his understanding and capacities or out  of  tune with his natural temperament.  When there is such a big gap between the  ideal and the actual there is either no positive response from the individual to the ideal  or  there  is  only  a hypocritic response  with  a  wide  gap  between profession and practice.

The  tantric sadhana, bases itself firmly on this principle  of  Adhikari  beda.  Each  individual type or category of seekers were given  a  system  of discipline which is appropriate to their nature and stage of evolution and  by which  they  can  raise  progressively,  according  to  their  inborn  natural propensities  and developing capacities, to the spiritual consciousness.   The central  principle  or  purpose  of the Tantric sadhana  is  to  quicken  and accelerate this natural evolution of individuals by a conscious and controlled intensification and sublimation of the natural impulses and liberate them from their ego-bound natural limits into the freedom and vastness of the universal.  This  does  not  mean, as it is popularly misunderstood,  that  tantric  yoga allows  free  reign  to all and every natural  impulses.   The  tantric  yoga prescribes  a rigorous discipline to every category of seekers.  The  tantric texts repeatedly warn the seekers that a discipline prescribed for one type of seekers,  if it is practiced by someone who doesn’t belong to this type,  will lead  to disastrous consequences like for example as one of the text puts  it, “madness in this birth and hell after death.”

This is the principle of Adhikari Beda which forms one of the pillars of Tantric sadhana.  Based on this principle, Tantras classified human  seekers into  three distinct types or categories: They are literally translated  Pasu, the  animal  man,  Vira,  the heroic man and Divya,  the  divine  man.   A  clear understanding of this classification is of utmost importance in  understanding the psychology of the tantric sadhana.  Here we give only a brief outline  of the  rationale behind this classification: The nature of the path of each  type of seekers will be discussed in greater detail in subsequent articles.

The Pasu: Animal Man

This  tantric  classification of seekers corresponds to three  stages  of human  evolution  which are represented in humanity by three  types  of  human being.  A human being begins his evolutionary journey as a physical man  whose consciousness  and vision doesn’t go beyond the instinctive needs of his  body and   sensations  and  his  immediate  and  instinctive  relations  with   the environment.   This  physical  man whose consciousness  is  dominated  by  his physical  being  is  called  as Pasu.  He is the  type  of  personality  whose emotional,  kinetic and mental being are not yet well-developed and  therefore he  is not capable of deep and subtle thought or feeling or meditation or  any uplifting tapasya of the will.  So his further psychological and spiritual evolution  has to be affected mainly through his physical being and a  culture and discipline of his physical consciousness.

The Vira: Heroic Man

As  the  human  being grows in the course of his  natural  evolution,  he develops  his  vital  being  which is a being  of  desire,  emotions,  action, creation,  power,  enjoyment.  He becomes the kinetic man of action  with  his higher needs of power, success, achievement expansion, adventure, exploration, battle,  conquest  and mastery.  This higher stage of evolution of  the  vital being  of  man culminates in the type and temperament of  the  hero,  warrior, leader, Vira.  So, Vira is not the ordinary rajasic man of action but the highly developed vital man who has reached the highest point in the evolution of  his vital being.  He has developed fully all the powers and qualities of his vital being  and  when  he  turns to yoga he can bring all  these  powers  into  his sadhana.   The  Vira-type  of personality has a more awakened  mind  and  much stronger  vital  force and will-power then the pasu and  therefore  a  greater power  of self-control and tapasya.  He has also the innate spirit of  courage and adventure in him to undertake unorthodox and risky yogic experiments.  The tantric  yogis  believed  that  this vira-type  of  personality,  under  able spiritual guidance, can bring about in himself rapid and accelerated spiritual transformations  if he can pass through a radical and risky discipline of  his vital  being.   This is the controversial vira sadhana of the  tantras  which will be discussed in greater detail elsewhere.

The Divya: The Divine Man

The third and the highest type of human being is the Divya, the divya  or the  saintly type of human being.  Divya is the fully awakened mental man  who is  at  the summit of his natural evolution.  He is someone who lives  in  the higher  plateaus  of the mind with a well – developed  intellectual,  emotional, ethical  and aesthetic being.  He is capable of deep and subtle thought, fine emotions  and  refined sensitivity.  When he turns to spiritual  life he  can bring all these powers and faculties of the awakened mind to the sadhana.  For this  highest type of personality, Tantras assign the path of Dakshina  marga, the path of right discrimination and knowledge.

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