Woman is not to be regarded as an object of enjoyment

The elements in their literal sense are not available in sadhana for all. The nature of the Pasu requires strict adherence to Vaidik rule in the matter of these physical functions even in worship. This rule prohibits the drinking of wine, a substance subject to the three curses of Brahma, Kaca, and Krsna, in the following terms; Madyam apeyam adeyam agrahyam (“Wine (1) must not be drunk, given, or taken”).

The drinking of wine in ordinary life for satisfaction of the sensual appetite is, in fact, a sin, involving prayascitta, and entailing, according to the Visnu Puranav (2) punishment in the same Hell as that to which a killer of a Brahmana goes. As regards flesh and fish the higher castes (outside Bengal) who submit to the orthodox Smartha discipline eat neither. Nor do high and strict Brahmanas even in that Province. But the bulk of the people there, both men and women, eat fish, and men consume the flesh of male goats which have been previously offered to the Deity. The Vaidika dharma is equally strict upon the subject of sexual intercourse.

Maithuna other than with the householder’s own wife is condemned. And this is not only in its literal sense, but in that which is known as Astanga (eightfold) maithuna-viz., smaranam (thinking upon it), kirttanam (talking of it), keli (play with women), preksanam (looking upon woman), guhyabhasanam (talk in private with woman), samkalpa (wish or resolve for maithuna), adhyavasaya (determination towards it), kriyanispati (actual accomplishment of the sexual act). In short, the pasu (and except for ritual purposes those who are not pasus) should, in the words of the Saktakramiya, avoid maithuna, conversation on the subject, and assemblies of women (maithunam tatkathalapam tadgosthim parivarjayet).

Even in the case of the householder’s own wife marital continency is enjoined. The divinity in woman, which the Tantra in particular proclaims, is also recognized in the ordinary Vaidik teaching, as must obviously be the case given the common foundation upon which all the Sastras rest. Woman is not to be regarded merely as an object of enjoyment, but as a housegoddess (grhadevata).(3) According to the sublime notions of S’ruti, the union of man and wife is a veritable sacrificial rite – a sacrifice in fire (homa), wherein she is both hearth (kunda) and flame – and he who knows this as homa attains liberation.(4)

Similarly the Tantrika-Mantra for the Sivasakti Yoga runs:

“This is the internal homa in which, by the path of susumna, sacrifice is made of the functions of sense to the spirit as fire kindled with the ghee of merit and demerit taken from the mind as the ghee pot Svaha.” (4)

It is not only thus that wife and husband are associated; for the Vaidikadharma (in this now neglected) prescribes that the householder should worship in company with his wife.(5)

Brahmacarya, or continency, is not as is sometimes supposed, a requisite of the student asrama only, but is a rule which governs the married householder (grhastha) also. According to Vaidika injunctions, union of man and wife must take place once a month on the fifth day after the cessation of the menses, and then only. Hence it is that the Nitya Tantra when giving the characteristic of a pasu, says that he is one who avoids sexual union except on the fifth day (rtukalamvina devi ramanam parivrajayet). In other words, the pasu is he who in this case, as in other matters, follows for all purposes, ritual or otherwise, the Vaidik injunctions which govern the ordinary life of all.

The above-mentioned rules govern the life of all men. The only exception which the Tantra makes is for purpose of sadhana in the case of those who are competent (adhikari) for viracara. It is held, indeed, that the exception is not strictly an exception to Vaidik teaching at all and that it is an error to suppose that the Tantrika-rahasyapuja is opposed to the Vedas. Thus, whilst the Vaidik rule prohibits the use of wine in ordinary life and for purposes of mere sensual gratification it prescribes the religious yajna with wine. This ritual use the Tantra also allows, provided that the sadhaka is competent for the sadhana, in which its consumption is part of its ritual and method.

1. From the standpoint of Tantrika-Viracara, the drinking of wine here referred to is ordinary drinking, and not the ritual worship (of those qualified for it) with the purified substance which is Tara (the Saviour) Herself in liquid form (dravamayi).
2. Visnu Purana (Bk. II, chap.vi)
3. Cited in the Commentary on the Karpuradistotra (verse 15), by Mahamahopadhyaya Krsnanatha Nyaya-panchanana Bhattacaryya.
3. See thirteenth mantra of the Homa-prakararana of the Brhadaranyaka-Upanisad. Thc Niruttara-Tantra (chap. i) says:
Yonirupa mahakali savah sayya Prakirtita.
Smasanam dvividham devi cita yonirmahesvari.
3. Om dharmadharma havirdipte atmagnau manasa sruca. susumna vartmana nityam aksavrtirjuhomyaham svaha: (Tantrasara, 998, and see Pranatosini) .
5. S’astriko dharmamacaret (see also chap. xxxi of the MatsyaS’ukta-Tantra)