I’ve been teaching recently at Arcanorium College on the subject of tantra and my students have been exploring different aspects of the texts from that spiritual tradition. Although there are plenty of tantras containing tediously long-winded ceremonial instructions there are also some sparkling gems of poetry. To my mind it’s the poems of the tantric tradition that bring us closest to the soul of that style.
Selected by me and my students I’d like to share a few of these with you. To get the most out of them you should read them through once silently, once aloud alone, and finally to your beloved (ideally after having ecstatic sex) or perhaps in some other beautiful location 🙂
Like a cobra that has cast its coils
three times and a half round Shiva,
her mouth laid on that other mouth
that leads to bliss,
the Enchantress of the world,
slender as a lotus stem,
bright as a lightning flash,
breathing softly out and in,
murmuring poems in sweetest meters,
humming like a drunken bee
in the petals of the muladhara lotus —
how brightly Her Light shines.
from Satchakra-nirupana Tantra
O Bhavānī! I worship thy body from ankle to knee,
Upon which the bull-bannered one gazes with great love,
And who, as if not satiated by looking thereon with two eyes,
Has yet made for himself a third.
I call to mind thy two thighs,
Which humble the pride of the trunk of an elephant,
And surpass the plantain-tree in thickness and tenderness.
O Mother! youth fashioned those thighs
That they may support as two pillars the weight of thy (great) hips,
Looking at thy waist, it would seem as if it had been absorbed
And become the great bulk of thy breasts and hips.
By the youth which clothes the body with hair,
May it ever be resplendent in my heart!
O Devī! may I never forget thy navel,
As it were a secure inviolate pool,
Given to Thee by Thy blooming youth,
Filled with the liquid beauty of the beloved of Smara,
He who was fearful of the fire from the eyes of Hara.
Thy two lotus-like breasts, smeared with sandal,
Which bear ashes telling of Śiva’s embrace,
Call to mind the vermilion-painted temples moist with ichor
Of some (impassioned) elephant
Rising from his bath in waters,
Flecked with foam.
O Mother! Thy two arms, beauteous with the water
Dripping from Thy body bathed from neck to throat,
Seem to have been formed by the crocodile-bannered One,
As long nooses wherewith to hold the throat of his enemy.
May I never forget them!
Hymn to Bhuvanesvari from the Tantrasara
I drink no ordinary wine,
but Wine of Everlasting Bliss,
As I repeat my Mother Kali’s name;
It so intoxicates my mind that people take me to be drunk!
First my guru gives molasses for the making of the Wine;
My longing is the ferment to transform it.
Knowledge, the maker of the Wine,
prepares it for me then;
And when it is done,
my mind imbibes it from the bottle of the mantra,
Taking the Mother’s name to make it pure.
Drink of this Wine, says Ramprasad,
and the four fruits of life are yours.
Bhairavī from the Tantrasāra
will make temples for Siva.
What shall I,
a poor man,
My legs are pillars,
the body the shrine,
the head a cupola
Listen, O lord of the meeting rivers,
things standing shall fall,
but the moving ever shall stay.