The term “Tantrism” usually refers to a very complex exoteric, speculative, ritualistic, ascetic system and a spiritual symbology. Its origins are ancient, some say it dates back as far as the Vallinda Civilization. Between 5th and 6th century AD, however, Tantrism represents a real revolution of Indian society. Tantra literally means “loom” on which the canvas of texts and practices of the doctrine is woven. The doctrine is also defined as agama “what has come” from the Vedic tradition of the shruti as direct experience (nigama). So Tantrism recognises a continuity with the Veda.
Like Bhakti, Tantrism accepts an intimate and devotional relationship with the Divine even if in different forms. The 28 Agamas are associated with the figure of Shiva; the Shakta texts are associated with the Shakti, the feminine expression of God; the Samhita texts are associated with Vishnu. A central aspect of Tantrism is the essential relationship between Guru and disciple and the secret descent of knowledge through the initiation ritual (diksha).
Tantrism is often referred to as an antinomian system. It uses as evolutionary tools: the science of sonic and vibratory power (mantra), the meditative aid with mystical diagrams (yantra) and texts (tantra). Tantrism emphasises the correspondence of the energies and forces present in the micro and in the macrocosm; it deepens the practice of yoga specifically aimed at awakening the Divine energy latent in each individual, the Kundalini. In Tantrism, the ritualistic aspect and the temple are also important; most of today’s rituals, both puja and yajna, are of tantric origin.