One of my friends asked me this question. I know that there are ‘modern’ (in my view, ignorant) scholars who claim that ancient Indian Rishi-Seers ate non-vegetarian food and drank alcohol! Now I really don’t bother about random people saying things but my friend! So this post.
What is tantra? It is complete control on your mind as you attempt practices for gaining complete control on your own vital energy/ pran. You accept the experience with full awareness. And you desire to transcend this experience because you really to experience is your own self ie Moksh. And what is Yog? Here also you control your mind, attempt practices, gain complete control over the pran in your body. But you consciously deny yourself the experience of the manifested as you search for the Ultimate. You are determined to experience nothing but the Ultimate. Both routes are different but require control over the mind and the direction of the pran movement. The genuine practitioners are very different, if you sit near them you feel the ‘grace’, blessings, peace and strength.
Tantra or Yog, are the only possible ways for attaining Moksh. If you invoke the tantric aspect of your deity, you can move very fast on your path. But the pitfalls are extraordinarily dangerous and if you make mistakes, the repercussions are unimaginable. You are required to have complete control over your mind, emotions and actions. You cannot lose your focus in what you are doing, else you will be so badly damaged on the spiritual levels, that it will take innumerable lives to recover. There are several ancient tantriks who made mistakes and are stuck on earth (if ever you visit the ‘burning ghats’/ Smashan in Kashi/Varanasi, you will know what I mean)
All deities have their Tantric ‘variants’. The Ganapati who is considered the most ‘cute’, adorable deity has an extremely terrifying aspect called ‘Uddanda’. This form is with innumerable hands holding multiple weapons, all three eyes open, red with rage, wearing red garments, red aura, lots of ornaments, trumpeting the sound of ‘Om’, dancing the dance of destruction as he systematically destroys everything holding you back in your spiritual progress. If you do his Sadhana, it is like he is intently standing in front of you holding all his weapons, ready to decimate you if you make one single fraction of an error. If you manage to complete his Sadhana he will grant you endless energy, open your Kundalini locks, allow you Moksh and everything.
There are very few genuine tantriks who do pujas of such forms of deities. This is a very arduous method of spiritual practice. This Sadhana is not a ‘short-cut’. The deity grants you energy which energises you from the depths of your soul to the aura which projects outside you. You are first made capable of holding the energy then the energy is given to you and the path will be difficult. But the fundamental premise of Tantra is experience without any sort of engagement. Your deity is an aspect of the Ultimate Reality. As you follow the path shown to you, you will see that not only you, but your deity also evolves. Hereto unknown aspects of his energy will be shown to you, you will experience. Everything essentially is the Parabrahma, the ‘beyond intelligence’. You are the Para, your deity is the Para. Your deity will finally show you this Para form of himself and yourself too. Here is when the deity, the aspirant and the Real all merge. Moksh.
But the point comes to this, a genuine aspirant will not do anything which will dampen/distort his energy, or make him lose control over his energy. It takes so much effort to gain one smidgen of control over your energy, you don’t fritter this away! By ‘energy’, I mean the movement of Satva-Raja-Tama, the three- Gun the basic building blocks. You use your pran consciously to control them. This is the goal of all spiritual practice.
In movies and in life, you will see ‘tantriks’, practitioners to be typically creepy individuals. Wearing weird clothing, lots of malas, beads, black tilak on the forehead and general creepiness. I have met some of these practitioners and there was a miasma of negative energy, dark-auras in their rooms and surrounding them. Very suffocating. You feel suppressed, scared and want to get up and run away. (This is not what a real knower of Tantra looks or feels like, I have met some of these too.) These ‘tantriks’ are those degraded individuals who indulge in the lowest forms of energy manipulations and and will do anything the client asks for as long as their payment is right. Mostly these have spirits bound to them who they use as slaves to perform their work. These are the ones who drink alcohol, eat non-veg food etc.
These practicioners have spoilt the reputation of Tantra. Looking for short-cuts and with very material wishes. If you know how, you can go to a cemetery where dead bodies are buried and capture yourself a spirit. A slave you can use. Such slaves are always ready to turn on their masters. Or if you know more (or foolhardy or over-confident), you can visit the aforementioned ‘burning ghats’ of Kashi and bind an ancient tantrik’s spirit. Here your slave is a skilled one (pishachya, brahmarakshas, vetal etc) and can do more. And if it gets a chance it will happily turn on you and cause even more damage. Or there is another option, to go to some place where there is no inhabitation and natural forests. Here you will find spirits linked to the other dimensions who visit these areas, especially on eclipses, twilights, no-moon days and full-moon days. You can strike your bargains and get them to fulfil your wishes. None of this is advisable, but those who are blind in their desire for material gains and power will do it. And later suffer, badly.
And this is not what Tantra really means.
These short-cut tantriks use some other spirit or being as their source of energy. They are not internally that spiritually evolved themselves. Their only ability is to control the spirits using ‘procedures’, rituals and mantra. These spirits desire base/ tamasic gifts, like alcohol, meat, drugs, or sexual contacts, which the tantrik will procure for them so that they will work for him. And one becomes what one associates with, so such a practitioner also eventually becomes such a degraded creature himself. Then while this spirit is associated with them, they experience the higher energy levels which cannot be sustained when their association is broken. So the energy flow has to be consciously brought down in his body too.
Eg you have wire which can carry a current of 50volts. Now you temporarily link it to a second wire so that now it can carry 5000volts current. But this linkage is not possible all the time, the second wire needs a break, say for 12 hours/day (spirits need this, else they go insane). So as the first wire is delinked, there is damage as the wire is not in itself capable of 5000volt. This damage is to be suppressed (it can be repaired only be personal spiritual practice, which these short-cut tantriks will not do). Also at the instant of delinking the residual 5000volts has to be brought down in an instant else it will fry this first wire. So these tantriks drink alcohol.
Alcohol in large quantities lowers down the movement of pran and also your ability to control it. (In the past, my office group had a couple of guys who really liked drinking hard alcohol. During office parties it was very educational to watch them. As they drank progressively larger quantities of alcohol, their auras would progressively get murky and shrink.) Alcohol brings down your energy immediately and this ‘downer’ lasts for a day or so. Non-veg food also acts in the same way and its effect is sustained for a longer time, for a few days. And sexual contact also does the same thing, intimately sharing energy, such tantriks will divert all the extra load into their partner, now both will suffer. If even some normal person does these activities as a habit, you can easily see the effects. His energy body loses its vitality. Alcohol and non-veg are tamasic in nature, the person’s energy will become still, dull, difficult to move etc. (I never advocate avoidance, once in a while, for social reasons, for emotional reasons, for medicinal reasons, for health reasons etc is ok. But mindless over-indulgence will harm. In meats, only fish meat is comparatively safe.)
‘Soma-ras’ needs to be explained now. Modern scholars opine that Soma is alcohol which our ancient Seers drank, which is the stupidest thing. Soma-ras is defined by the two great Seers/Rishi of Ayurved, Patanjali and Sushrut, they have written about it.
Soma is another name for Anna, the ‘essence of food’. Anna is the ‘material thing’ of this universe which you use to sustain your mind/ body. This stuff is capable of being disintegrated by Fire/ Agni/ Pran and converted to Pran. In modern terminology, Soma would be something like matter and Pran is somewhat like energy. They both are conscious, intelligent, inseparable and inter-convertible. Soma is considered to be a form of Shakti (the energies are ‘with Uma’) and Pran is considered to be a form of Shiv. Soma is dispersed, it cannot be focussed on. Pran is the concentrated energy, this can be focussed with intention pushed into the thinnest nadi of the body. Soma needs to be converted into Pran for it to be of real use. Now there is one typical nature of Soma powered Pran, it rises up with relatively little effort.
When you eat food, it enters your digestive system where the conscious fire of digestion transforms it. Some of this is absorbed and some part is ejected out. This absorbed essence of food is used in different ways, to sustain the Sapta-dhatu, to sustain the mind/Manas and some is converted to pran/vital energy. The ancient Rishi-s ate specific food which could be converted completely to Pran. This food is called the Soma. Ras means the essence. And Ras also means the infinite intelligent scalar field of unlimited energy. So ‘Soma-ras’ is the subtlest energy of the essence of food. If such a food is eaten, there would be nothing ejected and a big boost of pure pran. This food was eaten before entering into the deepest states of Dhyan-Sadhana. These states would be maintained for long periods of time, even years. Rishi Patanjai clearly says that there are herbs-Oushadhi, which can be used to deepen the Dhyan states and achieve Moksh. But we do not have the details with us (continuous onslaughts of invaders targeted our temples, which were our institutions of learning and the teacher, the Brahmins who knew. No wonder this age is called the Kali-yug, all real knowledge is lost to us.)
If you find this difficult to believe, try this small experiment. The hypothesis is, if you eat food which has higher spiritual energy, it is more easily and completely converted to Pran. There would be very little matter ejected and your aura/ energy will improve. So eat a dal/rice for 3 days. The dal should be only mung bean dal (Vigna radiata). And the rice should be unpolished. Add one spoon ghee (made from Indian desi humped cow milk) and some sea-salt/ rock-salt and turmeric as per your taste. If you find it tasteless, put some jira/Cumin seeds or 1pod of elaichi/ Cardamom or a bit of ground ginger in it as it cooks. This is the most Satvic-energy combination, where you have protein, carbohydrates, fats, mineral, turmeric in one dish. See what effect it has on your energy.
So, to conclude, Soma-ras is the purest essence of food, which is not available to us now. It is definitely not alcohol. Alcohol downs your energy instantly. Our ancient Rishi-s did not eat tamasic foods. They were Seers, realised souls, or aspirants who were actively working towards realization. Some of us are also actively pursuing this goal. So if you can, try to reduce your non-veg/ alcohol intake and sexual activity to reasonable limits. Mindlessly indulging in these will reduce the quantum of your pran and also affect your ability to manipulate it.