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samaya, kaula, and mishra

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1) Tantras are divided in samaya, kaula, and mishra. What are the

differences between these different schools. Also there exists

another classification called dakShinaachara and vaamachaara. How

is vaama related to kaula. Astika-s condemn the vaamachaara due

to many negative aspects embedded in it. Is it true in regard to

kaula also? Please compare and contrast these schools.


2) What is the status of bhAskara-rAya among the samAya/dakShina

schools which are vedic in nature?



Thank you.



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Harih Om,


I am not sure whether kaula and vama are exactly the same and whether there

are certain differences between samaya and dakshina. What I do know is that

kaula and vamachara believe in certain ritual sexual practices, while

dakshinachara and samayachara oppose those practices. The left handed tantra

has a principle calles the pancha ma-kaaras, 5 words starting with ma.

Sorry, I do not remember them fully. Their definition in vamachara is woman,

wine, money, fish and meat. They make use of all of these in their worship.

The dakshinachara and samayachara condemn such practices. Of course that

does not mean that the followers of dakshinachara and samayachara do not

live a married life, but they are usually strict vegetarians, abstain from

alcohol, and do not see sexual practices as a ritual path to salvation. As

far as I have been informed, the vamachara hold their married life and

ritual practices apart, since the ritual is not meant for either procreation

or physical pleasure, but for the awakening of kundalini. I'm no one to

judge the value and efficiency of such methods, but it is needless to say,

that in a real life scenario such practices often end up as something quite

different from the intented sadhana.


Mishra is a mixture, or I think they would rather define it as a middle way,

between the two. I don't know what it consists of.

I am personally familiar only with the Shrividya tradition followed by the

Kanchi Kamakshi temple and that is samayachara.


I do not know about the status of bhAskara-rAya. As far as I know, his

comment on Lalita Sahasranama is accepted. Of course the Lalita Sahasranama

has elements of both the left and right paths of tantra, and bhaskara-rAya

does not take a stand agains any of them. Apart from this I have had my own

questions, because many of his comments cite the shivasutras, which are

affiliated to kashmir shaivaism rather than advaita vedanta. shrividya does

have lots of common elements with kashmir shaivaism,and some people say that

shrividya originated in kashmir shaivaism, which is an advaitic school of

the agamas, but it also has many common elements with shankara's advaita

vedanta. In fact the traditional followers call it vaidika-tantrika. We also

often encounter explanations in conflicting terms, like trying to explain

the 36 tattvas, which shrividya has common with the agamas and kashmir

shaivaism, in terms of the 24 tattvas of sankhya, which leaves us with quite

an unnecessary tangle.

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One of the most scholarly works on Tantras is The Serpent Power

[on shhTchakra-niruupaNa, and paaduka-pa~ncchaka] or Kundalini by Sir John

Woodroffe [pseudonym Arthur Avalon], first published in 1922, re-issued by

Ganesh & Co.(Chennai) in 1978-14th Ed.


Some extracts from it may be helpful in the discussion.


He quotes Pandit R. Anantakrishna Sastri: The Samaya method of worshipping

Shakti, called the Samayachara, is dealt with in 5 treatises whose reputed

authors are the great sages Sanaka, Sananda, Sanatkumara, Vasishtha, and

Suka. [Here follows a summary of the teachings on Tapas and Mantras].


Other methods of Shakta worship: The Kaulas worship the Kundalini without

rousing her from her sleep in the Muladhara, which is called Kula; and hence

Kaulas (sanskr. Ku=Earth, pR^ithvii, so Muladhara.

Beyond the Muladhara they do not rise, they follow the Vamachara, and gain

their temporal objects and enjoy. They are not liberated from birth and

death; they do not go beyond the earth.


The Mishras are far above the Kaulas. They perform all Karmas, worship the

Devi or Shakti in the elements, and do upasana with yantras made of gold or

other metals.....


..... this whole subject of Shakti Worship is treated of in detail in the

Taittiriya Aranyaka, 1st Chapter. ... It is not possible to go into the

intricacies of the subject unless one be a great Guru of vast learning and

much personal experience.....


The followers of the Samaya group are prohibited from worshipping Devi in

the Macrocosm. They should worship her in any of the chakras in the human

body, choosing that center which their practice and ability permits them to



...... Anandalahari may be said to contain the quintessence of the

Samayachara. [ Of 36 extant commentaries, oneis by Appaya-Dikhita].

[shankara's Anandalahari is based on Gaudapada's Subhagodaya.]


There is much discussion of the qualifications [Adhikara] of a disciple who

can be initiated into these Vidyas.


It is impossible to condense 600 pages of the text, but hopefully some ideas

can be seen in these paragraphs. [There are numerous footnotes noting

contradictions, &c].





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I am not sure whether kaula and vama are exactly the same and whether there

are certain differences between samaya and dakshina. What I do know is that

kaula and vamachara believe in certain ritual sexual practices, while

dakshinachara and samayachara oppose those practices.



Perhaps I am being too late in catching up with the articles, but I am

really happy to read your articles on this subject. They are scholarly and

erudite, my gratitude to you for the same.


Sharing something that I read related to this subject. I came accorss the

origin of these kaula and vama and other thousands of condemned paths in

"Kurma Purana". The story line goes like this: Once upon a time Sage

Gautama became quite famous because of his penance and austerities. The

other sages could not tolerate this and become envious on Gautama. They try

to put down Gautama's name by doing some thing evil. They create a cow and

leave the cow to eat in Gautama's ashram. Sage Gautama finds out that a

strange Cow has entered in to his ashram. He tries to drive the cow away

from the Ashram, but the Cow mysteriously dies. Sage Gautama gets caught in

the great sin called "Gohatya pataka" (killing a cow). He repents his

actions and tries to find out, using his supernatural vision, where this cow

has come from... He realizes that all this is happened because of the envy

of the other sages. He gets furious and curses them to fall out of the

vedic path, he curses them to become brahma rakshasas. The sages repent

their sin. They fall on the feet of Gautama and ask for forgiveness.

Gautama advises them to pray Lord Shiva and Lord Keshava. Then they pray

ShivaKeshava for forgiveness. In order to save the sages who are cursed by

Gautama SivaKesavas create thousands of paths which could lead them to



I don't remember the sloka numbers but I remember the slokas:


tasmAdvai vEdabAhyAnAM rakshaNArdhaMca pApinaM

vimOhanAya SAstrANi karishyAmO vRshadhvaja ||


EvaM saMcOditO rudrO mAdhavEna murAriNA

cakAra mOha SAstrANi kESavOpi SivEritaH ||


kApAlaM lAguDaM SAktaM bharavaM poorva pascimaM

pAMcarAtraM pASupataM tathAnyAni sahaSrasaH ||


That is how the forbidden paths like kApAla, lAguDa, SAkta, bharavaM,

pAMcarAtraM, pASupataM and thousands of others came in to existance.




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