When it comes to Tantra, most people immediately think about sexual practices, erotic massages and ecstasy cults. However it involves much more than increasing sexual pleasure. It is an Indian philosophy with various ideas and practices, not all of which are related to sex.
Tantra is a movement of Indian philosophy that originated in the early Middle Ages and is considered to be an erotic form of Hinduism which was later transferred to Buddhism. The word Tantra can be roughly translated as ‘tool for expanding awareness’. Thanks to these teachings it was possible to discover the energy centres, or chakras, in the human body. According to tantric philosophy, every individual is a manifestation of their chakras. Everything that goes on around us is a figment of our awareness. Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicine work with these chakras, for example in the areas of acupuncture. According to tantric philosophy, illnesses are blockages in the energy centres and they have to be removed in order to cure the illness.
The aim of this Hindu movement is to become one with the Gods and amalgamate material things and spirit. This aim can be achieved by chanting mantras and by carrying out mudras, ritual finger and hand movements.
Tantra has to thank the nyasa for its indecent reputation of sacred-sexual practices. In the 17th century, scholars travelled to India and reported, on their return to Europe, of these sexual exercises. The newly Christianised western world reacted with disgust and labelled the Indians backward and their tantric rituals perverse and occult. Even today the Kama Sutra is seen as a sex manual and as a symbol for Tantra; a view point that completely distorts the image of the philosophy. In truth, the Kama Sutra is courtly marriage guide that was intended to accompany young couples in building their future life together. Only at the beginning of the 20th century did the British Orientalist Sir John Woodroffe explain the true meaning of Tantrism to the European population. He tried out some of the practices and rituals for himself and understood the teachings to be more of an ethical concept rather than a license for sexual orgies.
Nowadays tantric practices are mainly used to increase sexual pleasure. Special tantric massages can help a person discover their own sensuality and lose their inhibitions. Often the entire body including the external sexual organs are included in the massage. Special massage parlours offer tantric massages as well as seminars for couples who wish to learn tantric massage and other sexual tantric practices to increase their sense of pleasure.