(Last Updated on : 11/01/2011)
Tattvas in Tantric practice denotes an aspect of reality which is conceived as an aspect of deity. Depending on the school of philosophy the numbers of tattvas vary. The Samkhya School of philosophy advocates that there are twenty five tattvas and the philosophy of Shaivism depicts thirty six kinds of tattvas. According to Samkhya philosophy, Purusha and Prakriti are the two eternal realities which exist in cosmos.
Tattvas, according to Shaivite philosophy are categorized in three groups. They are Sudhha tattvas, Sudhha Asudhha tattvas, and Asudhha tattvas. Sudhha tattvas are the first five tattvas of universal experience. Sudhha Asudhha tattvas are the next seven tattvas of limited individual experience. Asudhha tattvas are the last twenty four tattvas that include the tattvas of sensible experience, materiality and mental operation.
According to western Philosophy Tattvas are divided into three categories. They are Sudhha tattva, Sudhha Asudhha and Asudhha Tattvas. The Sudhha tattvas is the domain of transcendental unity and non difference. The Sudhha Asudhha tattva is the arena of knowledge and the Asudhha tattvas is the realm of objectivity and duality.
The five basic tattvas are described below:
: Earth is the end product of Gandha tattva which is the medium for olfactory sensations, the abode of Kundalini Shakti. The earth element implies stability, strength, concreteness, abundance, care and protection.
: Water is also known as Apas tattva which signifies the liquid state that is symbolic of the unlimited potentialities and transcendence. The water element symbolises the mythical chaos, the power of purification, regeneration, abundance, sexuality, primeval ocean, the subconscious mind and empathy.
: Air is produced through tactile sensations. The Vayu tattva symbolizes penetration, the freedom of mind, intellect, masculinity, dryness, subtlety and elevation. The intake of breath is indicative of "prana" which is the assimilation of spiritual power and is responsible for forming the etheric body.
: Ether is produced through audio sensations. It symbolizes the spirit which preserves a source of energy and the support of cosmic memory.
: Fire is the production of Rupa tattva which is the medium for visual sensations and correlates the third chakra, Manipura Chakra. It represents passion, intuition, digestive fire and uncreated light of consciousness which is also termed as Prakasha. Fire represents dynamism, masculinity, restlessness and exhibition. The conception of Fire is associated with the concept of nectar and forms complementary pair. This pair is the base of every creative process.
Maha tattva is the sixth factor of the tattvas which changes the inner dynamics of these elements and rejuvenates the inner core by God consciousness. The Kundalini Shakti is activated and aroused through purification of the five elements of tattva. The balance of all these five elements leads to the perfection of Tantra Sadhana.