Antiquity of Tantricism

By Chintaharan Chakravarti

The Indian Historical Quarterly

Vol. VI, No.1 March, 1930 pp. 114-126

p. 114 Whatever be the age of the Tantras and however varying may be the views regarding their authority(l) it will be seen that rites closely similar to those that are found in these works have in many cases a hoary antiquity. In fact some of them in one form or other seem to have come down from primitive times and are known to be prevalent even in the present days among people with a primitive culture not in the least affected by modern civilisation and culture. And many of them almost seem to have a universal character being popular among peoples distantly situated and having no cultural or ethnic affinity. It is true that we miss in these the philosophy and spiritual significance, associated at least in a later stage with Tantricism in India, but still the close outward similarity would naturally induce one to put them under the same class or type and that not quite erroneously. In the present paper an attempt has been made to put together some references to Tantricism among ancient peoples--specially in admittedly old literary works. It will be shown that Tantricism--if not the Tantras --had a long history of un-interrupted popularity in India. Tantricism-its universal character--its prevalence among primitive peoples Thus the parallels of Tantric Satkarmas (the six magical rites), the use of charms and amulets, the revolting rites(2) of the Kaulas, use of intoxicating drugs for producing ecstasy, the belief in the efficacy of mantras consisting sometimes of apparently unmeaning syllables are found among various primitive peoples. As a matter of fact some of these constituted essential parts of primitive religion all the world over. ______________________________ 1. An account of these will be found in a separate paper by the present author entitled Controversy regarding the Authority of the Tantras to be published in the K.B. Pathak Commemoration Volume. 2. The antiquity of this aspect of Tantric worship is found to have been dealt with ill full detail by Mr.M. Bose in his recently published work the Post-Caitanya Sahajiya Cult of Bengal (Calcutta University 1930), pp.98ff. p. 115 The practice of what is called sympathetic magic is known to have been very widely prevalent in old days. It was by this means that various attempts were made to acquire control over other persons.(1) Enemies were destroyed or injured with the help of imitative magic. "Perhaps the most familiar application of the principle that like produces like is" says Dr. Frazer, "the attempt which has been made by many peoples in many ages to injure or destory an enemy by injuring or destroying an image of him."(2) "The use of small figures of wax or other plastic materials fashioned with incantations in the likeness of some enemy and then pierced with nails and pins, or melted before the fire, that their human counterpart may by these means be made to suffer all kinds of torment" is known to have been prevalent among Semetic peoples.(3) It was considered more effective to obtain some portion of the victim's nails or an additional connection whereby the wax figures may be brought into still closer affinity with its prototype." It has been supposed by Dr. J. J. Modi that injunctions contained in the Vendidad of the Iranians to bury nails and hair to avoid future calamities was due to the prevalence of similar customs among them.(4) As a matter of fact the Persian Zarthus-t-nameh relates how the enemies of Zoroaster accused him of sorcery by secretly placing hair, nails and such other impurities in his room and got him imprisoned for sorcery. This clearly points to the use of these things as instruments of magic. The use of charms and amulets is known to have been a very wide-spread custom among primitive peoples of different ages and lands.(5) Rings were used with the object of preventing the entrance of evil spirits into the body.(6) We have long and nauseating accounts of rank and unmixed sensualism forming part of religious observances in many a land. These __________________________ 1 Principles of Sociology-Spencer, I, pp, 262ff. 2 Golden Bough--Dr. J. G. Frazer, London, 1900, vol. I, pp.10 ff. 3 Semitic Magic: Its origin and development--R, Campbell Thomson, pp. 142-143. 4 Journal of the Anthropological Society of Bombay, vol. viii, pp. 557ff. 5 Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics, vol. iii, pp. 392ff. 6 Golden Bough--Frazer, vol. I, pp. 402ff. p. 116 undoubtedly give a rude shock to the modern civilised notions of religion and morality. Impure and revolting practices having religious significance clustered round the worship of Pan in Greece and later Rome as also in the islands of the southern Pacific Ocean. (1) Sex-worship was practised frankly and openly by primitive people all the world over and it is supposed that with the advance of civilisation the worship came to be carried on by means of symbolism. And many of the religious practices even now are traced to an idea of the deification of the sex. "This worship has been shown to be so general and wide-spread that it is to be regarded as part of the general evolution of the human mind; it seems to be indigenous with the race rather than an isolated or exceptional circumstance."(2) E. H. Hartland in a detailed and informative article(3) on Phallism deals with the subject in a sympathetic tone. He shows how sex worship forms a part of the history of religion and how it is found to exist in different countries among peoples belonging to different strata of culture. Wall has gone so far as to find traces, direct or indirect, of sexworship in almost all kinds of religious practices. "All religions are based on sex," says he, "some like the ancient Egyptian, Greek and Roman or the modern Brahmanic worship of Siva more coarsely so, according to modern civilised thought; others like the Christian religion more obscurely so."(4) The use of wine and various other intoxicating drugs is supposed to have been one of the various means adopted by primitive peoples with a view to produce ecstasy and other morbid exaltation for religious ends.(5) Different kinds of bodily exercises resembling the muaras, asanas and nyasas of the Tantras, were also undertaken for this purpose.(6) _________________ 1 Sex-worship and Symbolism of Primitive Races--Brown, pp. 27-28. 2 Ibid., pp. 23, 29-30. 3 Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics, vol. ix, pp. 815-31. 4 Sex and Sex-worship-Wall, p. 2. 5 Primitive Culture--Tylor, third edition, London, vol. II, pp. 41off., 416ff. 6 Ibid., pp. 419ff. p. 117 The power of the word is believed to be very marked in all systems of magic. Sometimes names of inexplicable and perhaps esoteric character are used. This is said to be in accordance with the well-known rule that in magic a mysterious name is the most potent of all.(1) There was this belief in the efficacy of words among ancient Iranians too. "Peculiar words" says Geiger, "were thought peculiarly eficacious in certain cases and regarded as a counter charm able to repel the attacks of evil spirits."(2) It is thus abundantly clear that rites similar to many of those prescribed in the Tantras were quite well-known among primitive peoples of all countries. What we have got to determine at present is when and how it was that these rites were first introduced into India and were accepted by the Indian Aryans as part of their elaborate religious observances. According to some scholars, some at least of these or similar rites were known to the Dravidian and other Non-Aryan peoples of India from whom they were borrowed by the Aryans and systematised in the Tantras. Tantricism in pre-historic India Traces of some aspects of Tantricism are suspected to be found in India as early as the Pre-historic period. Thus, Bruce Foote is said to have met with objects supposed by him to be Phalli among the Neolithic remains brought to light by him in the Deccan.(3) According to Prof. Shama Sastri, the Tantra form of worship may be traced back in India as early as the first millennium B.C. Thus, he seeks to show that the symbols which admittedly old coins (supposed to be earlier than even the 6th or 7th century B.C.) bear and of which no satisfactory explanation could be suggested by Western scholars(4) are nothing but Tantric hieroglyphics. These, lie shows, _________________________ 1. Keith--Religion and Philosophy of the Veda and Upanishads, anishads, P. 393. 2. Geiger-Civilisation of Eastern Iranians in Ancient times, p, 16. 3. Foote--Collection of Indian Pre-historic and Proto-historic Antiquities, Madras, 1916, pp. 20, 61, 139; K. R. Subranian--Origin of Saivism and its History in the Tamil Land, Madras, 1929, p. 23. See also P. T. Srinivasa Iyengar--Stone Age in India (Madras University). 4. J.A.S.B., vol. iv, p. 628. p. 118 are the origin Of the Devanagari alphabets. He is also of opinion that though some of the Tantras are comparatively modern they undoubtedly embody old tradition.(1) The Tantric Upanisads like the Tripuropanisad, he says, containing the description of Tantra hieroglyphics only reproduce a tradition of bygone ages.(2) Tantricism in the Vedas Elements of the various Tantra rites are distinctly traceable in the Vedic times, though there is a great controversy among scholars of old as regards the question whether Tantras had a Vedic origin or not. It is not only in the Atharvaveda--one of the latest of the Vedic samhitas--that we meet with these elements. They are to be found even in the earliest of the Vedic works, e.g., the Rgveda as also in other parts of the Vedic literature. Tantricism as a system may not have been developed at that time. But many of the rites that went to constitute the system at a later time are found scattered in the different parts of the Vedic literature in their crudest forms. Of course many of the practices which were fully developed in the Tantras and Yoga philosophy are absent in the Vedic period. The elaborate rules concerning the regulation of breath and the high importance attached to it Yoga have scarcely any trace ill the Vedas. Nor is there any clear reference in the Vedic literature to the various sitting postures mentioned in the Tantras.(3) The upholders of the Tantras have however gone to the extent of attempting to demonstrate the Vedic origin of everything found in the Tantras. They had therefore to resort occasionally to considerable twisting and far-fetchedness to find traces of various rites connected with Tantricism in the Vedas. The general view is that the Tantras originated from the Saubhagya-kanda of the Atharva-Veda. Some of the Tantra works are found to record this in definite terms. The Kalikularnava Tantra has got two lines in the beginning stating "Now Devi says in the Atharvana Samhita."(4) This in fact identifies this work as an Atharvana-samhita, thus clearly hinting at the close connection of the Atharvaveda with this Tantra. ________________________ 1. Ind. Ant., 1906, pp. 277ff. 2. Ind. Ant., 1906, pp, 274-276. 3. Keith, op. cit., p. 401. 4. H.P.S., Nep., I, p. 160. p. 119 The Rudrayamala (chap. xvii) calls Mahadevi Atharvaveda-sak hini, and Buddhesvari though curiously the worship of the goddess is, in the same breath, definitely put down as Veda-bahiskrta or un-vedic. In the opinion of the great scholar Bhaskara Raya, the Tantras came as a sequel to the Upanisad section of the Vedas as the Srauta sutras and Dharma Samhitas were to the first portion of the Vedic literature.(1) The tantric Upanisads(2) (e.g. Kaula, Rudra, etc.) are supposed to maintain the direct connection of the Vedas with the tantras. The Yantra-Cintamani(3) of Damodara is eulogised in the beginning of the work as being the quintessence of the Atharvaveda. The followers of the Pancaratra system of Vaisnavism trace the origin of the system to an unknown Vedic school called the ekayana sakha (Kalpataruparimala under Brahma Sutra, II. 2. 42). According to the Kularnava tantra (II. 10) even Kaula cites--which have been the object of abject criticism at the hands of various scholars ancient or modern--are represented as being the essence of the Vedas. In fact Kulasastra has been described as Vedatmaka (II. 85) or Vedic in spirit. Vedic authorities are also cited (II. 140-141) in justification of Kaula rites. Attempts have been made to trace tantric mantras consisting of seemingly unmeaning monosyllabic sounds in the Vedas.(4) The practice of worshipping symbolical diagrams (yantras, cakras) of the tantras has also been traced to the Vedas (e.g. Atharvaveda, Taittiriya Aranyaka).(5) Laksmidhara in his commentary on verse 32 of the Saundaryalahari of Sankara has quoted extracts from the Taittiriya Brahmana and Aranyaka and explained them as having reference to Srividya.(6) Even if one feels disinclined to set much value on the above views of the advocates of tantricism as being biassed it must be admitted ____________________ 1. Setubandha, A.S.S, p.5. 2. For these see the Minor Upanisads published by the Adyar Library, Madras. 3. A Ms. of this work is in the Bangiya Sahitya Parisat--see beginning of Pithika II. 4. Commentary of Natananda Natha on the Kamakala vilasa--p. 13 of Arthur Avalon's edition. 5. R. Shamasastri, Ind. Ant., 1906, pp. 262-267. 6. Govt, Oriental Library Series, Mysore, pp. 100-109. p. 120 that any disinterested scholar is sure to find at least the elements of tantricism in the Vedas. In fact the ground for the growth of tantricism was almost ready at the time of the Vedas. Thus traces of monosyllabic and seemingly unmeaning mantras on the importance of which the Tantras lay definite emphasis are really met with in the Vedic literature. 'The use of harsh words like phat says Prof. Keith 'is mentioned possibly as early as the Rgveda'.(1) The Taittiriya Aranyaka (iv. 27) mentions a distinct tantric charm which according to Sayana pertains to Abhicara rites. This charm consists of words like Khat, Phat, Kat, etc. Phat is also found mentioned in the Vajasaneyi Samhita (vii. 3). Symbolising in terms of the letters of the alphabet may also be clearly traced in the Hinkaropasana and Orikaropasana found in the Upanisads (Cf. Chandogya Upanisad). Sensualism in connection with religious rites is also met with in the Vedas. It is found to be frequently referred to in the Satapatha Brahmana symbolically. According to the Aitareya Aranyaka (II. 3. 7. 3) neither the seed of man nor the blood of woman should be despised as they are forms of Aditya and Agni respectively. Vamadevya Upasana may be cited as an instance in point.(2) There are other Vedic rites as well, which though on the face of them, have nothing to do with sex worship, have been interpreted in that light.(3) The use of liquor for sacrificial purposes in Vedic times was not unknown, Spirituous liquor was offered in tile Sautramani sacrifice to Indra, Asvin and Sarasvati.(4) It was also used in the Vajapeya sacrifice.(5) Besides, the intoxicating effect of Soma juice is also quite well-known. The effect of the drinking of soma juice is ''mada" or intoxication (Rg. II. 19. I). The use of the juice expressly for getting intoxicated led Eggeling to make the statement with reference to the Atiratra sacrifice that `it partook largely of the character of a regular nocturnal carousal'. (6) ______________________________ 1. Keith, op. cit. P. 356. 2. Chandogya Upanisad, II, 13, I-2. 3. Satapatha Brahmana, I. 1, 18, 20, 21 etc. 4. Ibid., v. 4, 5, 19ff. 5. Ibid., V. 1, 2, 10-19. 6. Ibid., S.B.E. vol. xli, Introduction, p. xvii. p. 121 Various were the animals sacrificed in Vedic sacrifices. Man, horse, bull, ram and he-goat are mentioned in this connection.(1) Horses were killed in the Asvamedha. It is curious that bulls that were held sacred in later times were not exempted. And these are known to have been sacrificed in the Gomedha and Sulagava. And the meat was taken at least in some cases at the end of the sacrifice. Even provision was made for taking beef.(2) Human beings are said to have been killed along with other animals in the Sarvamedha or All-Animals-Sacrifice. Self-immolation was practised in the Sarva-yajna. Phallism is supposed by some to be as old as the Rgveda (vii. 21, 3, 5) where the Asuras are referred to as sisnadevas or those that regard phallus as deities. But the meaning of the term is not free from doubt.(3) The beginnings of the worship of female deities--the Sakti cult-- an important characteristic of the tantra form of worship is also traced in the Vedas. Traces of some of the Sat-karmas of the Tantras are also distinctly met with in different parts of the Vedic literature. Two hymns of the Rgveda (x.145, 159) explicitly refer to the practice of removing co-wives and thereby attaining supreme sway over the husband. The Apastamba Grhya Sutra (ix. 5-8, 9) in explaining the application of these hymns has also made this quite clear. Another hymn (Rg. x. 162) is nothing but a curative spell intended to drive away disease. Hymns like i. 191 and vii. 750 are charms which are intended to serve as antedotes against poison and those like vi. 52 and vii. 104 are charms which aim at putting away demons and have therefore some similarity with marana or destructive practice of the Tantras. Such practices were also known at the times of the Vajasaneyi Samhita (vii. 3), Katyayana Srauta Sutra (ix.4,39) and Taittiriya Aranyaka (iv. 27). The 'Taittiriya Samhita (ii.3,9,I) prescribes a sacrifice called Samgrahani by which persons can be won over to one's side. Sayana in explaining the significance of the term has stated how by this sacrifice one could bring under one's control the prominent persons of the ____________________________ 1. Satapatha Brahmana, S. B.E., vol. xli, pp. I65f. 2. Asvalayana Grhya Sutra, iv. 8, 34. 3. Muir, Sanskrit texts, vol. iv, pp. 354ff. p. 122 family or the village as also wives, sisters and mothers, who thus brought under control, wait upon him. The Taittiriya Brahmana (ii. 3, 10) relates how Sita, daughter of Prajapati, resorted to a sorcery practice to win the heart of Soma. These practices are undoubtedly similar to Vasikarana of the Tantras. The rites of the Atharvaveda again more than those of any other Veda have in many cases a close and striking similarity to those of the Tantras. The contents of the Atharvaveda are primarily magic, charm and sorcery, which also form not an insignificant part of the Tantras. And Bloomfield's arrangement of the hymns of the Atharvaveda into fourteen classes in accordance with their subject matter(1) as also the applications of them as noted in the Kausika Sutra reveal how a large portion of its contents has its analogue in the Tantras. Thus the abhicara, strikarma, sammanasya, paustika and other sorcery rites of which we get indications in the Atharvaveda are quite common in the Tantras. Some of the Atharvanic practices of witchcraft are almost identical with similar practices of the Tantras. Some of the hymns of the Atharvaveda are recited with a view to excite love in the heart of a woman. The most important symbolical practice which is to accompany the recital of such a hymn (AV. iii. 25) is thus described in the Kausika Sutra (35. 28): ''By means of darbhyusa bow, with a bowstring made of hemp, an arrow whose barb is a thorn, whose plume is derived from an owl and whose shaft is made of black ala wood, the lover pierces the heart of the pictorial representation of a woman."(2) The Tantras are also found to prescribe the same practice with an identical object in view. The use of protective amulets also seems to have been quite popular at the time of the Atharvaveda. (AV. ii. II, viii. 5, x, 6; Kausika Sutra 19, 22, 27; 42, 22-43. I). Tantricism in Buddhist Literature Various revolting and mystic practices that seem to have been observed by different religious sects for spiritual uplift in and previous to the time of the Buddha, are referred to in Buddhist canonicaI works in Pali. Some of these practices are apparently tantric in character. ________________________ 1. Atharvaveda-Grundriss Series--pp. 57ff. 2. Ind. Ant. 1906, pp. 270ff. p. 123 Thus the Buddhist canonical texts in Pali in several places refer to systems of thought and rituals which are apparently of the Tantra type but for the name. Buddha mentions the panca-kama-guna- dittha-dhamma-nibbana-vada(1) which is explained as an opinion according to which the soul attains Nirvana through the full indulgence of the five pleasures of the sense.(2) Some at least of the Buddhist and Brahmanic tantric scholars were exactly of the view referred to by the Buddha as an establishsd doctrine upheld by a section of the people in his time. The Majjhima Nikaya (Culladhammasamaduna Sutta --vol. I, p.305) sets forth the views of a class of Sramanas and Brahmanas according to whom no fault would attach to acts of lust. It is described how these people took pleasure in the company of youthful female ascetics. Of course it is not clear from the text as to whether these ascetics like the later day tantrics took part in sensual enjoyment with a desire for religious merit. The Kathavatthu(3) however throws some welcome light on this point in that it refers to Maithuna (sensual enjoyment) as dharma which probably means a religious act. The use of skulls etc. by a class of people like later day followers of tantricism was known at this time as is testified to by a passage in the Cullavagga(4) which refers to a Bhikkhu "who had taken upon himself to wear or use nothing except what he could procure from dust-heaps or cemeteries'' and who "went on his rounds for alms carrying a bowl made out of a skull." That this was the usual practice with a certain class of persons is testified to by the statement of the people that saw him--'How __________________________ 1. Dialogues of the Buddha--II, 49, 50. 2. Barua--A History of Pre-Bddhisticc Indian Philosophy--p. 337 3. Kathavatthu, xxiii. I-2: Ekadhippayena methuno dhammo sevitabbo. Arhantanam vannena amanussa methunam dhammam patisevanti, I am indebted for these references to Prof. Barua's paper on Maskari Gosala's early life (Calcutta Review, June 1927, PP. 362-63). 4. V. 10, 2--S.B.E. vol. XX--p.89. For this as also for some other references from Buddhist literature I am indebted to Dr. Benoytost Bhattacharya who has incidentally dealt with the history of Tantricism among the Buddhists in his Introduction to Sadhana-mala (Vol. II) and in his paper A Peep into Vajrayana (Annals of the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute--Vol. X). p. 124 can the Sakyaputtiya Samanas carry about bowls made out of skulls as the devil-worshippers (Pisacillika) do.' That cemeteries were resorted to by some seekers after religious merit is also clear from the Majjhima Nikaya. Buddha himself in his early days is here stated to have stayed in a cemetery with charred bones as his pillow.(l) Magical rites like the sat-karmas of the tantras are also known to have some amount of popularity at that time. We learn from the Tevijjia Sutta that there were some Sramanas and Brahmanas who lived by teaching spells for preserving the body and for warding off wounds. We are further told that some Sramanas and Brahmanas lived by teaching spells to procure prosperity or to cause adversity, to remove sterility, to produce dumbness, locked-jaw, deformity or deafness.(2) Further still we are told how some lived by teaching rituals for imparting virility and rendering impotent by prescribing medicines.(3) The Brahmajala Sutta refers to the practice of drawing blood from one's knee as a sacrifice to the gods(4) and of using charms to make people lucky or unlucky.(5) It is from the same sutta that we learn that there were certain gods debauched by pleasure(6) and that there were recluses or Brahmanas who thought that full enjoyment and possession of the pleasures of sense lead to Nirvana.(7) Tantricism in Jaina Literature In the Jaina canonical works in Prakrt too we meet with traces of Tantricism. In the Sthananga Sutra (iv. 4) Mahavira refers to the Saya-vadins who are supposed to have been sensulists.(8) The Uttaradhyayana. Sutra has reference to curative spells.(9) The Sutrakrtanga _________________________ 1. Majjhima, I, 79 --Further Dialogues of the Buddha--Lord Chalmers, vol. I, p.35. 2. Buddhist Suttas--Translated by Rhys Davids--S.B.E. xi. p. 196, 199. 3. Ibid., pp. 199-200. 4. Brahmajala Sutta, 21--Dialogues of the Buddha --Rhys Davids p.17. 5. Ibid., P. 23. 6. Ibid., p. 32. 7 Ibid, p. 50. 8. Barua--A History of Pre-Buddhistic Indian Philosophy, pp. 196, 197, 337 9. S.B.E.--XLV P.103. p. 125 (II. 2) mentions men who practise incantations (atharvani) and conjuring, the art to make one happy or miserable.(1) Tantricism in Dharmasastra, Puranas, etc. Detractors of Tantra rites are inclined to read the denunciation of Tantricism in early Dharmasutras and Samhitas like those of Apastamba, Manu, Yajnavalkaya etc. (See introductory portions of Apararka's commentary on yajnavalkya). Commentators interpret paritcular sutras of the Brahma Sutra (II. 2. 34) as having reference to Tantricism e.g. Saivas, Pancaratras, etc. The efficacy of mantra and drugs for the attainment of perfection has been mentioned by Patanjali in his Yogasutra (iv. I). Many a Purana work of which the dates have not been definitely ascertained refer to the tantras generally or to particular tantra rites. Puranas like Devi, Kalika and Linga explicitly deal with tantra worship. In the Padma Purana (Svarga Khanda, chapter xxvii) and Kalikapurana (chapter liv) are found elaborate descriptions of sat cakras of the tantras. Kurma and some other Puranas, however, are found to decry the tantras. There are many passages in the Mahabharata too showing that Siva was already venerated under the emblem of the phallus when the epic was composed. The use of wine and meat in the worship of the river-goddess Ganga is mentioned in the Ramayana (Ayodhya Kanda--LII. 89). Tantricism in early secular works Secular works--some of which are evidently quite early--are also found incidentally to refer to tantra rites confirming their high popularity and wide prevalence. We shall refer to only a few of these. Various charms and incantations for the stupefication of beings are described in the Arthasastra of Kautilya (xiv. 3). Here we get reference to the offering of sacrifices in cremation grounds on the 14th day of the dark half of the month. Of deities to whom oblations were made mention may be made of such queer names Amila, Kimila, Vayujara etc. The Lalitavistara(2) (chapter xii) refers to the Buddha's surpassing _____________________ 1. Jainasutras--S.B.E. --XLV p. 366. 2. Bibliotheca Indica edition, p.179. p. 126 knowledge in nigama along with other branches of learning. In chapter xvii it incidentally throws light on some of the religious practices of the time of the Buddha.(1) Though the sense is not quite clear it seems to refer to the use of well-scrutinised mantras and the use of wine and meat for religious purposes, The carrying of skulls and Khatvangas is also referred to. Nikumbha-sadhana as one of the practices for the attainment of salvation is mentioned. And we learn from it that the worship of gods and goddesses (Matr, Devi, Katyayani) was offered at pasture lands and cemeteries. The tantric goddess Kali is represented by Asvaghosa as having been known in the time of the Buddha. Thus we read in the Chinese translation of Asvahosa's Buddhacarita:(2) "Now, Mara had an aunt-attendant whose name was Ma-kia-ka-li (Maha Kali), 1084, who held a skull dish in her hands, and stood in front of Bodhisattva, and with every kind of winsome gesture, tempted him to lust, 1085." The attendants of Mara who attacked Buddha are stated to have carried weapons similar to those possessed by Sivaite gods (e.g. Trisula, Khatvanga).(3) It is thus quite clear that at least a little before the time of Asvaghosa (circa 1st century A.D.) Tantric deities were quite well-known. ______________________ 1. Lalitavistara, p.312-13. 2. S.B.E. vol.xix, p.153. In the published Sanskrit text the goddess is called Meghakali (xiii, 49). 3. Buddhacarita--xiii. 21. 26.