Vijñānabhairava-tantra (Shloka 69)

Summary of discussion on Vijnana-bhairava-tantra made by Guru Yogi Matsyendranath and Rev. John Dupuche

Vijñānabhairava-tantra 69          

Technique: sexual intercourse

śaktisaṃgamasaṃkṣubdhaśaktyāveśāvasānikam |
yat sukham brahmatattvasya tat sukhaṃ svākyam[1] ucyate || 69 ||

“He comes to the śakti; the śakti is fully aroused; he enters into the śakti; the climax occurs: – the pleasure [experienced at that point] is ‘Brahma’; that pleasure is his very own.”

The word ‘śakti’, that is ‘sexual partner’, is used three times in the first line: ‘he comes to the śakti (śaktisaṃgama); the śakti is fully aroused (saṃkṣubdha); he enters into the śakti (śaktyāveśa). The stages of the process are listed in due order. Emphasis is placed on the concluding (avasānikam), climactic moment.

The śakti is fully aroused in every sense, her energy, her freedom and all her faculties are engaged. She is fully aware and wholeheartedly desires to be the Śakti to her Śiva, the Kula to his Akula.

It is into the śakti at this point that the practitioner enters. The word aveśa has many meanings. He penetrates into her body and mind, into her emotions and her very being. This is when the orgasm occurs.

The second line mentions the pleasure (sukha) twice: “the pleasure [experienced at that point] is ‘Brahma’” (sukham brahmatattvasya), “that pleasure is his very own” (sukham svākyam). In other words, the highest divine pleasure and the practitioner’s own pleasure are identical. His pleasure is the divine pleasure. He experiences divinity at this climactic moment, which is the whole point of the practice.

This same teaching is found in a quotation Jayaratha supplies for Tantrāloka 29.99-100.

“He, whose mind, at the moment of emitting semen, i.e. within the split-second of time, has spontaneously settled in respect of all the fluctuations of thought, all at once there arises in his mind the consciousness of bliss. The resulting form is perfectly described as ‘pertaining to brahman’ (rūpaṃ tad-brahmaṇaḥ samākhyātam).

Jayaratha provides another quote: “The form known as ‘the bliss of brahman‘….” (brahmaya-ānanda-ākhya rūpam), namely semen.

The Kula ritual as described by Abhinavagupta develops this whole process, especially in 29.96ff. In doing so he gives the term brahmacārī, which usually means ‘celibate’, a totally opposite meaning: namely someone who uses sexual activity as the means to reaching full consciousness. The term brahmacārī will be given a different meaning in my commentary on śloka 70.

This entry (aveśa) can be practised at three levels: objective,  (sthula), subtle (sukṣma), and supreme (para). The purpose of the practice at the levels of sthula and sukṣma is to arrive at the level of para, for Śiva dwells supremely at the para level. There the emotion is most intense, the awareness of Śakti most complete, the penetration most full.

The term sukha alone is used in śloka 69 while sukha is contrasted with ānanda in śloka 70.  The difference is significant, as will be seen.


[1] For ākyam read ākhyam  ‘named’, ‘called’, ‘declared’. The word svākhyam can be spelt out as sva-ākhyam ‘deemed to be his own’.

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